6 Days Out, Detailed Planning, and Test Packing

Today marks exactly six days until we leave on the trip that will take us across the US and moe back to California riding solo and that means there is no time to lose and I’ve got to get every detail finalized that lends itself to the process.

The rest we leave to destiny.

I’m writing this post from my home base in San Jose where I have just returned after a one-week retreat. It was good quality down time and now I’m ready both to work and to jump into this trip with my son.

Detailed Planning

Up until today, the planning I’ve carried out with my son, Benjamin, about this cross-country ride has been theoretical. It’s not like it’s been pie-in-the-sky planning, but there is only so much you can do in advance to plan a trip like this. Here’s how I planned this journey thus far.

Routes: We’ve looked at routes -we currently have four options, all based on weather patterns that will kick in after day two’s layover in Flagstaff, AZ. The weather across the US is horrendous at present and each day’s weather-related risk factors will ultimately determine out route.

If you buy it, you won’t need it: It’s the reality of every motorcyclist who ever ventured across the country on two wheels. Yesterday I ensured that we’ll not experience flat tires or pictures by purchasing a portable time inflater and a flat-patch kit. Today I’ll get some rain-proof boot covers to accompany my water-resistant gloves and rain suite so as to guarantee dry weather throughout the trip. 🙂

Communications: I purchased two very inexpensive helmet communication systems so we can chat back and forth and listen to iPhone music at will via Bluetooth. They only have a half-mile range (They were less than $100 each) so the quality could be spotty. But as long as they hold up for a week or two, I’m OK with the less than stellar brand name.

Food: When I venture out on the bike, I usually eat light. I focus on high-protein vegetarian meals and some fruit or cereal bars at breaks. It’s important to keep hydrated as well and I have a reusable water bottle for each of us. Ben’s RT has a glove box that will keep his out of the sun, but I might need to pick up a singled handlebar-clamped bottle holder for mine – the bottle is a double-walled aluminum type that should stay cold in the sun. The first day will end with triple-digit temperatures, so hydration is a constant need.

Test Packing – The Right Way

While flying back from my week away on Saturday, I turned my attention to planning the items I’d be taking and what I could fit. Previously I’d made the mistake of listing out what I wanted to take and them working like crazy to fit it all into the various bags.

That’s a mistake.

It occurred to me that the best way to pack was to list what I’d fit in each bag (since I don’t have full-on panniers) instead. So here’s my list for the 1150GS:

BMW Top Box:

  • clothing (zip bag w/ clear top)
  • Macbook & charger
  • toiletries
  • cameras, chargers, selfie sticks

BMW City Bag (small)

  • oil (2 quarts)
  • air pump and patch kit
  • zip ties, velcro, extra pair of shoes

BMW City Bag (large)

  • tool kit
  • flashlight
  • headlamp
  • first-aid kit
  • snacks, coffee

Wolfman bag (large, waterproof)

  • torque wrench
  • sleeping pad
  • two-man tent
  • hatchet

Sea-To-Summit bag (waterproof)

  • Sleeping bag

Tank Bag (Manta style, low-profile)

  • phone
  • camera (an older phone)
  • earbuds
  • chapstick
  • sunscreen
  • map

On-My-Person

  • all protective gear
  • utility tool (on belt)
  • helmet cam remote

Today I’ll test this organization out and see where it lands. Comments welcome on stuff I might have overlooked or any tips you might have.

We’re on this journey together! Cheers!

Hacking My Way Back

Barry_April_2016a long time gone

So, it’s been a while. I can’t now recall why I left this blog….if I look back to the last post it had to with my relocation from the Central Coast to Silicon Valley a little over one year ago.

My riding habits have changed quite a bit as my aging parents continue to decline. On that front, my dad is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia -such a sad thing to watch- and my mom is actually getting stronger. At 84 and 83 respectively, they are now on opposite paths of life progression.

the big trip

However, in a move to provide some respite from my domestic duties for a bit, in just 21 days, my son Benjamin and I are embarking on an epic tour across the country. In January, I decided to gift him my 2000 BMW R1100RT as I ride my 2000 R1150GS almost exclusively. He used to ride before he got married and had a family.

My daughter-in-law expressed interested in riding as well so I made the gesture thinking my offer might find a soft-lading and it did; my offer was immediately and gratefully accepted.

The only problem is that he lives is South Carolina….gee…how do we solve that problem?

With a cross-country father-son moto-tour, of course!

the plan

Originally, we’d planned on traveling across the old Route 66 (I-40) for most of the way, but severe weather patterns are throwing up warnings that include tornadoes, funnel clouds, have thunderstorms and all kinds of non-California weather. 😉

At present, we’re considering a more souther route that will add two additional days to our ride but hey, two more day on BMW’s with Benjamin is a sacrifice I’ll gladly make.  We’ll be checking weather and conditions daily with our various iPhone apps and make adjustments as we deem necessary.I’ll do the same on my return ride that will be a very long solo-ride.

the hacking 

Because I couldn’t recall what email address I’d used to create this site and the YouTube channel, I had to hack my way in. I’m not a hacker, really. In fact, I know nothing about hacking or computer code beyond some basic HMTL and CSS.

What I call hacking was really retiring a Twitter account to the phone and looking at the setting for the email address I used. Win! So I’m back in business with both this site and the YouTube channel!

Yay!

Stay tuned for more posts regarding the trip.  In the meantime, I’ll be posting live updates via Facebook along the way to this page. So like the page now if you want to see the live updates from the road.

You can also follow me on Twitter here as I’ll also be posting from Periscope.

Relocation Means Finding New Roads to Ride

Relocation

Have you ever relocated for work, for pleasure, for retirement? I’ve recently relocated from the beachside location of Santa Cruz County (80 miles south of San Francisco) to Silicon Valley.

Relocation involves all the familiar players involved in moving, including sore backs, aching arms, an array of cardboard boxes, and getting to know your new, or as in my case renewed, city’s roads and byways.

For motorcyclists, although we can can ride on any highway or city street, there might be some we’d rather avoid. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for only a few days but already encountered some local roads I’ll most likely avoid in the future.

But there are far more interesting roads to ride that offer vistas of the Bay Area from the Diablo Mountains, roads that run through and around regional parks in the East Bay, North Bay, Northern California, and of course, eastward toward Yosemite Valley.

Some Rides for the Future

Using MotorcycleRoads.com’s California tab, I’ve highlighted a few local rides to target first. The narrative is from the site contributors except where noted.

South Bay Rides

Mt. Hamilton L

Mt. Hamilton Loop – Scenery is fantastic! The route goes up a mountain then back down the other side, so you have an array of different landscapes you travel through: Meadows, forested areas, a bit of farmland, and the views as you ascend just keep getting better and better until you reach the top where you have a panoramic, 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Breath-taking! [Barry’s Note: Home to the James Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton rises 4,100 feet to offer spectacular views of the Southbay. The loop is a narrow two-lane road that offer riders the chance to hone skills on mountainous twisties and two landmarks in the Lick Observatory and The Junction Bar & Grill in Livermore. There are no fuel stations along the way, so riders are urged to fill up for the 100 mile ride.]

Uvas Resevoir

Uvas Reservoir – Beautiful rolling hills between San Jose and Morgan Hill. When the Uvas Reservoir is full it is a nice view to see. This is a pretty easy ride with no severe turns. [Barry’s Note: Though not describes a loop on the linked site, it could easily be made one. The highlighted ride is just 14 miles, but a simple loop that would involve Old Monterey Highway could extend the off-highway ride to about 50 miles.]

East Bay Rides

Mt-Diablo-EB

Mt. Diablo Summit Run – The Mount Diablo Summit is a beautiful view that takes you up ~3800 feet and offers an astonishing view of the San Francisco Bay Area and central valley. On a clear day you can see the Sierras to the east and the Golden Gate Bridge to the West. As you ride up will quickly pass through small hills to a quick climb up short technical turns through light trees and golden grass.

Castro Valley to Berkeley

Castro Valley to Berkeley –  Take Redwood Rd. exit on I-580 in Castro Valley and head north. Follow Redwood rd. for 10 miles until you reach Pinehurst Rd., take a right on Pinehurst rd and follow Pinehurst for another 7 miles, at which point Pinehurst turns into Skyline Blvd. Ride on Skyline for 2 miles until you reach Grizzly Peak Blvd., make a right onto Grizzly Peak. Ride on Grizzly Peak for about 5 miles until you reach Centennial Drive, where you can park. Route has lots of turns and twisties, as well as elevation changes. Road surface can be bad in some areas, but OK overall. Gravel/oil rarely seen, but always keep an eye out.

North Bay Rides

Napa-Lake-Berryessa

Napa to Lake Berryessa – This is the hills of the Napa Valley. Windy roads with plenty of places to pull off and suck in the view. Then you travel about 15 magnificent miles as the road that hugs the shore of wonderful Lake Berryessa. From Napa simply head east on route 121 until it T’s into Route 128. You then want to take a left on to Route 128 and take it north/northeast for about 4.5 miles until you see Berryessa Knoxville Rd on the right. Take a right onto Berryessa Knoxville Rd and now enjoy the ride along the lake for about 15 beautiful miles. That’s what I call the end point but actually you could continue on the road and it would take you all the way up to Clear Lake. If you decide to go all the way to Clear Lake, Berryessa turns into Co Rd 140 (Morgan Valley Rd.). Take a left on Hwy. 50, going North and this will drop you into Clear Lake.

Skagggs Spring Rd

Skaggs Spring Road – This starts on the Pacific Coast Hwy and goes over the Coastal Range for about 40 miles. It’s gorgeous hilly country with curvy roads – actually more fun than CA 36 (“Twisty Roads 140 miles” – Red Bluff to Eureka.) The first 4 miles or so are a glorified driveway going through forests with sharp turns, then the road opens up to 36 miles of mostly sweeping curves on very good roads. Some far off lake vistas. Stewart Point (south of Ft. Bragg, CA) to Geyserville, CA. This is 43 miles of curvy and twisty roads. Starting in Stewarts Point go inland on Skaggs Spring Rd. There is no street sign I could see. It looks like a driveway across from the only gas station in this 50 person town. Stay on this road for 37 miles, then turn right on Dry Creek Rd for 3 miles. Turn left on Canyon Rd which takes you under I -101 to Geyserville and if you want on to Calistoga on CA 128.

Epic Rides

Yosemite

Hwy 120 – Tioga Pass Rd. – Please click the link for a truly great description of the annual ride through Somite Valley.  [Barry’s Note: I gotta do this one. 🙂 ]

 

Minimalist Moving

We arrive with nothing and leave with nothing; It’s the in-between time we get all screwed up. -pithy, I know

Moving is usually a chaotic event. And to be honest, my little home -or what’s left of it- is a bit chaotic right now. But it’s a good kind of chaos that I’m enveloped in at the moment instead of the usual hustle and bustle of running around town trying to find boxes in which to pack my belongings for transport to my new destination.

That’s how it’s always been in the past and this time I vowed not to repeat the same mistakes. Each time I’ve moved over the years, I’ve discovered the existence of unopened boxes filled with items that at one time meant something to me.

It's telling that I never bothered to unpack these boxes, nor use the items inside. The items remained unused, forgotten, resigned to a non-life, languished in darkness.

Curating, Not Collecting

At my core, I’m a minimalist even if that core is buried under layers of resistance at times. I love simplicity in all its forms: design, decor, fashion, functionality, style, living lightly, and tiny nests.

It’s living as a minimalist that’s been the hard part. It’s actually embarrassing to admit, but I too tend to accumulate life’s detritus. It arrives in the form of gifts, good deals that are too good to be ignored, and impulse buys.

Over that past few weeks, I’ve been getting ready to leave my beach bungalow and move over the hill to Silicon Valley, where I’ve lived on several occasions. I decided that this time I would carefully curate what belongings I kept, not only because of the small space I’ll inhabit, but mainly because I don’t need much. That meant selling, donating, and recycling what was still useful to others and trashing only the truly crappy.

main-qimg-24bfdd57008fcb5df50e00a59b396bcc
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer in his unfurnished home in Silicon Valley.

My once cozy bungalow is now rather spacious, and while it’s not exactly like Steve Jobs’ unfurnished home, its getting there. And I like it a lot.

Minimalist Moving

Minimalist living makes moving a breeze. Though it’s not quite breezy yet here at Beach Bungalow, I do detect a draft. 🙂

If you have only a few belongings, moving them isn’t an issue. Curating your belongings becomes a fun challenge; Conscious choice becomes the new default instead of the mindless acceptance that leads to unpacked boxes and forgotten items.

I’ve moved friends and family who were collectors and not curators… and it was always painful.  I couldn’t count the number of boxes filled with useless and/or formerly useful items that I’ve carried from one place to another for one friend. Each time I was hopeful that she’d have discarded them, but when moving day arrived there they were like buried secrets, momentarily redeemed from their hidden lair only to be secreted way again and forgotten.

Living Lighter

I’m understanding, perhaps for the first time, that fewer belongings make for fewer worries. It’s been a pleasure to discard some items while giving any others to those in need. Life feels lighter.

When I make my way over the hill from Santa Cruz to Silicon Valley in two weeks, it will be the first move in a very long time that will include the right balance of things, both essential and meaningful.

It will be breezy and I intend to keep the windows open.

Destinations and Untethering

In my last post I wrote about moving from my home on the Central California coast to an unknown destination. I even expressed my desires to the Universe for the perfect abode to house, not only my two BMW motorcycles, but also my faithful canine companion, Sir Buddy, Lord Protector of the Realm.

It’s funny how the Universe responds to our deepest desires with what some might consider a flat refusal or a haughty laugh. But I’ve always thought that the unifying stuff that comprises the Universe is smarter than that; certainly smarter than we who inhabit this cosmic, floating orb.

What we define as best and optimal often isn’t. In my case, the desire for a one bedroom cottage with an available garage to house my Bavarian steeds and a backyard for Sir Buddy was not to be. However, as the Universe continues to prove its intelligence, perhaps the answer I received is what’s best and optimal at this present time.

As One Door Closes…

I made the decision to move on from the Beach Bungalow after my youngest son moved out. I thought I’d be in the same general vicinity but closer to him and his burgeoning musical exploits. But, as I stated above, the Universe had other plans..at least temporarily.

Most likely, you’ve experienced the phenomenon of one door -being perceived as opportunity- closing in your face while almost instantaneously another opens. Such was the case for me and my planned relocation to Santa Cruz.

A few months ago my mother suffered a stroke and my father’s overall health began to decline more rapidly. I visit them a few times each month in San Jose, a short 40-minute ride from where I live. On recent visits we discussed my impending move as well as their own present state of health and welfare.

I started to feel that my own desire for continued independence and distance was a bit selfish.

I’ve always known that it would be my responsibility to care for my parents as they grow more infirm. My two siblings live a far greater distance from our parents than I do, and as I am the executor of their estate and trust, I feel a strong sense of responsibility for them. I started to see the timing of my relocation and how it might be time to make the decision I knew I’d one day need to make.

With this plan in mind, April appeared to be a good time to untether from my belongings and downsize as much as possible.

Untethering 

There is a concept that Ev Bogue wrote about a few years ago in a book called Untether To Evolve. In it he states that when we cut ties to that which we are connected, we free ourselves and create more space, freedom, and autonomy. Untethering comes in many forms; untethering from physical belongings, relationships, certain people, jobs, schools, places, etc.

If you visualize a string connected your index finger to the person closest to you, that’s a way to visualize a tether. Now imagine more strings, one for each person you have a relationship with; one string to each physical belonging, to your job(s); to your habits, etc. Suddenly the amount of things to which you are tethered becomes overwhelming.

With all of these tethers visualized, it's difficult to see how we experience much freedom at all.

I’ve spent this month untethering from physical belongings, my home of six years, and some professional relationships.  I’m finding that as I do so, I’m also experiencing a good bit of uncertainty, but that is part of the process of untethering. (I’ll write a post about this process in the future.)

I’ve often thought that the perfect life for me would be on a BMW R1200GSA with its panniers packed only with what I truly need to live from day to day. It’s a minimalist, nomadic way of life to be sure, but one that has always appealed to me. I’ve never seen myself as the grand Baron of some estate filled with things. It’s the simple, quiet life with relatively few belongings that appeals to me as the most elegant.

Perhaps I’ll achieve that kind of lifestyle in the future, but for now, the needs of my parents are more important than my need to create a nomadic existence. However, I’m gratified that I will ease into this new role with as few tethers as possible.

Therein lies more space, freedom, and autonomy.

Downsizing and Finding a Home for My Two BMW Bikes

The Life of a Serial Renter

No, I’m not selling the bikes. As my son, Jay, would say, “I’m not a Barbarian.” Instead, I’m looking to move from my current abode in Rio Del Mar to Santa Cruz or somewhere thereabouts.

Having never owned property, I’ve been a serial renter all my adult life. Something about the permanence and commitment of a thirty-year mortgage scares the crap out of me. It always has. In terms of security and always having a place to live, it seems like a great idea. However, in my life, job and income security has never been assumed, nor has it been stable.

My careers –see this video for an description of them– haven’t brought me the stability and long-term financial status that is looked on favorably by most mortgage lenders. My lack of property ownership used to bother me a great deal. I felt that somehow I was defective.

But I'm passed that now. I simply don't care what others think of me and life is much easier when you live accordingly. 

Garage Wanted: And a Yard Would Be Nice

I’ve been in the same 4-plex building and the same 2 bedroom unit for about six years. When Jay and I first moved here, he was 12 years old and I chose Rio Del Mar because of the quality schools. Looking back on that decision, and how the school experiences played out, it wasn’t the best decision. In any case, it’s time to move on and leave these horrid light yellow interior walls and look for a place nearer where he now lives.

I’m hoping to find a gem of a place where I can park my bikes inside a secure garage. As you can tell, I’m placing the optimal environment for the bikes above my own. This is because I can adapt to almost anything. Of course, I don’t want to live in a shabby abode, but a 1 bedroom/ 1 bath, or even a large studio would work fine now that I’m a single, empty-nester.

I’d love to have a two-car garage, but a single car garage would also be good. Not only would the bikes be protected from the salt air and the corrosive effects of the ever-present fog (in California we don’t see much rain), but they would be secure as well. Having a well-lit, secure place to perform oil changes, general cleaning, and anything else that needed for the bikes is optimal.

Buddy
Sir Buddy, Lord Protector of the Realm

That, and a yard for my dog, too. We’re a packaged deal and that can make it a challenge. But I’m optimistic that I’ll find the right place for the four of us. 🙂

It’s Also an Opportunity to Downsize Again

Downsizing is the opposite of the American Dream. Where brash consumerism is the religion of the affluent, living simply and responsibly is my chosen lifestyle. I don’t wish to have at the large, sprawling beach home (I’ve done that). Instead, I’m quite content to live in smaller quarters where I can survey all of what I own.

Multiple homes and multiple cars (obviously, motorcycles don’t count) isn’t for me. Actually, as I’ve discussed here, owning two bikes is problematic enough for me in terms of redundancy. I still struggle with it. In a perfect world, I’d own a new BMW R1200GS and be very content. But that’s not possible right now, besides, both bikes are paid for and insured and that’s seems to be a perfect situation at the moment.

I’ve selected a few large items to sell in preparation for the eventual move. My used couch, an 8-foot x 4-foot wooden  bookcase that I picked up from a used bookstore that was selling it’s holdings, two desks, and a coffee table will go up on Craigslist soon. I’d rather not move them and I really don’t need them. Downsizing frees me from having to move all this crap again. I’d rather start over than continually move my belongings.

Shout Out to the Universe

So, dear Universe, here is what I want:

I want a 1 bedroom, dog-friendly cottage with a fenced backyard and a garage in the Santa Cruz area. I’m willing to do upkeep and yard maintenance and keep the place quiet (with occasional dog barks as he’s great at scaring off would-be intruders and a lot cheaper than a security system) and well-maintained. I need it by May 1.

You may reach me in the usual way. 🙂