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Archive for September, 2012

I promise this will be the last post dedicated to my vacation on the Harley but this was too good not to share.

On the next to the last day of our trip we were in Dubose Wyoming, a quaint little town with a mining history, a definite country flavor and a great little restaurant called the Cowboy Café.  We woke to a temperature of about 34 degrees.  In case I haven’t told you , I am a fair weather rider.  I hate to be cold and anything less than 70 degrees on a motorcycle is cold, at least to me.  I suggested we wait awhile before pulling out to let it warm up a little (or preferably a lot) .  Of course, the boys scoffed at that idea. We needed to get on the road even if we had to brush the frost off our leather seats.

Imagine my glee when we discovered neither bike would start.  I was told not to hurry to check out of the nice warm motel room. I disguised my bitter disappointment.  

I was also asked to pull out my tablet and research possible reasons for a motorcycle not starting in 30 degree weather.  (Now, I could have told them the reason without the help of the world wide web – it was too darn cold!  But I kept that wisdom to myself.)

In my search for information I stumbled on a Harley Davidson chat room.  A rider from Alaska had asked if anyone had advice for getting a bike to start on a cold morning.  The first response from a sympathetic fellow biker was, “Move to Californy.”  I knew right then I was going to love this research.

I started reading the responses aloud, getting more and more tickled as I went. One guy said to use a blow torch.  We didn’t have one so I offered my hair dryer.  They didn’t bite.  Another very wise Harley owner said “try again next spring”, sage advice if you ask me.  There were more, but better than the suggestions were some of the slogans the bikers had added to their responses.   Here are just a few:

“I have taken a vow of poverty.  If you really want to irritate me, send money now.”

“Everyone has to believe in something.  I believe I’ll have another beer. “

And the one that had me rolling on the motel bed, “I asked God for a motorcycle but then I realized that’s not how God works.  So I stole a motorcycle and asked for forgiveness.”

Now that one did get a bit of a smirk from my husband and an actual chuckle from my brother in law but they both decided I could turn off the computer at that point.  I guess they weren’t finding my research helpful.

In the end they pushed the bikes out into the sunshine and we waited half an hour.  They started right up on the next try.  That half hour gave me plenty of time to build up my layers (seven in all counting the camisole all the way out to the leather jacket), to wrap a scarf around my throat three times and to double up on my socks. Of course, within three hours I was stripping off layers at every stop until I was finally down to a t-shirt. 

The comments on that chat room site may not have helped a lot with troubleshooting the problem, but they sure raised my spirits.  I was still chuckling a few hundred miles down the road.  In fact, just thinking about it brings a smile to my face today.

It was a great trip.  I loved the changing landscapes, the special time with my husband and my brother in law, the relief for a while from the pressures of home and work, and the freedom of sailing along in the sunshine and the fresh air.  But, in the end I loved that final leg up our driveway, being greeted by the dog who leaped and barked a welcome, the family who raced across the field to give hugs and hear all about the trip, and the sweet tug of home.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Psalm 84:3

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Ever had a glimpse of heaven that lasted just a few seconds but stayed with you long after?  On our recent motorcycle trip I did.

It is ironic that it happened the same day as our flat tire (see my previous post).  After the tire replacement we were back on the road and trying to make up time.  It was hard for me to relax. When something scary happens I have a hard time not thinking about how it could have been worse or how it could happen again.  So every little perceived wobble of the bike brought a fresh flush of fear into my stomach and my chest.  I would talk myself down but before long it would flare again.

Those little fears flashed and faded over and over until late afternoon when we arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado and my brother-in-law led us into Monument National Park on what he called the Rim Ride.  Wow!  Miles of red rock canyons with glorious views and lots of pull off points for pictures. It’s one of those places you see on calendars and wonder if it could really be that beautiful.  Believe me, it is.

We took advantage of the pull offs and got off the bikes to walk around, snapping more pictures than we would ever really want. You couldn’t stop though, because every slight rotation of the head brought a new gasp of delight.

At one of the pull offs I walked down a well worn path and stood on a ledge, quietly surveying the landscape.  I was completely alone.  No other tourist was in sight.  I closed my eyes for just a moment and the most amazing thing happened.  I experienced perfect peace.  It came in a silence that was deafening – no birds chirping, no people talking, no motors humming, nothing.  It only lasted for a fraction of a second but I do not remember ever, ever experiencing such a phenomena before.  Perfect silence – perfect peace.  It was followed by the soft whistle of a breeze that lightly stirred the branches of the stubby pine and whispered a message to me that could only have come from the God who assures me He is in control.

For those few seconds I was standing in the palm of His hand and the worries of this world were nonexistent.  It was a beautiful moment I wanted to hold on to forever.  But that’s not the way it works, is it?  Life is what we live every day and perfect peace is what God gives us when He needs to break through. 

Just like I had to take a few steps down that rocky path and stop long enough for Him to give me the gift of silence, real life is a series of challenging events that only a conscious pause and a needy heart can overcome.

I sensed heaven on a red rock ledge in Grand Junction, Colorado.  I climbed back on the bike and my fear flashes were gone, at least for the day.  God always knows what we need.  He always gives it to us when we ask.  He always leaves us with a memory so vivid we have no trouble pulling it out again and again when we need it.  I praise Him for that.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Isaiah 26:3

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Last summer I discovered how hard it is to walk when your feet are broken.  This summer I learned how hard it is to roll when your motorcycle tire goes flat.

The first day of our recent motorcycle tour was relatively uneventful.  We left home about 7:30 a.m. on a gorgeous, clear September morning.  I love the first day of a trip because everything is all neat and tidy, freshly laundered and packed, arranged just so on the motorcycle and looking good.  Within the next couple of days that will change as you load and unload, pack and unpack and wear items for the second and third day in a row (yuk).

Our destination for day one was Twin Falls, Idaho – about 487 miles.  The day was warm, we were soon stripped down to our short sleeved shirts and the miles were piling up behind us.  We arrived in Twin Falls safe and sound, checked into our motel and grabbed dinner.

The next morning we were off by 8:00 a.m.  The ‘boys’ (my husband and brother-in-law) said we had to make time if we were going to do all the exploring in Colorado we had planned.  Because of that we hit the interstate instead of a nice winding scenic route.  I sat back and did what I always do when we are on a freeway, prayed that the steady stream of trucks wouldn’t blow us off the road, that no speeding car would cut us off, and that we would be protected from any other harmful incident. 

Forty eight miles later things came to a crashing halt.  (Luckily the term “crashing” is not being used in the literal sense here.)  My biker hubby sensed something amiss at the first wobble and had the bike slowed and almost stopped when the back tire went completely flat.  We experienced the blow out of a front tire a couple of years ago and it was very scary, the out of control bike propelling us over into the oncoming lane of traffic.  This recent incident was much less dramatic.  However,it still left us sitting on the side of the freeway with 70 mile an hour traffic whizzing by.  Oh the blessing of cell phones!  We were able to call the HOG towing line and get assistance.  A very, very nice young man showed up, loaded the Harley on his flatbed, and hauled us back to Twin Falls.  It did take a few hours out of our travel time but had it not been for one teeny, tiny honey bee flying in the tow truck window and stinging me on the bridge of my nose, it would have been no big deal.

The bee sting definitely made the experience memorable.  My face went numb, my nose and eyes were swollen for a couple of days and I had to make serious threats to keep the boys from taking pictures. 

By shortly after noon we were back on the road and I was reflecting on:

  • How God is always faithful and how the prayer I always say at the start of the day for safety pays off.
  • How keeping things in good working order is key.  That goes for the vehicles we ride and the life we live.
  • How things can go wrong even when you’ve taken every precaution so you need to be prepared with a plan B and an 800 number.  The number for the HOG tow line is always handy on the bike.  My direct line to the Father is within easy access wherever I go.  I access it often.
  • Oh – and nothing spiritual about this one.  You can look good in your leathers, but a bee sting to the nose can definitely take the wind out of your vanity.  Ironic that the tire deflated at about the same rate that my face inflated. 

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God… Psalm 86:2

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4,000 plus miles, one bee sting, one flat tire, one rainstorm, a few chilly mornings, several days of sunsine, a couple days of heavy smoke and a good dose of God’s creation painted in red rock valleys and on high mountain peaks that reached right up and touched heaven.  That’s what I’ve experienced in the past ten days from the back seat of a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle.  That trip that I wore myself out getting ready for was well worth the effort.

Every day was filled with a new adventure, a changing landscape, laughter, relaxing, some good semi-philosophical discussions and a lot of just silent reflecting.  I love that part of riding – being able to go for hours withiout saying a word.  Getting the chance to just let things roll around in my mind, pondering, analyzing, testing thoughts.  There is such inspiration in the horizon, such beauty in endless miles of fields awaiting harvest.

Vacations are always good, especially when they get you out of your daily pattern and thrust you into new environments where your senses are stimulated, your brain is engaged and you let go of the demands that pull at you on your non-vacation days.  Jesus fully understood the need to get away.  He did it often when the crowds had worn him down and the diciples were zapping his teaching energy.  He also showed us that a vacation doesn’t have to involve weeks of planning and packing or an extended time period.  Sometimes slipping away to a hillside for a few hours on the spur of the moment can be as refreshing as  a five day cruise.  It’s all in the letting go of where you were and embracing where you’ve gone.

So I embraced the rushing rivers that ran beside the highways.  I embraced the golden Aspen trees quivering in the slight breeze.  I embraced the cloudless skies, the distant mountain ranges, the quaint little towns we passed through.   I let go of meaningful, productive conversations and embraced nonsense comments and silly jokes.  I shook off the presure to perform and took on a bit of laziness.  I had conversations with people I didn’t know.  I read the historcal markers whenever I could.  I tried not to check my email and text messages until the very end of the day so I wouldn’t be drawn back into that other world.

I prayed a lot, listened to God a lot, and did the mind-completely-blank thing for miles upon miles.  It was great!

Now I’m back in the thick of work, church, grandkids, meetings, messages and mayhem.  But I refuse to let go of those hard earned and much treasured days.  When I look in the mirrow, I will see my bright red sunburned nose and remember.  As the fall colors here begin to appear I will flash back to the ones in the Colorado Rockies that took my breath away.  I am going to thumb through my pictures again and again.  I’m going to read back through my journal.  I’m going to continue to be thankful for my husband and my brother in law who planned out and navigated the entire route so all I had to do was sit back and enjoy.  And I’m going to look forward to the next opportunity.

In future posts I will share in more detail about parts of our trip but for right now, I just want to get down in black and white that it did happen.  I want indelible proof of the joy and the freedom and fellowship and the love that flowed throughout the journey, wove together into an adventure and a memory, and is now sitting on the front shelf of my heart’s treasure closet.  God is good.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:29

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