Germany to Morocco, with a brief stop in Spain!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jbar28, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. drmacaulay

    drmacaulay letsrun.com

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    I find this website interesting for a number of reasons.... Really enjoying reading about your ride report......

    I just commented on a ride report written by an American, and I felt he fostered or emphasized (in my mind) many stereotypes and cultural norms about criss-crossing much of America and a bit of Canada. I noticed themes of obesity & unhealthly (sp?) food consumption, totally ignorant Homeland Security guards (border patrol), religion, mostly urban landscapes, and the like... I felt I was a bit harsh though to the guy.... I don't know the guy, and I didn't want to come across as crass or an ass. But as a cultural or sociological observation - it was what it was in my mind.

    And I read yours - which I enjoy, but bottles of wine, language barriers, poor European weather, more rural landscape as compared to urban.... It all promotes many more European stereotypes and norms for this observer.

    Kind of my point = you've probably crossed three or four borders by now - why is it that you haven't written about a border patrol officer who asks ignorant and untimely questions about your travels? Or why haven't you written about some passer-by who wanted to tell you that God has a message for you in their heart to have a great day? Certainly you've crossed an international border. Certainly you've met travelers as well. Why is it that there are just more norms that are written about and more prevalent in some countries/regions rather than others?

    I know I should be just enjoying everyone's postings for the excitement and adventure that they represent. Mostly I do. But I can't stop myself from thinking critically and wondering why and how these stereotypes come about.

    At any rate - know that my message(s) are with respect to both the American and the German writing their reports - please keep them coming. Go get them wives of yours! That is the only similarity between the posts.

    These ideas/thoughts have just been on my mind lately. That's all.
    #21
  2. tt100

    tt100 Been here awhile

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    So.... The rain in Spain really does fall mainly on the Plain.... I can't believe you missed that! :D

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
    #22
  3. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    All I want to do is write about stuff that actually happens. I haven't met any border guards because there are none in between EU countries. That happened in 1995-97. Crossing from Spain to Portugal is no more difficult than going from Ohio to Indiana.

    And I didn't write about the drunk guy in the Portugese bar who taught me to count to ten in English, French, Spanish, and Portugese, because I didn't think it was worth talking about. I generally avoid large urban areas on my bike because I don't enjoy traffic coming at me in multiple directions. I like rural areas with smooth twisty roads and think perhaps some other motorcyclists might, so I mention those, hoping someone will find this information the same way I found it from another rider. If you look at bestbikingroads.com you'll see it seems there are several of us out here.

    As for why I talk about the same things others have talked about, perhaps we're noticing the same things? Maybe it makes me shallow to be happy at finding a wine I like for $3 rather than $12. Maybe everyone else that notices this is shallow, too? Generally I try not to post comments criticizing others, only criticizing myself. Being a border guard would be a long, thankless job, not something I'd want to do, so even if I met one and had a difficult interaction with them, I probably wouldn't write about it here. That person's life has enough problems without me piling on.

    What I do not undertand is why you are asking me to comment on the same things you criticized EvanADV about. Are you just looking for ammo and opportunities to shoot people down? You seem to think it's OK to tell him not to eat pork rinds because he's already fat, but it's not OK to talk about heaven and hell? I think that reflects poorly placed priorities. And when you said to him "I am not religious. I believe in things I can see, touch, feel, taste - science." to him... I have to wonder how it happens that some people can look at this world we're out here exploring and don't even wonder about it's creator. Because you asked me to talk about this, I'm going to say this to you: You are blind.

    I think this is plenty for this forum. If you wish to PM me I'll reply to you personally. That's what private messages are for. I don't want to turn a ride report into a personal discussion on something else between two people, and I hope you'll do the same.
    #23
  4. Tye Sr.

    Tye Sr. The Peripatetic

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    Yes, I am here in Kaiserslautern working. I enjoy every moment off when I get to ride. Wow! Now, that sounds great and there just might be a chance... I will PM you. Definitely peeked my interest.
    #24
  5. Air Force Vet

    Air Force Vet Been here awhile

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    Great RR! Thanks for posting and really looking forward to the next few days. Luckily for me, you're capturing all the things that I find interesting :clap
    #25
  6. faded_Glory

    faded_Glory Adventurer

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    Just wanted to say that I enjoy your RR very much. You are a very good photographer and I like your commentary. I also can't fault you for your choice of bike :thumbup :D

    One small tip, in case you ever come to the UK, never park your bike on the pavement like you do on the continent. You're guaranteed to get a ticket as I found out the hard way the first time I did that.

    Good luck with the rest of your trip, I'm looking forward to it!

    fG
    #26
  7. Grouik

    Grouik Bike & Beer

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    I love the way you are telling us your adv., Thanks
    #27
  8. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    You're going to comment on the rain on the plain and not even acknowledge the Pamplona comment? I call bull on that!:lol3
    #28
  9. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I started the day with a bright sunrise, signs of good things to come, and I packed away the rain gear. Still colder than heck, and the guy at the hotel said it was much colder than normal this year. Great.

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    I headed south from Braganca on some smaller roads, some of which were good, some not. Here's a few pics of the area.

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    Sorry about the ones that are through the windscreen, best I could do.

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    Including one town called Sobreira where they dump their trash in the revine just outside of town. Way to take care of your little piece of the world, folks.

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    Pretty soon it started to look and feel a lot like spring!

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    Riding through the Duoro valley was really cool. I often ride up and down the Mosel river wine area in Germany, and expected the Duoro to be about the same. Not true. The Duoro is HUGE HUGE compared to the Rhine or Mosel. Not quite Grand Canyon, but as my brother the physics professor would say, it's orders of magnitude larger, deeper, and just amazing.

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    See that white building in the middle? That's a 12 or 14 room building!

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    This place is just really BIG!

    Along the way I passed by this town and this is at the bus stop. One of the nicer ways to tell people where they are, isn't it?

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    Song on the iPod was "Fields of Gold", sung by Eva Cassidy, whose version I much prefer over the original.

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    I never made promises lightly
    And there have been some that I've broken
    But I swear in the days still left
    We'll walk in fields of gold



    After three hours of fooling around on twisty roads I figured I better get headed where I was going. And that was Lisbon. I said earlier that I usually try to avoid urban areas when on the bike, but iIm on a special quest to find a long-lost souvenir for a very good friend, and it can only be found in Lisbon. So I got on the tollway. Compare this service station picture her to what you've seen of the mobs in France on the way home from the beaches in the south after holiday.

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    Saturday afternoon at the service station, Portugal.

    On the highway and I'm wondering about things. Every exit I go by, there's a sign telling me the "tax amount" for that exit. But there's never a toll booth. Hmm.. Then I notice the complex radar and camera systems I've been riding under just before each exit. Are they counting license plates and taking tolls that way? Really? Will it ever get to me in the form of a bill? Check out the sign on the far left. What else could that mean? Taxes by sonar ?! What a... great invention?

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    After two hours on the highway I need some twisty roads, so I pick a random exit, take the first turn that looks like smooth road, ride a few kilometers, and then tell the GPS to take me back to Lisbon. Hey, you gotta have a plan, and that was my plan. The next thing I know, I'm coming into Belvar, and here's what I see. No kidding, you can't make this stuff up.

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    Castel, coble stone streets, orange trees with fruit, white washed buildings... yep, got all that

    For a kid from Ohio off traveling the world, castles still rate pretty high. Not as many in Ohio as over here.

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    Seconds before the camera tumbled off the fence post and landed on a big rock. Now with a new dent and fewer functions!

    But on the way to Lisbon I want to make another stop. Cabo da Roca, the easternmost tip of land in Europe. As far back as the Romans this was pretty much the end of the world, they called it "Promontorium Magnum". I doubt I need to translate that for you!

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    A nice guy hanging out with his girl in a van offered to take my picture. We chatted in German, nice because it obviously wasn't a first language for either of us, so we both spoke slowly and with small words. Kind of nice, and we understood each other. ::ear He asks how many hours riding from my home in Germany and I tell him about 36 (according to Garmin).

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    After a long and frustrating trip into the center of Lisbon, the way these things often go in big cities, I made it to my hotel and went searching for the elusive souvenir. I got thrown off the trail by the hotel receptionist, bought the wrong transit ticket, got on the wrong tram (15 is not 15E), got left half way to nowhere when the 15E stopped, walked 6 kilometers, passed by while standing at the tram stop twice, and still nothing. I finally walked into a nice looking bar, "light and bright" as the realtor who sold my house in 1996 would have called it.

    I looked in the show case of food and saw potato chips and odd but not interesting pastries, and was just about to leave when the guy behind the bar asked me something. I still haven't bothered to find out of I should say 'para' or 'habla' when I tell someone I can't speak Portugese. (No habla is Spanish, no para is Italian). I guess either one works, being right or wrong, it gets the point across. Anyway, I mumble one of these and he switches to English with a smile and asks if I want to eat or to have a drink. I haven't had anything except a granola bar in thirteen hours but I say I want a dark beer. In less than 10 seconds I have one, and boy it hits the spot. Pretty soon I see a chalkboard menu and read "Gambas", which I know in Spanish is shrimp, usually in spicy olive oil. OK, lets call off the hunt and eat. Soon there are shrimp, sauteed pork, bread, and a glass (well, two) of FANTASTIC Duoro wine on my table. And while this is happening, people are streaming into this place.

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    Estado da Alma, one of the most enjoyable meals I've had.

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    The waiter who is helping me reminds me of my best friend's son-in-law Jeff, and he's great. He asks if he can pick the wine for me, since I order one that I think is red but turns out is white, so he knows I need some help. He comes back with a whole bottle, and starts telling me all about why this is such a good wine. I tell him I only want a glass, not a whole bottle, and he says yes, this is OK, but it is 7 Euros a glass, not the normal 2 or 3, but it is so good, I must try it.

    OK, whatever, I was in a rotten mood when I came in and now I have great food in front of me, I'll go along with it. But MAN, was that wine good. Both glasses of it. So if you're ever in Lisbon, go see Victor at Estado d'Alma. Tell him the guy on the moto that said he hated Lisbon sent you. And tell him I changed my mind about his city.

    All of which explains why I'm writing this at 1:15 AM. Now I'm going to sleep, like the evil trams that don't stop for me.

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    Tomorrow I resume the hunt, finish the kill, and head for some Roman ruins in Merida, Spain. If the bike is still there on the street where I parked it. I left it in the care of St. Pedro and St. Paulus.

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    #29
  10. beema69

    beema69 love me love my dog

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    Western Australia
    Great reading and pics. Thanks. Portugal is now on the "must go to" list!
    #30
  11. PukaWai

    PukaWai Been here awhile

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    Really enjoying your RR. Great commentary, and your pictures look like the ones I would take. A couple of mine might even be as good as yours.

    This passage had me laughing:

    Last summer I rode across France for three weeks and although I've been working on learning some French for some 20 years now, this was the first trip where the locals didn't automatically try to switch to English upon hearing my (probably horrible) accent, and I managed the whole trip without using English. It made for a lot of the "interesting little interactions with people" and was probably the best part of the trip. Alas, the "something between pity and disdain" was still there - I think it's classic French, and the amount of disdain is proportionate to how pretty the girl is. :D
    France is a great country to travel in, especially on a bike!
    #31
  12. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    My best language story happened in Italy. My wife and I were on our way back to our hotel in Orvieto when we came across a Carabinieri checkpoint. I knew I hadn't done anything (or thought so) because we came around a curve and there he was, resplendent in his uniform, helmet, sunglass, looking like Apollo about to swat a bug. I pulled over and rolled down my window. He said something which, of course, I didn't understand, so I told him "No hablo Ingl├ęs". He looked at me for a moment, stepped back from the car, his head sank to his chest, and he pointed for me to go on. I thought this worked pretty well and drove away. As soon as I got the window back up my wife busted out laughing.

    "What?"

    "Do you know what you just said?"

    "Yeah, I told him I don't speak Italian."

    "No, you just told him in Spanish that you don't speak English!"

    Well... it worked. And I bet he still tells that story, too. :rofl
    #32
  13. faded_Glory

    faded_Glory Adventurer

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    It also explains why a seasoned ADV Rider like you can't tell his East from his West :lol3

    fG
    #33
  14. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    This had me laughing, what a great line:

    "Eventually it was on the way towards Pamplona, where despite the weather the bike was running great, no bull."

    Fantastic pictures and great writing. Really enjoying your ride report. Doesn't seem like spring is showing up here any time soon either.

    Best wishes for a continued great adventure.
    #34
  15. chelo5sur

    chelo5sur Been here awhile

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    I m enjoying your pics . Nice ride , beautifull bike, thanks for sharing.
    #35
  16. peripateo

    peripateo Adventurer

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    This is my first time ever commenting on a RR, and I comment now to say how much I have enjoyed reading and seeing your pictures! I am a Spanish teacher in Tennessee with my main interest and focus on Spain and its culture(s?). So, clearly I have enjoyed your experiences and funny stories negotiating the language barriers. Also your cultural comments about tapas, etc I have enjoyed. What a neat anecdote catching eyes with the pilgrim enroute to Santiago de Compostela! Keep it coming.
    #36
  17. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    Uh, yeah. West. Sorry. I plead that it was 1:15 AM.
    #37
  18. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    Music is a funny thing and has a way of sticking in our memories. I challenge any American born between 1960 and 1975 to spell bologna without singing the Oscar Meyer ad song. See what I mean? And as I've mentioned my new iPod, this is my first ride with musical accompaniment. It's interesting.

    Yesterday as I was riding through the Duoro Valley the song La Mer came on my iPod. I don't understand more than a word or two of it (in French) but like it anyway. I like lots of things I don't understand. I thought it was kind of funny looking at all this rock and humming a tune about the sea. The next song was by Louis Prima, Five Months, Two Weeks, Two days, about how long his baby has been gone. Of course being away from my wife, I thought about that, and was glad it will only be three days until she joins me in Spain.

    Anyway, this morning I was route planning and nothing seemed to work out. I wanted to get out of Lisbon, but a museum I want to go to is closed Sunday before I can get there. I couldn't find a hotel I liked in my next planned stop.

    So I'm sitting eating a great breakfast at this boutique hotel I got a great internet price on, when I notice the HUGE red gerber daisy on my table, a foot from my face. My wife's favorite flower. She'd love this hotel except for the late hours people in Lisbon keep. And then I'm reading the little paper the hotel printed and left on the table about Sunday in Lisbon, and what to do, and I realize I'm in one of Europe's great cities, a capitol that once ruled a global empire, and maybe I shouldn't just run out of town so fast. The weather for tonight isn't good, so I'll get out today, but maybe I'll relax and walk around a bit, take things a bit slower today. All my stops will work out better that way, too.

    The minute I decide this, I can feel myself relaxing. I have another cup of coffee, and the next song on the radio is... Beyond the Sea, a remake of La Mer by Bobby Darin. Somehow it now seems appropriate, looking out the window at the great harbor of Lisbon.

    Somewhere beyond the sea
    somewhere waiting for me
    my lover stands on golden sands
    and watches the ships that go sailin'


    The next song is Peggy Lee's Alright, Okay, You Win, which to my ear sounds just like Louis Prima's Five Weeks. (In fact Louis Prima recorded both). Strange to hear those two songs back to back today on a radio station in Lisbon (it was a radio station, I checked) after what I heard on my iPod on shuffle mode yesterday. Like I said, there are lots of things I don't understand, and I'm ok with that.

    So I had a nice walk around Lisbon's downtown and walked up to the castle. I only recently learned of the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, one of the most devastating natural disasters ever in terms of human loss, wrecking the capitol of a world power in a single day. The effects went so far as to lead intellectual thinkers around Europe to question if God could allow such a thing to happen, and often the conclusion they came to was that the earthquake disproved God's existence. I'm sure this wasn't the first time many of them had thought about this, but it was even stranger to think about this standing on the hill and overlooking the city. I find history very interesting, and I hope I'm not boring you.

    Marble cobble stone sidewalks all through downtown. This one particularly appropriate for the capitol of a sea power nation.
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    I love the tile pictures that are all over Portugal on the outside of buildings. It's an art form I can relate to. I don't find iPod's cool, only useful, but tile pictures are cool.
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    This is the city from the harbor, about 1915 judging from the style of ships.


    This map was on the wall outside my room in the hotel. I found it inspiring.
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    Now I've been to the WESTERNmost point, and the southernmost is just down the road, I'll be there on my way to Morocco. I don't care about the northernmost, too darn cold way up there. So...did I mention I'm seriously thinking of a ride from Germany to Istanbul (and back through the Greek islands on a ferry to Athens, them up through Croatia) in July? My bike and I go home to Ohio in September, and I will likely never get the chance to do this again. Anyone want to come along? I say Istanbul is the easternmost (it's only 11pm!) point in Europe, but my wife disagrees. She says parts of Russia, like Moscow, are in Europe and farther east. I say Moscow is in Asia. In any case, if you're interested in a 3-week ride from Germany to the southern coast of Turkey from about July 8th to about the 28th, let me know. Good company is valuable.

    I never did find the souvenir my friend wanted. Oh well.
    #38
  19. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I took the freeway out of Lisbon, glad to find the big bridge over the harbor is toll free going away from downtown. This part of Portugal is flat and boring for riders, and other than seeing a 1954 (I think) Cadillac Fleetwood on a car carrier it was pretty routine. No safe way to take a photo (should have bought that GoPro last year) so I can't share it, sorry. My first stop was lunch in Evola, a world heritage site with a cool 15th century aqueduct, cool cathedral that was closed on Sunday :huh and a vendor making ham and cheese sandwiches without the cheese. Cheese was all gone 5 minutes ago. But the ham was good, I love European air dried ham.

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    Stopped for gas and these two guys in the late 40's or 50's were hanging out at the gas station, watching the world go by.
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    Pretty soon a third guy shows up on a bike, and they all chat together. I wonder if they've been doing it just this way for 35 years. And I can't decide if that sounds stifling or appealing. In the center of town was the group of 60's and 70's guys, and on the east end another group in their 40's and 50's. Biding their time 'til they can move into the main square, I bet.

    Then I wandered the two lane roads through the countryside, stopping for pictures of wildflowers and things. The fact that I took no pictures of roads today says enough about that. Not very interesting riding, no roads marked green for scenic, but lots of relaxing scenery. Just what I needed today.

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    Rode by seven or eight castles, too.

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    First day I've needed my sunglasses on this trip.
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    Arrived in Merida to find this, could be right out on Route 66.
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    My first vehicle-centered road trip was driving a Honda S2000 from LA to Ohio, mostly along Route 66 with Pete (TT100) back in 2007. Great times. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

    Merida is home to tons of Roman ruins, something both readers of my first ride report back in 2011 will notice. I meant to come here then but didn't get here.

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    Great example of Roman building techniques. Dressed stone exterior, interior filled with rubble and mortar, a course of brick every five to ten feet to help bind it all together.
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    No mortar in the joints on the dressed granite.
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    And you know what I'm going to say here...

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    I was riding by fruit orchards and vineyards all day today, and got to thinking about trees and vines.

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    My wife's Uncle Drew is a botanist with a specialty in urban forestry, and he is bothered by people planting trees that are going to grow big and then are constantly cutting them back. He would prefer they plant small trees in the first place, and let the tree be true to it's nature. That's applied to urban tree growning. But that isn't how fruit farming works at all, it seems.

    Fruit trees and vines are constantly being pruned to become what the owner wants them to be. Sometimes a little off the top and sides, sometimes a buzz cut, but the object is for the plant to put it's energy into producing fruit for the owner.

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    Left to it's own, the tree will produce a little fruit, but not much. Most of it's growth goes into making itself bigger. Which makes it more susceptible to wind damage or even being blown over by a big storm. And makes it less useful to others. The owner cuts it back, cuts off stray branches so they don't waste the plants energy, and so the plant directs most of it's energy into producing fruit.

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    And this happens different ways. Some of the vineyards I saw had vines trained along wires very strictly. Some others looked like a giant brush hog mower had been set at two feet high every month for twenty years, so everything above that got cut off, but what was below that was hard and solid. And scarred and knotty.

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    No matter how you think we got here, created or evolved, we share at least some of the nature of these plants. What makes me think I'm best off being left alone to do my own thing, to become what I think is in my nature? Wouldn't I benefit from some pruning of wasted branches, too? Be it my God, my wife, my boss, my friend, there are people in my life that see things in me that I do not see, and can probably help me produce more and better fruit instead of wasting most of my energy on making myself bigger.

    See what happens when I spend a sunny Sunday afternoon riding through vineyards and listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos!

    Tomorrow lots of Roman ruins, then south to the capitol of ham (one of them anyway) and some more sunshine. I hope.
    #39
  20. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    Dayton, Ohio
    I rode to Spain back in 2011 and wrote about it then. Link is here if you want to see. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=697976
    Glad you're enjoying riding along, thanks for letting me know.
    #40