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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Apr 7, 2021.
i was just up the road
Happy Fathers day to you gents
but i'm not a father
The day ain’t over yet.
Neither am I. Just a greeting to the pops on the thread.
@luftkoph Good one
Came across this question boldly emblazoned across a drab, gray wall in a run down part of Detroit along the river. Actually, in the most toxic zip-code of the second most toxic city in the country. Only Atlanta is worst. Was wondering what I'd do with the picture. Now I know.
Being a father is the most challenging experience I've experienced. The most rewarding too. Marriage would be the second. Marriage is easy before children. Then the real sacrifice and worry enters the equation.
Having always been intimate with the broken side of the world, early on in our marriage, I wasn't so sure that I should bring kids into the world. I wanted them. But I was hesitant. But I also knew that if not for the broken side of the world, we couldn't appreciate the light that shines into our lives.
My wife said, "We should have faith, and try anyways. We have to."
I've never planned much of anything in life. I never really worried too much about stability and just lived from my heart and gave life everything I had. Never gave it any thought back then ... it just seemed natural.
My two daughters are the best people I know. They are better than their mother and I; as it should be. They sometimes write me a letter from their heart on fathers day. This year they gave me a journal (as they know I'm always scribing words into notepads) in which they each filled a page in the back. They feel comfortable with expressing their feelings to me because I've always talked openly and deeply with them. They inspire me. They give me purpose to live, to stay healthy, to go to work everyday, to have their back. They know most of my past as I don't pretentiously act as though I don't have one. I keep it real with them. That is one of the few, but priceless, gifts that my father bestowed upon me, despite his path of destruction. We could always talk about anything from the deepest reaches of the heart, expressing emotions, even if it brought with it tears, anger, or violence. He would always tell me that he hated how family too often couldn't talk while keeping everything all bottled up. A lack of communication. And that he wanted to break that cycle. It takes a lot of strength to talk in that capacity. I understand many people can't, or simply were never taught. There is no right way in these matters. We are all just doing our best. We can't control everything. We each have unique attributes. That is what keeps life interesting and worth exploring.
During a "low time" while riding the Great Lakes 3000 in 2019, a particular song came over the air and triggered thoughts about something my oldest wrote to me that fathers day. The realization that she quietly understood me so deeply had tears flowing under my helmet like a river as I was spiraling in bittersweet elation. Even though I've lived rough on the outside, I'm incredibly sensitive on the inside. I've never felt the kind of love that I feel for my daughters in any other capacity. Sometimes it's overwhelming. To my mind, there is no unconditional love like that you have for your children; it's entirely authentic; no strings attached; you're not looking for anything in return. Who else can you honestly say that about? That is my greatest purpose in life; breathing my heart and soul into them. They feel it. Another thing my father said to me that struck a chord: "These crazy women around here (referring to most in our circle back in those days in the city) can't have a healthy relationship with a man because they never had a close bond with their father." Of course, by this time, he was nothing but trouble for any woman (and he knew that), but that doesn't mean he wasn't capable of making astute observations. From what I've seen he may be on to something. And I've always done my best to be open and bond with my daughters.
Southwest Detroit - (Mexican Town)
When did you get the RK? Bigger garage in the works? love the murals btw.
It has been a while. Probably 5-years-now ... that I've had that old Road King. It's a 1995. An antique. Even rode it out to the Gilmore Car Museum and registered it in the Vintage Bike Weekend a few weeks ago; pictures to follow eventually.
A bigger garage would not be a wise move for me. I've no more room and that keeps me honest. Can't bring anymore strays home that way.
By-the-way, Dave. Advrider contacted me and asked for authorization to publish one of my pictures of the mighty ST1300 (your old bike) in the upcoming second edition of the magazine.
- Out at the Gilmore in Hickory Corners, Michigan.
Always had a weak spot for the older Road Kings, and yours is a beauty!
Road King Ramble - (Yesterday)
Squeezed a ride in on the King (into Detroit) yesterday before another storm blew in - had the weather report turned out to be accurate; it wasn't. Hot and humid as ever. If it had rained, wouldn't even had bothered to stop and don rain gear. Was wet with sweat anyway. Plus, it'd just be refreshing.
The Road King is finally sorted and now makes an ideal city bike. The Bitubo shocks make these broken Detroit streets tolerable. And returning the final drive belt gearing to stock has proved to be the right choice. Bike is even smoother. The Evolution likes the higher RPM's. Now my highway pegs are usable again on the highway. When I was running the overdrive pulley they vibrated badly. To the point I had my buddy (who is into reloading shot shells) bring me a bucket of steel shot to pour into my crash bars - in an attempt to quell the buzz; it didn't work. Sometimes envisioned improvements simply don't pan out. But now I know and those nagging thoughts can be put to rest and now the bike is right again.
Cruising down Michigan Avenue (light to light, as they were all dead from the power outage, and treated as a four-way stop) through the hood, I saw some people to my left looking over the bridge that crosses I-94, which parallels Michigan Avenue (in this stretch) in close proximity. Whipped around to check it out. All flooded out due to the massive rains we've experienced recently. With no power, the pump houses can’t run until the city manages to fire up generators. That is if the pump houses have been maintained. I’ve heard many are not. Even if they are able to pump, there is nowhere to pump the water that it won’t end up back where it came from, as all of the waterways were swollen. If you didn't know better - you'd think I-94 was a canal.
After a short putt up the road, I dove down an alley, parked the bike, and pushed my way through some woods to get up close and personal to the drowned vehicles. I'd also inadvertently wandered into an enclave frequented by junkies and street girls. The carpet remnants, milk crate, liter, and well-worn areas of hard-packed dirt were tell-tale signs. There was nobody there upon my entrance, but when I turned around to head back towards the bike, there stood Nelson.
He liked to talk. Couldn't believe he was 77-years-old. His face lit up when I told him so. He had no qualms about me snapping his picture. He is a retired Iron Worker and has ran these streets most of his life, other than when he was out of state.
Nelson said, "It's best to get out of here before dusk starts setting in."
He went on about back in the day when he was on one of the crews that built the towering G.M. Renaissance Center downtown. He described the pillars and structure involved. Then he went on about how things ran so much smoother with the "working girls" in the city before crack cocaine hit the streets and made everyone insane. He said, "Once them drugs stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, all they can think about is getting another hit." He went on and on before I had to cut him short so I could get on down the road. He wandered back into the wooded underworld.
Swung over to Southwest Detroit to scope out the new Modelo mural that Dr. Buzzard had found earlier in the week.
Passed through downtown, looping around Campus Martius before picking up Woodward, heading north towards Highland Park.
Woodward Avenue (M-1) was Detroit's first paved road!
Heading north up Woodward - a middle-aged (maybe a tad over middle-aged) homeless white woman and black man were sitting on the corner as I got caught by the light. Her attention was immediately arrested by the Evolution's lopey idle. She was staring and smiling ear to ear. She gave me a twist-the-throttle motion to which I returned a quick crack through the true duals. Her smile stretched further as she nodded. Glad to have given her that moment of happiness - as she sat there baking in the sun with all of her belongings.
Not more than a few blocks up Woodward - a young woman (probably a college student) was walking the same direction that I was riding, but with her head twisted around, to look back, while admiring the old Road King and smiling until I passed.
Then at the next light an older black man yelled out his window - complimenting the Road King. People everywhere love that bike’s character and nostalgic beauty.
Momentarily turned off Woodward to cruise through a few higher end historic districts. Wove back and forth down the streets looking at interesting houses between Woodward and Oakland Avenues in the Boston Edison and Arden Park area. This particular house, even though it was run down and appeared vacant, appealed to me. The architecture and vibe. It's the house that pulled me from the bike and asked me to photograph it on that day.
Then I entered Highland Park which is completely surrounded by Detroit.
Highland Towers ruins. Another shame. An impressive building full of ornate detail, intricate glasswork, mirrored elevators, and a remarkable main hall. This apartment complex was built in 1932 and takes up the better part of a block. The power company shut off the electricity in 2009 due to non-payment which forced out the tenants. Then a suspicious blaze struck in 2010.
At one point (2011), the power company even cut power to the city street lights and repossessed the fixtures - due to non-payment from the city itself. Imagine that! The city went dark.
Red Hots Coney Island opened the doors in 1921.The owner inherited it from his uncle, who inherited it from his father, who had migrated to the United States in 1915 to work in Henry Ford’s Model-T plant for five dollars a day. Soon to be closed. 100-years in business but closing the doors in two-weeks. The inconspicuous diner, situated down a side street, isn't closing due to a lack of business.
The owner said, "I can't get no help."
They make their own chilli in house and after their doors close for good - hope to supply refrigerated chilli sauce to local grocers.
I pressed the camera against the foggy glass to get a view of the inside.
Last stop was for the mural of a shamanic woman across the street from the coney island.
The city is never boring.
Great pics as always Jeff. And your "Fathers Day thoughts" had me doing some thinking and remembering of my own.Cherish the people you and your wife brought into this world. I lost my oldest son when he was 33 and I miss him every day for going on 16 years now.
Jeff thank you. The written content and the photography just blows me away. Please do not let the story end.
Thanks for the inspirational words, Paladin. The story will persevere ... but you'll have to be patient with me. My mind gets pulled in many directions. Actually, I'm hoping to get another report up soon. But tonight, I have to entertain my wife and tomorrow ride the shores of Lake Erie. Tough life.
For now, I'll leave you with this evocative rendering (from the Gilmore) indicative of simpler times - within the confines of a 1937 Covered Wagon "Conestoga" camping trailer. You can smell the pungent black coffee mixing with the scent of the pine forest!
The Sun Always Returns
Saturday 9 May 2021
Rode out to Barry State Game Area - near Hastings, Michigan.
Happened upon a flooded trail. Same one that a friend and I'd come across last July.
It was even deeper then. We’d decided not to attempt it on that ride.
This time I was on the opposite side.
This was the perfect opportunity to deploy my cheap, compact tripod and action camera.
This is called Hart Trail. It's a trail that must be forded - rather than traversed!
While taking a break between passes, a young man and his girlfriend who were out "wheeling" in their Jeep stopped for a momentary chat. "You rode that big bike through there!?"
White flowering dogwood trees were in bloom.
Throughout the day I'd notice that areas of the forest were speckled with these beautiful white flowers containing yellow centers.
Being complacent and picking the wrong line. Actually the line picked me. Uphill whoops, deep recessions - and sand. The picture doesn't depict the depth accurately. It rarely does.
Had I not been daydreaming of the white flowering dogwoods suspended in the forest canopy, these old eyes would have been scanning more intently ahead for potential pitfalls. I'd have shifted over to the left side of this section of treacherous trail where I'd gain the best advantage.
Now I was mired in a sand trap. The back tire was in a hole and I was pointing uphill. Needing to work smarter rather than harder, I'd relax and breathe, take off my helmet and jacket and plan the extraction. Can't just bull my way out of circumstances anymore.
First I'd stand the bike up and try to ride out. Nothing doing. Buried the rear tire up to the final drive in deep, soft sand.
I needed to be on the left side of the trail - where the whoops and ruts were milder.
So, I removed the panniers and set them at the edge of the trail at the top of the hill.
Then I laid the bike over and onto the left side, which lifted the back tire out of the hole. Now I grabbed hold of the rear rack and drug the whole back end of the bike as far as I could to the left side of the trail. This was limited by the high embankment at the edge of the trail. Then I lifted the bike back up. The front tire needed to come over to the left as well, so I simply pulled in the clutch and rolled the bike back downhill a few feet as I straightened it out. Now we were completely on the left side of the trail. With a sigh of relief and a handful of throttle we'd thrash our way to the top where the panniers and gear awaited.
Later in the day I'd loop back around and make a clean run up the left side. Admittedly, with at least a smidgen of trepidation! It was still hairy, but I didn't dab until I arrived upright at the top.
Lunch and coffee time was fast approaching. Plus I'd broken a sweat while extracting the GSA. So, when I happened upon a slice of sandy paradise on the shore of Dagget Lake - I'd seize the moment.
A stunning inland lake surrounded by forest with a sandy boat launch as my makeshift beach. Only a gnarly trail leading in or out. Perfect.
Time to break out the wares: The super small tupperware containers pack nice and allow me to pack a variety of small servings. I don't want to stuff myself on a day trip - but an assortment of foods is nice. Had brown rice with olive oil in one, cashews in another, some home baked cookies with apple slices wedged into another - to be eaten with a titanium spoon. As if a titanium spoon is going to make a difference on my loaded down tanker! Then an apple, carrot, and fritos. Even had a can of soup if needed ... and my hobo cup today.
Brewed up a Starbucks and kicked back in my collapsible camp chair and listened to the forest come alive with birdsong. A plethora of different birds and calls lit up the afternoon along with the sun against a stunning blue sky. The clouds were impressive throughout the day and the air was still crisp and especially fresh along the lake. It was only in the 50's all day. While relaxing in my chair at waters edge I'd even put on my over-shirt.
Basking in the heat of the intense sun, while the air temperature simultaneously dropped as it skimmed across the surface of the cold lake before reaching my location, made for a stimulating spring experience. The air was fresh and alive. All of which stirred emotions.
After packing up the kitchen I would have another couple of hours to ride and explore more dirt roads and sandy trails; many familiar while some new ones were also discovered. By this time, fatigue was setting in and the sand was more difficult. That is how it always goes. My hands were even becoming fatigued. It's been a long winter and I've been backsliding. I'm in the process of tightening myself up. By-the-way, I use two-fingers (always) to operate the clutch lever and one-finger to apply the brakes. That is cemented into my motor-skills and those fingers are always covering the levers; even while cruising. The light lever pull on the Gas Gas trials bike only requires one finger on each side. The Harley’s require all 5-digits on the clutch side - but finesse is not so critical while cruising the streets. However many fingers a rider uses per lever should be realized and remain consistent in all situations so as to be fluid with no conscious effort.
This year has brought about more pain and stiffness in my body than usual. That is always disconcerting. I have to be more disciplined with my diet and physical activity. The more physical activity the better. Always. I catch myself becoming too mental and reading too much.
I've started walking multiple miles a day again (as often as possible) while squeezing a spring hand gripper. Due to my stiffness - and either sciatica or bursitis flaring up - I've even started doing some entry level yoga. It's been painful to even climb on and off the bike. And that is something I do repetitively while hotly pursuing my picture-taking endeavors. Another thing I work to keep alive from the Infantry life are flutter-kicks, crunches, and pushups. Then some light dumbbell work. Years ago I'd lift for power. Now I train for vitality. The only heavy thing I lift now is the GSA - when the sand strikes! Sometimes I'll do some light dumbbell routines while standing on a makeshift balancing board. All of these things help keep me in the game. Without them I'd probably perish.
Even this 300-mile-day had me feeling stiff on the bike during the stretch of interstate to close out the ride. A couple of Detroit Outlaws were thundering down the left lane at 80-85 MPH so I fell in behind them and complimented the music in my helmet with the sweet staccato of their meshing pipes.
In an instant.
For no apparent reason.
The mood transitions.
From living technicolor.
To a drab existence.
Everything goes gray.
A penetrating loneliness.
Decades of guilt.
You know it's not real.
Because you've been here before.
So many times.
But when it comes.
You believe it.
Because it's so strong.
It was a tough ride home.
Had that hollow feeling not subsided, I'd probably never ride again.
But the spark always returns ... as does the sun.
Unique Old House
Snapped this photograph while passing through Eaton Rapids, Michigan. From what I could find, the house was originally built in 1877 as an elaborate private residence. Then, around 1918 it was converted into a small hospital able to accommodate twenty patients. Of course ... it's reportedly haunted.
That looks familiar, could it be in Eaton Rapids?