Tuesday, October 22nd – The Adventure Begins

This blog has been dormant for quite a few years now. So has my photography hobby.  For a while there, I was shooting about 20,000 shots a year.  That fell off a cliff and went down to 800 or so in 2012.  I hadn’t pulled out a film camera for a couple of years, let alone do any developing up until very recently.

My last few years of work have been crazy.  Many big things went sideways at critical times, and caused a great deal of stress for the entire team. Strings of late nights and long days turned us into zombies.  Parts came in so badly made that the only remedy was a last-minute round-the-world trip to sort out suppliers and/or find better one.  Such is the life when you’re developing something totally new and have to figure out what you don’t know as you go along. It is staggering how much we’ve learned in such a comparatively short time. I couldn’t be prouder of the team and how we’ve been able to power through obstacles and bring such a crazy awesome product to market. The icing on the cake is how well our baby is being received so far.

But I need a break. As one of my bosses is fond of saying, “You don’t write very well with a dull pencil.” I missed most of the summer due to a neverending cascade of crises du jour, and even when I did get a weekend I was useless. Going to the gym slipped, eating healthy slipped, riding my bicycle slipped. I barely found time to get the grass cut.  My sense of humor was gradually being replaced by a deadpan seriousness that I hated but had no spare energy to do anything about.  Clearly, I had to carve out some time to destress and shake the cobwebs out.

My parents are coming out of retirement, and have bought one of our favorite restaurant/bars… La Kiva, in Terlingua, Texas. That’s 1550 miles away from where the family lives. They’ve been down in Terlingua coordinating what is turning out to be a massive restoration/rebuilding effort to restore everything to its original glory and also comply with little things like health and safety codes.

(You can check on their progress here: www.la-kiva.com )

This combination of circumstances led to the following arrangement:  My Dad wanted his 5th wheel toy hauler brought down to La Kiva to serve as a bunkhouse for visitors.  I was to drive the rig down (towed by a Ford F450 “Super Duty” diesel dually pickup) and then fly back.  “Sod that,” I said- “This sounds like an excellent opportunity to springboard this into a motorcycle trip! and great adventure!  and stuff!”

Loading the GS
Loading the GS

As I type this, I’m in a hotel room in Edmond, Oklahoma.  This is not planned.  I’m a little more than halfway to Terlingua.  My motorcycle is parked outside.

The truck & trailer didn't quite make it.
The truck & trailer didn’t quite make it.

Everything went fine for the first 500 miles or so.  As the drive went on, I became aware of a vibration from what seemed like the right front tire.  At first, it was only noticeable going down hills at 70mph.  Checking the tires at the next gas stop yielded no information.  Nothing was hot, there was no play in the wheels- I couldn’t tell what was wrong.  Finally, when the vibration crept down to 60mph I pulled into a gas station.  I checked pressures- right front was a bit high, so I aired down.  It was also showing signs of cupping, which I thought to be the source of the vibration.  Pulling back onto I-35 with the intention of putting in maybe another 10 miles to get to a decent truckstop to stop for the night, I heard one of the nastier mechanical sounds I’ve ever been witness to.  It was horrible.  The truck jerked and bounced around and I lost all motive power.  I pulled over to the side of the road and coasted to a grinding, banging stop.

The front driveshaft looks to have been the culprit, or at the very least a victim of the root cause.  It is severed about halfway along its length.  The transfer case appears to have exploded quite nastily.  The transmission is stuck in Neutral.  Transmission fluid everywhere, and several important looking mechanical bits are exposed in a “that ain’t gonna buff out” kinda way.

Obviously, I needed a way to get to a hotel.  Luckily I have a new-to-me BMW GS1200 Adventure in the back of the fifth wheel.  All that needed doing is roughly an hour of unloading, packing, repacking, and donning riding gear.  Then the bike wouldn’t start.  Push bike to front of truck.  Unlock truck. Open hood. Go to back of truck.  Find jumper cables.  Jump bike.  I felt a bit like that guy in the Viagra commercial, where he uses the draft horses to pull the truck out of the mudhole.  Only there was no mud, horses, or Viagra involved.

Unloading the motorcycle in the middle of the night.
Unloading the motorcycle in the middle of the night.

Luckily everything worked okay after that.  Plug in GPS, hit “Hotel” and ride the 4 miles to a nice Hampton Inn in Edmond.  I’m safe and sound in a nice comfy bed (and Hampton Inns have the best beds and pillows.)  I felt compelled to write this out of sheer incredulity while it’s all fresh in my mind.  Seriously- I go on a vacation to get away from things failing unexpectedly, from having to problem solve anything and everything you can imagine, from having late nights and uncertainty and stress… and this happens?

Privately, though- I’m kind of pleased.   I haven’t thought about work since the truck blew up… and that’s something.

(Dad, sorry I blew up the truck)