The plan

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 3, 2016 7:17 PM

I am a ridiculous planner. I'd use the term meticulous but it's more than that. It's borderline obsessive. I blame the Capricorn in me. We goats have to always have a plan. Even when I'm spontaneous I need a plan. It's sad I know, but I have come to terms with my neuroses. 

We've been planning a motorcycle trip all week. Just a day trip. Still, there must be a plan. Proper attire must be chosen for maximum comfort and ease. Sunscreen must be applied. Plenty of water has to be “packed.” Last weekend, the plan was to go to Apache Junction which is about two hours northwest of us. It's supposed to be a lovely little town, and there's an old mine aspect as well, with the remnants of a centuries past mining camp updated to have a cool restaurant called the Dutchman’s Hideout. It sits at the base of the Superstition Mountains, so named for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. According the legend, a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz supposedly discovered a mother lode of gold in the mountains and only revealed its location when he died in 1891. The mine has never been discovered. Apaches believe that there is a hole in the Superstition Mountains that leads to hell. Others believe that winds blowing from the hole are the cause of the severe dust storms the area is known for. Superstitions abound. 

As a backdrop these mountains are stunning, red and jagged against a blue sky. But when the temps were forecasted to be in the 100s, that plan changed. Being on the motorcycle in that kind of unrelenting heat is brutal. We did it once when we took the bike to Las Vegas. I thought we would melt into the saddle. When we got to the Ritz-Carlton where we were spending the weekend, we both needed to be wrung out. We walked in carrying motorcycle helmets and backpacks. The lady at the front desk looked at us warily. 

I scrambled to find another place. I wanted to take a ride. I miss going off for the day, feeling the wind, experiencing the complete freedom that comes on two wheels flying down an open road. But where?

Southern Arizona is still hot at this time of the year. Sometimes hellishly so. I don't mind low 90s. I can handle low 90s, because when you're moving, it's more like mid 80s. Really. I searched for things east, for things south. Believe it or not, many areas south of us, heading toward Mexico, can be a touch cooler because the elevations are a touch higher. I found Patagonia. 

Patagonia is about an hour and a half south east of us. Population at the last census: 913. Total square miles: 1.3. It's an old Arizona town, nestled in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains in the distance and rolling fields of golden grass in the foreground. At one point, it was a supply center for nearby ranches and long-ago abandoned mines. Those mining camps are now ghost towns and dot the Patagonia Mountains to the southeast. The town is now primarily artists. To get there, we'll wind down Houghton Road to Sahaurita and head east to the 83 south to the 82 south. We'll poke around the two or three galleries, we'll mosey on over to the Wagon Wheel Saloon, belly up to the bar and have a salad and some water. Maybe in the old west, back when there were miners, they had burgers and a whiskey. We're old and we're in the west but any semblance stops there. 

Then we'll climb back onto our sturdy steed, all 900 pounds and six cylinders of it, and cruise home, reversing our course. Heading north toward our waiting puppy.

At least that's the plan.

Just like riding a bike

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, August 24, 2016 9:31 PM

Kevin took the motorcycle out today. First time since July 4. That’s an unusually long time between rides for him. He loves his motorcycle, this one more than any of the others. Ever since that fateful Sunday I came home from dropping movies at Blockbuster and sat next to a couple on a bike at a stoplight on Agoura Road, he’s been back into motorcycles. I say “back into” because he evidently had a bike when he got out of college. I think he got rid of it when he got married the first time; I know he hadn’t had one for a long time. I think we went to look at motorcycles that day. We had our first bike by the following Friday. A Suzuki Intruder 800. 

Within six months, we’d upgraded to a 1500. It was a beautiful bike but not very comfortable for the passenger also known as me. Within about a year and a half, we sold that and bought our big Kaw (pronounced “cow”). A Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500 chipped. So it was fast. It was also built for two. Whereas the big Suzook had a seat on the back, it always seemed like an afterthought. This new bike had floor boards from the driver and the passenger. Big saddlebags, a backrest for the passenger also known as me. We put white wall tires on it and it was gorgeous. Black metallic paint, lots of chrome. How we loved that bike. 

But once we moved, we knew we’d have to sell it. The roads here are atrocious and the ride was just too rough. It took all the fun out of cruising.

Enter the car on two-wheels. The love of Kevin’s motorcycle life. His favorite bike ever. The beloved Honda Goldwing 1800. This thing is amazing. It’s a touring bike versus a cruiser so it’s cushy, built for long rides. It has six cylinders, a tremendous amount of power. A six-CD changer, an AM/FM radio, an AUX hookup for an iPod. There are four speakers. It has a trunk to go with the two side pods. If we wanted, there is space for a trailer hitch and we could pull a small trailer. It has cruise control. The only thing it doesn’t have is air conditioning. 

We used to go out fairly regularly but since we moved, we don’t. Whereas our weekends used to consist of hopping on the bike to go to Ojai, usually for gas, our new weekend adventures consisted of driving to tile stores and hardware stores and paint stores. We needed a bigger trunk. Plus the no AC thing in the summer made it less enjoyable. 

Since we moved into our house, the weekends often consist of weekend things. Working outside, working inside. Socializing. And the bike sits in the garage, getting dusty, looking sad. I was looking at it the other day and I mentioned to Kevin that it had been a long time. I was feeling nostalgic. I was wanting a ride. 

We decided that over Labor Day weekend, we’d take a day, drive up to Apache Junction, have lunch, then wind our way back. 

Today, Kevin had to run some errands. 

“Which car are you taking?” I asked since we currently have three. 

“Not,” he said. “Taking the bike.” Then he grinned. “I just hope I can remember how to drive it.”

Whenever he goes out on the motorcycle without me, I’m adamant that he call or text me when he arrives at his destination, and again when he’s leaving to head home. Then I have an idea when to expect him. That way, if the time goes too long, I know to worry. 

He got to his destination. I got my text: “I remembered.”

“Just like riding a bike.” I texted back.

Finally some fun

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 9, 2016 8:39 PM

It occurred to us recently that we are very dull people. I believe this occurrence happened on or about the anniversary of our one-year of residence in the house. As we were sitting at the bar or maybe out on the deck, perhaps in the great room, one of us and probably me looked at the other, probably him, and said: “You know we never do anything fun anymore.” The other looked at me, blankly at first, and then recognition spread across his face, realization dawning. “You’re right. We don’t.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. We live a good life. We have this amazing house. We actually and genuinely like each other, and like spending nearly every waking moment together. We’re lucky.

But all we seem to do is work. During the week, we work our regular jobs and on the weekends we work around the house. Kevin has been obsessed with rocking outside, which is both lovely and efficient since the rock functions as a means to divert the falls of water that rush toward us, bursting off of the other and bigger rocks on the hill behind us. When it rains here, it is usually not polite. It is angry, demanding rain. And it threatens to engulf us. We knew we would have some issues before we moved in. We thought we had taken care of it with the wall we built along the driveway in the back. We quickly realized, with the arrival of the first storm last spring, that we hadn’t. 

I do things in the house, like clean. We long ago opted out of a cleaning service, which is funny because the only thing I ever wanted was someone to clean my house. When we moved into the Oak Park house, I informed Kevin that one of the first things I was going to do was hire someone to clean. I work all the time. I didn’t want to spend my free time cleaning. I wanted to occasionally do something, gasp, fun. Even if someone came just to scour the bathrooms and the kitchen once every two weeks, that was enough. Then Justin went away to school and the house wasn’t so dirty anymore. Then the cleaning people started not doing as good a job as we did. Then they started breaking things. We decided to take back our cleaning and we’ve been doing it ever since. 

But now I have this enormous house, and it’s literally impossible to clean it in a day, so I do it in increments, which means that it’s never done. I’m just moving from the west to the east only to start all over again. I go to the grocery store. I change the sheets on the bed. Kevin rocks. We don’t do much that’s fun.

We sometimes have people over for dinner, or go to someone else’s house for dinner. That’s fun. Every once in a while we meet friends for happy hour. That’s fun, too. But most of the time we’re in the house, doing house things. Or working. 

Then Saturday night, we collapse in a heap and watch mindless television. 

So after the revelation mentioned in the first paragraph, today we decided to do something fun. After Kevin spent just a short time outside and I did just a few chores inside (like changing the sheets), we washed the motorcycle, climbed on, went for a long ride, found some place to have lunch and then came home to collapse in a heap and watch television.

It’s how we lived it out loud – and had some fun – on this beautiful Saturday.

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live out loud

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