20 December 2009

Two-wheeled Adventures (Motorized, that is)

My two-wheeled adventures began in early September. The first motorized vehicle I rode was a scooter, owned by my buddy Lee. For some reason, he actually let me attempt to ride it around, and I (somehow) didn't crash his only way to get home that day. I had a lot of fun, but not nearly as much fun as when I stepped it up. I went from a 150 cc scooter, to a 400 cc, dual-sport motorcycle, and I'm sure pretty much everyone reading can guess whose that was, but I know he keeps a low profile, so I'll not name him here. As far as the riding of the dual-sport went, lets just say its lucky I'm 6'2", with long legs, and a quick left hand to grab that clutch, because my throttle control was, in a word, nonexistent. I attempted to ride my first motorcycle in an alley full of cars in DC. I did say attempted, right? What actually happened was, me dropping the clutch at the same time as I applied WAY TO MUCH FUCKING GAS, and a wheelie ensued, my only wheelie to date, in fact. We now return to my long legs and quick left hand; I grabbed the clutch, saving me from eating a barbed-wired fence, and wrestled the bike back to the ground, ensuring, once again, that a trusting friend would have a ride home that day. Needless to say, my next lesson was not anywhere near an alley, or any cars whatsoever, much less any barbed-wire.

I'll save the somewhat dry description of the motorcycle class I took for another time, if at all. I will say, however, that taking that class was one of the most intelligent things I did in the process of becoming a motorcyclist. That class taught me a great deal, and gave me a much more inside look into the why and how, rather than just the what of motorcycle riding.

My next big adventure was on 5 November of this year. I rode from Woodbridge, VA, out on I-66 to Front Royal, VA, where I had lunch. I then spent about a half-hour trying to find the entrance to Skyline Drive, which has plenty of signs, but those signs seem to all be behind light poles and trees, because I blew by each one before finding it on the way back to find out where exactly I had gone wrong. Once I found the entrance to Skyline, and paid my fee to drive on it, I was off! Now the speed limit on the SD (Skyline Drive for the rest of this posting) is 35 MPH. I started out following that very closely, well for me anyways. I didn't let my speed get above 40 for a LONG time, AND I stopped at many of the little pull-offs to take a look at the wonderful fall views of the Shenandoah Valley. Like the one below, for example.
The problem was, in November, in the mountains, darkness was coming on fast, never-mind those clouds you can see in the upper left of the picture, just beginning to threaten. I took a picture at the highest point on SD, and you can see how nice and sunny it was at the time. Shortly after the picture below, I stopped at the Big Meadows Lodge, where the Rangers on duty were very nice and very surprised to see anyone on a motorcycle riding SD in November. As I was getting ready to leave Big Meadows, roughly the halfway point of SD, I looked at the sky, and at the map, and decided I wasn't going to stop anymore. Remember how I said the speed limit is 35 MPH? Yeah, I think I hit that on a few turns that were a little sharp, but otherwise I was running 60. I was cold, and tired, and did NOT want to be on a motorcycle anymore at that point in the day.As you can see below, I made it.

Yes, it was darker Buck Nasty's momma when I got off SD, but I finished. Of course, that was roughly the half-way point of my little adventure. The southern end of SD is near Charlottesville, VA which, for those keeping track, is NO WHERE NEAR Woodbridge. All in all, the trip took almost 11 hours, though I did stop just short of my destination to make a Chipotle run, of course. I did 333 miles that day, and someday will best that, but not until it gets warmer.

I had intended to include more recent adventures, but those will have to wait. Call this a teaser. And no, it will not be 11 days again before I post. Hopefully.

08 December 2009

Extra Commas, BEWARE!

It has come to my attention that I may or may not include a mad amount of commas in any sentence longer than four words, so this is the only warning regarding that. That is all, carry on.

06 December 2009

A Fresh Start

Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears...

If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with who I am, at least on a basic level. Just for ease, I will lay it down for you. My name is Will, and my nicknames over the years have been many: Willy, Will, Big Will, Big Willy, Large William (for polite company), Iron Will, Psycho (thanks to Coach Laura Dunn at the Wick), VIZ, and probably some that aren't quite as flattering that were/are applied when someone is not pleased with me. However, I remain, ME. I enjoy quotes of all kinds, though my best for reciting are those from movies, I believe that those from men far greater than myself can be used to learn without going through the experiences they have. I use the word men, of course, in the same sense as the writers of the Declaration of Independence did, not meaning those of the male gender, but rather those of mankind. Besides just quotes, I have a great appetite for history, and the events that led the world to its current place. All of these can, and indeed have, affect on all of us. It is only our failure to not learn from them. But I digress.

I begin this blog on 7 December 2009, only technically, because of midnight's passing just recently, but 7 December it is. Those who I hold most dear know of the events of the past week or so, and indeed the past four months, and may be interested to discuss them with me. If so, please contact me privately, as I'm not one to wear my heart on my sleeve and parade my business across cyberspace. I suppose it seems a bit off-putting to read a blog by a guy that says he doesn't want to wear his heart on his sleeve, yet he writes for untold numbers on the internet, but I have no apologies. I do not intend to curse like a sailor on this blog, but subjects and language may not be agreeable to everyone. I regularly use every word in the English language, and choice ones from others, to express myself. Consider yourself warned. Read, or do not, comment, or do not, either way, I'm going to live my life.

Future posts may be much shorter, but I do intent to update regularly. This writing will serve not as entertainment for you, the reader, as much as it serves my own purposes of crafting my thoughts into a (hopefully) readable format out of the bag of scrabble letters from whence they came.

The rest of this post will fill you in on my own personage, and perhaps give those in the know some insight into why my past week went as it did.
I am no Saint, I have never claimed to be, nor am I anywhere near perfect, yet I strive to maintain a set of moral values that I feel is lost on many in this country, and even more so, the world at this time in history. Someone I once knew very well once told me that I visibly relaxed when I drove onto a military base, as if my worries were less, and she was right. One of the biggest advantages to being from a military background, as I am, is that I had the privilege to spend much of my life in the company of those who have dedicated their lives to something far greater than themselves. I hope to be one of those people soon, though my path has been beset by many roadblocks. I absolutely feel more comfortable on base, I was born as a Patriot, and I will take that to my grave. Too many in this country see only their own interests, and what can be done for them. This attitude is not what made America the greatest nation this world has ever seen. It was men like Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington. Men and women who have borne the weight of the world on their shoulders as they try to improve it for others. My future, hopefully holds such an honor, being able to carry the weight of the world, and knowing that I can take it. Besides my values, and love of country, I have a sense of self that is unassailable. Now before anyone is taken aback, those who have seen me falter, at times, under the weight of my own current struggles in particular, that is a truer statement than I have ever spoken. I have let people in, and they have hurt me, when I say unassailable, I do not mean untouchable. But I WILL NOT BE BROKEN. You don't get a name like Iron Will pussying out when your coach decides you will swim the 200 fly and the mile on the same day at championships (and no, I'm not anything like Michael Phelps, I've never smoked weed...), or running a marathon with NO training whatsoever (or four of them for that matter). Those may be physical accomplishments of mine, but that is just on the surface. Ask any Navy SEAL whether it was his physical or mental toughness that did more for him during his training, its not even a serious question. The deeper the water, the more still it runs. This idea, in many forms, has been discussed throughout the ages by scholars, spiritual leaders, and countless others. Keep that in mind as you read this blog, not this post, but the whole blog, and I hope you feel fortunate to be let below the surface, even if it is just a peek.

My last words for this post will be about the events not to be discussed here. The title, A Fresh Start, describes my attitude and outlook on life right now. I am free, and I will be free. Never again will my spirit be imprisoned such that it has been until very recently. Until next time, keep it Big Willy Style.