I enjoy the process of taking pictures. I usually try to compose an image and then take the picture with some hope the image I get will match the one I envisioned.
Back when I started with photography in the 7th grade, I was fortunate that my junior high school had a darkroom complete with enlarger. But, composing the picture was just the beginning. You had to develop the film. And that starts with learning how to unload the exposed film from your camera and wind it on a spool that goes into a light-tight can. But, you have to do this in pitch darkness so stray light won’t fog the film. It’s done by sense of touch and could be frustrating when the film refuses to feed smoothly into the spool.
Then, you pour various chemicals into the can spinning the spool around to develop the film. When done, you open the can and take out a film strip with negatives (whites are black and blacks are white, and no, I could not afford color film or processing but those negatives show “negative” color for the three primary colors used).
Using the enlarger, you expose the print paper for a few seconds to light that you shine through the negative. This creates a negative, negative so once again black is black and white is white. But, when you turn off the enlarger light, there is no image visible on the paper. You have to take the paper and slosh it in trays of similar chemical solutions to get a print. There is magic in watching a piece of white paper slowly transform into an emerging image that finally comes into sharp focus.
The time from composing a picture to seeing the print for the first time was often several weeks as it took me awhile to shoot a roll of 12 images. I was very deliberate of what I took pictures of due to the cost of film and the labor of creating a print.
Today, with digital imaging, I get to see the picture “immediately” and I shoot many more pictures than I did with film. As with film, what I get is never quite what I saw in my mind’s eay. Sometimes its better.
Back in 2007, Rochelle and I started on the “Pass Bagger 50” award sponsored by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado . To earn the award requires you to ride your motorcycle over 50 passes in the state of Colorado. We started working on this in 2007 and both of us completed in the fall of this year.
My high school, Hopkins, is a prep school in New Haven, CT. It celebrated it’s 350th anniversary this year (yeap, it was founded in 1660, 50 years after Galileo saw the moons of Jupiter making the sun center of the solar system and 1 year before Newton entered Trinity College at Cambridge and 27 years before he published his laws of motion and gravitation in 1687) which coincided with my 40th reunion. So, I took advantage of too much vacation accrual, and planned a ride out and back. By adding a few jogs to the route, I could try an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 2000 ride. The SS2000 is 2000 miles in 48 hours, or less. I’ve done a couple of SS1000 and one Bun Burner 1500 which is 1500 miles in 36 hours. So, I figured this wouldn’t be too tough a challenge.
My departure was set for Wednesday, June 9th with a target of being in New Haven no later than Friday afternoon to attend our class get together at a local pub. The formal reunion would be on Saturday. I had three days to get there with a plan to do it in 39 1/2 hours including sleep at the 1005 mile mark, almost exactly half way. I had planned 8 hours of sleep with some time to eat dinner and get some breakfast before starting the next day’s 1000 mile ride. The total distance would be 2021 miles according to Microsoft Streets and Trips.
The route went north from my home in Arvada, CO on I-25 to Cheyenne where I took I-80 through Nebraska, Iowa, and then I-74 to just south of Peoria, Illinois the first day. I budgeted 9.5 hours for sleep and a dinner stop that night. The second day the route continued on I-74 picking up I-70 at Indianapolis, then across Indiana to Columbus, Ohio where I picked up I-71 to I-76 just outside Akron, Ohio. From there, I would continue on to the intersection with I-80 in Pennsylvania to I-287 in New York and finally to I-95 to the final destination in New Haven, CT. Here’s a map of the route showing planned gas and sleep stops.
I planned to do the trip from twilight to dusk avoiding night driving. Since June 9th is close to the summer solstice, I would get maximum daylight – 5:15 am to about 9:00 pm.
I got my starting gas receipt at 5:20 am and my start witness, my youngest son, signed off in time to roll out of the station at exactly 5:30 am. The ride to Cheyenne was uneventful. I did encounter some light sprinkles just before getting to Cheyenne, but the sky cleared off as I headed west on I-80.
I had a list of stops with times that I created on a spreadsheet and at Cheyenne, figured out I had an error in my time arithmetic so the sheet was about 30 minutes ahead of my real arrival times at gas stops. As in past long distance rides, my stops alternated between 10 and 20 minute stops. 10 minutes is about right to get gassed and visit the rest room and may be grab some munchies out of the saddle bag. The 20 minute stop allows more time to get coffee if I want and to eat more and stretch out and exercise any tired muscles. Each stop is timed at about 200 – 220 miles, so depending on speed limits, that’s about 2.5 to 3 hours between them. I’ve found I can maintain that rhythm for 18-20 hours at a time if need be.
The only problem on day 1 was a detour in Davenport, IA due to the I-80 bridge over the Mississippi being closed. The detour took I-280 over the river which added about 15 miles to the trip. I hit the hotel about 20 mins late, grabbed a Burger King #1 meal, ate in my room and arranged for a 5:00 am wake up call for the next morning. Here’s the GPS record of Day1. You can ignore the “Maximum Speed” as that’s an artifact of the GPS. It frequently records an unobtainable maximum speed when it can’t get a satellite lock. The GPS gets turned off when the engine is off, so total time was a bit more than 15 hours.
On day 2, I had to add air to the tires as the elevation had dropped from 5300 feet to about 800 feet. So that added a few minutes to the moring preparations. Oil consumption at 1005 miles was about 1/16 of a quart.
As I headed out, I enjoyed the sunrise and cool temperatures on my way to Champaign, IL. Then on to Indiannapolis, IN.
I hadn’t expected the sad state of the freeway system in Indiannapolis. It was a huge mess and I got lost at one point due to construction detours. At the gas stop outside town, I could hear an unusual sound. I checked the bike and found the front fender was rubbing on the front tire. The two rear bolts that attached to the forks had both come out. I had mounted new tires the day before I left and I guess I managed to not get either bolt tight. I grabbed duct tape and tried to secure the fender adding a good 15 – 20 minutes to a planned 10 minute stop. As I got to each successive gas stop, I found the tape had not held and tried adding more. This is the final duck tape kludge I ended up with at the 3rd gas stop.
Toward the end of the day, I remembered I had some wire in my tool kit and ran some through the bolt holes and the fender which took the strain off the duck tape and kept the fender from tipping forward toward the tire. Lesson learned. Use bailing wire for this kind of repair.
When I got to the Tappan ZeeBridge over the Hudson River in New York, I was about an hour behind due to the multiple 20 min gas stops to futz with the front fender. When I took the exit to I-95 just before Greenwich, CT, all traffic stopped. All lanes, but one, on I-95 were closed for construction. And, they did that two more times in 40 miles. Each time there was a large traffic jam which added another 30 minutes or so lost before getting to my final gas station … which was closed by that time. I found one open about 5 miles up the road and clocked out at about 11:30 pm, June 10. The second 1000 miles took a bit more than 17 hours. Total time for the 2021 mile trip including sleep was about 40 hours 30 minutes and the average speed for the entire trip was 40 MPH. I slept quite well on Thursday night 🙂
The Return Trip
For the return trip 2 days later, I visited the family cemetery on my mother’s side north of New York City where my mom and dad currently reside, then headed south through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and then home. That route was about 2100 miles and I took 3 days to complete it riding about 700 miles a day. Here’s the route and some pictures along the way.
My Prep School – Founded 1660
Yeap, 350 years old, and I was a member of the 1st graduating class 🙂
Replica of the original school building originally on the New Haven green.
My mother’s side of the family is buried in Phillipsport, NY which is just a street sign these days.
The “Sherwood” plot and Cookie Monster, my BMW R1150-RS. The Sherwoods are decended from the “Sherwood Forest” owners in England.
We decided to take this vacation because Rochelle bid on and won a Safari in South Africa in March. I’ve wanted to do a motorcycle tour in South Africa, so we planned the trip to combine both a motorcycle tour and the safari.
The flight over goes from Denver to Chicago to London then Johannesburg and finally Richard’s Bay where we rent a car and drive to the game lodge which is about an hour north of Richard’s Bay. In total, we are spending about 3 and 1/2 weeks in South Africa. We managed to pack pretty light, a skill developed over the years of taking motorcycle vacations.
Luggage for a Month
We left Tuesday, November 3 about 12:35 pm Denver time to catch a shuttle to the airport. Our departure was set for 3:45 pm. We arrived on time in Chicago, waited about 2 hours, and boarded the flight to London at 9:00 pm. “Are we there yet” was Rochelle’s question as we got to the departure gate for the London flight. When I told her no, but she would have the great pleasure of my company sitting right next to her for the next 36 hours, well, her face just lit right up 🙂
Are We There Yet?
Only 36 More Hours To Go !!
We left about an hour late due to 2 issues with the plane, but arrived on time in London at 11:00 am on Wednesday, November 4.
Our layover in London was 7 hours, boarding the South Africa Airways flight at 6:00 pm. Rochelle took advantage of the comfortable sofa in the bar to catch a nap. A gent heading to Ireland took a couple of photos for documentation. He then asked to borrow my boarding pass so he could buy duty free cigarettes leaving me his passport and wallet. When he came back about 10 mins later, he offered to buy me a scotch, a Bells, which I had not had before. A friendly and generous gent indeed. Afterwards, I wondered if I should have been more cautious …
Rochelle Snoozing in Heathrow
I wandered around a bit finding a currency exchange to get South African Rand (a Rand is about $0.14). I got screwed however. It seems that since I was in the UK, and used US dollars, they first converted US dollars to British pounds, then converted British pounds to Rand. So, I got hit by 2 currency exchange rates plus fees. Lesson learned. Get the currency exchanged at my bank in advance of the trip for the best deal.
After boarding our fight to Cape Town, we settled in for the duration. I tried sleeping, but was only able to dose off and on until our arrival in Johannesburg. We cleared customs quickly and headed to our gate for the flight to Richard’s Bay. Rochelle was pretty tired by this point and took another nap in the lounge before we boarded our flight to Richard’s Bay.
Rochelle’s Nap in Johannesburg
When we arrived in Richard’s Bay, the first sight was a fire truck at the airport. Was there a subtle message there? 🙂
Fire Truck, Richard’s Bay Airport
Our Plane to Richard’s Bay
Rochelle was past tired at this point unable to keep her eyes open. I rented the car, got the luggage loaded and then put her in the left seat to sleep.
Rental Car Welcome
I was off on the road to Zulu Nyala game lodge, reading maps, shifting a manual transmission with the left hand, and at every intersection repeating to myself, “Drive left, look right”. After about an hour of driving on the left side of the road (speeds were 100 to 120 kph or about 60 – 75 mph), the last 20 km on dirt and gravel roads, we arrived at the game lodge and checked in. Total transit time was about 40 hours, door to door.
Back Road to Zulu Nyala Reserve
Game Lodge Entrance
Rochelle went to the room and to bed. I stayed up and went out on the afternoon safari with our guide, Kyle, at 4:00 pm meeting the other friends of Rochelle’s from Denver who were joining us for the safari. I finally got to bed that night about 48 hours after leaving the house in Denver. I slept quite well 🙂
That got your attention, didn’t it. I suspect the visual of me getting nude on Halloween (or any time) sorta catches in your throat, don’t it?
Well, there were two getting nude on Halloween items today. The first was an article in the Saturday Wall Street Journal about Boulder’s Naked Pumpkin Run, and the Police Chief ‘s decision to halt it this year.
Image By Wall Street Journal – Naked Pumpkin Runner Costume
Seems the Chief believes this kind of event, which attracted about 150 hardy souls last year, threatens the law in the city of Boulder. A local lawyer summed up the reaction from those who for the past 10 years put this in the “just a Boulder thing” category, “It kind of reminds me of what’s happening in Tehran”. Even for me, who lives near by, but hasn’t actually applied for citizenship in the Peoples Republic of Boulder, the Police Chief’s action strikes a discordant note. Boulder was known as a city of free spirits, all things Bohemian, and a certain “let it all hang out” attitude, if you will. What happened?
I told my wife that I’ve felt the change in the Boulder culture over the years. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but the immigrant population from the west coast that invaded in the 1980s and 90s, increased the BMW car population by 1000%, drove housing prices to astronomical levels, and brought a certain “Its all about me” mind set. I think they also brought a certain “fear and loathing” of all things different from their ideas of “normal”. Fear destroys a sense of humor and the ability to just shrug your shoulders and move on when confronted by “not my thing” behavior. As the DA put it, “A lot of times, ‘he says with a sigh’, these people are just being idiots.” (I think he is a native, and that was a legal shoulder shrug of dismissal). The local head of the Boulder ACLU office said, “…(the naked pumpkin run) seems somewhat quixotic, but our Bill of Rights does not judge the content of free expression.”
So, if the Chief, or one of the 40 officers and two SWAT teams he has assigned to be on patrol near the traditional 4 block site of the run at 11:00 pm, arrests a Naked Pumpkin runner, they will end up being registered as a sex offender. Does it strike anyone else that’s an excessive reaction to stupid college student tricks? Convincing evidence of being a moron maybe, but not something that requires being a registered sex offender.
Now, the second “going naked” event on Halloween involved me riding naked from my house to BMW of Denver on the Grey Ghost, my 1975 R75/6. I mean I did have my bright yellow Big Bird Aerostich riding suit on, (I believe in ATGATT- All The Gear, All The Time) so it wasn’t a Lady Godiva (or Sir Godiva in my case) sorta ride. In fact, I had all my clothes on underneath my riding suit as well. It wasn’t me who was naked, you see, it was the Grey Ghost. I was taking it to get the steering head and frame straightened as part of the restoration project, so no faring, no front fender, no bags, no luggage rack, the Ghost was totally naked. (Do the statutes for registered sex offenders extend to motocycles?)
Silver Ghost – 1975 BMW R75/6 Buck Naked
I haven’t ridden the Ghost naked since I put a fairing on it the first winter I rode it in Denver. Prior to the Ghost, I always rode naked. Putting the faring on it was a bit frightening. I wasn’t used to looking down and not seeing the front wheel and the street flowing by. It was spooky. But, riding around in Denver all winter, it was a lot warmer and I got used to the “barn door dashboard” in front of me.
As I wheeled it out into the driveway to take some pictures, it looked very small and vulnerable, almost scooter like. As I rode up the hill heading out to the main drag and ultimately the 20 mile ride on Interstate highways to the dealer, I noticed the differences.
First, there is nothing between my eye balls and the road in front. No barrier other than the shield on the full face helmet I’m wearing. I can’t see anything that is motorcycle. I can hear it and feel it, but visually, it isn’t there. I flash back to the teenager feelings of riding naked. You get the sensation that you are flying 3 feet off the ground on a magic carpet which does your bidding. It’s kind of a giddy feeling.
The next thing I notice is the sound. The wind is whistling around the face shield and the exhaust note is more muffled. The valve sounds are playing percussion to the piccolo notes of the wind. Cool. A full symphony of sound.
I also feel the force of my speed. You don’t get any wind with a faring between you and the air, but riding a naked bike, you not only sense your speed by the sound of the exhaust, the twist of your right wrist and the increased rush of the scenery going by, you feel the increassed force of an unseen hand pushing on your chest, arms and head, the force of your speed.
And then there’s the water. It snowed, a lot, two days ago. We got about 24 inches. Today it’s in the 40’s and the snow is melting everywhere creating little rivers, puddles and occasional ponds in the road. As I cross these, I can feel the watery mist coming in through the vents around the face shield and on my neck. The face shield gets coated in mist and mud. I remember I have a rubber wiper on the left thumb of my glove which I rarely use. It’s purpose is now very clear. It’s an essential component for seeing on a naked bike even on a sunny day like today.
As I get up on the interstate and accelerate, the rhythmic booming of the exhaust mixes with wood wind notes of the face shield. It’s a different sound and a more intense sense of velocity than I get with a fairing. Now at 75 MPH the sense of flying as a bird does takes over. I can swoop and dive like any bird, if only in two dimensions. It’s very liberating. It’s like the dreams we have where we suddenly realize we can fly. We swoop and dive, in and out, over towns, down streets, with total freedom. The grey ghost , unseen but felt and heard, lets me fly above the freeway. What a gas.
Running down the street at 11:00 pm, in the dark, with a pumpkin on your head buck naked is … not my cup of tea. But, flying on top of the buck naked Grey Ghost at 11:00 am doing 75 MPH down the freeway dodging water puddles and ponds is. To each their own bit of Bohemia revelry. Live and let live.