Monday, April 27, 2009

Cannonball Run

Five hundred and fifty miles, four states, three beaches, two days, and one hell of a ride.

It all started Friday evening when I hopped on the bike and drove up to Baltimore to see Larry Keel with Natural Bridge perform at Baltimore's equivalent of Iota... The 8x10.

As much as I typically enjoy drinking a beer and spacing out to the Keels, this was one show I just could not get into.

I'm going to chalk it up to the performing environment since I am more accustomed to seeing Larry and Jenny perform on a stage outdoors while under the influence of alcohol.

The highlight of the show for me was when I met a married couple from Buffalo. I later discovered that the woman and I had both went to Fredonia just one year apart from each other. Her for Comp. Sci and myself for Media Arts. After rattling off several names we failed to connect to Kevin Bacon.

Later that night I crashed at Matilda's cousins house in Canton. Early the next morning it was off to Wilmington Delaware to watch my niece play soccer. The drive up to Delaware on 95 north was the worst part of the entire trip.

I think they should amend the death and taxes proverb to include the fact that you can always count on some douche bag with Jersey plates riding 6 inches from your bumper on Northbound 95.

Anyhow, eventually after making it to Wilmington Delaware I spent the next two hours driving around in sunny 85 degree weather with a leather jacket on desperately trying to find the school where Brittany was playing. After stopping to ask at least six people for directions it occurred to me that people in Delaware seemed to live in their own world. I think they call it Space Case ville or something to that effect.

Not one single person had any idea where I could find River Rd. Eventually, I did find 122 River Road but to my horror I realized my sister had given me the wrong address when 122 River Road turned out to be a modest residential house.

Fuming at myself for not printing directions beforehand, I met up with my sister and her family at their hotel room in Newark Delaware, drank my two beer motorcycling limit, and devoured some greasy pizza.

Shortly thereafter, I was headed southbound down famous Route One in search of my overnight destination - Rehoboth Beach. Endless rolling tobacco farms, bridges over narrow ocean inlets, and the smell of the salty sea characterized my trip down the Delmarva peninsula.

About fifty miles deep into an eighty five mile drive with the sun setting to my west my bike fizzled out right before an eerie looking bridge in the middle of nowhere. Slightly panicked, I realized I needed gas, I switched the gas line over to my reserve and prayed that my bike would start. Thank god it did and I was scrambling to the nearest gas station.

After arriving in Rehoboth Beach with grand visions of a crazy night out, I would say it was around the time I took the first sip of a Dogfishhead beer when I realized that I needed a motel room STAT because I was about to pass out from exhaustion. The Seabreeze inn would suffice. After washing the road grit out of my eyes, I laid down in bed for just a minute when I heard voices from outside the door and realized it was morning.

After getting some breakfast and strolling along the beach, I hit Route 50 West to DC. The initial part of the drive was uneventful. About three quarters of the way home I came to the Bay Bridge. While driving over the bridge I had to remind myself to take deep breaths. Being that high up on a motorcycle over water with no pull off lane is somewhat intimidating to say the least. However after a few adrenaline filled minutes I was back on solid ground.

About 25 miles outside of Alexandria I was ready to throw in the towel. My butt was numb, I was sweating profusely, my arms were sunburned and I was dehydrated. I had to pull off and pretend I was shopping inside a 7/11 to cool down. When I made it home I checked the temperature and it said 96 degrees. The rest of the night I was in a relaxation mode.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Own Mile High Club

As we made our final decent towards the massive Denver International Airport the view was absolutely astonishing. Snow covered mountain peaks sparsely decorated with vegetation smoothly flowed into seemingly empty abandoned valleys. We were at the start of the Rockies.

It's been a long time since I have had the privilege to visit Denver. I remember when I was younger my mother and father took me to Denver during one of my fathers many business trips. I do not remember much from that experience except for an odd random Abraham Lincoln ice sculpture in some ritzy mountain resort.

Matilda and I met up with her younger brother who picked us up from the airport and promptly drove us to the nearest watering hole (a biker bar none the less) to quench my alcohol craving and satisfy Matilda's blood sugar level. Bikers --check--, a thick haze of cigarette smoke --check--, dirty bathrooms --check--, and cheap beer made the Piper Inn the perfect dive.

After the long flight and the subsequent feasting on wings and drinking cheap beer we elected to stay in and relax that night.

Later the next day Matillda's brother took me up and into the Rockies to a ski resort called Keystone. As it turned out, we got a fantastic deal to snowboard all day for only $32 in observance of Keystone's customer appreciation day.

We pulled into the gravelly parking and as I glanced towards the crest of the mountain I could already feel my helpless lungs trying to acclimatize themselves to the lack of oxygen.

Tickets paid for with snow boards in hand, we stumbled into an enclosed gondola and made our way up to the summit of the mountain. I was in absolute awe of the scenery the entire ride up the mountain. I thought to myself how inferior the bunny hill ski slopes I had previously experienced in the Mid-Atlantic area were in relation to this goliath of a mountain.

The conditions on the top half of the mountain were beyond our expectations. Fresh powder took most of the laboring work out of boarding. However, half way down the mountain the conditions became something less than accommodating. The previous day had been about 72 degree's and sunny which made the bottom portion of the mountain feel like I should exchange my snowboard for a pair of ice skates.

After two quick runs down the mountain I felt as if my legs had been crafted out of jello. The ice was doing its damage and I was unsure how many more runs I could make in these conditions.

Several times with mild embarrassment I had to stop to catch my breath and massage my calves. The good thing was the mountain was so enormous and contained so many different trails that we would go several minutes without seeing anyone else.

It was during one gondola ride that we met some Australians who had come half way around the world to ski the great Rockies. They told us that these were the best mountains in the world for skiing and that they made the trip annually.

All in all we made about ten runs down the mountain before we surrendered our aching bodies to the two hour ride back into Denver. Along the way we stopped at bbq joint and choked down some pit beef subs like two emaciated savages. The vacation was off to a good start.