The semester starts on the 27th of August this year. Normally I'd have another week of time to ride, but new responsibilities at work this year mean that I have to attend meetings a good chunk of the next week.
It is always bittersweet to see the lazy days of summer come to an end. One of the better parts of teaching is the long summer break, but it is always exciting and interesting to see those college kids come tearing back into the classroom. A lot of faces change over each year...seniors that spent four years with you are out in "the real world" and a bunch of freshmen are nervously trying to figure out what they gotten themselves into. It really is fun to be a part of that process, but it is stressful as well.
I just accept a new set of courses after 27 years spent teaching broadcast journalism. I needed a change, but what a challenge. The bike, and the riding, have been a necessary thing for me this summer. Something to get my mind off the pressures associated with all the changes.
Worse than any of that pressure has been the process of saying goodbye to my mother-in-law. She is the best I could have hoped for, but it will be a miracle if she is still with us at the end of the month. Leukemia is winning the battle in spite of a courageous fight. My wife has been a trooper through all of this, but it is hard to let go.
My wife is working today, the kids are in school or at work and I wanted to take a longer ride to let things go. Mother Nature had other plans.
We, along with a huge chunk of the country, have been experiencing a drought...all summer...so it rained today. Well, not all of it. But the weather forecast called for thunderstorms, some severe, beginning this afternoon.
Okay, knowing that, I planned to hit the road about 8:00 and head west to Cataract Falls--about 40 miles or so-- and then explore some of the gravel roads in that area. The fact that I bothered to develop a plan meant that it wouldn't happen.
At 10:15 I pulled out of the garage. Planned to hit IN-42 west out of Mooresville and head for the Falls. Wind was fairly gusty and the skies were pretty overcast--and a lot darker off to the northwest.
The conversation in my helmet was, "Do I change my plans since I don't have any rain gear and I don't know where I can find shelter?" v. "Come on! Suck it up! Riders on ADV laugh at rain! Better yet, they strip down and call it bath time! You gonna' be a wimp?"
Turns out, I was a wimp. Of course, I would just be getting back about the time I am writing this and it is pouring outside. Thunder and lighting are the order of the hour. Made the better decision.
The photos that follow were shot south of Mooresville, IN--while I was being a wimp. Cataract Falls will have to wait. Google Earth it if you can't.
Just west of those two shots I passed a house with one of those giant satellite dishes in the front yard. The owner had painted, "13 Miles from Nowhere" on the face it. I was reassured. Up to that point I had thought I was in the middle of nowhere.
Decided y'all needed a little "artsy" in your life and took these two. Makes you feel all fuzzy, doesn't it?
I am really learning to appreciate this old '83 650 parallel twin. It is really a lightweight bike, fairly small and pretty torquey. Drop down to about 2k rpm and just dial it up around corners. Tractors out without any of the frenetic drama that my old Yamaha I4 had. This one is starting to run out of steam at the point where the I4 was just waking up.
Ran it up to about 70 on a short stretch between Martinsville and Mooresville today and it ran comfortably at just under 5k rpm. That is enough for me right now. Ten years is a long time to be off a bike.
You'll see a lot of work needs to be done to the engine cases and valve cover. That's an over-the-winter project. Spent the last year getting it running correctly and reliably.
Mentioned my father a few posts ago in connection with the tractor shot. He was also a Nazarene pastor, so I decided to take a shot of this little country church when I happened upon it. Lost him ten years ago this year. Hard to believe I am now the same age he was when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Pretty sure I wouldn't handle that diagnosis as well as he did. I thought he was old when the disease hit him, but now I see that he probably didn't feel that he was. I sure don't feel old. Makes me appreciate his courage in the face of that horrible disease all the more
Headed back toward home and the threatened front was just becoming visible.
It can be difficult to get the camera straight with a helmet on. The flag poles are vertical--Photobucket isn't playing nicely today...so crooked shot it is.
I hit the front about 6 miles from home. Temperatures dropped by about 10 degrees and it got pretty windy, so I was just as happy I had saved Cataract Falls for another time.
Got sort of pensive with this ride. Glad I had the chance to do this before the semester gets crazy.
Thanks for riding along.