Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Road stories - People will want to talk to you.

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how much people want to talk to bug cover, sweaty guys on motorbikes.

Some, are easy to understand. The "I used to ride ... " followed by some questions about the trip.

But often it's just people. They see you, especially when you're on your own, and they want to chat with you.

Here, in Rainbow, I got to talk to a guy who was fly fishing with his grand-son. Nice guy, I honestly don't even remember that much about what else we talked about, but just the fact that it was great to talk to him.

And as I wrote this, it occurred to me that I should really try to make a little project out of the people I meet. Like a portrait project. Because today, I have only my memories, which are going to fade over time.

The reason I even mentioned the above interaction, is because 3 years ago (or is it 4 now?) I stopped at the same store and had a nice chat with a guy who rides an SV650 in California. At least, he did then. And there are many other places we've stopped and met people who were great.

Even after some 'quicker' passes, they are typically friendly. This year I passed a couple in a Miata (who were going too damn slow) and they happened to pull into the lookout Jerry and I had stopped at some time later.

Actually it was right after we took this photo

And they came up, smiling, and said "man you flew past us". Turns out, she just got started riding a 250 Honda Rebel but he sticks to driving his Miata. We had a nice chat. It reminded both Jerry and I of the woman who came up to us after we had a somewhat spirited ride up Windy Ride and said "I know what you were doing with your knees on the ground, I watch motorcycle racing on TV". Which I have to admit, was a pretty cool thing to hear.

The truth is, most people are just nicer than you might give them credit for. Especially in small doses ... and as long as you wave 'thanks' to them after you pass them and maybe start with "Hope I didn't scare you back there ... " ;)

Or maybe they are just living vicariously through you for just a few minutes, perhaps wishing it was them out there on the bike.

Monday, December 10, 2012

All things come to an end

Though they may not come to an end in this post (or on Dec 21, 2012 ;) )

But I'm down to the last couple of posts I think. It may be one very large post, or perhaps, two smaller ones. But we're definitely getting there when it comes to Michelle and my trip to Utah and Nevada.

For the last couple of days we've been nomads now, packing up everything in the morning and driving all our belongings (all 2 carry-on bags and 2 small back packs) with us.

Today we are heading south-east, towards the hoover dam

Past Lake Mead (not very exciting)

We did make it to the hover dam (past the security inspection) only to be confronted with tourists who can't seem to read the damn signs on the dam

Arizona side intake

State line

There havn't been that many self portraits in these holiday posts, so there are a couple in this one :)

Nevada intake

The thin red line (or curb)

Great art though.

After all the amazing scenery we saw in the previous days, walking around on a big concrete structure with hundreds of tourists was somewhat underwhelming.

Ugly concrete

Beautiful decorations

This is probably my favourite image from the Hoover Dam. Which, when you get right down to it, may say more about me than the dam :)

Well, that's it for tonight.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Road stories - You'll find your rhythm

This post was inspired by a photo I saw on a blog. It talked about being 'in the zone' and how rare that was. As in, once in a lifetime rare.

I'm not sure I agree completely, but it's close. So I wanted to talk about finding your unique rhythm.

Most longer trips start and end very differently. You start out chomping at the bit, pushing hard to get the turns in or perhaps even feeling slightly out of sorts. The bike hasn't been this loaded down in a year, your running higher tire pressures or shock settings, the balance is different, response not the same.

As you can see, that doesn't look like it would move around all that well, does it?

Then, as you get into the trip, you'll adapt. "You don't break the bike in, the bike breaks you in." Pretty sure I got that from Jerry. Sorry buddy, there'll be no royalties :)

Eventually, everything is in it's place, you know where things are and that works for you. Same bike, same amount of stuff, same settings. But now it feels right.

Doesn't really look any different, except for perhaps the laundry bag, does it? But the combination of bike and rider has very much changed.

For me, this period of adjustment takes days. But eventually, you feel right on the bike. Sometimes, you only feel right on the bike and can't wait to get on it in the mornings. I'm not sure I can properly explain this phenomenon. I know I tried in 2008 (Trip report titled "Home is where the bike is").

And then, if you're lucky, things slow down. Not necessarily you and the bike, but things around you. Traffic becomes more entertainment than annoyance. You know what drivers around you are going to do, you find the gaps and don't have to slice through as flow through.

Same thing with the corners. They flow and you are making the bike dance. The best part is that you're not trying. It's effortless.

I can often remember in detail when this happened.

So, I just erased an entire paragraph, because I realized that no matter what I do, I won't be able to describe it. What I wrote sounded like boasting instead of describing what it's like. Maybe it can't be described.

You just have to experience it and it's probably different for you than me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Valley of Fire - Part 2

Sometimes, when there are great and impressive things around, I like to look down, or behind, or in any direction but the 'great thing', because something, some little nugget, that most people will walk right past, is right there.

I liked the play of the light on the sand.

There was a board that tried to make sense of some of the petroglyphs

I didn't actually see the mystical bat woman, but then if I had I'd probably would have needed to change my shorts ;)

Black & White left, Colours right.

Though Michelle did start, once it got too narrow she turned back.

The view was interesting, but man, I had to hold on to the rock every time I turned to take a photo in another direction. Vertigo.

The way we came.

The way we were going (with Michelle way at the bottom)

Desert Landscapes

We decided to go on a little hike, to this 'cool rock'. Michelle investigated the flora.

Along the path

Looks crooked. But isn't.

Moonrise over mars


We found the 'cool rock'. Michelle investigated as I made friends with some of the other photographers hanging out all trying to get the same shot. Lost of tripods and cable shutter releases.

I just sort of squatted down in front of them and took my photo. I don't know if they sneered at my lack of tripods and extra gear, or my neophyte hand held shooting. I had my back turned ;)

Seems fine to me. In the end, it turned out on of the girls was taking photos for her class. She had a shaky tripod and I think would have been much better off with a good hand held shot. Also, she'd never tried a polarizing filter (that thing that turns the sky so blue). Turned out that with one of my adapters we could fit my filter. She took a couple of shots with it to see if she liked the result.

Me? I decided that black and white still has a place in a colourful landscape.

We didn't wait around too long and started hiking walking back.

Life fills the cracks

Then it was over to the 'arch'

And atlatl rock, which turned out to have more petroglyphs

Elmo's got nothin on her ;)

The sun was setting, it was time to head into Vegas.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Bryce, and Hello to Valley of Fire

We packed up the car and took on last look at Bryce Canyon. I was still trying to get "that" shot of Inspiration point that was in my mind. I did not get it. But it wasn't a wasted trip.

There is one place in Bryce that's outside of the park gate. Couldn't pass it up.

It was a wonderful morning, so we walked in a little bit

There was a narrow trail heading off to the tip of a lookout and Michelle thought she'd try to follow (remember, she's not so good with heights ... and more importantly drop offs).

The "trail" is that thin light line in the foreground. Michelle decided she would enjoy the view from a bit further back.

I was glad I went to have a look.

Then, we did a bunch of driving, through Utah and some crazy winds and even higher Summits (but without any summit signs, very disappointing).

Through some strong winds that rocked the car.

Past many tumbleweeds stuck in highway fences.

None of which was captured in any photos.

But then eventually (despite the GPS) we found Valley of Fire State Park just north of Vegas.

You can see the 'self portrait' technique secret in my glasses (hint: it's not much of a secret ;) )


And no, I did not 'induce' a red shift.

The way down was funny actually. It involved some sliding ;)

More petroglyphs

Lots more

Fire rocks

Some more of Valley of Fire in the next post :)