Category: Road Trip


laconiaLaconia:  I’ve heard your pipes, I’ve seen your tats, boobs and bellies.  Your piercings and your paint jobs.   May I be excused from Sturgis and Daytona, please?

Seriously though, when we first got to Weir’s Beach, my thought was, this is it?   This is all Laconia and presumably Sturgis and Daytona are about?   White tents with cheap crap?  People jam packed into narrow lanes between vendors and bikes, looking at, being looked at?  See my colors? See my pins? See my scars?  I’m sorry.  I’d really rather be riding.

That was my trip to Laconia.  Now about the rest of the weekend.

We rode up on Friday and about 40 miles outside of town my bike went dark in the middle lane of bumper to bumper traffic on the tollway.  I pushed it across two lanes to the side of the road when an ANG halfback stopped to let me through and conveniently blocked the other lane.  It was an electrical issue that I was sure of, and I hoped if I let it cool off, it would fire up.  Sadly, no.

There I sit leaning on my bike, waiting.  A bus full of little kids goes by, and they all turn down their windows and yell, “Hi! Biker Lady!!”  Ok, that was pretty cool. Then a small car with what is clearly a grandma, a mom, and a little girl goes by, and the little girl calls out, “Hi!”  The grandma says something to the little girl and she turns back and says, “Are you ok?!?”  Yep, I’m fine, and tell your grandma she’s pretty cool too.  Then another car goes by and the little girl leans out the window and says, “Hi, BlackJayne!!” and I wave.  Then the car is in the breakdown lane in front of me and I walk up to the window to say, “Hey, no, it’s all good…” when I look in the window I realize it’s my neighbor. “Hey, how’s it going? Wanna take me into town to buy a battery for my bike?”

How undignified can it get?

The battery seems to fix things, my riding partner shows up after a long complicated set of maneuvers to get back on the tollway below me and headed in the right direction. We get up to Laconia about 5 hours later than we were shooting for.  Go to the bar, grab some food, hit the rack.

Saturday, we checked the bike, seemed to be fine. Start up, run, no funkiness.  For logistical reasons, we take the other bike to Weir’s Beach.  We get a good parking spot, we have a chance to enjoy the scenery.  Five thousand bikes parked on the road, in the boardwalk, at the various lots (some lots up to 5 miles away) at any given time. Another couple thousand give or take, on their way in or on their way out.

Yippee.  Can I go home now?

Sunday we ride the Kancamagus (Cank-uh-MAY-gus) over to North Conway and plan to ride the Daniel Webster Highway back around.  We ride the Kank.  (A really nice ride if you’re ever in the area; car or bike, Winnebago, bicycle you name it. Nice ride.)  Get to North Conway stop for a drink and a stretch. The bike won’t start. Not only dead, but D-E-D dead. Can’t find a new battery. Get a trickle charger from the Harley dealership a mile up the road.

Ok, this part sounds much funnier than it was. We sat in Dunkin’ Donuts for an hour and a half and played cribbage while we charged the battery.  Oh, yeah, living the dream there.

Get the battery back in the bike. She fires right up. We get out on the street and I hear “Puh. Puh, puh-puh. Gasp….” Awesome.  I push it into the Circle K parking lot.  We talk about our options, don’t really like any of them.  Cram all our shit into the other bike, go in and ask the manager politely, “Please do not tow my bike, I promise I will be back for it in the morning.”

We ride back to the hotel, which is about 40 miles away, back over the Kancamagus.  It rains. Hard. The road is still windy-twisty and beautiful. And wet. An hour and a half later, we’re showered, and in the bar again, looking forlornly at the menu which is not in the restaurant where we had planned to eat.

Our best alternative is to rent a truck. We have no vehicle to pull a trailer.  There is no service dealer anywhere within 100 miles, and truly? I want my guy to work on my bike, so I know what my problem is.  Not what some guy with HD plastered on his shirt wants to tell me.  I call work, “Sorry can’t be there tomorrow, I’m busy.”

Monday we get up, we ride the bike crammed full of ALL our stuff now that we’ve checked out, back across the Kancamagus.  Bright sunshine, twisty-windy, fresh air ..…small RV…..  young male moose, trotting across the road.… (Please god, please god, please god… do not let the RV hit the moose, it will mean bad things for all of us, and I have enough bad things going on right now, I’d like not to add a moose to my problems.)  I’m not sure how late it was before he saw the moose, but the moose definitely saw him and was happy to keep on moving before we all got there.

Pick up the truck, which is big enough for both bikes, so we put the one on, drive to get the other. Put the battery back in it (having trickle charged it over night) get it lined up to go up the ramp and in the truck. ….Last chance….  …breathe… fire it up and goose it just enough to keep the ka-pow from starting. Hit the ramp straight and enough speed to get it over the hump at the top. Screech to a stop narrowly avoiding the first bike. “Gasp, puh, puh-puh..” …sigh…  (I go back in the Circle K and tell the nice manager, “I have taken my bike, it has not been stolen, and thank you very much for your consideration of my plight.”)

We drive it all the way back to my guy.  He’s expecting me, having talked to me while I was sitting on the highway, and again as we came into the city. We take both bikes off the back, he keeps mine, the other heads to the U-haul place and I follow in the truck.   We drop the truck off, I pretend I wasn’t driving since I wasn’t on the list.  Something about tickets and suspended licenses and like that.  We again pack the last of our crap into the other bike, and ride back to the house.

I have never been so glad to go to work the day after a long weekend.

In the end, my guy replaced a fried voltage regulator and rewired some accessories that had been put on over the winter.  I really like my guy.

This is a trip I will probably remember for the rest of my life.  But not because I went to Laconia.

Travis Mohrman has written a novel in two parts in the oral tradition of Mark Twain.  The internal voice follows the cadence of speech used in telling tales around a campfire. Breaks in narration are solid and you can almost hear children saying, “No, tell us more! Pleeeeez?”

17231392The author describes life, both literally and figuratively, living on the edge of an ancient civilization, ravaged by some undefined apocalypse.   Tiny enclaves struggle to survive in a world still tainted by man’s fatal indiscretion.  This is the story of one man’s journey of discovery.

Three themes emerge in Down The Path and Further Down the Path.  There is an initial examination of self-reliance and cooperation.  It is necessary for Cooper to traverse the country relying solely on his ability to compete with nature.  Upon his arrival at the village, he sees how cooperation among a community’s members leads to something more important than survival alone.

His own people destroyed their own autonomy by making everything a communal mandate.  People were required to fish or grow crops for the use of everyone with little sense of satisfaction or reward.  Children were raised separate from their families instilling no sense of the kinship that leads toward a larger sense of belonging.  They had become a group of individuals doing just enough to benefit from the efforts of others.

17730690A second, related, theme is the destructive nature of living in an urbanized environment.  Cooper’s people had enclosed themselves in boxes, isolating themselves and poisoning themselves through mankind’s earlier misdeeds.  Although unaware of the dangers, they were hastening their own demise.

The village is seen as an open, organic space.   As a community, they build houses and maintain the village.  Families raise their own vegetables and their own children.  Individuals choose their own vocation as their investment in society.

Finally, we see the peril of technology.   Technology destroyed the environment hundreds of years earlier.  Mankind is only beginning to recover from the blow.  Cooper’s home, while a completely urbanized society, displays no level of technological development.   Meanwhile, the village has mastered many aspects of technology and is developing more for the benefit of the community.   The people of the village view technology as a tool to better their circumstances, not as a lever for greater power, nor as a safety net to protect against failure.

The discovery of the mysterious bunker highlights the question of technology.  Cooper is enamored of everything he sees.  He accepts the benefits of the bunker without questioning its provenance.  Handro questions everything about the place.  Who gains from their presence and what this benevolence will cost.  While he and Cooper share a desire for all good things, he wants to know where they come from and why.

My one difficulty is the lack of human conflict.  Mankind has managed to blow itself up once, or we wouldn’t be here.  In the second book we see that not all mankind has gained insight from the initial catastrophe.  Humans by nature are self-serving.  Strong personalities will always struggle to have their ideas voiced and adopted.  Not all confrontation can be avoided by retreating into the forest.

Those who are suspicious of their own are more suspicious of outsiders and will maintain and protect their power.  There is sufficient chance that confrontation will arise during Cooper’s multiple trips to and from the village.  The opportunity for friction also exists between Handro and Cooper as they wait out winter near the mysterious bunker.

Opportunities exist within village life for disagreement and dissension.  Even in as bucolic a setting as the village, nothing is ever so simple as one person saying this is the right thing to do, and having all who oppose simply lay down their objections and go along.  People disagree.  Shouting is sometimes involved.  Hard decisions frequently make for strong opinions, whether its agreeing now is the time for Cooper to return and rescue his community, or the time for others to mount a rescue in the midst of one of the harshest winters to be remembered.

Down the Path and Further Down the Path are  fine efforts.  I look forward to hearing more of Handro, and also more about the mysterious bunker.

This was so AWESOME!  I can’t wait to do it again. Seriously.

I have to admit I experienced a certain amount of trepidation regarding what I’d gotten myself into, but when my sister showed up as a surprise, everything changed.  If she believed in me enough to come to Austin, I knew I could do it. This might seem silly. So many people have been supportive of me from the outset.  This was different in some undefinable way.Mudder Boots

A lot of other things were going through my brain as we got underway.  Running by myself, it was obvious I was going to need help to get over a lot of the obstacles. (Like the 15 foot high walls with little tiny ledges at chest height.) I was concerned I was going to wear down because of the heat, concerned it was too cold since it was in the low 40s when I started, concerned I’d be laughed off the course for wearing long pants, tights, and two shirts.  I think I was the only one in long pants, but it was wise on my part.  It protected me from the “Arctic Enema” which is a long dumpster filled with ice water; you have to swim under a barrier to get to the other side. My clothes kept me warm and also cooled me off as we were running. They also protected me from the “Electric Eel” and “Electric Shock Therapy”. The first one requires you to low crawl through the mud under live electric wires, and the second is a run through a mud pit with live electric wires dangling over you. I only got zapped when I slipped and had my neck exposed as I got up to finish.

Those are the three obstacles they brag about being so tough, and they were conquered by long pants and long sleeves. So here’s a question:  are we here to get gouged, shocked, scraped and bruised as part of the fun, or are we here to take on the challenge and defeat it?

Other than the difficulty about the walls, (three different wall obstacles each a little different requiring a new approach to getting over) I think the hardest part was the running. It was all gravel and potholes and up and down and at some points it was so steep there was no running, only climbing.  Some of you might have enjoyed the trail running, but I was busy focusing on keeping my feet underneath the rest of me.  While we were running (I found a group to run with, and which was a big confidence booster.  A big thanks to K. Franklin Johnson and pals.) I saw two gazelle shoot right across the path on the way downhill.  I was a little surprised figuring the noise of the whole event would have scared all the wildlife into the next county.  There were also a lot of skeletons along the trail, some fresher than others.  It didn’t seem anything remained… uh…  unpicked… for very long.

I mean it when I say I had so much fun, it’s incredible. I would do this again in a heartbeat. I might not wear combat boots next time, and I think I’d have to shave my head to keep my hair out of my eyes.  I’d definitely train differently, but given half a chance, I’d be all over it.  Maybe if I start training now…

The truth though, I felt like I’d been hit by a car when I got up on Sunday.  I didn’t feel much better Monday on the way to work. It’s definitely going to take some time for all my bruises to heal, but even with all that, it was totally, totally worth every minute.  I may have felt odd being alone out there and being the only person in long pants, but at least I wasn’t with the group of guys wearing Nothing But Thongs  (or better, Nothing Butt Thongs), or the group of guys in Speedos, Chippendale bow-ties and shirt cuffs.  I also met a very large man, who was walking the course, and I have to say I am very proud he would take this challenge and work to complete it. (I saw him just before the second to last obstacle, and he had that look that said, “I can do this.” It was amazing.)

I feel like a little kid on a ferris wheel: all I can think is “GO AROUND AGAIN!”

Maybe next year…

PS: This is my last Mudder post (until next time) feel free to share with whoever might be entertained.