Thursday, May 28, 2009

AN-TIS-A-PA-TION -- Headed West

I can't remember if it was the Carpenters or Carol King, but the song Anticipation is definitely on my mind. No not because I like to watch Ketchup slowly flow from its bottle (80's TV Commercial), but because I'm extremely anxious to get on my bike and head west. Believe it or not I've been preparing for about a month now (ok my wife says I'm a bit anal about this), but that's just what I do so that I don't forget stuff and I don't feel rushed when I head out the door.

Over the years I've had the fortune to ride through much of the East & East Central US as well as a little bit in Canada, but this will be the longest solo route that I've ridden. Approx. 5000mi all-in-all. For months I've been "in training" riding rain or shine, day or night (of course those who know me understand that I do that anyway). The route looks something like this, although traffic, weather and the unknown could alter the route a bit.
The nice thing is, I'm flexible... In general, I be riding in 2.5hr shifts and I hope to cover about 12hrs a day. So in true biker form the question is "What cha ridin?"

I call her Black Beauty. She's a 1999 Honda Valkyrie Tourer. I've ridden over 47,000 miles on her, as the original owner, and I can't think of a bike that I'd rather have. I'm personally not into the rumble of the Harleys and I'm not a great fan of the V-Twin for long trips as the vibration fatigues me a bit. But I certainly respect all bikers and their bikes as Two Wheels are Too Coool.

The route is pretty straight, route 70 most of the way headed west. I'll drive through many great cities, Indy, St. Louis, KC, just to name a few, on route to a slight jog to Wichita, where I spent 12 years of my childhood. I'd like to stop by a restaurant called NuWay. This was a childhood favorite of mine. Basically a NuWay is a ground burger, of sorts, with awesome seasoning. NuWay also makes its own root beer, which is to die for! After filling my belly with goodness, I'll head back to I-70, maybe catching a photo of a field of sunflowers (my wifes favorite). As I hit the Colorado line it won't be long before the mountains appear in the distance. As a child, heading to Colorado for summer vacation, I remember thinking that I was seeing clouds in the distance, then all of a sudden I would realize that I was really seeing mountains.

As I ride through Colorado, the camera will be calling my name as this is such a beautiful route. Next I hit Utah where I will hike Arches, Bryce and Zion (narrows). I'll meet up with my wife, youngest son & mother in-law in the Bryce area. After three days of hiking and thousands of pictures, I'll head north to Ogden, UT, to visit with family and some of my wifes' highschool friends. At some point my wife will hop on the back of the bike for a day trip to Park City. Nothing like micro-brew in the mountains, not to mention a chocolate covered strawberry from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Mmmm.

I'll separate from the family later in the week and make my way to Yellowstone, to take many more pictures. Next it's off to the Dakotas to see Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Badlands. Finally it's time to head home.

With 7 days left before my departure, I pray for clear weather, clear roads and good health. If anyone has any tips for the road or stories from their trip along a similar route, chime in.

See you next time!

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Are The Cure!

This weekend, my beautiful wife and I shared the honor of participating in our cities 16th annual, Komen Race For The Cure. On a day where rain was imminent, somehow the race route was spared any significant bad weather as we were blessed to have some ideal conditions for the over 45,000 participants of the event.

As usual the event was a dedication to the many women (and men) who courageously battle cancer as well as those who have lost their battles to this illusive disease. This year, however, there was one particular story that bonded many of the participants, for this was the year that we celebrate Heather Pick, a local newscaster who's life was shortend by this disease. Although I did not know Heather personally, following the story of her courageous battle over the past years couldn't help but make me feel connected to her and her family. So much so that my wife and I proudly donned our pink wigs and joined 'Heathers Team' of over 6000 strong.

As we walked to the starting point the 10TV traffic copter hovered over head. This seemed appropriate since Heather spent many years at 10TV. I can only imagine the awe-inspiring view from above as the sea of pink and white meandered along the city streets. How it must have felt to see 10's of thousands of people all gravitating to the the starting point then funneled onto the raceway like pink toothpaste being squeezed from its tube. 10's of thousands, all there for a shared purpose; all motivated by a chapter from their own life story that when bound together form the book called 'Race for the Cure'.

Although the participants wear predomanently pink and white, the emotions of which they participate are infinite. We walked along the course and read the many signs worn by other participants; We saw joy, sorrow, relief, sadness, unity, freedom, determination, uncertainty and many other emotions. We became fully aware that this disease is not exclusive to one age group, gender, race, social or religious sector. Cancer does not just effect the carrier, but also the families, friends, co-workers, and anyone who's life has been touched by the carrier. One shirt that expecially touched me was in memory of a woman who lost her battle. The photograph of the woman with outstretched arms, as if she was flying, resonated the caption which was "Lived well, Laughed Often, Loved Much, Finally Free!" What can you say but Wow!

Of all of the many shirt designs that we saw, it's the pink survior shirts that gave hope that doctors are making progress in the fight against Cancer.

Another thing that I found very interesting was the support from people from all different walks of life: White collar, blue collar, even dog collar. Yes the hounds were out in force doing their part for the cause. That's one cool pup!!!

So all in all it was a wonderful event that my wife and I look forward to participating in next year.

How about you? Are you a supporter of the Race for the Cure? I'd like to hear your story.

See you next time on my Ride to Utah!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Something Unexpected

So have you ever set out for a specific adventure only to discover that the outcome was totally different than what you expected? This happened to me over the weekend when my wife and I rode our motorcycles to one of our favorite parks to take some pictures of the spring blooms.

Well it turned out that we arrived a bit late for the early spring blooms and a bit early for the late spring blooms. But it was still a beautiful day so we continued our walk around the park. Even though the flowers weren't abundant, there were still some interesting things to shoot like ferns which under the subdued light, still made for a fun picture.

While turning up a few stones (so to speak) there was an abundance of what I would call 'micro-flora' that, with a macro lens still looked larger than life. I've alway enjoyed the micro world as I always find it amazing to discover the hidden detail that appears while doing my post processing.
As we followed the path to park exit something in the southern sky caught my wife's eye. I remember her saying that she at first thought it was just the suns rays being bent by her sunglasses (Maui Jims; every always looks better through Maui Jims). But as she lifted up her glasses it was still there. Of course I was still crawling along the ground looking for 'micro-flora', but I heard her call to me to look up in the sky. Low and behold was one of the most interesting sights that I've seen of late. It was a rainbow that was stretched horizontally across the sky. So we sat on a park bench and watch this phenomenon for at least 15mins, as it finally dissappeared from view.

One of the things on my personal bucket list is to photograpy the Northern Lights, but on this day I felt as if I were seeing an Ohio version of the Northern Light. Perhaps the lesson I learned was to expect the unexpected and look up once in a while. And of course, always listen to my wife!!!

If you've had an interesting experience like this where the unexpected happened, shoot me a note. I'd love to hear about it.
Catch you later...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Look Ma, I'm Blog'in

Today I start a new chapter in mixing my technology background with my passion for photography. My wife said I'd never do it but Yes, I'm Blog'in. I've decided to overcome my secretive, "loose lips sink ships" mentality and share some of my personal thoughts, opinions and of course Pictures with anyone who tunes in.

If you're a first time visitor, I hope you find this blog entertaining, amusing, compelling or at least Not-Boring... If you're a frequent visitor, I can only assume that something brings you back, so shoot me a comment or two and let me know what you like or even dislike. I want to hear what you think (please keep it clean though).

It's Spring here in the Midwest and over the next few months there lots going on and plenty of photos to take (Motorcycle ride out west, July 4th, Our annual RibFest and of course Dublin IrishFest). In this blog I'll keep you abreast of all of these events as well as the day-to-day adventures of a "regular guy".

See you next time!