I figure it's about time I jump on here and at least give some of you a vague idea of what's goin on in my world. Going back a little bit, I spent the vast majority of the winter in recovery mode after having all that hardware yanked. I'm still feeling a little weak in that limb, but a few people have mentioned that they're surprised to see how well I'm moving around. So I guess I'm feelin pretty good in that aspect. While this was all going down, my good buddy Rust out in Phoenix was taking care of the KLR in my absence. I understand that he took the old girl out a few times, despite it's questionable legality, and enjoyed the ride. Glad to hear it. I continued on with physical therapy and got out and about as often as I could. The dog needed the exercise, anyhow. I put off flying back for a few weeks waiting for the weather to improve. The family home was in dire need of some attention, and in truth, it's been in need for a good long time. As soon as my tax refund came in I was able to go out and supply up. I tore apart the upstairs bathroom and did a ton of work on it. Bad dry wall, leaking shower surround, and even a bit of gnarly black mold. Cupboards were fabbed up, shelving installed, and I finished up the trim work leaving us with a moderately improved bath time and a very happy mother. As the weather dried up I moved outside. There was a fair amount of water damage I remembered making note of when the roof was installed a few years back, and so I took this opportunity to tackle what I could and secure the rest. Under a watchful eye the entire time... Overall, I'm happy with how it all turned out, but the sheer scale of the entire project quickly got the better of me. I delayed the flight and started to get very anxious. I was spending entire days patching leaks and sealing up the damage. I've accepted that I simply couldn't get it done in the time allowed, and promised myself that I would do my best to return towards the end of this summer, or perhaps the early fall, to tackle the work head on. I flew out towards the end of April with early April being my target for the past several months. I guess I wasn't too far off, but Upstate winter never seemed to end this year. Even up towards my last few days, flurries would pick up as soon as the sun dipped behind the horizon. My last day was pretty cool, though. I found that it mirrored my last day in Phoenix some four or five months ago. The weather was perfect, the energy was positive, and the herb cracked and enveloped my brother and I in such a pleasant haze after a savage few weeks. We cruised up to the bluffs and hiked the beach, my trusted companion at our heels. I'm gonna miss this. My last day of Upstate lifestyle happened to be the first day of fresh cut grass, a smell I'd long since forgotten as the past year left me moving from one desert wasteland to the next. The flight was rough. Five and a half hours in a center seat in coach, but was greeted at touch down with Rust's toothy smirk and a beer in hand. I spent the next week wrenching, riding, and unwinding. I'm a big fan of Dan's little gang he's got out there in the valley. I find nothing more relaxing and entertaining than tipping back a few and partaking in this little slice of shade, a converted carport. I was also greeted with a HELL of a stack of boxes. A new Arai helmet, a clear IMS tank, and a used saddle which proved to be a nice improvement. It took a good few hours to get everything dialed in, which included welding tank brackets and stitching large lengths of rope, but I think we've got a winner. Now I just need to go through and earn some road grime for that tank. I was given a couple of contributions by the Rust clan that I really like. It took a good couple of hours and a bright pink BIC to figure it all out, but I'm damn proud to display Mrs. Rust's hand made leather belt from grade school. They even signed it. It goes well with the scraps of leather woven into the tank rope. Every time I'm out here with my desert family, we tend to spend entirely too much time sketching out half baked ideas, elaborating concepts, trash talking chrome, and admiring a great many shapes and sizes of steel and octane. One rig specifically caught my attention. I remember seeing it last time I was in town, but having it right in front of me made the whole concept a reality. This 1982 Seca 650 Turbo belongs to Rust's neighbor, Don. I remember it sticking out of the garage a few months ago, buried among piles of other bikes. Now, however, the garage was empty. Someone had long ago carted off a trailer of KLX600s and boxes of parts. I asked if he had any intention on selling the turbo. He hemmed and hawwed a bit, but after watching me piece it together before him, then sit on it and make turbo noises while white knuckling a stuck throttle, he offered up $200 for everything. The bike, a box of parts and a nearly complete, yet rough parts bike. I told him I would let him know. The truth is, I didn't have the money to spend on something like this, regardless of what a great deal it seemed. I was already living on donated funds and just wouldn't feel right spending it on something like this... A few days later, Don wanders over to me and poses a question. "Would you consider a trade?" A trade, huh? I glanced back at Janis and shook my head a bit. "I've got some work I need done on the house, let me show you what I'm thinking." I perked up, grabbed a pen and notebook and sketched out a plan. Pretty simple and straightforward, it was. He had a large vent in the gable end of his home that the local cats kept digging at. I was to improve upon this. Not a bad trade. As NomadGal mentioned, and while all of this was being hashed out, she came into town for a brief stint. She came in rather late on the first day, and it didn't really sound like she had any clue where she would be for the evening. We set her up nicely with a stocked kitchen (none of which is vegetarian friendly), a hot shower, and a nice bed. I offered her the bed in the spare room, or even the couch, but she elected the RV as her residence for the evening. Nomad to the bone. And she even knitted me this bad ass wool hat. It now resides permanently in my normal rotation. Anyhow, we spent the next day cruising around. We made a pretty solid loop of nearly 300 miles, not counting the 100 mile return trip. From Phoenix, we cruised up towards Wickenburg, then Prescott, Jerome, and Sedona. It was a good, fun ride, despite the nearly triple digit temperature. This is also my first big ride since surgery, and while I was rather sore towards the end of the day it was all worth it. From Sedona we tackled a little dotted line on the map labeled Schnebly Hill road. This turned out to be an terribly awesome idea. It was pretty rough, especially with NomadGal's fully loaded KLR. I was pretty impressed with her attitude, though. Despite going down twice, she kept at it. I even offered going back if it got too rough, to which she replied "No way! I'm not going back down that after coming this far!" There we go, we shall continue on. We parted ways just across the interstate and short of Mormon Lake. There were several awesome campsites up through these woods, so I don't doubt she found a great place to bed down for the night. I, on the other hand, came ill prepared for a night in the woods and decided to slab back towards Phoenix. This in itself turned out to be a great ride, descending down from the mountains just as the sun set. Till next time, Nomad Gal! So now I'm on my last day in Phoenix. I've got a budget truck loaded up with three motorcycles, one of which will be parted out ASAP to recoup my expenses. All of my things are in boxes, there's a cold beer in my hand, and a knot in my throat rivaled only to that of my last day in New York. Good people, good times. I don't know that I've really gotten this close with another couple in all of my travels. I truly think of them as an extension of my family, the best of friends, despite being regularly reminded of our age gap. They don't know this photo exists, but considering it's such poor quality (cell), they can eat me. I love this image, though. I've always thought that, regardless of what's going on in their lives, I saw a smile on their faces and heard laughter each and every day that I was there. It's a beautiful thing. The rental van wasn't THAT bad. The cab was small, no doubt, but it was a solid rig. I think that Rust just forgot that metal in most parts of the country do, in fact, rust out. The diagram of the truck that the rental agent gave me did, however, have nearly every panel on all sides of the truck marked off for dings, scratches, rust, and graffiti. So... whatever. And yes, there have been several times where I've had to stand back and just shake my head. I really can't believe that this is all happening, that you guys have gotten together to set me up nice for whatever may come. I feel unworthy, but VERY grateful. You can trust me when I've said that this couldn't have gone down at a better time. I've been kept afloat on contributions over the past few weeks. Things should pick up from here. And San Diego is where I arrived. The Racetech Warehouse in Carlsbad, to be more specific. My good buddy Evan and I had been chatting and throwing some ideas around over the winter months, and this is what it has come to. At the business, here, there is a fully stocked shop down below with tools, a lift, compressor, and plenty of space. Much of the time this sits idle, so we've conjured up a plan. This has all kept me INCREDIBLY busy of the past few days. We've been scouring craigslist and our contacts for used bikes, and we've gotten quite a few good deals. Evan has been doing this for the past several months, buying a bike, repairing, and flipping it for a profit. But with the space that he has, we've decided to experiment a bit, and have begun parting out bikes. And who knows, a few repair jobs might even come through the door. We had this DR 350 reduced to a box of parts within a handful of hours. Anyone in need of parts? And as of writing this.... We'll have to see how this goes. I'm cautiously optimistic. I've also been in contact with the construction company I worked for a few months back, and there seems to be a few contracts coming down the tubes right around this area. It would be nice if I could pick up a couple of months of work, then I could be a shop dog in the evening, and tear up the ribbons on the weekend. I'm only thinking a few weeks ahead, and truth be told, I don't even have a place to stay quite yet. I spent last night in the shop, and a few nights on Evan's couch. It'd be nice to have the security of knowing where I'll be sleeping at night. But then again, maybe I'm just getting too comfortable. I REALLY like this idea. Sounds like fun. BBQ for everyone! Oh, and to Motomedic, Beechum, and FadingFast. You can take turns licking the fattest part of my ass. Yup.