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29 August 2007

the world is spinning

grohq is currently in full transition mode.

all inventory is out of massachusetts and in storage in pennsylvania awaiting retagging and repacking for the final transition to texas.

relocation schedule is intact and the world is spinning.

posted by paul at Wed 29 Aug 2007 at 16:44:39 EST (-05:00) | comments (1)

29 November 2006

the splits are frightening

traveling in a fried out combie on a hippie trail head full of zombie.

i have approximately two point five hours before mike arrives in the flatbed, so what better time to detail the marathon day? one hundred and thirty-eight point nine miles into the ligonier to boston journey on this day, the twenty-ninth day of november, two thousand and six, the white phantom lost power and slowed to a stop on interstate eighty east, approximately thirty miles from the intersection with two hundred twenty north. it is here that i sit and wait. my return to boston will be delayed by at least two days it seems by a return to ligonier. fortunately, it's warm today, a bit wet, but there is a large sheet of phantom metal preventing the wet from hitting me, and i have an unopened package of spk right next to me. no point in being upset; these things work themselves out.

i wrote this on 13 september 2006:

it was while inches away from the faded ink on the parchment of the unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of america that the feeling came back.

it had happened so quickly and i hadn't realized. in three months, i'd fallen back into rotation. back into routine. back into back to back.

i was angry that i'd allowed it to happen.

justice and i were back on the road on friday 08 september 2006. 474 miles from boston to washington dc where inches away i saw the original parchment of the declaration of independence, the constitution, and the bill of rights. on saturday night i was in lewisville, north carolina, excited to see jenn and james. on sunday i ran fifteen miles. my life isn't quite a normal one right now, and while mostly good, when surrounded by the stability of houses and steady jobs, i wonder about those things again and think i want them.

thoughts of phantom metal and justice brought me to this unposted passage and i think i should touch on it. i have a struggle within right now. two related struggles. it takes effort, conscious effort, to keep from falling into the rut in the road i'm running. the road which most of us are running probably. this is something old to me, and something new, and i'm not quite sure how to handle it. and now, the road splits into a billion more right in front of me. my savings are depleted at long last (which reminds me of this) and i can no longer drone along. finances have shocked me back into reality as i knew they eventually would and have dictated i pick one of the splits ahead. and so do i choose to continue the adventure or do i try to stabilize my life?

for the past few months i've contemplated applying to a program which would allow me to travel to japan to assist high school english teachers... but as time drew near to filling out the application and requesting letters of recommendation, i found my desire to spend another year abroad waning. i'd been having a daily debate with myself about whether the japan project would be a way to embrace life or a way to avoid it. the recon tour last year was clear to me; this was not. i eventually made a concrete decision not to apply, deciding that i was running from reality, and instead to walk towards a picket fence future... not like you're probably thinking, but something similar. walk, not run. not a very excited walk i'll admit. i'm not sure if that was the right decision, and it's a bit frightening. the splits are frightening. i'm not sure if they are for everyone, and i've improved a bit with handling them, but not quite as much as i'd have liked, and i think i just need to accept that i'll always be a bit frightened. but when i look behind me, all of the changes have been good. i think every single one.

so, i want to do some good on this earth.

i'm still sitting in the phantom waiting.

and this wasn't much about the marathon.

posted by paul at Wed 29 Nov 2006 at 15:22:17 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

21 May 2006

i'm on my way to the promised land

globalrecon_2006052202.jpg

ever since us highway 666 in new mexico and colorado was renamed to us highway 491 three years ago, only two roads in the united states bear the number of the beast. one is a short stretch of road which connects madeira beach to the mainland in florida near tampa bay; the other is a 33 mile stretch between east hickory and sheffield in northwestern pennsylvania. i'd spent saturday night in a small hotel in oil city, pennsylvania, a small town 25 miles southwest of east hickory and today i would ride the highway to hell.

i woke up early on sunday morning ready to ride. carried all of my gear down from my third floor hotel room and loaded it onto for.great.justice, taking care to balance my pack across the seat and strap it down securely. i wiped off last night's rain from the seat with death.from.above [*], threw my leg over the bike and sat down in the soft dampness. zipped my jacket up to my neck, pulled my gloves on, and lowered my helmet onto my head, my breath blurring the shield. the weather was closing in and i decided to postpone breakfast until i'd put oil city well behind me.

fuel valve: set to on.

ignition key: set to on.

neutral: check.

engine switch: set to run.

choke: check.

i hit the start button. the starter began turning the engine over... turning... still... turning... and nothing. i tried again. weaker now. and again. and weaker still. nothing. i breathed out a long heavy blurring breath. don't stop me.

i looked around the hotel parking lot. it was an empty dead day sunday in oil city, pennsylvania, and i didn't think i'd be able to find a local mechanic who could take a look at my bike any time soon. i was several hours away from the global recon vehicular operations base in ligonier; if it had come down to it i could have requested a technician drive up and tow for.great.justice back to base, but i had a season ticket on a one way ride and i wasn't going to go out like that. i'd attempt a jump start.

i clicked the transmission into first gear, stepped off the bike, pulled in the clutch lever, and began to push for.great.justice down the smooth black parking lot pavement. when i'd reached an adequate speed i popped the clutch and the engine instantly roared to life.

i'd forgotten one critical step.

i'd popped the clutch _before_ i'd jumped on my bike and my 1991 kawasaki vulcan 750 was now dragging me down the parking lot as i desperately tried to engage the clutch or brake. shit. i stumbled to my knees and just when i thought 'i'm going down... all the way', i made a quick recovery and managed to hold onto the handlebars and pull in the clutch lever. i wish i had a video of this incident; there's no doubt i looked like a complete idiot trying to keep my bike upright as it dragged me down the parking lot.

the morning's events behind me and with for.great.justice growling, i was off on route 62 headed north, livin' easy, lovin' free, on my way to the promised land. i made it up to east hickory after passing through some beautiful countryside and into the allegheny national forest. my first siting of the route 666 sign occurred about fifty feet from the intersection. i looked for a place to pull over but there wasn't adequate space in front of the sign and i had to settle for a quick shot without the bike. i decided to turn onto the road and hope that i'd come across a small intersection which would have some route number signs. i was finally on the highway to hell and there were no stop signs, speed limit. there was however a sign which indicated that pa route 666 is also called the 'david zeisberger highway'.

seven miles into route 666 i came to an intersection with two 666 signs. i was a bit worried about my battery and had planned to keep the bike running while i snapped a few pictures, but the engine stalled when i pulled the bike over to the side of the road beside the signs. i tried the starter button and the engine roared back to life. nobody's gonna mess me around. i spent about fifteen minutes at the sign taking pictures during which time no fewer than ten cars drove past, slowed down, and the drivers asked if i needed assistance.

'no, thank you... i'm just... uhh... taking pictures of this sign. thank you, but i'm asking nothing. leave me be.'

most of the people just looked at me like i was some type of deranged psychopath, but one fellow psychopath told me she'd taken pictures of the same sign.

i jumped back on for.great.justice, stowed my camera, and hit the starter button. nothing. i'd left the key in the on position and the battery was gone. again. hey satan... paid my dues. [sigh] i'd need to perform another jump start.

i unstrapped my small pack from the gas tank and placed it on the side of the road to give me some additional space for when i jumped on the bike _before_ popping the clutch. i rolled the bike down the hill and let go of the clutch lever... cough cough, sputter. nothing. the eleventh vehicle drove up and the driver asked if i needed help.

'my battery died. i'm trying to jump start for.great.justice... any way you could push me so i can get enough speed to start the engine?'

'sure. ain't nothing that i'd rather do.'

the driver and a passenger hopped out and began pushing me down the road. i disengaged the clutch and there i was... going down, party time... grrrr... grrrowl. one of the guys handed me my pack, i strapped it to the gas tank, thanked them graciously, and was off on the next stretch of pa route 666. the road surface wasn't in the best shape and so i took it easy, especially given the number of turns and inclines. the highway to hell was not in fact a highway but a tiny two lane country road not unlike many of the roads leading to my house in ligonier.

i stopped for gas and food three times after i'd made it to the end of route 666 in sheffield. twice the engine started using the starter; once i had to ask for another push. i made it the entire way to latrobe (fifteen minutes away from reconbase ligonier) before the engine began popping and sputtering and eventually died altogether. this was the first time the engine had stopped while the bike was running... i'd ridden 4000+ miles and for.great.justice had died fifteen minutes away from a reconbase. wow.

i called the head of vehicular operations and he arranged for a tow. the main towing units were out on other missions, but an agent showed up with another motorcycle and some rope and managed to drag me back to base. i was back in friendly territory and i was happy to be home. my friends were gonna be there too.

the following day the recontechs discovered that one of the wires connected to the battery was loose and was most likely the culprit of the problems i'd been experiencing. they tightened the wire, charged the battery, and took some electrical readings. it appears the issue is resolved and for.great.justice will be able to carry me back to boston.

i'm departing reconbase ligonier on wednesday morning and i expect to arrive at _THE FINAL DESTINATION_ [!!!] of recontour 2005.2006 on thursday afternoon. i'm just about as nervous as i was when i left and i can't really explain why... i suppose because it's... the end.

hey momma... look at me.

recontest

01. what is death.from.above?

02. where did i purchase death.from.above?

03. what color is death.from.above?

submit your answers in a comment and you'll be directed to a page which provides the answers. searching archived entries for any mention of death.from.above is prohibited; cheaters will be prosecuted.

[did you catch all the references to ac/dc's song 'highway to hell'? no? click here.]

posted by paul at Sun 21 May 2006 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (5)