Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome to the Brotherhood, Sean

Well, Phil has done it again.

You may recall that my buddy, Phil, is the one who inspired me to quit dreamin' and start riding again. Seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

This weekend, Phil's son, Sean, purchased his first bike, a 2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. At last report, the father and son team spent the weekend shining, tuning, and personalizing the bike to make it Sean's own. Congratulations, Sean, and welcome to the brotherhood.

Folks, our youth are our future. We owe it to those who came before us to share the passion for the Road!

© 2009 TRHG Holdings LLC

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This, my Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving in the USA and despite the many challenges facing our world, we must remind ourselves that we still have much to be thankful for on this special day. For me, this Thanksgiving is about re-connecting with what matters most.

My middle child, Emily (a.k.a. Emmers), is the non-conforming, free spirited artist in the familiy. A couple of years ago, she surprised me with a charcoal sketching of my father as a birthday present. The sketch, based on a picture taken at my oldest daughter's wedding, captures Dad in his "think before you talk" pose, with his hand reaching up to remove his beloved pipe, just before he is about to share his quick wit or years of wisdom on the topic of the moment. Needless to say, the sketch was framed and is prominantly displayed in our house. She is so gifted...and she doesn't even know it.

Emmers has had a tough go after graduating in May with a Bachelors in Art History. Eager to start a life of her own, the tough economy has prevented her from finding that perfect first real job. The search has been exhausting and, I suspect, downright depressing when one of the few interviews doesn't yield the expected outcome. Sadly, I know she is not alone in her quest. I read yesterday that 46% of American youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed today.

Being a very pragmatic, business-type myself, I tend to think in terms of reading a market trend and planning for the future, all while enjoying a little bit of the Road today. When it comes to education and work ethic, I'm admittedly hard on the kids because life doesn't cut you many breaks. So I tend to ride her pretty hard about how aggressively she is - or isn't - pursuing work on any given day.

So, as you might deduce, we haven't always seen eye-to-eye lately...

But Emmers continues the search while pursuing her real passion...writing. Seems she has used the downtime since graduation to complete her debut novel, the first of a romantic vampire themed trilogy. We've had a professional editor review the book and she advised that it is definately publishing-caliber material, so the search for the right literary agent is on. This kid definately has talent.

Similar to a cat, Emmers expresses her love on her terms. And for what ever reason, we have always been able to connect when it comes to a motorcycle cruise. She definately has a way of making her old man feel special when she nudges me and says, "Come on, Pops, let's take a ride." Then again, I need little tempting. I have no doubt that she will end up having her own bike at some point in her life. But for now, I'm going to hold our two-up ride times near and dear to the heart.  
 
So this morning, as the outside temp approached 60 degrees and the turkey was cooking away in the oven, Emmers gives me the nudge, despite knowing that her mother had but one request of me on this Thanksgiving - no cruises while the extended family is here visiting. I told you, Emmers does things on her own terms.
 
After a little negotiating with Mom, we're into our riding leathers and on our way. We barely say a word for the first hour of the ride. None was needed. We were both enjoying the cool fall breeze and the sights and occasional smells along the way. As we reached the turn-around point, I stopped for gas and some beer for the crowd back at the house (one of the negotiation "gives").
 
That's when it happened...
 
As we were getting back on the bike, she caught me unprepared and when she stepped on the footboard to get on-board, I lost balance and down we went. It was the first (public) drop of the new bike. Yes, I confess, I did have a private drop while turning around on a narrow county road about a month after taking delivery of the new wheels.  But in my defense, the Ultra Classic IS a little top-heavy and the road WAS extremely narrow...and uneven. And when I put my foot down, Newton's Law just took over. But it wasn't that bad, at least that time it was in dirt!
 
So we quickly upright the bike, get on, and off we go. Emmers was afraid to say anything or even adjust for comfort in the seat, fearing I was pissed about dropping the new bike. I wasn't pissed, just confused about how I could have dropped it...again. I've been riding for over thirty-five years and never had it happen before this bike. Must have been the 30-pack of beer that I put in the tour-pak, I surmised. About five minutes down the road, Emmers taps me on the back and says, "Damn, guess we don't look cool anymore." I about lost it laughing.
 
So, once again, one of my children has taught me a lesson about life. It doesn't matter that work is crazy, along with half the world around us, or that you might have put a scratch on one of your prized possessions...or your ego. What matters most is spending time with family and friends...laughing and doing what you love with those you love.
 
On this special holiday, I hope you spent some time on the Road with someone you love too. Happy Thanksgiving.
 
LEGAL DISCLAIMER. No bike was actually scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged on this journey. And for the record, Emmers, that's strike one!

© 2009 TRHG Holdings LLC

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Visiting a Founding Father

While most of the fall colors are nearing an end, Mother Nature held out for one more show this weekend. We made a run from Tyler to Nacogdoches, home of Stephen F. Austin University, via the backroads and the scenery was outstanding.

Any road heading east out of Tyler is a good road, but FM-850 has the most character. Formerly part of the main highway between Tyler and Henderson, FM-850 cuts its way through the countryside like a kiddie roller coaster - nothing too sharp or steep to make a 50-year-old kid scream, but enough to make you anxious for what's around the next corner. Along the way, you pass an occaisional hay farm and the colorful homes of the hard working folk that make East Texas so friendly. 

You'll also drive through Overton, which was founded in 1873. On the "I didn't know that!" front, Overton was the official seat of government for the Republic of Texas independence movement from 2003-05. The Republic of Texas group is/was a separatist group that claims the annexation of Texas by the United States was illegal and that Texas remains an independent nation under occupation. The Republic of Texas headquarters burned down in August of 2005. I guess the debate is over...or is it?

From Overton, take FM-323 southeast towards Henderson. On the way, you'll pass through New London, the site of a tragic school explosion on March 18, 1937, killing almost 300 children, teachers, and parents. You may not realize it, but this tragedy led to the injection of the distinct, scented odor in natural gas, as the cause of the explosion was a natural gas leak. Unscented in its natural form, the undetected gas had accumulated in the building's classrooms and hallways, and was ignited when the shop teacher turned on a sander that created a spark. The buildings were completely leveled. A testament to East Texas' compassion and determination, the school was rebuilt and a memorial erected that stands proud today.

Continuing on FM-323, you will weave your way through the pine tree forests and farmlands to Henderson, the county seat of Rusk County.

FM 225 out of south side of Henderson is a treasure trove of twists, curves, and gentle rolling hills through the Piney Woods. As you head south, you will go through Laneville, Cushing, and my personal favorite, Looneyville. Expecting a scene from the cartoons or a Jack Nicholson movie, I almost missed the lone sign and dilapidated, empty general store that makes up the unofficial town center.

Taking FM 343 out of Looneyville puts you on your final leg of the journey to Nacogdoches, the Oldest Town in Texas. A cross between a regional commercial center, college town, and logging town, Nacogdoches is rich with historical architecture, great southern cooking, and an occaisional watering hole or two. No doubt, "Nac" is in deep East Texas where the pace is slower and most everyone willing to strike-up conversation. Make the time to see the Millard's Crossing Historic Village, the Nacogdoches Railroad Depot, the Statue Trail, and the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site while you're in the area.

But most of all, enjoy the tour. It's definately Thunder Roadworthy!

© 2009 TRHG Holdings LLC

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Musings About the Village Idiot

Can't help but comment on the Honerable Nancy Pelosi's comment at the conclusion of the House of Representatives' health care vote last night, "We had Democrats and a Republican vote for this bill. That makes it bi-partisan."


Come on, California, how many more reasons do you need to finally elect someone with a brain to send to Washington? And to the rest of us, please say a prayer for Mr. Pelosi.

© 2009 TRHG Holdings LLC