Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon


A Catskill Mountain Ride to see Pops

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Last Saturday Sylva and I took our first good long ride of the season. (I know. I know... what took us so looong? We've been busy.) This was a ride with a purpose. Sylva grand father, Pops, had bypass surgery recently, and we were headed to pay him a get well visit.

We headed south on the NY Thruway, then took Rt-23 into the northern part of the Catskill Mountains, headed toward Windham. From there we took Rt-296 south to Hunter, then Rt-214 south to Phoenicia. From Windham to Phoenicia it's all winding wonderful mountain roads. No real tight turns and curves, but then NY really doesn't have a lot of those.

Flying Standby from Chicago O'Hare Airport


This past Friday I had to be in Chicago for a meeting. I booked a round-trip flight on United, departing Friday morning, returning late Friday evening. There was a Noreaster moving into the North East. My return flight was canceled before I even took off, and I was re-booked on the first flight Saturday, the next morning. I was fine with that.

So, Saturday I get to the airport and the security lines are insane. Worst I've seen in a long time. Worse than Christmas week at O'Hare. Come to find out it's spring break. Well, I make it through security, and run to my gate, to find my flight canceled. I've never been in this situation before. I've only had one prior flight canceled on me, and I realize now that I was a neophyte when it came to flying "stand-by".

Wool Gathering

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Sometimes you stumble upon something that takes you back in time. In past times this would frequently occur in an attic, or old closet that someone was cleaning out. For me this happens when I change computers. I just got a new laptop, and I'm moving into it, after migrating all of my files over.

In this process I happened on an old QuickTime movie I made with photos from the first year of having my Canon Digital Rebel. Take a look (10MB). I thought I had posted it on this site, but apparently I hadn't. This video covers Septmber 2003 to September 2004.

Part XV: Epilogue

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September 18, 2003: Epilogue

I was gone for 24 days of which I rode 22. I averaged almost exactly 300 miles a day on my riding days. It doesn't sound like much, but it was to me.

I'm a changed man. I don't know that I can quantify all of the changes, but I am changed. I never thought that a ride on a motorcycle would be such an incredible experience. Sure, I knew a ride like I took would be incredible, but I had no idea how incredible.

This ride came at an interesting time in my life, an inflection point. I was a partner in an IT consulting company up until a few weeks before I left. The partnership dissolved like so many do, and I found myself free to do what I wanted for a while. I purchased the RT in March with the intent on doing a lot of riding. At that time I figured I'd maybe do 10,000 miles. Well I've done over 14,000 so far and I've still got Torrey, the UnRally and El Paseo II to go.

Part XIV: Victory Lap and the Ride Home

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September 7, 2003: Victory Lap and the Ride Home

Today is the last day. This tale comes to an end. Today was my victory lap. My last day of the Tour de France.

I rode north on VT-100 to VT-17 east through Appalachian Gap. This is a great road. It is worth of being in the Smokeys. Worthy of being called a "gap." I stopped and snapped a picture at the overlook. I purchased the camera yesterday, so I need to use the pictures up. The climb through Appalachian Gap is a great ride. It's entrance, apex, exit... entrance, apex, exit... repeat. Definitely the most technical road I've found in VT. If you're ever in the neighborhood check it out.

Part XIII: Way-point Zulu

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September 6, 2003: Way-point Zulu -- Old Orchard Beach, ME

Today was the day. I would ride to what had become the "end point" for me. My way-point Zulu. When I began this ride I didn't know where I was going, other then to Deals Gap to ride the Dragon. Once I was into it I decided I wanted to ride in every state in the Appalachian Mountain Chain. Well, the only ones left at this point were NH and ME. I used to go to Old Orchard for summer vacations when I was a kid. So, for me it became a fitting place to aim for.

Today wasn't so much about the ride as it was about the destination. Very different from other days. The roads in VT and NH were very nice. I took US-4 east to NH-118 north to NH-112 east to US-302 east. NH-118 and NH-112 are well worth riding. 112 was a little busy with tourists, but 118 was a delight and had significant portions that were newly paved. Nice curvy road, a little off camber in places, but nice.

Part XII: Vermont and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!

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September 4, 2003: Ride to Killington, VT

Up and out early to meet the crew to ride to Killington. I was the last one to arrive at the meeting point. Laura (millerlc), Marty, Carol, Don and Cindy, and Dave (Voodoo) were all there. Don led us on a nice ride until his GPS got us onto a dirt road. I'd ridden about 5,000 miles to this point and I'd managed to avoid dirt, and here I was on the last leg of this journey and here I was on a dirt road. Oh well. So, we turned around and Dave led us out of there. We all had a good lunch in Great Barrington. Dave parted company with us and headed back to NY. This is when I took point.

Part XI: What do you despise?

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September 3, 2003:

I got a late start today. I only need to make it to northern NJ. So, I took my time.

I headed north on I-95. I used to live in Newark, DE when I was pursuing a competitive ice skating career. So, I stopped by the ice rink where I used to train. I figure I haven't seen the place in 14 years, why not take a look.

"What do you despise, by this are you truly known." -- The Manual of Muad'dib by the Princess Irulan

It hasn't changed. It's still full of kids who are there because their parent say they have to be, serious skaters who are dedicated and a whole spread of others. The head coach was sitting right where I'd last seen him 14 years ago. So, I walked over to him and said hello. He started carrying on as if I was his long lost returned friend. From the questions he was asking it was plainly obvious that I was being patronized for the "benefit" of making him look good to his current students, who were standing at the rail. He had no idea who I was. I learned what I despise. I despise being patronized. I've had the quote above hanging on my wall for a long time. The paper is quite yellowed. If you had asked me what I despised before I walked over to my old coach I wouldn't have been able to tell you. Now I feel it in my bones.

Part X: The Circle of Life

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September 1, 2003: The Long Haul to Washington, DC -- Zen Time

Today I rode from Fontana, NC to the Washington, DC area.

Up and out early. I think I'm the first person to get under way. There are a lot of bikes in the parking lot. It is Labor Day weekend after all. I pack the bike and get going. I have to say good bye to these incredible mountains. I've spent a bit of time here in the past two weeks. I'm going to miss this place.

I headed east on NC-28 out of Fontana Village. It was getting more light out and some of the views were real nice, but one in particular was a near religious experience. Near the intersection of NC-28 and US-129 there is an overlook on the west bound side of the road. I was headed east bound, but the view was so incredible I doubled back to take a look.

Part IX: The Sign of the Covenant

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August 30, 2003: Dragon Redux -- The Litany Against Fear

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." --The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear from Dune by Frank Herbert

Through a series of wrong turns and miscalculations I've found myself in TN with the shortest path between me and my hotel taking me through the Dragon. I rode the Dragon two weeks prior and I did ok, but today I'm spooked. I did it two weeks ago, but it wasn't my kind of riding. But here I am in TN and looking at a lot of miles out of my way if I want to avoid it, and beat the rain I know is on its way. I've been a fan of Frank Herbert's Dune books for many years. One of the things I've always remembered from them is the Litany Against Fear.

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