Monday, August 31, 2015

The night is breathless...

... except for an old barn owl who keeps asking me questions I'll never be able to answer.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Year of Camping, August 2015

The plan is to camp every month for a year. Maybe just overnight; maybe for a couple of days.

This was our first night out.

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park.

A peaceful place.

Well, except for the party down the way that kept yelling out, "More Margaritas!"

Our campsite.




Saturday, August 29, 2015

A long walk for a beer

I want to walk into the local pub at 5:27 p.m. every day after work, order a pint, sit in the same booth that I have for years, wave to the same people I've known for decades, talk about the things we've always talked about -- the weather, family, the war -- complain about the rowdy crowd, remember old lovers, predict the perfect time to plant the tomatoes or harvest them; politics would be on our lips, football would be in our eyes, someone would start a game of darts and we'd all be color commentators talking about flights and angles and trajectories; and then after my second pint I'd shuffle back home to read the evening newspaper in my leather chair and fall asleep to the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hallway.

There aren't any pubs around here.

But I can dream.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Time-lapsed cooking

I cooked an egg inside a hollowed-out bun the other day.

Dribbled butter in the bun, filled the bottom with cheese and mushrooms and onions and spinach, cracked the eggs over the top then covered the outside with foil and cooked it.

It looked so easy and eatable in the time-lapsed video recipe that only lasted for a minute or two, but when I went to cook it, the minute or two dragged on and on and on, and by the time it was done, I was too tired to eat it, but did anyways, and it was good.

Eggs are supposed to be a quick meal.

Plop them in the skillet, flip them over, or don't, then devour with grits and toast or waffles drowned in butter and maple syrup, then wash the whole thing down with a steaming cup of java.

Five minutes from the cooking to the eating to the washing up.

But this egg in a bun thing took forever to cook.

Life's too short for a 3-epoch egg.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Morning Haiku

Always the morning
suns itself to perfection
then heads home for lunch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Haiku Hoedown

Saturday night porch
swing your partner round and round
'till the cows come home.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Don't worry, be happy

He looks like he's having a great time, standing by the street, holding a mailbox and waving at passerby's -- and probably doing it all for free.

And what do we do? Complain that somebody in the workroom forgot to refill the coffeemaker, you call this a raise? Boy, it's Monday and I'm counting the days until the weekend.

Burlington mailman

Folks, if you're not having a good time, it's your own fault.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A round of 'Give and Take'

"I have a crazy idea and I can't get it out of my mind," he said.

Oh no, not another one, she thought.

"I can't go to sleep at night because I keep trying to work out all the logistics."

Logistics? This doesn't sound good.

"You see, I've been thinking about going on an adventure and I keep trying to figure out things like which direction, when to leave, how far, how long, weather forecasts, food, shelter."


"And you probably won't believe me, but I've even been doing a lot of training, trying to get myself into shape, trying to shed a few pounds."

Trying to lose weight so he'll look good lying dead on the side of the road, no doubt.

"And I know if I can just get this 'going on an adventure' thing out of my system, everything will be just fine."

Doesn't he realize that one adventure begets another?

"So what do you think? Can you do without me for a short time so I can go on this adventure of a lifetime?"

Well, at least I won't have to listen to him snore, she thought to herself as she hugged his neck.

"Sure honey. You go have your adventure. And don't you worry about a thing. I'll be just fine."

She's just saying that and doesn't really mean it, he thought.

"This will give me a chance to do some much-needed spring cleaning around here."

And I'll feel like a heel because I'm not here to help.

"You know, Mark Johnson went on an adventure a couple of years ago, and Maryanne, his wife, said it really invigorated their love life."

Is she saying something's wrong with our love life?

"And after a few months of you losing weight on an adventure diet plan, I probably won't be able to keep my hands off you."

I think she just said I'm fat.

"Besides, you have the time off from work, I don't, and I think it'll be good for you."

 Me thinks she's agreeing too easily.

He reached out to hold her hands, looked deeply into her eyes and said, "You are the greatest. But now that I've given it a bit more thought, I think it's better if l just put this crazy idea on the shelf for awhile. Maybe come back to it another day. If that's okay with you."

She nodded her head and gave him a long hug.

"Well, if you think that's for the best. Ok."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A friend along The Erie Canal

I saw the man approaching and thought to myself, "Now I'm in for it. I'm probably not supposed to be parked here."

I had been looking for Lock No. 11 on the Erie Canal, but somehow missed it and found myself at Lock No. 12 instead. I rode down to the water's edge, parked my bike on a concrete slab, and started taking photos of the fog, the lock itself, and some ducks.

And here he came. The man in charge who would soon be asking me what the heck I was doing there, "and don't you know this is private property, and you can't bring a motorcycle down here, now off with you, mate."

Because those are the kind of first thoughts we usually think when we're not really sure of the rules.

Oops, I'm caught.

There's the enemy coming to spoil my day.

Why can't people just let me be?

But then he said, "Nice day for a ride."

His name was Dave. He was about my height, a bit younger, was wearing a wind breaker and an earring.

"Every day's a nice day for a ride," I said, giving him my pat response. And before you know it we were talking about the canal, how he had traded his job on Long Island for this one, where I was headed, and I secretly berated myself for thinking that this was going to be anything BUT a nice day.

I'll be honest, I don't remember our conversation word for word, but I remember that I had met someone who, if I'd lived a bit closer, I could call my friend. We'd go drink together at the local pub, I'd come down to the lock on my days off just to help out and see the people who passed by, and we'd probably go riding together, whether it was a nice day or not.

Erie Canal, Lock 12

Monday, August 17, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

When You've Been to the Moon and Back

When you've been to the moon and back,
it's hard to get back in the swing of things,
like taking the trash out
or feeding the cats
or filling the tank up.
All normal-day things.

The yard's been neglected, it has to be mowed,
the flowers look deader than usual.
There's mail to respond to
and bills to be paid,
and checkbooks to balance.
Not all that unusual.

But the remembrance of you being weightless
haunts your dreams or when you're wide awake.
The floating around
with the greatest of ease
with no net or trapeze.
It's almost more than you possibly can take...

...but you do and tell no one at all,
they'd just argue and not understand.
So you vacuum the floor,
change the oil in the car,
wash the windows and more.
Carry their weight just the best that you can.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bo's Head

Just go down to the end of my driveway, take a right, a right, and then another right at the train crossing (hopefully you won't get caught cuz those trains are LONG!), and you'll come upon Bo's Head.

It's a site to see, for sure.

Bo's head

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I called my little trip Chasing America because I guess that's what I was doing -- chasing down all the goodness this country has to offer, grabbing it by the collar, and dragging it home with me so I could share it with my friends and neighbors.

I hope I was successful.

(Here's a link to the photos I took. Chasing America)

The Stats:

I was on the bike for 56 days.

I traveled 19,190 miles.

I averaged 342 miles a day.

My longest ride was 770 miles on 22 June. I rode from Mount Pleasant to El Paso.

My shortest ride was 104 miles on 21 July. I rode from New Jersey, through New York City, to Port Jefferson on Long Island.

I traveled through 43 states.

I saw all five of the Great Lakes.

I put my feet in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

I ate salmon in Oregon, aligator in Florida, and lobster in Maine.

I didn't get sick at all.

I dropped my bike once in Two Harbors, Minnesota. I was on a parking lot. My engine was off. My kickstand was up. I felt stupid.

I never had a flat tire or ran out of fuel.

I lost numerous amounts of water bottles, a rain jacket, my wife's "Mark Said It Would" umbrella, and 10 pounds.

I got hit in the head by a bird. I was wearing a helmet. The bird died. (Moral: birds should always wear helmets when they fly.)

I never saw a moose in New Hampshire.

I never saw a bear in Pennsylvania.

Nobody tried to kill me in Amsterdam, New York.

I met wonderful people all over America.

I only recall one person being rude. I was talking to "the newlyweds," he was in a big pickup truck, he had an external PA system, he told us to move along. That was it. One slightly brusque encounter.

Here's the map of my entire route:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Would I do this all again?

Well, maybe not tomorrow.

But, yes.