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Old 10-24-2008, 11:04 PM   #31
viola-tor OP
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After waking and eating a Clif bar and a can of fruit cocktail I packed up and decided to head back the way I came. Risking being stranded behind a locked gate didn’t sound too appealing for such a short trip.



Last summer my exhaust-side pannier started melting pretty badly, so I made a makeshift heat shield on the fly to get me home. This is my replacement (also being tested!), and it seems to be working splendidly. Go me!



The road out was almost surreal in the early hours of the day. There were HUNDREDS of jack rabbits darting across the road. I felt like Moses parting the sea with is staff; all bunnies make way for the viola-tor!



In addition to testing my wacky viola and pack I decided this would be a good time to try out some cheap travel tips. Inmate JamieZ wrote a great travel-on-the-cheap thread over in Trip Planning, and I tried to follow some of his ideas ranging from cheap food and drink as well as camping for free (even though I didn’t plan that part...). Thanks Jamie! I stopped in a grocery store for about $4 worth of supplies that would hopefully last me the rest of this prep mission.

I made it to Guadalupe National Park by about 11:00, grabbed a tent site and prepared myself for the hike. I guess I’m what you’d call and “avid hiker” as I enjoy doing big hikes, mountains, canyons, all kinds of stuff. I’ve hiked a number of the Colorado 14ers, the Grand Canyon Hermit Trail, and have previously done twenty miles in a day over mountainous terrain. Despite all this I found myself huffing and puffing pretty severely as I ascended Guadalupe Peak. “No prob,” I kept telling myself, “just a little out of shape, keep breathing...” In the past I’ve been known for my low-gear power hiking up hill, but I wasn’t feeling it today, it seemed like I had to stop to suck wind at every switch back, where normally I could cruise on up. Stupid Texas, it’s hard to stay in shape here! The big cities aren’t conducive to the active lifestyle in this state. We sit in our cars, then sit at work, then sit in our cars again only to sit at home. I try to get to the gym, take walks, and anything else I can think of, but the lifestyle here isn’t geared that way. Oh well, summer is when I try to get it all back!








Getting close, I can feel it!



Whew! Made it. I sat down with the provided map from the visitor’s center and learn that it’s over a 3000 ft. elevation gain over only a few miles. No wonder I’m panting! Okay, a slight rest and then it’s time to get to work: The premier of...













PEAK PERFORMANCE!!! -ormance... -ormance... -ormance...



Yup. I hauled it all the way up there. Mostly for the picture but also to get a real-world feel for my new pack, plus I want to know if I can actually get anything done practicing out in nature. This has to be some sort of first...

I put on some more sunscreen (I’m a white, white dude) and started practicing at the highest point in Texas. Twenty minutes should have sufficed, but as I played I got in the groove and kept on rocking. I wasn’t watching the time, but I have a good feel for how time passes when I’m practicing so I’d estimate I was playing on the peak for over an hour and half. Nice! Most of my audition material is memorized so I didn’t bother bringing any sheet music up the mountain. Playing outside is a little strange, mostly because there is zero reverberation. Stringed instruments are designed to be indoor tools, and they aren’t very happy with extreme temperatures and sunlight (until now! The Black Death strikes...) so most of my experiences through my musical life have been indoors. It's not the usual view I'm accustomed to either! I wandered about the top of the mountain as I played through all my standard excerpts listening for feedback from different geologic formations. I found some “pockets” of rock where my bat-radar was working and I didn’t feel like my sound was just evaporating into the air, and I also began to relax and not rely on the reverb as much as I normally would. Very interesting.

As I was running through some of my memorized solo Bach a hiking couple made the summit, and had quite surprised looks on their faces when they got within earshot of the viola. I forgot to get a picture of them with my camera, but they got a mini recital and lecture about the carbon fiber viola which was good practice for me. Part of this whole experiment is subjecting myself to sub-ideal performance environments to condition me to play in top form regardless of my mood and/or surroundings. The couple shared some snacks with me and were on their way as I packed up and started heading down myself.

After resting and snacking at camp for little while I still had some time to kill, so I took the ax over to the amphitheater, this time with my music stand and some music I need to learn for an upcoming music festival. My legs were tired (I usually practice standing up) so I sat on a bench learning my notes and taking self portraits. Despite my efforts it appears I got a little sun! I bet it was the reflection off the white rocks at the peak cooking me under my hat from below. Sneaky Sun.





So far so good. Tomorrow I pack up and head back to San Antonio and evaluate the test in preparation for when the “real” adventure begins.

viola-tor screwed with this post 10-25-2008 at 11:43 PM
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Old 10-25-2008, 12:32 AM   #32
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Cool

Waiting for the next installment
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Old 10-26-2008, 09:15 AM   #33
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The morning was sunny and clear with a slight chill (which was a welcome way to begin the 600+ mile ride that will surely get hot-hot). I pack up and hit the road, opting for a route home that takes me through the Davis Mountains, a nice ride.

I turn west out of the park (even though I’m headed east, go figure! The preferred motorcycle line is usually not straight, eh?) and descend past El Capitan for a view of the other side.



It’s kinda funny that it almost completely obscures Guadelupe Peak from this angle. El Capitan dominates the scene with it’s sharp, vertical faces while Guadalupe’s frumpy sloping angles are an after thought in the background. Well, we know the truth! From the peak yesterday El Capitan sure seemed small...

The speed limit on the highway that passes through the park is predictably SLOW and I saw several cops the day before making sure everyone knew about it, so I cautiously cruised out. After taking the El Capitan pics I keep seeing all these 75 MPH signs in my direction, and at one point I actually turned around to confirm that I wasn’t imagining things. Sure enough, 75! Whoo-hoo!

My next highway connection to the south has one of those long, sweeping entrances I barely have to slow down for, and I see a straight black line of pavement shooting ahead of me. I put the needle at about 80 and settle in for a day of big miles.

Soon my radar detector gets anxious and I instinctively snap some brakes as I see the Black-&-White approaching, probably two miles out. I start going through the mental calculations and try to remember what the speed limit actually is (so often I just ride and don’t worry about it, maybe not the best plan, but I like it!). It’s still early in the morning and my mind is a little foggy, but yeah, I DOUBLE checked those 75 MPH postings, so I should be golden. The red and blue lights come on anyway...

I know there are many different approaches to handling a traffic stop, but I find that being courteous, polite and friendly certainly doesn’t hurt my chances for riding away with a only warning. If the lights are on, I pull over immediately. Running seems like a great way to kill myself or get seriously arrested, so I try so smile and be Mr. Nice Guy Citizen who just happens to be riding a 100+ horse power motorcycle. I’ve gotten out of some doozies just by being nice. D-o-o-oozies. If the lights don’t come on, however, I get the hell outta there before the officer changes his mind!

It turns out that the speed limit changed back to 55 (groan...) when I made that banking highway connection, but the officer lets me off after I explain that I double checked the 75 MPH signs, and this road is just as straight (or straighter, sheesh) as the last. I chat him up for a bit and find out he’s actually based in Houston (huh?) and for some reason is patrolling way out here. He warns me that I’ll need to slow way down for some bumps (?) about fifty miles ahead that would throw me off my bike at 75 MPH.

Well, there it is! It says right here on my warning citation: V-I-O-L-A-T-O-R... That’s me!

I only had to the stones to pull out the camera after he pulled off:



So now I’m spooked down to 55 MPH for at least the next fifty miles, great. At least there are a few mountains to look at. After a time the left-handed camera comes out of the pocket, mostly cause I’m bored.









This bike used to be all shiny. Hrumph. As I ride slowly onward my mind starts to drift to... Motorcycles naturally! This is the only hobby I think I’ve ever had that I day-dream about while I’m doing actually doing it. Oh man, I really want a big dual sport that’s ready for some abuse. This bike has been great over the years, and I’ve learned so much, and I think that where my riding is I’m ready for the some new challenges. Mostly I want a travel bike that’s tough, dirty, and ready for anything. I’m not really interested in motocross, stunting, road racing, enduro, or iron butt competitions specifically, but if I get an itch to try a sampling of any of those things I want a bike that’s up to it. There are only a couple out there that fit the bill, and spending time on ADVrider.com only fuels that desire, right? Well, I’m a struggling musician and a one-bike man, I’ll just have to save my pennies and be patient. Oh, and those "bumps" that the officer warned me about were a joke, had I known I would've tried to jump them at 90 MPH!

There! The Davis Mountains. This really is a big sky out here.







Heh, I wish! It’s been a while since we’ve seen those prices. My lunch stop:



Between Alpine and Del Rio I’ve noticed this funny service road that parallels the highway. It’s quite long and looks fairly challenging in sections. I decide to give it a try on my BMW.



Inspired by the ADV community here I know it’s possible to go some crazy places on sport bikes, but this time isn’t really very fun. Standing on the pegs is difficult as my neck starts to hurt because I’m hunched over funny to reach the bars. I give it a go for a few hills just as an experiment but return shortly to the pavement which lies only a few yards away. I’d really like to explore this type of riding...

Have you guys seen these? I’ve run across these hand-dryers in several locations recently. Holy-Schnitkke, these things BLOW! Leave your ear plugs in, guys. Seriously, they’re probably over 100 decibels. Never did I imagine I’d be posting about a freakin’ hand dryer, but there it is!



Trial run for moto-music: Success! Let’s get this party started. I leave for a month-long trip soon, stay tuned.

viola-tor screwed with this post 10-26-2008 at 10:45 AM
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Old 10-26-2008, 02:54 PM   #34
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great rr and pics,im in...
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Old 10-26-2008, 04:44 PM   #35
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Great stuff man! I'd seen carbon cellos before, never violas though! Nice pics! Swell writing!
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Old 10-26-2008, 04:55 PM   #36
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With all the references, do you prefer Classical over Baroque or Romantic? I myself prefer 20th Century, but that's me...

I play the Violin, I suppose that if we trolled a bit we could put together an Adv. Rider Stringed Quartet!!!

I could see it now, we'd get paid to bring culture to the various Rally's!!!
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:11 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viola-tor
Well... how does it sound? The short answer: Good, it is indeed a viola! It does some things astonishingly well, freakish really, better than any instrument I’ve ever laid hands on. It is LOUD! The thing has pipes (a figure of speech, it actually has strings. huh-huh...).
Stay tuned...
So..... do loud violas save lives?

brfinley screwed with this post 10-26-2008 at 06:16 PM
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:21 PM   #38
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The Violator is assaulted by the Xlerator!




I can only imagine hiking all the way to the top of that trail and hearing a viola playing, without seeing the player. I am sure it would have freaked me out.



Absolutely loving this report. Can't wait to hear how your audition crew takes to the carbon fiber beast.



Carry on.....


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Old 10-26-2008, 11:42 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Ragin Rabbi
With all the references, do you prefer Classical over Baroque or Romantic? I myself prefer 20th Century, but that's me...

I play the Violin, I suppose that if we trolled a bit we could put together an Adv. Rider Stringed Quartet!!!

I could see it now, we'd get paid to bring culture to the various Rally's!!!
A lot of musicians give this answer when asked a question like yours: My favorite piece of music is the one I'm working on right now. I think this is true for me too, I enjoy playing all kinds of styles and periods of music, including baroque, classical, romantic, 20th century, modern, rock, jazz (I kinda suck at jazz, but it's fun to try!).

Hmmm, an ADV quartet you say??? That could be cool, legitimize this motley crew, eh? I think finding a cellist willing to carry the instrument on a moto over long distances might be a trick... Side-car hacks?
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Old 10-26-2008, 11:46 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by brfinley
So..... do loud violas save lives?
Have you heard of the latest L.A. crime wave?

Drive-by (or RIDE-by) viola recitals.


No, I don't think any lives saved, but maybe some lives enhanced...
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:32 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by viola-tor
Have you heard of the latest L.A. crime wave?

Drive-by (or RIDE-by) viola recitals.


No, I don't think any lives saved, but maybe some lives enhanced...
OMG! Were there children involved?

I actually have an involved child myself. My 15 yo daughter plays a wooden viola here in Davis. There is an amazing music program here in the public schools. We also have a really nice place for you to come and practice (the Mondavi Center at UC Davis).

Your story is fascinating already. You Go!

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:40 AM   #42
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$5,800 for a radical instrument that you bought unseen and more importantly unheard? Well, I suppose I bought my Futura on Ebay unseen and I'd never even ridden an Aprilia. I suppose if we weren't all risk-takers we wouldn't be riding motorbikes.

Reckon this will be an interesting thread. Who knows where combining one passion with another will lead. I had a gf once who played the violin. I sensed that the difference between motorcyclists and musicians is that motorcyclists regard their bike as a mate, sometimes even their best mate. Musicians on the other hand, seem to regard their instruments almost as lovers.... You will know more about this than me.


The red bug you saw might be a red velvet mite/spider. Your photo is better than anything I found on the net. http://www.cirrusimage.com/Arachnid_velvet_mite.htm

Just as well you didn't try to eat it though
http://chicagowildernessmag.org/issu...2004/mite.html

Oh, you might want to change your profile if you want to maintain the "one day I'll have a..."story.

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Old 10-27-2008, 05:02 AM   #43
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You know the definition of a gentleman?
Its a guy who owns a viola but has the decency not to play it.

How many string players does it take to change a lightbulb?
Just one, but another dozen of them will sit around and complain because its electric.

Great post and interesting stuff on violas and carbon fiber. I own a music store and although we don't have much of a string program in these parts, we do stock stringed instruments for kids to get started on. We have a helluva time in my part of the country as the humidity will go from 80% to 30% in just a matter of weeks. Couple that with a couple of extreme traditionalist teachers that insist that their 10 year old beginner has a solid top cello and we see more than a few split tops. We can seem to convince the teachers to let the kids start on an affordable, quality laminate top and then upgrade later if their interest continues. Ah well, I digress.

More pics and more music sir!!!
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Old 10-27-2008, 06:13 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by viola-tor
PEAK PERFORMANCE!!! -ormance... -ormance... -ormance...

Great pic! Front page material, IMHO. And at a distance that sure is a dark looking fiddle. BTW, my only carbon fiber experience happened a couple of years ago. I was getting both of my bows rehaired and the store let me borrow a Coda bow. I think Coda went out of their way to make it look "wood-like" because it sure looked "normal." As I recall there were three Coda viola bows priced at something like $300, $500, and $800 respectively. I borrowed the $800 bow and thought it was a heckuva stick. If, for whatever the reason, I needed to buy a new bow I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Coda bow. Interestingly, not unlike your experience, when at rehearsal I'd tell people that I was using a carbon fiber Coda bow, everyone had to try it, look at it, hold it, etc...!





Quote:
Originally Posted by josjor
How many string players does it take to change a lightbulb?
Just one, but another dozen of them will sit around and complain because its electric.
Good one. I've seen a bunch of electric violins, but a few months ago I was getting something or another at a north Dallas music store and saw an electric viola. Neat looking instrument. They let me plug it into a couple of speakers and I sawed away. Very cool!
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:31 AM   #45
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Great going on your RR. Heck, we never know what kinda music is going to grace the house at times. Anything from old time Rock and Roll, to French, to County Western, Opera, Instrumental, Folk, etc.
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