I had a chance to get the bikes out for a short ride last weekend. Like happens so many times, a ride turns into a dream…a dream to travel. Here’s a look at what I have in the back of my mind for 2015:
Bikes: I’m very happy with the bikes I have right now. Sure, I always have my eye on something, but there is no pressing demand. If I were to add anything next year it would either be a sidecar for the Scrambler, a Duke 690 or, if I find a pot of gold I wouldn’t mind giving the new BMW R1200RS a go. Well, wait, I’d really like to have a small dual sport too!
1. It goes without saying that Asheville is on my list again. It is always on my list.
2. Nestor Falls, Ontario. I will explain that one on my next post in a day or two.
4. Coast to coast. Big trip. I need 2 weeks to really enjoy it.
5. Texas. I don’t know why, but Texas has been on my mind lately. No, not because of Ebola! I’m thinking Austin and San Antonio, with a visit to Shiner in between. While it’s true that I’m more of a craft beer guy, I’ll take a Shiner Bock anytime.
6. The UP. Been too long since I wandered Michigan and Wisconsin.
7. Maine. A couple years ago I climbed on my bike and headed out on a quick trip to Maine to hit up a couple lobster shacks. I had some trouble on the way and had to turn around in upstate New York. I need to cross that one off the list.
8. The mystery trip. This is the one where you get on your bike with every intention of returning home that night…and you don’t. “Sorry honey, I got carried away. I can’t make it back tonight. See you in a few days.”
There is one ride I’d still like to do this year as well. Nothing more fun than climbing on a bike when it’s about 35 degrees out, spitting rain, everything an ugly gray, hooking up your heated gear and heading south. Deep South. Like Key West south. Or Naples south. About Atlanta, the heated gear gets unplugged. About Valdosta, a layer of clothing comes off. Gainesville, and I’m riding in summer gloves again. By the time I hit the south side of Tampa, my face shield is up, and it’s summer again! It’s like turning back time.
Who knows what I will actually get to do, but one can always dream.
With three grandchildren to buy for this year, my wife and I have already begun Christmas shopping. That experience, along with a recent blog I read about growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, had me thinking about my childhood and the kind of ways my friends and I used to entertain ourselves. No matter what we were doing, or what time of year we were doing it, “it” was almost always done outdoors. As for toys, the ones we enjoyed the most were the ones we created ourselves.
Probably the most enjoyable playground in my neighborhood sat right smack in the middle of our small farm. It was a 1 acre pond, complete with fish, snapping turtles, frogs and snakes. It had a ratty old dock, a sea of cattails that we often turned into torches at night, and a small boat. What more could a handful of 10 year old boys want?
Every May, as soon as school was released, we would pitch an old tent down at the pond and declare it officially “summer vacation.” The tent would stay up all summer and we spent many nights sleeping in it. Actually, we probably stayed up all night more times than we slept. We’d sit around a campfire, fishing lines in the water, hooks baited with chicken livers or stink bait, as we tried to catch the big catfish swimming in the pond. When we got bored with that, we would gig frogs. Our pond was running over with frogs. They filled the air every night with their deep harmonic rhythm. Don’t worry, we didn’t kill them just to kill them. We ate the legs. I can’t tell you how many times we carried a gunny sack of frogs down to the house, where my father would spill them out onto the carport and he and I would prepare them for a meal the next day.
Snakes, on the other hand, we killed just because. Because they are creepy, that’s why! One year in particular, the pond was absolutely swarming with snakes. You could not walk around it one time without seeing at least one snake. I’m not talking black snakes. These were mean, nasty, aggressive water snakes. And some of them were eating very well…on frogs I’m guessing. My two neighborhood buddies and I decided to to make it our mission to rid the world of snakes…or at least the pond. We hunted snakes with frog gigs, pellet guns, pitch forks and anything we could get our hands on. Once we killed them, we hung them in a tree by the shore. I know at one point we had at least 14 snake carcasses hanging in that tree. And you thought the Internet was fun!
The three of us grew up around that pond. We saw and did just about everything you can imagine on those shores, especially when we got older. Some of those stories best not be told. I can’t really imagine any toy being more enjoyable, lasting or memorable as that old farm pond. In fact, I was just there last week, standing on my mother’s porch, looking down toward it and thinking, “I should go take a walk around the pond.” Wonder if that frog gig is still hanging in the barn?
I spent the majority of this past week with a family member in the hospital back in my home town in Indiana. Here are a few things I learned:
1. Hosptials smell. No offense. I mean, they can’t really help it; they are full of sick people doing all sorts of things sick people do. And if you are sick, you don’t really care. I spent two weeks in the hospital many years ago when a semi-truck tried to crush my car, and my head, like a beer can. I didn’t care how it smelled. I don’t even remember. I was just glad there were some kind men and women who were willing to do for me, the things I couldn’t do for myself. So, if I think it smells, imagine how they feel.
2. Home is not so much a place as a state of mind. Wow, that sounds all 1960’s, tie dyed, acid enlightened, philosophical bull shit, doesn’t it? Here’s what I mean: I spent 51 years living in Bloomington, IN. Born and raised. Spent most of that time living on the same property I was born on. Two and a half years ago, I moved 115 miles south to Louisville, KY. Now I call Kentucky home. And I mean it. I just spent 5 days “back home” in Indiana. When I go to Bloomington, I don’t feel like I”m going home. I feel like a guest. Today, Louisville is home. If, tomorrow, I were to move to Asheville, and I’d love to, then that would be home. Same goes for Naples, Florida or anywhere else I might land. Home may be where you are from, but for me, it is where I’m at.
3. I’m very bad at sitting by bedsides. Actually, I already knew that. I go just a little bit crazy when I have to sit still for long periods of time.
4. Hotels can get old quick. They are not “home.”
5. Being a college town is a blessing and a curse. Bloomington has an interesting culture and lot of great places to eat and visit, mostly because of all that IU brings to the town. On the other hand, downtown and the surrounding area is looking more and more like “IU City” than the Bloomington I know. Student housing has taken over the entire community. Not a fan.
6. Upland Brewing Co is still my single most favorite place in Bloomington. Love that joint. I would gladly ride my bike 230 miles round trip to go there…and I have. Good food, good beer, good people.
7. My old coffee customers still love me! And want me to come home.
8. My wife does not like it when I go without shaving. Makes me look, “old” she says! Well, guess what? I am.
Truman Capote once said, “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make,” I have been writing for my own personal pleasure for many years. I’ve never really worried about whether I was particularly good at it or not; I write because my head is filled with words that want to come out. Sounds kind of like a disorder, doesn’t it? In an attempt to find places to put all these words I have turned daily work reports into mini blogs, school thesis assignments into storied fables and created blogs on the Web that have no real purpose other than to house my thoughts. I even wrote a monthly family newsletter for a while called the Hensonburg Times, and mailed it out. It was well-received right up until I offended someone with my frivolity. I retired it then and there.
I’ve started several blogs, most of which you have never seen. I wrote a blog when I owned B-town Beans, but never really kept up with it. I tried to revive the Hensonburg Times in a blog, a less sarcastic version, but I just couldn’t commit to it. I also launched a blog called The Ramblings of Reverend Ex. When I “fell from the pulpit,” my co-workers nicknamed me “Reverend Ex.” I thought it was catchy so I used it. Don’t think I ever wrote a single blog. I don’t even know what I was going to write about.
I don’t remember when I started writing Motorhead Coffee. It has always been about whatever was on my mind at the time. I have not been as regular with it as I would have liked, but somehow I have kept it going for a while now. I’m launching a new website this coming week for my coffee roasting business, also named Motorhead Coffee. In that site, there will be a blog page. I will attempt to keep that blog focused on coffee and the business. Even if you don’t want to buy coffee, you may enjoy the blog on that page…or not. I plan to launch it on 10/17. It will have a new look, new coffees and a monthly subscription option.
I plan to continue with this blog too until I’ve used up all those escaping words. It will continue to be about whatever is really on my mind. Not censored. Not sanitized. My mind. My thoughts. My reality. The editing is light; first pass. Sometimes things are better if they are a little rough around the edges. I will talk coffee, bikes, road trips, foolishness and frivolity. Love it or hate it. Read it or not. As Mr. Capote said, it’s not so much about the content as it is the rhythm of the words.
I will leave you with some thoughts from one of my favorite wordsmiths:
I spent the majority of my working life as a blue collar laborer on an assembly line. While I am the first to admit that those days were very good to me, it was also a monotonous way to live. Some people enjoy the sameness, the known of the routine. I drives me crazy. I tend to thrive in uncertain chaos. It pushes me. Forces me to act. Keeps me tuned in. I found myself desperate for change. A few years ago I got my wish. I changed positions, moving to management, and I changed locations, trading my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana for Louisville, Kentucky.
While change frightens many, it is not only inevitable, it is essential. Nothing stands still. Not the day, not society…and certainly not business. In the motorcycle industry, technology is constantly evolving and demonstrating itself in new features and performance standards. At this year’s Intermot, Kawasaki once again shared its desire to be the horsepower king with the introduction of the H2R, a supercharged racing version of the upcoming H2. The bike is said to make 300hp. Did you catch that? And you thought your Hayabusa was powerful. It was…but that was yesterday.
Small business is not exempt from the need to change. That includes the coffee roasting industry, and more specifically, my business. Here are just a few of the things we are toying with changing right now:
1. A new look to the website. Hopefully a more “buy friendly” site. And a renewed effort to make buying as convenient as checking the mailbox. As you can guess, I have trouble keeping my personality out of the things I do. This includes websites, which I always build myself. Yes, I know…it shows. I’m no web builder, but I’m too tight to pay someone else to do it. I’d rather spend that money on coffee equipment. Here is just a sneak peak of a portion of the home page…I don’t expect it to go live for another couple weeks.
2. If I have my way, a new roaster. Or maybe an old roaster…time will tell.
3. Even better coffees. I’m working hard to source the best beans I can get my hands on. And I’m working just as hard to find the proper roast profile for those beans. Expect it. You deserve it. You don’t need more mediocre roasters with mediocre coffee. It’s up to me to deliver…I don’t plan to disappoint.
If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you already know I’m a dreamer. You would think that at my age, the dreaming would have come to an end. I should be all grown up by now, the realities of life having long since extinguished the romancer inside. Well, that hasn’t happened…and I’m pretty sure it never will. I’m not giving in to Lazy Boys & talk shows, Ben Gay & conversations about how it used to be.
Some of my dreams are simple; some more complex. Here are just a few things that, at 54, I still plan to accomplish:
1. Ride the 49 States of the Continental US. I’m only about half way there right now.
2. Ride coast to coast…North Carolina to California and back.
3. Return to my roots and take a dual sport trip, riding backroads, gravel and dirt.
4. Leave Corporate American behind for the last time. Don’t get me wrong, it has been good to my family and I. But I’m ready to leave it in my rearview mirror and move on, not to some easy chair retirement, but to the greatest adventures of my life.
5. Write something permanent. Maybe not profound. Maybe not even very good, but something real.
6. Devote all my “work” time to the craft of roasting coffee. Build a meaningful, successful shop that is an asset to whatever community it resides in. Just like motorcycles, it’s in my blood and it’s not going anywhere. I will quit roasting coffee about the time I quit riding.
One of my roasting shop dreams is to be in an old abandoned gas station like this one: Someday…before I’m out of “somedays.” Until then, I’m going to keep on dreaming.