Thursday, July 31, 2014

What a Week in Sioux Falls Looks Like

downtown Sioux Falls
Downtown Sioux Falls, SD
Pulling into our hotel room at Candlewood Suites, in Sioux Falls, SD, Sash and I felt relieved. We had just spent six days riding across the west from Murphys, CA, covering 2,000+ miles, and staying in cheap motel rooms.

Arriving in town, we had 7 days to rest, get back to work on our marketing business, and relax in more comfortable digs.

Candlewood Suites has become our new home when we need a week or more to stay. They're in all the big cities, and it's always what we look for because the prices are low, but still just as nice as a Hilton or Marriott, you get a full size kitchen, desk space for two, good Wi-Fi, a gym, and free laundry facilities.

  • Sash paid a visit to Ride Empowered, a shop for women's motorcycle gear run by Doris Schumacher.  Doris recently opened the shop last March, and balances her life between husband, kids, and her business.
  • We had several boxes of mail, packages, and work stuff waiting for us at our hotel that we had to get caught up on.
  • Sash and I visited Lisa & Randy Brouwer. Lisa runs "Full Throttle Living", a consulting business for corporations, and teaches an MSF course in the evenings.
  • Sash has been on the phone coordinating with other businesses and media people for our time in Sturgis.
  • I've been working on websites and writing blog content
  • We were told the Fried Egg Burger at JL Beers was the best, but I swear the one at Taphouse 41 was better.  JL Beers has the edge on craft beer selection, however.
Today, we're leaving for Mitchell, SD...

It rained the moment we
arrived in Sioux Falls
Candlewood Suites has become
our favorite long term stay hotel.
Getting my beer on at
Taphouse 41
The fried egg, chorizo burger
at Taphouse 41 is awesome
Sash riding through Sioux FallsArriving at Ride Empowered a
women's biker gear shop
Sash likes to use the hotel room
bed as her office.
The Thirsty Duck offers
two-for-one happy hours
Picking up a slice of chocolate
cake for Sash
Sash's bike at Caribou CoffeeCaribou Coffee offers great
drink, food, and fast Wi-Fi
Old Chicago is a chain, but
has good beer selection
Sash likes to cook in the hotel
18th Amendment is a popular
place for happy hour
Doris Schumacher is the owner
of Ride Empowered
Sash with Lisa Brouwer of
Full Throttle Living
Many businesses are named
"Empire" after the Sioux Empire
There's designated motorcycle
parking in downtown

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Death of a Motorcycle Camera

canon powershot sd1300is
My old Canon Powershot SD1300 IS
Some sad news to report, my camera died a few days ago. The lens won't push out on power up anymore. I can hear the motor trying to push the lens out, but it just clicks and grinds now, and then goes through an auto-shut down.

Well, it was a good camera. Took thousands of photos for me on many rides. Didn't even complain when it rained. I can recall down pours in Canada, numerous drops on the pavement, getting cooked to 140 degrees sitting under direct sun, and even getting snowed on along Wolf Creek Pass.

I put a strip of velcro on the side so that I could mount it on my gas tank, and quickly shoot a photo.  I've been pulling it and out of my pocket so often, that its LCD monitor was too scratched up to view.

I remember when I bought it.

I was on my way back from Alaska in June 2010, riding south along the ALCAN, trying to get photos as I rode down the highway. It was raining quite hard, but I really wanted to capture the riding conditions, the rain, the frost heaves, and the landscape. And the camera I had back then, simply quit.

When I pulled into Whitehorse, Yukon, I found a Wal-Mart, and picked up this Canon Powershot SD1300 IS. It was on sale for $79.00. I didn't have room to keep the box, CD-ROM and manual that came with it, so I chucked them, keeping only camera and batter charger.

In fact, just a week after I bought it, it developed a burn spot on its sensor, probably from taking a photo of the sun somewhere.  As a result, photos of the sky, or something white, revealed a slightly darker blotch in the middle.

Since buying it in Whitehorse, it's taken tens of thousands of photos for me. Perhaps 90% of the photos appearing on Motorcycle Philosophy and Road Pickle were taken from this camera. The other 10% came from my cellphone, or Sash's camera.

I just couldn't get myself to toss it in the trash. So, I'm FedExing it to Sash's nephew Zack in Southern California. He's has a fondness for gadgets, as well as the time to tinker with them. Maybe he can fix it and give a second chance at life.

canon s110
My new Canon S110
So the camera I bought a couple days ago to replace it is a Canon S110. It has a 1/1.7 CMOS sensor, which is a little bit larger than the 1/2.3 used in most of the other Canon compacts.  As a result, the price tag goes up quite a bit too.  But I wanted to try something different.

The biggest downside I see to this S110 is that the power-on button is really tiny.  I'd have to ride bare-handed to use this camera.

But as far as my Powershot SD1300 is concerned, it ought to feel as if it had a good life.  It got to travel all over the United States, see some pretty amazing places, and be an important part of a small marketing business.

"This is the kind of mentality that goes into hoarders", I told Sash, not wanting to part with my camera.

"Yup, exactly!" she said.

But I don't want my lifestyle to become dragged down holding on to every piece of stuff I've purchased over the years.  When I buy a new camera, I want it to understand that it's going to live like a gladiator, getting all the glory while it's alive, but getting tossed into the trash when it dies.  That's the price it pays for an adventure of a lifetime.  Otherwise, it should raise its hand up and refuse to be purchased, opting to wait for a grandma who will use it only for Christmases and graduations.

So, I don't know.  Maybe I shouldn't send it to Zack.  Maybe he'll just give it some attention and set it aside forever where it can feel sad about current state of affairs.  Maybe it's better to let it sit in a landfill and slowly rust over and get picked at by seagulls until its soul finally withers away.  It's sad to think that the entire camera is useless because of one small part.

But that's a fact of the consumerist/disposable world we live in.

It's the kind of thing that makes you wish you could just disintegrate something, store the molecular pattern in a ZIP file, and reassemble it anytime from a pile of garbage.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Strengths and Fears of a Long Distance Rider

buffalo wild wings
Buffalo Wild Wings, Sioux Falls, SD
Honestly, I hadn't been struck at how vulnerable I am being thousands of miles from "home" dependent on this motorcycle to get me from place to place.

I walked out of a Buffalo Wild Wings in Sioux Falls, SD, carrying a slice of chocolate cake that Sash wanted me to get for her, and seeing Blackbird sitting there patiently waiting for me.  I felt fortunate that she hasn't quit on me, ever, particularly now that I'm so dependent on her for my mobility.

If I hadn't traveled through all the miles of farmland and wilderness, it would be hard to understand how far from home I am.

On the other hand, am I really vulnerable?

The 160,000 people who live here in Sioux Falls don't feel vulnerable.  If my bike broke down and gave up, why couldn't I just stay here for as long as it takes to get wheels again?  I mean, Sioux Falls has everything I seem to want in a town.

So, if the possibility of being stuck here wouldn't bother me, then what exactly does bother me, if any?

Last Winter, I was a bar in San Diego and this woman was complaining about all the men she had been dating.  "How do you figure out men?" she asked me.

"Simple", I said.  "Look at his strength, the opposite of that is the weakness that drives him."

It's the same thing that Sigmund Freud, the famous psychoanalyst once said. "Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength."

People have a habit of obsessing over the things they're afraid of. Many of us, if not the majority, tend to hold so close the things we fear, that we become it without realizing it. Some of us obsess so much with it, that we find comfort in it and refuse to leave it.  Few others make it their fantasy and sexualize it.

  • Those who seem to do well with geography, navigation, and always seem to know where they are, probably have a fear of being lost.
  • Those who are surrounded by family, remain connected to their friends, and go out of their way to meet new people, are probably afraid of being alone.
  • People who are great at multi-tasking, take on several projects at once, and work long hours, are probably afraid of disappointing others.
  • There are a few guys I've met who spend so much of their time achieving goals, earning awards, and setting records, that it suggests they have a fear of being insignificant.

So what is my strength?  What do I fear?  Where do I feel vulnerable?

I tend to think that no one ever actually knows this about themselves.  It takes someone else to evaluate and determine.  What we fear was perhaps established at an early age, and over time was forgotten about, but the behavior continues on and on until it just becomes us.  We're only reminded of what we fear when it faces us in its rawest form.

And there my motorcycle sits in the parking lot, waiting for me to return.  I've made myself a permanent wanderer, going to places and communities unlike what I'm used to.  I realize few other riders can create a livelihood like this, and so I wonder if that's my strength.

But I think not. It must be something more core.  But on the other side of the coin, what's my fear?  What is it that I'm afraid of that caused me to develop my strength?

I tend to believe I'll discover that answer down the road.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Sioux Falls, SD, July 24

i-29 south dakota
I-29 northbound heading into Sioux Falls, SD
The last leg into Sioux Falls, SD was the roughest. It had actually started out as smooth sailing with the wind at our backs. But by the time we crossed into South Dakota from Iowa, the wind changed directions and was hitting us from the side.

Considering all the stuff Sash had packed on her bike, I was concerned. I mean, I could feel the wind really pushing me hard, and me having to fight to stay on the road. I kept looking in my mirrors to see how she was holding up. And she was right there behind me all the time.

Sioux Falls represents a week of downtime for us. We'll be here until July 31, when head to Mitchell, SD for the pre-Sturgis party at Klock Werks. While we're in Sioux Falls, we get to catch up on our work.

It's a challenge to get up on our marketing business when we're traveling 200-300 miles everyday. We do get some work done in the evenings on those days, but there's just not enough time. I'd rather spend at least 3 weeks at a time in a city, because experience has shown that we get a lot of work done, and we're able to earn more business.

As the schedule is right now, we won't get that long downtime until we reach Boulder, CO in the latter half of August. So while, we're here in Sioux Falls, we have a lot to get done.

The other thing is that we did several consecutive days of Interstate.  That's not something I prefer to do.  But on the other hand, we had to cover a lot of miles fast so that we could have a week to spend in Sioux Falls before we hit the final descent into Sturgis.

As for Sioux Falls, the town looks like most other cities in the Great Plains of the USA. Flat. There are the usual Cracker Barrels, the Kum & Gos, and the Taco Johns.  It has all the amenities of a modern city, just a little smaller in size than my hometown San Diego.  I wish there were more craft breweries, but I did manage to find some good beer bars.

Also while we're here, Sash wants to visit this biker chick shop in town called, "Ride Empowered".  She's been following it on Facebook.

Oh, and if you think Sash is a little late with her social media postings recently, it appears the 802.11 LAN chip on her laptop went kaput.  It won't turn on anymore.  She's been having to do everything on her Android.

Me putting another quart of oil
into Sash's bike
The bridge over the Missouri
River along the I-680
Entering into Iowa from
Nebraska along the I-680
At a rest stop along the I-29 in
Stopping at a Kum & Go in
Iowa along the I-29
Sash took this patriotic photo
of me
Sash still riding strong in the
last stretches
The crosswinds blew fierce
heading into Sioux Falls
It started raining when we got
to our hotel

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lincoln, NE, July 23-24

microtel lincoln, nebraska
Arriving at our hotel in Lincoln, NE
Sash and I felt pleased our ride to Lincoln, NE would only be 230 miles from our motel room in North Platte. It somehow made us feel as if we had tons of time to kill before heading out on the road.

We actually had a conference call with a client on our calendar at 11:00 AM. So we packed up our stuff, checked out of the motel, and found a Starbucks in town to set up temporary office.

The call seemed a success in that it took us another step further towards a hopeful contract.

After the call, we met a guy named Rob on a Ducati Multistrada. He was from Chicago on his way to Boise, ID. But he had already been all over the country. Rob does website development work. Somehow, that made me feel more connected to the guy. Sash went on talking to him, and it seemed like the two had burned a good hour.

We rode to the Sinclair gas station across the street, and Sash met a couple on a purple Road King-turned-Electra Glide. Going by the names Sweet Pea and Taz, they run a shop in Hastings called G&D Leathers. They also run their local BACA (bikers against child abuse) chapter.

After they took off, another guy walked over and asked me about my bike. He rides a Goldwing, but was driving this time. He had ridden all over as well.

Later, Sash and I stopped at an Arby's Roast Beef near Mormon Island for a butt break, when a guy walked over and mentioned he owns a Honda ST1300 as well. So, we struck up conversation about our favorite motorcycles.

Even though the ride to Lincoln was relatively short compared to previous days' rides, we didn't get to our hotel until sunset. The time we spent chatting with folks burned up time. But it was fine. Sash's body was getting sore from the consecutive days of riding.

By the time checked into our room, we ordered up some chinese delivery, got some work done, and then hit the sack.

Photos from today's ride. Tomorrow's ride: Sioux Falls, SD

Taking a conference call at a
Starbucks in North Platte, NE
Me with a fellow web
developer from Chicago
This couple leads their local
BACA chapter in NE
Me talking to a guy who asked
me about my bike
Stopped at this Old Chicago in
Kearney, NE for lunch
Sash enjoying a pizza at Old
The Archway, a giant bridge
with a museum inside
Never thought I'd see a BMW
getting trailered
The water tower in York, NE
looks like a hot air balloon

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

North Platte, NE, July 22-23

Lincoln Highway Wyoming
Lincoln Highway (I-80) Wyoming
Lincoln Highway is the first transcontinental highway in the United States, having been dedicated in 1913. Originally it connected Times Square in New York with Lincoln Park in San Francsico.

It was the first memorial to Abraham Lincoln, predating the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC by 9 years.

Since then, it has gone through numerous realignments.

Much of the route Sash and I have been on from Utah to here in Nebraska, has been along the current incarnation of the Lincoln Highway. Four years ago, on my way back from Alaska, I wrote about riding a portion of it along US-93 through Ely, NV.

Evidence of Lincoln Highway's presence can be seen along the entire stretch of the I-80 and paralelling US-30. We've seen bridges with "Lincoln" in the name. There's a Lincoln Memorial Statue between Laramie and Cheyenne. There are restaurants and cafes with menu items like "Lincoln Burger" or "Lincoln Highway Omelette".

But the Lincoln still doesn't seem to have all kitsch and celebrity that Route 66 has. Even though Lincoln Highway predates Route 66 by about 13 years, and it runs a longer distance, it seems to generate less interest. Perhaps it's because it opened up at a time when automobile travel wasn't significant, or maybe because folks preferred to go to Los Angeles instead of San Francisco.

Once Sash and I left Wyoming and entered into Nebraska, the Lincoln Highway leaves the I-80 and continues along the US-30.

There's actually a Lincoln Highway Association that displays a map of all the routes it once ran, and they publish some cool media about the entire length:

We pulled into North Platte, NE on a Tuesday night, with storm clouds rolling in from the north.  It was a really long day, and our bodies were full of aches and pains.  After some tacos and burritos from a nearby Taco John's, we hit the sack early.

Here's photos of our day from Rawlins, WY to North Platte, NE...

Sash met a new friend Stacy
a fellow motorcycle rider
Having lunch at CK
Chuck Wagon in Laramie, WY
The Lincoln Memorial along
the Lincoln Highway
We're along the I-80 near the
Wyoming / Nebraska state line
They apparently live pretty
well in Nebraska
Sash's reflection in the back
of her turn signal
Sash's motorcycle behind tall
grasses in Sidney, NE
A shot of Sash's motorcycle
against Nebraska fields
Our bikes at a butt break in
Sidney, NE
Flies eating the bug splatter off
my bike
This fly held on for 12 miles at
80 MPH until he lost grip
Cabela's in Sidney, NE is big
enough to be its own city
Sash along the I-80 in
Nebraska should be called
The Road Construction State
Sash still misses her sport bike
We met a V-Star 650 rider
carrying as much stuff as Sash
Our bikes at a Flying J Truck
Stop in Nebraska
My Honda ST1300 along the
Dusk over NebraskaIf Darth Vader had married a
biker chick...
Storm clouds coming in from
the northwest

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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...)