Thursday, October 17, 2013

Motorcycle Road Trips Becoming More High Tech

motorcycle camping laptops
My friend Mike and our bikes on a road trip a few years ago.
After reading jmadog's post entitled, "Anticipation", where he opines about motorcycle riders becoming addicted to their cellphones, I couldn't help thinking about this in a more grand scale.

Today, when we go out on a motorcycle ride, we still take our world with us.

It used to be as recently as the 1970s, when we left home, we left our world behind.  We couldn't take our telephone with us.  There was no GPS.  We didn't have mobile computers.  We couldn't search for the best hotel rates in advance.  We didn't have ATM cards.  Even if we had credit cards, a lot of places still didn't accept them.

But today, I still have my world with me.  With smartphones, laptops, GPS, SPOT Tracker, GoPro, MP3 players, Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity, it seems being left to our own devices now has a new meaning.  And with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, even our friends on the cloud.  All that shit I wanted to leave behind?  It follows me through e-mails, text messages, and voice.  I'm never on a vacation.

When we leave home for a long road trip, we're not really leaving home at all.  We're just changing the scenery.

On the other hand, it feels good to remain constantly connected to my world, wherever I am.  Even in a strange city full of strangers, I still feel at ease and in security.

But if I strive to remain constantly connected like this, will I ever find the courage to throw it all away and rely on the strength inside?

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Devil in the Details

St. Elmo Bar, Bisbee, AZ
It seems like a lot of motorcycle bloggers have an article entitled, "Why I ride a motorcycle".  This entire website is devoted to that subject, shooting off into different directions and exploring each detail.

Popeye used to say, "I am what I am, and that's all what I am."  Yet, there are hundreds of self-help psychology books focused on that very same sentence.

Losing weight is as simple as eating healthy and exercising more.  Yet, there are thousands of strange diet plans that offer the same concept in a more detailed and confusing way.

Sometime it's best to keep a thought simple and allow others to explore the minutiae of what it means for them.

Each individual has his/her own personal filter, built on their life's experiences, that makes it impossible for one writer to take a single thought, extend it to hundreds of pages of detail, and get millions of people to arrive at the same conclusion.

Maybe an article entitled, "Why I ride a motorcycle" could just be a photo of a glass of beer and a motorcycle helmet. Maybe a self-help psychology book would be better off with just a single page with a single sentence.  Maybe the next new diet fad could be sold as a bag containing a banana and a pair of running shoes.

By writing out so much detail, we stifle peoples' own creative juices to explore what it means to them.

It's said that "a picture is worth a 1,000 words".

Perhaps all I need to do is show you a photo, and let each of you write your own words, using your own life's filter.


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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Best City to Visit in America

beale street memphis bike night
Sash at Beale Street Bike Night, Memphis, TN
When I tell someone that Sash and I rode motorcycles across the United States for six months before coming back to San Diego, the one question they always ask us is...

"So, what place did you really enjoy the most?"

And, that's really hard to answer.

I usually tell them, "Memphis, TN". That's because without having to spend too much time thinking about it, we did actually have a lot of good times there. I loved the food, I loved Beale Street, I loved the placed we stayed at, I loved meeting the folks at Monogram Foods, and it just seemed like each day we were there we had a lot of fun.

But the fact is that we had a lot of fun at lot of other places.

And also, some places we stayed for a week while others we stayed for a day. It's hard to judge.

Actually, Knoxville, TN seemed more like my kind of town, full of craft beer bars, live bluegrass bands gathering on the street, and very much the Southern Hospitality we hear about back West. Nashville, on the other hand, seemed like a real party town, but I found it too commercialized, kinda like Gas Lamp District in San Diego. But then again, I often have a good time in Gas Lamp, so I imagine if I spent more days in Nashville, I'd like it too.

Tulsa, OK
Albuquerque, NM
Tucson, AZ
Denver, CO
Philadelphia, PA
Virginia Beach, VA
Asheville, NC
Columbus, OH
Indianapolis, IN
Des Moines, IA
Minneapolis, MN
Salt Lake City, UT
Las Vegas, NV

These are all towns we stayed at that we had some good times in, or more, and could have a really big blast in if we spent more time. There are more towns I didn't list because we just didn't have the time to see everything. And there are many more towns we didn't visit that we've heard good things about.

The most interesting thing to note in these towns is differences in attitudes.

I never thought Des Moines, IA had a vibrant culture, very comparable to East Village in San Diego. Kinda upscale, more techie with a touch of bohemia, very much into craft brewing, eclectic food, and bicycling. I figured the People of the Corn was still into biscuits and gravy and Old Milwaukee, but I guess times have changed.

Downtown Asheville, NC
And I always thought North Carolina was full of hicks and sticks. But Asheville was far more bohemian, almost Portlandia. It's full of neo-hippies, Belgian ales, Universalism, free love, and whatever else gets you high.

Then there's Minneapolis, the Great White North, well almost. I figured it was full of Scandinavian descendants with vodka and pickled herring. But instead it's very well diverse, with a wide array of ethnic subcultures. There's a Little Russia, and apparently a Little Somalia. I never figured that Minnesota was the place to for real, down home style, African pirate cuisine.

And oddly enough, some of the best Chinese delivery I had was in Steamboat Springs, CO. The Mapo Tofu had some great ginger going on, nothing like I had ever tasted anywhere else.

What's more, some of the best Mexican eats I had was way out in South Boston, VA, a little joint in a shopping center. If only the folks of South Boston knew just how good they have it.

And whoever thought that Burlington, IA was home to the tightest twisted road in the world?

I could go on and on.

But all this makes me itching to go see more.

Sure, I still love SoCal, and will always think of it as my home. But I'm really eager to get out and see more of the USA. For all I know, the best fried chicken might be going on in Fargo, ND, or that spider monkeys run rampant in Joplin, MO, or that Bangor, ME produces 80% of the world's dildos.

I guess we just have to point our handlebars and find out.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Road Pickle Part 2 Begins Now

After being on the road for nearly six months, riding across the country and back, getting rained on, hailed on, cropdusted, sunburned, and nearly killed by ignorant cagers, we're now entering the 2nd phase of Road Pickle.

Even though we're back in San Diego, where it all started, we're still homeless. For the next 30 days, we're staying in a house we've rented out. Even though it's where we're sleeping, eating, and screwing, it doesn't feel like home. That is, it's filled with the furniture, clothes, pots and pans of the guy who lives here the rest of the year. It even still has his 15 foot Burmese Python which hisses at us when we walk by.

But Sash and I agreed that when we came back to San Diego, we'd take a more slow pace, staying in cities for up to a month instead of up to a week.  That's Part 2.

The shorter, week-long stays we did during Part 1 were long enough to get a good feel for the town, see some stuff, and then get going.  And we needed that because we ended up developing an itinerary, even though we initially said we didn't want one.  That is, we arranged to meet friends and family, visiting fellow bloggers, see particular sites and ride particular roads.  We also had to fit them all into a 6 month window, with 3 months out east, and 3 months back west.

Except, we still had work to do. That is, Road Pickle wasn't meant to be a vacation. It was meant to be a new way of living. We still have our respective Internet businesses to run. I still needed to time to sit down in a hotel room to write all my articles and administer all of my websites. She had articles to write also, but clients to build relations with.  It's difficult to keep up with all that, while still meeting people, seeing places, and riding roads.

And then there's my diet regimen.

Such a road trip puts extra inches of belly and ass on one's person, considering all the great eateries people advise us to visit. And watching the Travel Channel in our hotel room doesn't help when I see the lips of Guy Fieri and Adam Richman accommodate such sauce-dripping wonders of American-style road decadence.

It seemed like if we had more time to stay put in a particular town, I'd feel more at ease to spend a few nights each week gnawing on carrots and celery stalks. Then I'd feel better about sucking ribs and burgers, and slamming down pints of thick, heavy ale.

I'd also have to time to get work done, and Sash would have to time let her aches and pains heal. We'd also have time to do more local riding.

Staying a month at a time also gets us better rates on hotel rooms and vacation rentals.

So for Part 2 of Road Pickle, we haven't stopped Road Pickle at all.  We're still relying on our motorcycles full time, we're still living with what we can pack on them.  We're just in "living" mode instead of "road trip" mode.

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)