Tag: Explore

Just Wing It

  • Because I’ve been consumed with all things motorcycle lately, naturally I watch a ton of YouTube motorcycle travel content. I’ve noticed an interesting pattern that probably correlates to general life. There are two types of motorcycle travelers. The first is the planner. This traveler meticulously plans out every moment of the ride. Hotel reservations, the exact campground each night, fueling stops, everything is weighed, and the route and scenic attractions are meticulously marked on the GPS. This rider wants to be in control of the ride and minimize the chance of problems along the way. The other rider is the complete opposite. This adventurer decides, often spur of the moment, to ride to Yellowstone this weekend. They throw some stuff in a duffle bag, strap it to the back of the bike and go. They find food, hotels, or campgrounds whenever they get tired of riding that day. They see roads that look fun and are roughly going in the right direction, and randomly decide to see where they go. Neither approach is right or wrong and the way you go about things in your travels probably mirrors how you approach life. I don’t really know how I am as a traveler. Probably somewhere in the middle. I tend to like to know exactly the route I’m taking and what the conditions will be. For example, the fantastic ride I did the other day almost didn’t happen. I thought about taking a particular route over a mountain pass, but had no idea if it would be still covered in snow or what the road condition would be. I decided to simply ride to the base of the road and turn around and go back the way I came. As I drew closer to the road I passed several ranger stations and contemplated stopping and asking about current state of the road. I didn’t stop, so when I got to the starting point of the road I was terribly conflicted. Do I go into the unknown, or take the safe way home? I sat in the shade, ate some lunch, and tried surfing the internet for road conditions without luck. Eventually I decided, fuck it – what’s the worst thing that could happen? I’d have to turn around and it might add a couple hours to my return trip. So what? It ended up being one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve done and I felt silly that I spent so much time agonizing about it. It’s amazing how caught up in fear of the unknown we can get. I’ll probably always err towards the cautious side, but I’m really enjoying pushing myself to be more adventurous. I wish it was something I’d learned when I was much younger. I think I would have been far more successful socially and in my work life. But, as the old saying goes, it’s never too late!
  • Elon Musk’s Dragon crew module delivered astronauts to the space station again. It was another first as SpaceX demonstrated they could re-use a crew module. Which got me thinking… when Musk lands a crew on Mars, will he be able to claim it in the name of SpaceX? Can a corporation claim territory?
  • Grandpa Joe got on a Zoom call with world leaders to discuss the existential crisis of climate change. He was the only one wearing a mask. He wore a mask on a Zoom call. Sigh…
  • Continuing to demonstrate how utterly useless the UN is, they voted to allow Iran to join the UN women’s rights commission for the next four years. The goal of the Commission on the Status of Women is to promote gender equality and empower women worldwide. Iran. Seriously? You’d like to laugh, but we spend millions on supporting this nonsense.
  • I thought this was a super interesting article on “why is everything liberal?” If you look at voting, our society is mostly split right down the middle. The middle swings slightly left or right each election, but for the most part the country votes 50-50% democrat/republican. You’d then expect most of the countries infrastructure to reflect that 50/50 split. But in reality most everything is dominated by the left. Woke corporations, academia, the media, social media, technology, protests, marches, they’re virtually all completely left-leaning? Why? There’s no clear answer other than the left tends to be much more vocal, angry, less tolerant, and violent than the right. There were some studies done that asked voters how hard it would be to be friends with someone with the opposite political belief. 61% of Clinton voters said it would be hard to be friends with a Trump voter. Only 34% of Trump voters said it would be hard to be friends with Clinton voters. Similarly, 7 in 10 democratic daters said they would not be in a relationship with a Trump supporter. Gotta love the tolerant and compassionate liberal.

Song of the day: The Specials – A Message To You Rudy (Official Music Video)

I Got Lost

It was supposed to be a simple, short, day trip (Gilligan’s Island, a three hour tour plays in the background). If you haven’t been following along, I’ve declared this year as my “summer of George”. The plan is to travel, mostly by motorcycle, and visit as many off the beaten track sights as I can. Phase one was changing my work hours to make this possible, and purchasing the right motorcycle. With that done, it’s now time to start the actual adventures. I have a handful of rides on the new bike under my belt, so I felt ready to do a mini-adventure to test things out before I hit the road on a multi-day trip.

The plan was to ride to a quirky museum I’d found on-line called Cleo’s Ferry Museum on the banks of the Snake river. It was about an hour and a half away, traveling entirely on backcountry farm roads – no interstate travel. I also wanted to experiment with how to document the trip (and future adventures). Do I want to make YouTube videos or just photography? I’ve seen plenty of YouTube motorcycle travel videos and it looks pretty simple. A couple of GoPro cameras, chat about the scenery as you cruise through the countryside, then give insightful commentary once you arrive at your destination. I got the GoPro’s all set up and loaded up my tank bag with extra batteries, memory cards, various accessories, and my regular camera. Time to ride!

The ride out to farmland went great. I was busy chatting away to the camera and enjoying the first real warm day of spring. Discovery number one was that turning on/off cameras one handed while riding a motorcycle and wearing leather gloves is challenging. It’s impossible to see if they’re recording or not. I had multiple instances where I was babbling away like an idiot only to realize the cameras never started recording because I didn’t fully push the button. Or that I’d thought I’d turned them off and ended up recording another 15 minutes of nothing, draining the batteries. You think texting and driving is bad? I can easily see myself riding into a ditch as I stare intently at the GoPro and fumble with the on/off button with gloved fingers.

Discovery number two was a known issue that I thought I was prepared for, but failed miserably. As I’ve chronicled previously, I’ve had an issue with the USB connection on my phone, Android Auto, and the navigation display on the motorcycle. It’s been randomly shutting off leaving me without a map. I’m 90% certain the USB C connection on my phone is the problem as it connects/disconnects if I wiggle the cable around. No biggie, I’d looked at my route on the computer pretty carefully and felt like even if it cut out a few times I still had a good sense of where I was going. Almost on cue, as soon as I hit the winding backcountry roads the navigation display started cutting out. In person these roads looked nothing like they did on the computer. Remote, no signs or landmarks, and all kinds of random unmarked side roads everywhere. Pretty soon I’d made multiple turns and had zero idea where I was.

Not an issue except that every time the navigation cut out I’d have to stop the motorcycle, dig out my phone from the tank bag and wiggle the cord until the display came back. Stopping on a motorcycle is not the same as a car. You need a reasonably flat surface and many of these country roads have no shoulder, just a steep ditch on either side. By the time I’d stopped a half dozen times I was getting frustrated. I’d pull out the phone, try and memorize the next few turns, wiggle the cord, put everything back in the tank bag, put my gloves back on, then take off. Two minutes later the navigation would cut out, I’d forget the name of the next road and have stop and start the process all over. Multiple times I’d find myself on a dead end road and have to backtrack. My carefree ride was quickly losing the enjoyment factor.

After several hours of this I finally found my destination. I pulled into the gravel parking lot, found a shady spot and shut the bike down. I was tired and dripping with sweat. Fully armored riding gear is great when there’s airflow. The last several hours of stopping/starting in the increasing spring heat left me soaking wet. No matter, I was here and it was time to capture some fun video and pictures of my destination! Discovery number three – a motorcycle is not like a car. You can’t just take off your jacket and lock it in the vehicle. I have an expensive helmet and jacket I can’t just leave sitting on the bike. So even though it was getting ridiculously hot I kept the jacket on and lugged the helmet, a GoPro camera and my regular camera with me as I set off to explore the museum.

Turns out, the museum wasn’t really a museum and there weren’t any ferries to see. It was a mile and a half “nature” walk with some old buildings and an eclectic and bizarre collection of hundreds of lawn gnomes, sculptures, and wandering peacocks. I’m sure someone like Mike Rowe could have made an interesting video segment about this place, but I was hot and tired. I was fumbling with the GoPro, the heavy helmet, and my regular camera was hanging on its strap around my neck and bouncing around. Somehow in that jostling a button got pushed and the camera’s display turned off. Standing in the hot sun in a heavy motorcycle jacket, sweat running down my back, I couldn’t figure out how to get the camera display back on so I had to abandon taking any pictures. At this point I’d had enough of Cleo’s Ferry Museum and trudged back to the bike.

The batteries on the GoPro were all dead, so at this point I was ready to just get back home. I packed everything up, mounted the bike and headed out on the most direct route back. I hadn’t eaten anything since early morning and had no water. The prudent thing to do would have been to find a cafĂ© or something and grab a bite to eat and some water. I didn’t want to deal with the navigation again and rationalized it was only an hour ride going the direct route home. I am not the sharpest crayon in the box sometimes and should have known that this trip was destined to not go well.

I hit construction zones that detoured me in circles. I got stuck in traffic that had the bike nearly overheating. I got briefly lost again navigating a downtown I’d only been in once before. I pulled into my garage just before dinner, tired, hot, hungry, and with an aching back and dull headache from dehydration. My several hour adventure turned had turned into an all day affair without food or water. Virtually nothing had gone as planned.

Clearly my path to YouTube stardom will be harder than I thought. On the bright side, I know what I need to address before my next adventure. Better to find out now I suppose. All in all, I still love the idea of what I’m doing. And I have to laugh at my level of ineptness sometimes. I’m sure this won’t be my last epic failure. But I’m looking forward to whatever ridiculousness comes my way on these future travels. Life is too short not to have these experiences.

Long Way Down And An Emu Museum

  • Normally I love winter. I downhill ski, cross-country, skate ski, or snowshoe at least three to four days a week. You might ask why I’m still getting fatter then, but that’s a topic for another post. This winter I’ve been busy preparing for my “Summer of George” moment. New motorcycle purchased, new riding suit, tools, updated video gear, endless hours of motorcycle travel videos consumed, and many late nights pouring over maps planning routes. I’m almost ready to hit the road. Except motorcycles, snow, and ice don’t mix very well. I’m probably a tiny bit more rugged than the average guy, but not Long Way Down rugged. If you haven’t watched this motorcycle travel documentary you should. It’s interesting to see the effort it took to film something before the GoPro existed. Anyway, the point is that it’s another month in my part of the world before road-tripping becomes enjoyable weather-wise. I’ve never looked forward to winter ending before. So, I’m forced to spend my time pursuing maps and travel websites to build my list of must-see destinations. I’ve been mostly focusing on unrealistic epic trips across the west, so I hadn’t looked much at what’s close to me. This morning I stumbled upon the motherload of interesting small town America just a few hours from me. I found a little town perched on the Snake River that hosts what they bill as “Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um”. It was an emu ranch that has become a museum full of artifacts and dwellings from the 1800s early settlers and early small town America memorabilia. Looking at the map more, within 40-50 miles of that town are deep canyon overlooks, sand dunes, birds of prey conservation areas, and a ghost town. Plus a couple of promising looking BBQ and burger places. This is the perfect day trip to kick off the Summer of George! Another month of quick rides around town in-between storms to get used to the new bike, and then it begins. Because I love winter, I’ve never looked at the weather report before and cursed when I see another week of storms coming. It’s a strange feeling. Sigh. Back to the maps for now I suppose.
  • A California democratic representative, during an interview on CNN, stated that those businesses that cannot afford to pay their employees $15 an hour are essentially not worth preserving. This simple statement encompasses everything wrong with mostly liberal, big government-centric thinking. The thought that some mindless bureaucrat gets to pick and choose what businesses are worthy of keeping is appalling. And naturally it’s a statement from someone who’s been primarily an academic/lawyer/politician his entire career. A thirty second investigation into the representative (a.k.a. Wikipedia) shows a bit of a contradiction – he has a degree in economics, wrote a book titled “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America’s Future“, yet still makes statements like the one he did. My interest is piqued enough to read more about his philosophy. Maybe there’s something I’m missing? At the moment, in regards to the $15 minimum wage, I still feel if people are resorting to entry level jobs to feed a family then it seems like the government focus should be on enabling creation of middle income opportunities instead of simply raising the bottom wage. Otherwise, let’s just adopt Andrew Yang’s proposal and give everyone a universal basic income. We’re already printing money, what’s a few hundred trillion more?
  • There’s been so much global warming, Niagara Falls froze over this week. Of course polar vortexes are cyclical events that happen from time to time and shouldn’t be counted as climate. Climate is measured in decades. Interestingly, in the cult of global warming, a cold event like this doesn’t get much press but an El Nino warming event causing a hot summer will be treated as non-stop climate Armageddon. It’s all about the narrative baby.
  • Speaking of printing money, the Federal Reserve expanded its record holdings of US Treasuries in the fourth quarter of 2020 as it continued monetizing the massive federal debt. I don’t understand much of this, but it does seem like they’re trying to push inflation. Most of this is way over my head, but it certainly feels like if we continue to simply toggle the levers… at some point it’s going to collapse. I guess as long as it’s not on my watch we’re all good.
  • I know that there is no actual censorship or purging happening on the part of Twitter towards folks who don’t tow the woke orthodoxy, but they just suspended Steven Crowder for simply saying he can confirm that people voted at address that do not exist. That is some serious insurrectionist talk. Thank god we’re being protected from outrageous statements like that.
  • I don’t know if this is real or staged, but it’s pretty funny regardless. You need to watch to the end.

Song of the day: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground – Live at La Cigale

What Have You Done Lately?

  • I am constantly amazed at the number of my elderly patients who never traveled further than a 100 mile radius from where they were born. It’s a way higher number than you’d think. We’re here on this planet for such a short time, how do you not have even the slightest interest in seeing beyond your little town? I’m honestly not trying to make anyone feel bad, it’s just that you realize you’re only here once, right? And that expected expiration date is not guaranteed. What made me think of this is the story of the Black Swallow. I stumbled on this and highly encourage you to read it. (it’s a short read) The life this guy had is like straight out of a swashbuckling fiction novel. This is a Netflix series just waiting to happen. What makes it more amazing is the time period he did it in. Reading his story just solidifies my desire to maximize the time I have left. In the adventure and experience department I’d rate my life as maybe slightly above average. I’ve had the opportunity to do some things that not everyone has done. But at the same time I also spent years never taking a vacation, toiling away for the corporate overlords, because I thought that was what was important. I don’t have regrets because it’s afforded me the opportunity to do things today… but part of me wishes I’d been a little more adventurous back then. I look at the youth of today and worry that the adventurous spirit is gone. They’ll have spent a chunk of their formative years locked down, tethered electronically at all times, afraid to interact with other humans. I feel fortunate to have grown up in a different time. I saw a tweet that expressed it perfectly:
    “Today – Son: I’m going outside to play.
    Mom: Ok, check in every thirty minutes so I know you’re safe.
    When I was 11: We’re going to the dump, someone said the hobos killed one of their own there and we want to find the body.

    Mom: Ok, but do not bring a dead body back to this house”
    I’m a little too old to chuck it all and travel the country living out of a van, or go join the French Foreign Legion, but I can keep my vow to start seeing and experiencing as much as possible in time I have left. How about you?
  • I don’t understand how the crunchy granola, global warming crowd, doesn’t rise up in outrage over John Kerry being appointed Climate Czar. The man is a gazillionaire via marriage, who lives in multiple mansions and jets around the world in a private jet. Yet, he’s going to lecture us about doing our part to “fight” global warming? And don’t give me bullshit about “carbon offsets”. That’s one of the biggest scams ever produced. And he uses it only so he can self-justify his carbon footprint and not have to fly commercial with the common folk. “Private jets are the only option for a man like me” he said. What a pompous ass. Think about that as you’re dutifully washing out your used mayonnaise jar to recycle and car pooling to reduce your emissions output.
  • Continuing with the experiences/adventure theme, I started collecting a list of trips in my, and surrounding, states. Single day and multi-day trips with various attractions and sights. It’s addicting once you start looking at the possibilities. It’s already a several years long list. Time to get cracking!
  • As a wanna be photographer, there’s something that you may not realize. Every photo you take, regardless if it’s an expensive DLSR or your phone, contains what’s called EXIF data (exchangeable image file format) imbedded in the image. It’s metadata that shows what kind of camera or phone it is, the time of day, where you are, GPS coordinates, exposure settings, etc… When you post that pic to social media they do strip it out, but they also use it. This is how Instagram knows how to suggest a location when I upload a pic from my phone that I took a day ago. I wonder what else they do with that data? Just saying…
  • Continuing the theme of big brother tracking you, we all know that social media uses your search history to serve up ads. Well, at some point I looked up catheters to show Mrs Troutdog a picture (she’d never seen one and didn’t believe me when I described the size. “You put that big tube up there?!?!”). Anyway, ever since then I’m continually served up ads for catheters. Usually the ads go away after a while when algorithm figures out a new topic to start serving you. But not catheters. It’s been months and I’m still seeing them daily. What is Facebook trying to tell me?
  • Speaking of keeping lists, the Bullet Journal is officially dead. It’s just not for me. I like making lists of things, but the act of having to maintain something daily just doesn’t work. Great idea and I can see how it’s perfect for lots of people. I’m too scattered for it to be effective. I will continue with making lists of ideas, projects, and travel however. That’s been a positive thing. Giving some structure to the randomness that is my brain is a positive step.

Song of the day: SKRILLEX – Bangarang feat. Sirah [Official Music Video]