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Cruisin across Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas

Arkansas has always been one of my favorite States.  It’s people are friendly, the land is not quite tamed and the asphalt twists and meanders forever through forested backroads.  It’s no wonder there are plenty of motorcycle enthusiasts that visit.

It’s noon on Sunday, July 2nd and I’m all alone on my anniversary so my treat is a ride from the lake house across a ferry at Peel, Arkansas to Protem, Missouri, then back across the Bull Shoals Dam.  I’ve driven this stretch several times, but never by motorcycle.

First, I’ll pack a few necessities – water, peanut butter and crackers, rain gear, pocket knife, sunglasses, readers, I-phone, and wallet.  Forget about the broken strap and trailer mishap–order a new turn signal later.  Today the forecast is sunny with a high of 88 F and a slight breeze.  Perfect.

IMG_3267At the Ferry, I meet new friends on a shiny black Harley cruiser.  This husband and wife duo is from Greenbriar, Arkansas and like everyone here, they are friendly.  They have roughly the same idea.  Take the Ferry across the lake and wind around the north side of the lake and back across to the Arkansas side.  As quick as our conversation begins, the ferry is back.  We fire up our engines and embark.

Amazingly, the ferry is free.  It’s been in place since the White River was dammed and turned into Bull Shoals Lake in the early 1940s.  The lake cut off Arkansas-Missouri access on Highway 125 so a deal was forged to maintain a ferry.

After a relaxing 15 to 20 minutes, we’re across.  Fire up the engines again and say goodbye to my new friends.  Almost immediately I feel the rode winding and twisting up and down like a roller coaster ride that I control.  Faster…slower…down – I can feel my stomach…up – my ears pop.  One hour seems like 5 minutes.

IMG_3286Finally, I stop for a late lunch (peanut butter and crackers) on the east side of the dam in a State-run picnic area.  What a beautiful day.

Across the dam, a visitor’s center is perched on a hillside overlooking the lake.  In two days the lawn will be packed with spectators viewing the annual Independence Day (Fourth of July) celebration of fireworks.  Below the dam lies the White River where trout fishing is king.  A resort known as Gaston’s will take care of all your trout fishing dreams and even serve up a special dinner overlooking the River.

Winding back through the town of Bull Shoals and the edge of Flippin, then on to the short cut leading to Webb’s landing and eventually Pine Mountain.   I’m back home.  My home away from home–this one-bedroom cabin in the woods.  What next?


Ghost Rider

What better way to dream of riding your motorcycle during the winter than reading motorcycle adventures.  A friend of mine recently encouraged me to read Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, by Neil Peart.  As you may or may not know, Neil Peart is the premier drummer for a well known and famous rock band of my generation – Rush.   Besides being one of the best drummers of all time, he’s a fanatical rider.

Unfortunately, Ghost Rider documents a period of time when he road for self preservation to escape the recent deaths of his daughter and her mom, his long-time partner.  I can’t imagine going through such a life-altering experience.

For over a year, he road the highways, scenic routes and backroads.  He road early and long on his BMW R1100GS, often covering over 500 miles per day.  His journey of cleansing took him west through the Canadian Rockies, into Alaska, down the Pacific Coast and through most of the western United States.  He went through Baja, into Mexico City, and as far south as Belize.

The book takes you through his letters to friends and family along his journey.  It documents his inner demons and struggles.  The common theme is “just keep moving” and everything will be okay.

You will marvel at his tenacity.  You’ll be amazed at his fearlessness.  He rides through piercing cold and stinging rainfall;  he fails to shy away from muddy logging roads or switchbacks peppered with gravel;  he suffers the insults of speed traps and rickety bridges;  he even rides the Baja backroads designed for dirt bikes.  His journey is exciting and tragically romantic.

While reading the book I felt I made a new friend–another crazy dreamer moving forward one day at a time, with a throttle in one hand and a novel in the other.

P.S. Neil – if you happen to stumble on this posting, you got me hooked on Jack London books.


February Feels Fine

It’s Friday, February 10, 2017 and the stresses of work are mounting.  One project deliverable is due; no, actually two documents are due.  One will probably make it and I have no control over the other one.  Another project schedule is behind, a conference call is necessary, and invoices and time sheets need to be approved.  I even have an opportunity to bid on more work, which requires time for cost estimating.

I have to admit that these aren’t stresses of survival.  I’m not a refugee.  I have much to be thankful for, yet I still can’t help feeling the constant stress of a professional life.

What should I do?

On this day, I choose to take advantage of an unusually warm February day and go for a ride.

Slipping on my jacket, I smile.
Opening the door…freedom.
Pushing on my helmet, I pause.
Twisting the key…excitement!
Turning the throttle; a crescendo.
Now I’m in the moment.  Mindful.

Breath in…breath out…



Any Day on a Motorcycle is a Good Day

Why do I feel happy when I check the weather forecast and realize that it’s going to be sunny with no rain? Well it’s not because I’m worried about storms, flooding or tornadoes. I don’t mean to diminish Mother Nature’s awesome power, but I look at these natural events as part of the Earth’s hydrologic system. I actually see beauty and wonderment in natural weather cycles.

Unfortunately, I still get a little disappointed because I can’t ride my bike. When I say bike, I’m referring to my 2012 Triumph Speed Triple. The brand and type of motorcycle is really irrelevant. All bikers know that we are a special club-the one percenters. We recognize each other on the streets and highways with a nod of the head, two fingers down to the left or a small wave. I wave to Harleys, Hondas, Yamahas, Ducatis, and Beamers. Almost everyone I wave to reciprocates with the special nod or motorcycle wave.

Meanwhile, cars and trucks speed by lost in thought or lost in conversation on their cell phones. I’m not immune to getting in my car, turning on NPR and switching my brain to automatic mode. You know, it’s a subconscious thought pattern based upon days, weeks, even years of doing the same thing over and over and over again. It’s habit. It’s what takes you the same direction to the store, to work or home. It’s what makes you park in the same spot, sit in the same chair and mindlessly go about your life’s activities.

This blog is about breaking away from mindlessness or habit. It’s about understanding who you are, where you’re going, and what you’re doing right now. Mindfulness is what is missing in today’s fast pace electronic world. Mindfulness is about enjoying the simple things. It’s about recognizing the bee hovering over me while I type this. It’s about smiling at Teddy, the neighbor’s kid. It’s about preparing my homemade salsa then taking that first mindful bite with blue chip in hand.

It’s about slipping on my helmet, zipping up my jacket, gently inserting a key and listening for the rev of the engine and understanding the power and freedom beneath me.

Motorcycle mindfulness seems like a strange juxtaposition for anyone who finds motorcycles meaningless or dangerous. However, motorcycles are a perfect medium to experience mindfulness. So put on your metaphorical helmet; zip up your jacket; turn the key to your mind wide open; click your left and right brain into first gear; and twist the throttle of your imagination. There’s no telling where this ride will take you.