Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,015
    Location:
    Andover MN USA
    OK, Binge read complete! Well up to here any way.

    I recall you reaching out either before we left or while we were out. Glad to see you "made it". We actually ended up getting home close to the same time. I parked mine back in the garage on Independence Day.

    Thank you for taking the time and putting in the effort to post up the RR. It is a lot of work. I think you will find as I did it also is somewhat selfish. Every once in a while someone will read my first report and post a comment or a "like" and it drags me back to see what they were on about. And it causes me to click through my postings and pictures and relive the moments. I hope you will find that same satisfaction a year or 2 down the road.
    72 Yamaha RD350 likes this.
  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    The bad weather you had leaving Minnesota was about the same level of cold and rain we had on Canada Day. If I had been leaving the same day as you I would have blown off Alaska and headed south. But I was glad to see you had good weather for the rest of your trip.

    I hate to see that your trip report no longer contains the pictures. What caused them to disappear?

    Forty-four days is an epic ride. I hope your injury has healed completely.

    I do re-read this RR on occasion - sometimes to see it from a new reader's view, sometimes to look for errors or things to improve, and other times just to re-live the trip.

    If you ever ride west to Wright County - give me a shout. I'm the one on the bluff top overlooking the Crow radiating energy from the microwave tower.
  3. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,015
    Location:
    Andover MN USA
    @72 Yamaha RD350 Not sure what was up but I went and checked and I still see pics. Even the Photobucket pics in my first report are there.

    Sluggish servers?
  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    The Invention of Lying
    My senior year of high school revolved mostly around school and homework. Dick Drumwright did something really unique that benefited all of his college bound students: In addition to assignments from the textbook, if you bought the Schaum’s College Outline workbook for Chemistry or Physics he would give you one bonus point for every even number problem you solved (odd numbered problems had the answers in the back of the book). He knew the path to succeeding in 201 level college classes was to master the math of chemical reactions, oxidation reduction, stoichiometry, Newtonian mechanics, electricity, and optics. Like many other things, mastery of math underlying scientific principles rests in sheer repetition for those of us not gifted enough to understand it in one pass. Obviously he couldn’t force us to solve an inordinate amount of problems, but he could incentivize us. His method worked. Most of his students reached the end of the semester with sufficient bonus points that taking the Final Exam was superfluous.

    [This is my Schaum's Outline for Calculus that I used in college. The pages are yellowed with age as it will soon be forty years old.]
    IMG_0966.jpg

    Earning those bonus points sucked up a lot of my life but working twenty hours per week at the drugstore was a welcome respite. Phil Klenke, the pharmacist nearing retirement, was always a joy to be around. In the winter he drove a late model Mazda RX7 and, in the summer, a 1967 Mustang that he had purchased new. Both were light blue and meticulously cared for. Phil was a diehard auto enthusiast and, when business was slow, told me about his cross country road trips before the Interstate Highway System. He and I were working New Year’s Eve when a fellow came to the pharmacy counter asking for help finding condoms. Phil kindly pointed the man to the correct aisle, turned to me and said with a wink and a smile, “I guess he’s going to bring in the New Year with a bang”.

    [Phil's RX-7 looked exactly like this one; courtesy Hemming Motor News]
    rx7.jpg

    [And his Mustang looked like this. Photo courtesy of the interwebs.]
    mustang.jpg

    Sarah and I were seeing each other as much as possible during the school day. On weekends we could usually finagle spending time together at a basketball game. I attended her church on Sunday and began reading books about Mormonism in my spare time to learn about its curious past and present state.

    The most influential book was written by Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton, “The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints” published in 1979. Arrington had a PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina and Bitton a PhD in History from Princeton - obviously respectable academic credentials. Also, Arrington was the acting official LDS Church Historian (named in 1972)(1). The book was scholarly, objective enough, and if mildly apologetic certainly lacking in a overtly parochial viewpoint. Its overriding message was that regardless of a history of polygamy and racism, the modern church was respectably Christian and in harmony with American ideals and values.

    [This is the book I read back in the day.]
    tme.jpg

    Some years later I was influenced by the previously mentioned “Mormonism: A New American Religious Tradition” by Shipps. What I didn’t know at the time was both books were the product of a Camelot period in Mormon history research and publishing that had already closed by the time I read Arrington & Bitton. Conservative church leaders did not support an objective historical narrative (2) and, by 1982, quietly removed Arrington from his position as Church Historian and exiled him from further positions of influence(3). For her part, Shipps knew that Camelot was over but, having spent decades attaining recognition as a non-Mormon scholar, wasn’t about to burn her bridges by sounding the alarm. In fairness, it wasn’t her role to do so as an outsider. (4)

    But that’s all putting the cart before the horse. Sarah and I were in love. Her church was making public efforts to present itself as “normal” to outsiders, and her mother hated me because I wasn’t part of their tribe. There were only two options.

    I struggled with the decision for months. The Jesus of Protestantism and Mormonism may be the same guy in name and resurrection, but otherwise have little in common. Keeping my Jesus meant that I would lose Sarah.(5)

    Phil Klenke and Dick Drumright were transparent people in my life representing honest institutions. I didn’t know it at the time, but one should be wary of people and institutions that require unrealistic behaviors such that you frequently have no choice but to obscure the facts, shade the details, lie if necessary, and give up personal authenticity in the process. The danger of not being truthful with others is that, eventually, you’ll not be truthful with yourself. The worst lies told are the ones we tell ourselves.


    [1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_J._Arrington; the role of Church Historian remained officially vacant until 2005]

    [2 - There is no such concept as “objectivity” in Mormon culture when it comes to their religion. In their fishbowl Mormonism is unapologetically True in the same way the Pope is Catholic. It just is. There’s no questioning it. There’s no room for academic critique or historical inquiry. Those are techniques applied to other sects and faiths but not to one’s own. As one Mormon told me years later - “there is no space for doubt; One cannot doubt and have faith” - which was a bastardization of the word “faith” as I understood it.]

    [3 - Being an entirely hierarchical and seniority driven institution, progressive church leaders who had guided the church through the tumultuous Sixties passed away leaving arch conservatives to fill the roles of power - one of them being former Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower, Ezra Taft Benson, who was a prominent member of the John Birch Society.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Taft_Benson
    ETB was joined by fellow arch conservatives in creating a resurgence of conservative Mormon culture. There has not been a known Democrat in the top LDS leadership ranks since the last one died in 2007.]

    [4 - Other scholars, historians, and authors were prominent in the Camelot era but all were eventually excommunicated from the Church by the early 90’s. I only reference Arrington and Shipps because they were the ones who influenced me at the time. Predictably, Mormon history reverted to "faith promoting" history until the internet arrived and factual history unraveled the fabrications and half-truths that had been spun for generations. This culminated in the (church sponsored) 2008 publication of “Massacre at Mountain Meadows” by Turley et al., which half-heartedly admitted that the cold blooded murder of approximately 140 non-Mormons in 1857 had indeed been committed by Mormons and the church had been complicit in attempting to blame it on the Paiutes and concocting false accusations against the victims.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_Massacre
    A follow-up book, “After the Massacre”, detailing the aftermath, cover-up, and trials has not been published as of 2020 for obvious reasons.]

    [5 - It's amazing how a 2,000 year old Jewish carpenter can compete with an attractive sixteen year old of the opposite gender, but that's what losing a close friend to a drunk driver can do to you.]

    To escape the serious topic above and maintain a motorcycle theme, Mrs. RD and I stopped by an HD dealer today to look at some new and used bikes. She has some health issues at present that prevent her from getting her endorsement, but she climbed aboard this SuperLow 1200LT with little prodding from me.

    SL.jpg
  5. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Beware the Airstream
    I don’t know how many years ago it was that I fell in love with Airstream travel trailers - those silver gleaming bullets of the highways - but I lost my desire to buy an RV in retirement and travel the country twenty years before I got to retirement. (It’s still ten years in the future for me.) I always thought when I was younger that’s what I would do but somewhere along the way our country got crowded, RV’s got bigger, and campgrounds got smaller. Regardless, the first time I stepped inside an Airstream I was smitten. The brushed aluminum interior finish speaks to that Thoreau minimalism deep inside me almost enough to make me rape my bank account for the outrageous prices they command. So far I have been strong which is easier to do without a tow vehicle in the stable.

    One of the marketing blurbs of Airstream is that they tow better than other travel trailers because of the aerodynamic shape. Is it true or hype - I don’t care, I just love the look and the design aesthetic of a Flying Cloud and the floor plan of a 23FB.

    The Road King is an 830 lbs touring bike. Like all cruiser style bikes the rider sits low to ground, not tall in the saddle like an ADV bike. When I encounter a semitrailer on the interstate the buffeting becomes detectable at 150 feet, noticeable at 120 feet, and within 100 feet the turbulence can become brutal as the air collapses violently behind a box trailer. Travel trailers and RV’s tend to be almost as bad. The bike is stable but I take a minor beating - the downside of having a windshield versus a fairing which provides slightly more protection.

    On departure day Rick and I had a 269 mile interstate ride to Jamestown ND into a lite west wind on the prairie. My cruise control was set at 75 mph and we were passing box-shaped semi’s, travel trailers, and RV’s every couple miles as the wind fought them more than us, but there was 80 mph automobile traffic so we couldn’t sit in the passing lane. [I’m not willing to run 80 mph sustained even though the 107ci M8 will do it with ease.]. I settled into a pattern: enjoy the scenery, wait till I feel the air disturbance from the boxy thing ahead of me, pull out to pass, rocket past as fast as possible, and reign it back in to start the cycle over again. This worked well for an hour or more.

    Midway to Fargo I noticed not a boxy thing, but an Airstream ahead of me. The silver bullet was gleaming in the afternoon sun. I remembered my love of Airstreams and began to daydream of all the details... maybe there would be one in my future afterall - they’re just that gorgeous. How could I not have one!

    It was right about that moment that I awakened from my daydream to find myself 25 feet behind an Airstream bumper without a hint of turbulence at a closing speed that dictated evasive action. Fortunately, Rick was well behind me and the passing lane was clear.

    I don’t know whether Airstreams tow better than other travel trailers. But I personally confirmed (with almost disastrous consequences) they are unquestionably more aerodynamic than any box shaped trailer... which is obvious just by looks, but it was a whole new experience to feel the difference. Beware the Airstream in front of you on the interstate - it may not wake you from the daydreams of your ride.
  6. ShOqUePoT

    ShOqUePoT GS Pot

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,914
    Location:
    The VT of MA
    Really enjoying this report, thanks for the effort. I've always thought that a heavy cruiser would be better suited for, and less susceptible to "getting blown around" on, the highway than an ADV bike. It almost sounds like you feel the opposite?
  7. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Thank you.

    The Road King does not get blown around.

    Windshields and fairings need laminar flow to effectively move air away from the rider. Turbulent flow doesn't move across the fairing or windshield in an orderly manner . As you approach the rear of a big box semitrailer on a Road King you'll notice the wind noise begin to increase. Get closer and you'll start getting blasts of wind that slap you on the side of the helmet - an indication that the normal pocket of calm behind the windshield is being disrupted. The closer you get to the trailer the more frequent you get slapped up side the head until it becomes constant inside 100 feet. If you stick with it too long, it will go away when you enter the low pressure zone immediately behind the trailer - approximately 30 feet and closer - this is no place for a motorcycle and it's not even safe for a car unless you are practicing your drafting skills for a career in NASCAR on restrictor plate tracks which, if you aren't familiar, inevitably end in "The Big One".

    Road Kings and Springfields will never be as quiet as full fairing bikes in the wind - Electra Glides, Roadmasters, Goldwings, etc... But there is beauty in the landscape ahead to be seen without gauges, dials, radios, or flat screens in the way.
  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Calibration

    “One should be wary of people and institutions that require unrealistic behavior such that you frequently have no choice but to obscure the facts, shade the details, lie if necessary, and give up personal authenticity in the process.”

    Let’s pick up the story with the thirty-eight words above. Once Sarah turned sixteen and could officially date, her parents forced her to go on dates with Mormon boys hoping that her affection for me would be supplanted. When I say Sarah’s mother hated me, I’m using “hate” in every true sense of the word. If she could have banished me from her daughter’s life entirely - she would have. What’s unusual about that is that everyone else’s parents that I knew went out of their way to be accomodating and friendly to their teens’ friends and steady dating companions.

    Let’s use Gail’s parents as an example. Gail and I had been friends since eighth grade when we had been in the same confirmation class at the United Methodist church. We began going out together our Junior year of high school. Gail was the last child in the family so her parents were a bit older. Ralph had been a B-24 bomber pilot in WW2 whose plane was shot down over Romania. His wife, Doris, was always kind to me. After parking the car to pick Gail up one Saturday, I walked over to greet Ralph who was standing next to a bloody chopping block adjacent to the rabbit hutches with a hatchet in one hand. He couldn’t resist taking advantage of the situation by gently quizzing me about where we were going and dramatically changing his focus from me to the hatchet... back to me... back to the sharp blade of the hatchet… back to me. Neither one of us broke character. He knew what he was doing. I knew what he was doing. It was hilarious, made more so by the stoic faces we held. Admittedly, Gail and I had an entirely platonic relationship, or as she told Mrs. RD decades later, “...we were clueless…” Regardless, Ralph and Doris not only trusted me, more importantly they trusted Gail. And they trusted her because, having raised two older daughters, their rules were reasonable - “...have her home by midnight”.(1)

    [B-24 Liberators over Ploesti - where Ralph spent his war days.]
    b24.jpg

    The force behind Sarah's mother’s controlling nature was Mormon culture. Devout Mormons only marry other devout Mormons in a Mormon temple where attendance is restricted to friends and family who, you guessed it, are devout Mormons. It’s a very exclusive culture but one in which the rankings within are partly based on perceived obedience to the rules.(2) It didn’t matter that we were years away from marriage age, the mere potential that I would derail her daughter from reaching that pinnacle of social group compliance was simply unacceptable.

    [Does this look like a building that just anyone can enter? The LDS temple in SLC. Qualified Mormons enter through the one story building in the middle right which has a tunnel to the temple proper. I attended my brother-in-law's first wedding there in 1992. She being taller than him, Mrs. RD's grandfather knew it wouldn't last when she had BIL stand on a box so he would appear the same height as her in the pictures. Grandpa was right.]
    slc.jpg

    With her mother’s objection to our relationship, Sarah had no option but to lie about who she was with and, on occasion, where. Most often she was where she claimed, but every event was a ruse for us to spend time together. We were usually with friends so there was nothing overly sexual going on, but any time with the Gentile (me) was too much for her mother. I even went so far as to make a date for Sarah with one of my friends who, by previous arrangement, agreed to swap dates: I picked up his date and he did the same for me.

    There is tremendous pressure inside Mormon culture to conform. Successful Mormon boys get their Eagle rank in Scouting at age 14, graduate from high school while adhering to the strict moral code of the church (or at least appearing to do so), and serve a full-time mission for two years in which they knock on your door to sell you on Joseph Smith Jr.,. Dedicating two years of their young lives to the church earns them the respect of their family and community while maximizing their sunk cost. Afterwards they return home to attend BYU where they will find and marry a young Mormon girl. In the meantime, the young Mormon girl has been refraining from serious relationships with boys, saving herself for a “return missionary” who can take her to the temple. Unlike the Amish who have Rumspringa for their youth to experience relaxed boundaries, young Mormons have no such relief period.(3)

    rumspringa.jpg

    All of this may be difficult for the outsider to understand and for that I have the true story of Roy and Becky to calibrate the reader. Roy was a year or two younger than me, a good Mormon boy born to a Mormon family who had been raised his entire life to prepare for serving a full-time mission. In high school he met non-Mormon Becky, a vivacious and attractive young woman. They were deeply in love and made a joyous couple - fun to be around and fun to watch. As high school graduation passed and the time for him to leave on his mission approached, the stress of the impending separation was visibly impacting their relationship. Roy had previously submitted his missionary application papers and completed multiple rounds of interviews with eccleseastical leaders at multiple levels who questioned his obedience to the church and moral worthiness to represent it as a brand ambassador (for lack of a better term). His departure day arrived and he boarded the plane to Salt Lake City (SLC) as Becky, in tears, and his family, also in tears, waved him goodbye for two long years.(4) From SLC, Roy boarded a bus with other missionaries for the MTC (Missionary Training Center or “Empty Sea” in LDS vernacular) in Provo for two months of training before being sent to his assigned area. Two weeks later everyone was shocked to find Roy in church on Sunday with Becky at his side.(5) During interviews with superiors at the MTC he admitted that he and Becky had secretly married two months before he boarded the plane to SLC. As bad as that was, worse things have been done.(6)

    I came from a culture of openness and honesty in the United Methodist Church where the bar of faith and morality was so low as to preclude all pretense. Our pastor, Ed Curtis, took us teenagers to a Catholic Mass and services for other sects to get us out of our church fishbowl. My Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Kay Clark, taught a series of classes to us on sexuality that, frankly, made us a little bit uncomfortable but sent the clear message that it’s just part of life. On the flipside, the LDS church exalted its fishbowl as the only True fishbowl - hence no need to see any others and their position on teen physical intimacy was akin to needing to pee while on a roadtrip with an inconsiderate dad - you were going to have to hold it until the destination because there were no rest stops along the way (... or so he said).

    Whether it comes from a religious sect, a corporation, a personal relationship, or a society - the problem with unrealistic rules is that they force dishonesty onto otherwise good people because the truth is unacceptable to the enforcer and the consequences too great for the offender. Roy was forced into deception by social costs that were simply too high for him to bear: He couldn’t tell his parents that he didn’t want to go yet he couldn’t leave Becky without fully committing to her. I hope life turned out well for them. I’m sure it was a living hell for a few weeks while they dealt with the fallout from their parents. It’s easy to just say they made a bad decision, but they didn’t deserve to be put into such a compromising position. You could just as easily find yourself in the same situation with a toxic spouse/relative/friend, a greedy employer, or society as a whole if you have an affection for the devil’s lettuce. It's a tough spot to be in. Without prior experience handling such a difficult quandary you might do what Roy and I both did.

    [1 - It was only a few years before my father’s passing that he told me that Ralph and Doris had paid a visit to him and my mother shortly after Gail and I started dating. Although we attended the same church, they had never really met. Ralph and Doris lived active lives into their nineties, passing only a few years before my father.]

    [2 - Mormon culture ranks everyone, from highest to lowest, by an unwritten system which is too long to repeat here. Suffice it to say there are silent ranks from royalty to peon. You can guess which I was slated to become.]

    [3 - Like Ralph and Doris, the Amish trust their children. Mormon culture is structured for parents to hand off their children to the church (for missions or college) to insure none fall away.]

    [4 - During which time there would only be weekly letters and three phone calls per year - Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.]

    [5 - Mormon missionaries are allowed no physical contact with members of the opposite sex. His presence with Becky signaled that his presence was permanent - not temporary.]

    [6 - William Shunn, a missionary serving in Canada, was arrested in 1986 for filing a false bomb threat on an airliner to prevent his missionary companion from returning home. His experience is chronicled in his book, The Accidental Terrorist.]

    On the motorcycle front, winter is quickly fading. I'm having Custom Dynamics Fillerz installed on the Road King before I pick it up this week from winter storage.

    Mrs. RD got a new Olympia jacket delivered this week. Her new C3Pro helmet being delivered from Germany is stuck in US Customs in NYC likely due to Covid-19.

    oly.jpg
  9. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Elvis is back in the building.

    C09E7CBA-52B0-479F-80A7-4593396DF9FD.jpeg
    Pabst likes this.
  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Falling In and Falling Out
    “Faith communities are groups of (mostly) good people who typically share similar political & moral views in addition to their sectarian beliefs. The tribes create cohesiveness by excluding others and this is partly accomplished through distance… But distance wasn’t a barrier to me because I had the RD.”

    The RD could take me to be with Sarah at school, after school events, church, and church activities but it couldn’t grant me acceptance by her parents. The barrier to acceptance was much higher. And while many members of her faith community were kind and accepting of me, nothing but Unconditional Surrender would suffice for her parents. The prospect of their daughter not having a temple marriage had to disappear - and there were only two ways for that to happen, one of which I gave absolutely no consideration. And that’s how I became Mormon.

    All of us have a capacity to rationalize what we want. No doubt I do. In retrospect, I made a Faustian bargain - trading a part of my soul for her parents’ acceptance. Sarah and I had an enjoyable relationship for five years until I shamefully ended it. The prevailing Mormon tenet of obeying authority had seeped into my psyche. A church friend whom I respected (1), either assuming Sarah and I were more intimate than we were or being told by a church elder to do so, advised me to break it off. And like a good lemming - I did. As stupid as it sounds, it was as simple as that.

    I'm leaving out a lot of details but there are things done in life that we are not proud of that stick with us forever - some out of regret, some out of guilt, some both. One should always feel regret and guilt for causing an innocent person emotional distress. Sarah didn’t deserve the pain I caused her in the end. I made a vow to myself never to do that again. (2)

    For better or worse, Mormonism was working well enough for me that I stuck with it when I moved to Phoenix after college graduation. I had a short fling with a Mormon girl who decided women were more her preference than men.(3) I met the woman who would become Mrs. RD350 while taking graduate classes at ASU and we married after a short courtship and engagement. Four children and parenthood turned the next fourteen years into a blur.

    1269.jpeg

    We moved into our Minnesota home on a January day in 2003 with the temperature at -13F. The only consolation to our relocation was my wife immediately acquired Buddy the Golden Retriever who grew from pup to adulthood alongside our children.

    393.jpeg

    032.jpeg

    Winter passed soon enough and I found myself in a comfortable position as a Boy Scout leader at church.(4) I had served the previous seven years in Arizona as a Scoutmaster so it was a familiar role. The fair weather of the southwest allowed us to camp and hike nine months of the year. Minnesota weather was more challenging but, after enduring six days of heavy rain the first year at summer camp, I successfully lobbied for a one week trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) for 2004.

    [I had kayaked and rafted some Class 3 with a friend on the Upper Salt River (in Arizona) earlier in life.]

    Salt River Canyon Rafting pic7.jpeg

    Salt River Canyon Rafting pic2.jpeg

    Salt River Canyon Rafting pic5.jpeg

    We live along a small river which made it convenient for teaching the boys how to paddle so we were prepared for our five days on the Kawishiwi Triangle. One couldn’t have asked for better weather or more beautiful scenery. We portaged around a major waterfall but paddled through some Class 1.

    436.jpeg

    439.jpeg

    466.jpeg

    494.jpeg

    471.jpeg

    It was a few months after the BWCA trip, in the Fall, when we began planning the 2005 summer camp that it all fell apart. I had devoted ten years to Scouting in the Mormon church and spent one week of my limited vacation nearly every year to insure the boys had a productive experience. Having just completed a successful trip to the BWCA, I had no intention of spending one week the next year at yet another BSA camp doing the same things I had done for eight of the previous ten years. But that was exactly what the local church leaders wanted.

    I had some good leaders and some bad ones over twenty years I spent as a Mormon. (5) On average they were seven out of tens - just good guys trying to do a demanding job within their faith community. Having spent the same twenty years in corporate America I began to see how decisions in the church were no more divinely inspired nor different than the decisions I saw within my Fortune 100 corporation. Both were hierarchical institutions that required loyalty and obedience - the only difference being, one paid me handsomely to be a loyal lieutenant - the other expected me to pay it handsomely for the privilege.

    Stan was a typical Mormon bishop, born and raised in Utah, served a mission in South America, had a wonderful wife and enough kids to fill the Suburban in his garage.(6) On any other subject he was a nice, if somewhat stiff guy, but on church matters he expected obedience to his directives. He was about my age and simply doing what he was trained to do his entire life. As for me, I had a wife, four kids, a mortgage, two cars, a dog, a professional career, and ten years of Scouting leadership experience. I had grown out of being told what to do.

    Stan scheduled a meeting with me that did not go well. I told him that after ten years of Scouting it was time they “release me” (Mormon church speak for “give me a new assignment”). His response was a Hotel California-like “... we don’t let people decide when they are done...”. He was totally serious. He expected to break me like a wild stallion as the Mormon church tolerates no one stepping out of line. He underestimated my resolve and overestimated my commitment to Mormonism.

    Although I would not read Stanley Bing's "The Art of Throwing the Elephant" for a few years in the future, I implemented the third leg of The Stool of Disobedience: "Non Obeying. One simply meets the order with Nothingness. No argument. No disputation. No action. No inaction." (7a)(7b)(7c) I learned the power of the word “No” is infinite in a church that expects obedience but has no means of enforcement.

    In Mormon theology and culture, when someone disobeys leadership the immediate assumption is that the person has committed a sin - adultery being the most common before the availability of porn on the internet.(8) No. I was just tired of being talked to and treated like a child on Sundays. Bing's words are spot-on for the corporate environment but Mormon church leaders don't forget disobedience. Worse, having an intermediary between you and God doesn't work out so well when you view the intermediary as being disconnected from the Divine. For a lot of reasons, far too long to cover here, I chose to disconnect, not just from Mormonism, but also from belief in the Divine. It took months, was emotionally exhausting, and required years of recovery.(9)(10)(11)(12)

    If you spend twenty days with anybody, eventually the subject of religion is going to come up. At a particularly picturesque stop on our trip to Alaska, Rick made a comment to the effect of "... there must be a Supreme Being for there to be all of this stuff here...". Having believed for the first forty years of my life - I'm completely comfortable discussing religious topics and beliefs, although I typically don't start those conversations unless it is to be supportive. People value their religious beliefs. I get that. I don't see any benefit to being combative or a militant atheist. I responded to Rick, "Chemistry & Physics taught me that infinite energy and infinite time can create almost anything". For all intents and purposes - that's what Earth is and that's good enough for me.

    So there it is - the story of my entry into and exit out of the Church of Donny & Marie. It's been nearly impossible for me to condense into a coherent narrative so don't fault yourself if you don't see it as a Big Damned Deal. Just take my word for it - you didn't want to be there. If you endured worse - you have my sympathy. It turned out well in the end for me and I hope you persevered through your challenges too regardless of whether it was self-inflicted or you simply lost the most important lottery in life.

    [1 - Let’s just call him “Geoff The Fucking Idiot” - not just for this action but for other stupidity this otherwise intelligent person espoused. All because you are a legitimate expert in one area does not prevent you from being a complete dumbass in another. See: logical fallacy of Appeal to an Authority.]

    [2 - Sarah moved to Utah in the summer and enrolled at BYU for the Fall semester. She found a good guy and married him in November.]

    [3 - "I can’t be homophobic - I love watching lesbians on the internet” - Jeremy Clarkson]

    [4 - The Mormon church was a longtime supporter of BSA until 2019.]

    [5 - The worst wasn’t the forty year old who was arrested for having a sexual relationship with a sixteen year old girl (and went to prison). Nor the fifty year old whose wife had a sexual relationship with a thirteen year old boy (and went to prison). The worst was a former Minor League pitcher who failed to make it in the MLB. He was the second biggest asshole I’ve known in my entire life. In a bit of irony, one of the best leaders abandoned his wife and kids to run off with a stripper to Tijuana. I wish I was fibbing on that last one but the dude completely blew up his life. Rumspringa later in life is far more destructive than when the Amish do it.]

    [6 - Suburban = BMW = Big Mormon Wagon]

    [7a - "Non Obeying. One simply meets the order with Nothingness. No argument. No disputation. No action. No inaction. If asked whether it is done, you may reply, “Not yet”. When asked why it is not done, you may reply with truth, “I have been working on other things”. If asked when it will be done, reply without prevarication, “as soon as possible”. The elephant does not know that you find the doing of the thing impossible. And so time will pass. And the thing will not be done. And you will still be alive and so will the elephant, who you may be sure will eventually arrive at the point where it does not remember what was to be done, why it was to be done, and why otherwise obedient and excellent handler such as yourself has not seen to its doing. And in the end it will go away as all things must, including ourselves and the elephant." - Stanley Bing "The Art of Throwing the Elephant"]

    [7b - "Wrong Obeying. This is accomplished by the time-honored methods of Purposeful Misunderstanding and Bad Listening. Both should come naturally to you by now." - Bing]

    [7c - "Pestering Disputation. Elephants hate to talk about their orders. They want only to see them accomplished. One may therefore get the better of any elephant by discussing its orders until the creature’s attention span has snapped or its desire to pursue the matter has expired." - Bing]

    [8 - Sixteen years later - just a couple months ago - my good Catholic friend, Ural, admitted to me over lunch that he thought the same thing at the time.]

    [9 - Fowler's "Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development" was instrumental in my healing process as were many other books.]

    [10 - Another key element in my healing process was learning to read music and play acoustic guitar. Playing music requires an investment of emotion and I had two decades of angst to get out of my system. It took seven years and three guitars - the last one being a beautiful sounding Martin D-41S.]

    [11 - Losing one's faith is a painful experience and one that should not be instigated upon another.]

    [12 - If you found Jesus, Allah, Buddha, or Xenu in your forties, fifties, or later - congratulations! Now shut up about it. How convenient it is for you to preach to those of us who, unlike you, sacrificed our youth to our beliefs. Your belated awakening cost you nothing. Come see me in twenty years and maybe I'll listen to you then.]

    Here's a picture of me taken in 2008 at Yellowstone while playing my second guitar, a Martin DC-16GTE Aura, at our campsite. Buddy the Golden Retriever sat at my feet whenever I played and when he died in 2012 - I gave up playing. All the angst and trauma was gone. I sold my D-41S and started a new chapter in life.
    Yellowstone Michael on guitar.JPG

    Wherever you are - I hope you are Social Distancing this week like me.
    image_50443009.JPG

    Mrs. RD's new helmet finally cleared US Customs and arrived today. She says it fits perfect.
    IMG_0999.jpeg

    And here's a shot of the mascot at my local HD dealer. The bird species is the name of the river I trained the boys on to go to BWCA. The HD dealer is named after the river.
    image_67178497.JPG

    The appropriate music video for this post would be:
  11. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    I ran into Rick at work this week and he said the one thing that had crossed my mind: “I’m sure glad we went to Alaska last year!”

    I feel bad for everyone who was planning to go this year and won’t get the opportunity.
    Bigbore4 likes this.
  12. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,015
    Location:
    Andover MN USA
    I was out messing with my bike yesterday and had the exact same thought. As we were planning the trip we discussed we best go now cuz who knows what next year will bring.

    Some of the guys planning on this year will be able to go. But they will be dealing with the mosquito's, rain and mud.

    I am happy you guys and us guys got it going last year.
    72 Yamaha RD350 likes this.
  13. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    [I had the mods move this thread to Day Trippin' because it's not looking like I'll be doing any Epic Rides in 2020.]

    I'm getting back into the swing of riding after a long winter by Social Distancing on the bike within ten miles of home. This mural is a bit over a mile from my home.

    IMG_1004.jpg
    RJ44 likes this.
  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    While out on a Social Distance ride the other afternoon an inattentive driver turned left in front of me. Fortunately, I anticipated his error and was not in any danger but it did make me decide to replace the incandescent turn signal and running lights with Custom Dynamics ProBeam LEDs.

    image_123986672 (1).JPG
  15. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Social Distancing

    This whole pandemic thing isn’t my first experience with Social Distancing. Turns out you can get a whole lot of that in a short period of time by stepping away from a faith community that perceives itself as “Us against Them”. Inside, they call themselves “peculiar”. Everyone else knows them as “weird”.

    My separation from Mormonism wasn’t earth shattering but in a small platoon no desertion goes unnoticed. I needed space and tight knit communities struggle with respecting the boundaries of others. In the Christian vernacular this is known by the Biblical parable of a shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to save the One sheep who has wandered astray - a parable told from the perspective of the ninety-nine. It’s an entirely different story if you are the One and want to escape the ninety-nine.

    I established my boundaries via a personal letter to specific people that, in essence, said I was taking down my faith tent, it was good knowing them, and in general to just leave me alone. Credit to them - they did just that and I experienced a bit more social isolation than even I expected.

    There was an unintentional side benefit to putting up that boundary fence: I found out immediately who didn’t care whether I was part of the tribe or not. I also found out who had to go through the mental calculus first. To these people my value was unchanged by my desertion. To them I was a person independent of group identity and they let me know that... even if it did take some time. (1)(2)

    One fellow was a buddy and his wife - just good people some years younger than me but with a few more kids. We saw each other on occasion before they moved away for her to go back to school six or seven years ago. Unfortunately, life happened and he returned a couple years ago after the acrimonious divorce finalized. His spirit motorcycle is a Concours.

    Today is the first day we’ve had above 60F since September. I’m still brushing off the riding rust from the off season. I need to get out on the bike for a few miles every day to get back the skills that atrophied over winter.

    I mentioned a few pages ago that, if given a choice, I ride toward a person. Today that person was Concours. His birthday was yesterday and we hadn’t seen each other since I sold the Strom. Along the way to personally deliver my Happy Birthday wishes, I stopped to take this picture in the nearest town with a Wal-Mart.

    D1DD8F4D-F37F-4939-9DCD-9D36E258DF5B.jpeg

    [ 1 - Only two friends were immediate in their acceptance of my decision to pull the handles on the ejection seat. Concours was one of them. Diavel was another. Both of these friends were unwavering.]

    [2 - Two friends eventually came around. Four or five months later I received a call from Harley. I suspect my desertion hurt him deeply. Imagine you were a diehard Republican and your best friend (who had always been Republican) informed you out of the blue that he had become a Democrat (or vice versa). THAT level of betrayal. Six year later, another friend called me (3).]

    [3 - I had not heard from KLR650 in eight years. Although he was born into the faith, served a mission to Chile, and speaks fluent Spanish - he's not a typical Mormon. Like his spirit motorcycle, he handled everything life threw at him, kept chugging along, and took the beating without complaint. We crossed paths in Scouting where we had a great time working together for two years - camping, hiking, and cooking five star campfire meals. Similar to me, he woke up one day at age forty and decided he was tired of the uninspired, low risk corporate decisions being made by his ecclesiastical leaders. He called probing how to handle this newfound thinking and I dispensed the perspective I had acquired: "Don't do anything. Give yourself six months to adjust to the reality that what you have believed for most of your life is false. Don't disrupt the lives of those around you. Just say "No" when asked to do anything you don't want to do." That first phone call was ten years ago and, just like a KLR650, he's still chugging along climbing rough trails with ease.
    GutsyGibbon likes this.
  16. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Paradise

    I was laying in bed last night when my wife came in to lay down beside me. The first thing she said was that John Prine died. I knew he had been sick and at risk. His song “Paradise” immediately came to mind. I learned it as a child in the early seventies when John Denver made it popular and came back to it twenty years ago when it made a resurgence in the coffee shop folk music scene.

    Tooley_James_E_Shelby.jpg

    This is a picture of my maternal grandfather standing at his father’s grave in Dunmor, Kentucky, not far from Paradise.(1) My ancestors settled there in the 1800’s. The lyrics in Prine’s song were literal to me:

    “When I was a child my family would travel
    Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born”

    I spent a few weeks in Muhlenberg county every summer from ’72 to ’77. My grandmother and I walked the railroad tracks nearby to pick blackberries.(2) She was a small woman but often carried a .410 shotgun on those walks.(3)(4)

    Tooley_Shelby_and_Mae.jpg

    My grandfather had been a coal miner and grandmother kept a small coal pile out back to feed the big iron stove in the dining room that heated the house. The house my grandfather framed with surplus mining timbers had natural gas but her life revolved around coal.(5) It was everywhere. So much coal had fallen off the railroad cars that the ties we walked seemed to be bedded in coal - not gravel. They strip mined right up next to Uncle John's house (6). By the seventies the land had been scarred deeply by strip mining and minimal efforts were made to reclaim land before the 1977 Federal reclamation act.

    “Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
    And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
    Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
    Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man”

    Coal claimed her brother-in-law in an underground mine disaster. She watched my grandfather die from black lung disease.(7) I last stood next to his grave in ‘78 when my late uncle, Wilbur, took me to the abandoned prison that Prine sings about. It felt like Deliverance country back then.

    "Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
    To the abandoned old prison down by Airdrie Hill
    Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
    But empty pop bottles was all we would kill"

    Tooley_Ella_Mae_and_Dillon.jpg

    I haven’t been back to Muhlenberg County since ’92.(8) It’s a different life down there. When Mrs. RD told me that Prine had died, I admitted that I’d been thinking recently that it was time for me to go back and pay my respects. A ride on the Road King would make it memorable. Not all the people I ride to see are living. Some are just memories. If this virus hysteria ever dies down – I might just do that. And if I do... I think I’ll sing “Paradise” at my grandfather’s grave.

    [1 - The "Woodmen of the World Memorial" is the marker of a fraternal organization that established life insurance for the common person in 1890. An extra $100 premium rider covered an above ground granite grave marker before they became too costly and maintenance intensive.]

    [2 - Her third son had been struck and killed by a train on these tracks decades before.]

    [3 - She said it was to hunt rabbits or squirrels but I think she just liked the comfort of carrying it and a handful of shells. She'd let me and my brother fire a few shots when we were far enough away.]

    [4 - Notice in the picture my grandfather has a Super8 movie camera in his hand.]

    [5 - By the last summer I visited, the low height of the doorways between rooms was noticeable.]

    [6 - Uncle John was my grandfather's brother. He and his wife were the nicest people I ever met in Kentucky.]

    [7 - Watch someone die of black lung disease before trying to sell me on "Clean Coal".]

    [8 - when this picture was taken of my grandmother holding my oldest son]
  17. Dblarrow

    Dblarrow Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    224
    Location:
    Kila, montana
    Very well written sir.

    Touched more than one spot within.

    I took the Alaska trip with my daughter for her graduation; hard to believe that was 7 1/2 yrs ago. So I read many AK trips for the memories and new perspectives and you have delighted with both.

    My dad lives in Hinkley. So I make the trip from Montana to Minnesota once a year, first on the KLR now on the VStrom. Again pictures of Mille Lacs and Paul and Babe, new perspectives.

    Thanks.
  18. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Thank you.

    Kudos to you for doing those big miles on a KLR. And who doesn't love a well-kitted out VStrom!
    rongsx1100g likes this.
  19. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Next up - a rant about "Stay Safe" and what constitutes risk.
  20. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,174
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Stay Safe

    “Stay Safe” is a common phrase heard during this period of the Covid-19 virus. Tens of thousands of people have died from it in the USA and over a hundred thousand worldwide. The state I live in is headed into its sixth week of shutdown which might have been bearable if we had not encountered a relapse of winter. It snowed three to nine inches on Sunday (April 12th) which frankly isn’t so unusual but low temperatures have been stuck in the high teens with high temperatures hovering around freezing. We even had three days of hourly mid-day blizzards separated by sunshine - one of the oddest weather spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. Even without Covid-19, the past Sunday through Wednesday crushed my soul and killed my ten year old tulip garden.

    Like a prayer uttered on behalf of an atheist, I know you mean well when you say “Stay Safe”. But I’d rather you not say it. Just like the prayer - your wishes are contrary to my nature and being. Now, I’m no daredevil. I take no risks that I deem unreasonable or unnecessary. But your sensitivity to risk and mine are entirely different.

    I’m guessing you’ve never:

    a) touched an electric fence on purpose

    b) hiked for miles in the woods at night by the moonlight

    c) been disoriented or lost in the woods at night (1)

    d) spent a night in a tent during an intense thunder and lightning storm

    e) started a fire with gasoline (2)

    f) played ice hockey in any organized league

    g) seen an 80 mph hockey puck come straight at your face when you were the backup goalie (3)

    h) worked on a steep pitched roof

    i) taken a hang gliding class and landed in a dust devil (4)

    j) kayaked or rafted class III whitewater (5)

    k) swam to that buoy out in the lake that was a whole lot further than you thought it was

    l) dropped seventy feet over the edge of a cliff on a rappelling line (6)

    m) used a circular saw, welder, and chain saw

    n) not always worn all the proper safety gear when using tools

    o) spent eight weeks in a foreign country with a six word vocabulary (7)

    p) ridden a French horse for six hours through the French countryside (8)

    q) been detained by the French police for tearing up a subway ticket (9)

    r) eaten a meal in a foreign country that contained nothing remotely identifiable, familiar, or appealing

    s) ridden a ski lift without a retaining bar

    t) reached a speed of 83.6 mph skiing down an empty Green run (10)

    u) skied down any slope that was way beyond your skill level

    v) ridden a motorcycle in urban and dense interstate traffic

    w) gone for a walk when it was -15F and when it was 115F

    x) married a nineteen year old girl (11)

    y) been a passenger while former nineteen year old girl drove a minivan towing a camper trailer on I-70 through Denver at high speed while talking on a cell phone (12)

    z) had sex when you were old enough to know it could literally kill you (13)


    I’ve done all those things and a few more. And I’ve probably skipped washing my hands a time or two(14). Some I did out of ignorance or impatience but most are just reflections of how I want to live my life.

    Risk is relative. What you see as unacceptable risk, I may consider insignificant. Even when one does his best planning and preparation - shit happens. Ultimately, whether one dies of Covid-19 comes down not just to exposure but to comorbidities and genetics. If you’ve got risk factors or a weakened immune system you should take recommended precautions. But please, don’t be like the dufus I saw wearing a mask in an oversized SUV with no one else in his vehicle. Exactly who is he protecting from what?

    I’ve found that I do best in stressful situations by sticking to a familiar routine that helps me remain calm and steady. That’s why I’ve continued going to the office every day despite having the option to work from home. There’s four of us working in an office area that normally holds fifty. The cleaning crew comes in twice a day and disinfects every touch surface. Honestly, the place has never been so clean and I feel safe there. I groaned out loud this morning when a younger associate working remotely messaged me that I was “brave” and “courageous” for continuing to come into the office. WTF - it's not like I'm fighting a five alarm blaze.

    I am a bit concerned that our society has made the generations younger than mine risk averse. They grew up riding bicycles with helmets, playing soccer instead of football, and having parents hover over their every move. Consequently, this low lethality virus has pushed them over the edge into irrational mass hysteria. There even seems to be a hint in the air that some idealists want to use this as an opportunity to institutionalize changes in society to favor things they support, penalize traditional activities they abhor, and use group shaming to push their agenda. “Things will never be the same.” Bullshit. Aside from a few structural changes (15) everything needs to return to normal quickly or America is going to go nuts from irrational fear.

    I ride a motorcycle. It’s an inherently dangerous activity with fatality odds significantly greater than automobiles. I accept those odds. I do everything possible to mitigate the risk of riding: All The Gear All The Time, Hi-Viz,.Ride to See/Ride to Be Seen, etc… You can tell me to Ride Safe. Riding Safe is an active, mental intensive activity that involves assessing yourself, your capabilities, predicting errors before they occur, identifying risk situations and avoiding them.

    “Stay Safe” starts out on the wrong foot: “stay”. Passive. Fixed. Immobile. Sorry but those words don’t fit me. Maybe you’re comfortable with it in your risk averse world - but not me. Quite the contrary, the Allman Brothers' “Ramblin Man” is the song that flows through my veins. I am a person of movement and change. There is no “Stay” in living my life.(16)

    But being an educated man of science and believer in political compromise though, I’ll make you a deal:

    a) Stop buying up all the toilet paper and disinfectant.(17)

    b) Rip that “No Fear” sticker off your pickup truck. (18)

    c) Leave some thermometers on the shelf at the drugstore for those of us who’ve dropped ours behind the couch

    d) PUT DOWN THE DAMN CELL PHONE WHEN YOU DRIVE!!!


    If you do just those four things, I’ll ride a few less places on my motorcycle and I’ll let you tell me to “Stay Safe”. And if you do them really well, especially the last one, I’ll even wear a mask in public. (19)



    [1 - I’d probably still be there if Harley hadn’t found me.]

    [2 - DON’T EVER DO THIS!]

    [3 - Slap shot from the blue line. Ricocheted off the crossbar all the way back out to the blue line. Crossbar rang as loud as a church bell on Sunday. Still sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.]

    [4 - Go hang gliding. Stay away from the dust devils.]

    [5 - Highly recommended.]

    [6 - Scariest thing I’ve ever done. Probably wouldn’t phase me today.]

    [7 - Try it sometime. Alone.]

    [8 - Not recommended unless you really love riding horses and know how to say Giddyup and Whoa in French]

    [9 - You’d be amazed how seriously some police take the perceived loss of seventy-five cents.]

    [10 - That’s what the GPS indicated. Riskiest thing on this list. Don’t do this unless you have a death wish. What they say about rookie race car drivers applies here: “He’s fast because he hasn’t crashed yet.”]

    [11 - The equivalent of taking everything you have ever owned and will ever own to Vegas and betting it all on one number on the craps table. Not recommended… but you might get lucky.]

    [12 - see note eleven above]

    [13 - Everybody has to die somewhere, doing something. Beats the hell out of a hospital.]

    [14 - ..but not in the last fifteen years. And I've been flossing daily for the last five.]

    [15 - A. No more International flights to countries with wet markets. None. B. Anyone transiting from a wet market country arriving on an indirect flight gets sent back or quarantined at their own expense.]

    [16 - At one point on the Alaska trip, Rick said: “ You are like the Energizer bunny - you never stop moving.”]

    [17 - Do you know how bad my riding boots smell without a daily shot of Lysol?]

    [18 - We now know you fear wiping your ass without toilet paper.]

    [19 - Your cell phone scares me a helluva lot more than Covid-19.]
    Dblarrow, OV10 and Railrocker like this.