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My Big Red Couch

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Vegas Baby - Prequel - Why Not

Disclaimer: Ok, this may be a bit boorish but because my previous post was actually hand written enroute from Seattle to Los Angeles and because I did snap a few pictures at SEA-TAC and because you might not get the gist of the story I will back up and fill in a few details. Think of it as Citizen Cain only without Rosebud. Or not.

Vegas Baby - Prequel - Why Not

If anybody ever has a need to look within the depths of my soul and search for an underlying theme I will save you the time and just blurt it out: How can I do this and spend some quality time on two wheels. Pretty anticlimactic, ain't I? I love to ride. I'll go around the block just because I haven't ridden for a few days. I'll ride to Seward and back in an evening just because I'm pissed off (don't even think that I haven't). I'm talking motorcycles here, not pedal bikes. I love to ride. It's a thrill I haven't found anywhere else (although the kiddie roller coaster at the Alaska State Fair comes close; did I just say that with my outside voice? Oops).

So, I was invited to Las Vegas for the 15th Annual National Consortium of Breast Centers Symposium by the National President of Men Against Breast Cancer (MABC). I am (for all intents and purposes) the Alaska Affiliate of MABC and Marc (the National President) invited me down for the Symposium to network and get an education. Fine by me. Anchorage in late winter is pretty easy to leave behind for a few days. But there's that underlying theme always nagging me. How can I do this and ride? Time for research.

I have flirted with flying and riding in the past on other trips. I have done two Fly n' Rides through the Harley Owner's Group and I have rented from Dubbelju in San Francisco (excellent folks to rent from in SF). I did some flight research and noted that it was $100 cheaper to one-way to Los Angeles and one-way back from Vegas. That is part of how I funded the bike rental. Moturis is a site that I have looked at off and on over the last four or five years as a potential bike rental company. They mostly rent motorhomes but motorcycle rental is a part of their package, catering mostly to Europeans. Using their online availability engine I looked to see if a BMW R1150GS would be available on the dates I wanted (Saturday, February 26th thru Monday, February 28th). The search came up with green squares telling me a bike would be available for the days I wanted. $100 per day with the added bonus of no one-way charge because the rental is "off season." Luckily nobody has told them that Vegas is ALWAYS open.

So, I've got the motorcycle reservation, I've got the flight reservations and all I need is to pack my bags and go.

I already went off on maps but here's a little more. I love maps. I have antique maps hanging in my family room and I have at least a dozen books of maps in my library, most of them historical . I get a brand new Atlas with my Life Membership to the Harley Owner's Group and I know nothing substantial every changes but when it arrives I pour through it, reliving past journeys and dreaming of new ones. Kinetic, eh?

Packing list: My pocket travel map (a spiral bound half size atlas that fits in my riding jacket), my HOG atlas (for hotel room reference), my laptop (for portable doodling and any work that might come up), my cd player, noise canceling headphones and a few discs (both for the road and in the hotels), both light reading and heavy reading (AutoCAD book for the UAA class I am teaching and the Cancer Care Giver's Guide for MABC; you decide which one is light and which one is heavy), 6 days of clothes, toiletries and riding gear, digital camera and extra film (Compact Flash cards) and my Garmin GPS and RAM Mount (they totally kick ass).

Luggage: The Bowling Ball (helmet bag with helmet, gloves and riding pants), laptop backpack with books, atlas', camera and miscelaneous electronics and Kawasaki KLR 650 tailbag as checked luggage with everything that I don't absolutely have to have to ride packed in it (toiletries and clothes). I figured this out years ago. If you need it to ride and somebody else has the opportunity to lose it for you you're better off hand carrying it. Besides, I don't trust the luggage gorillas with my helmet for fairly obvious reasons. In the last few years the airlines have really tightened up the carry-on requirements but nobody has ever questioned the bowling ball and backpack (although I have gotten a few curious looks with the bowling ball; what can I say, it's obvious to me what it is).

Jamie was jealous I think. "You always get to go off and have motorcycle adventures." She may not have said it but I'm sure she was thinking it. I do, hence the underlying theme again. I'm so transparent. Pretty obvious, you might say, but she insists she wasn't jealous. Years of training as a husband have taught me that if I ask her for an opinion (such as, "are you jealous that I am going on this trip") and I get a response that I don't believe (such as, "No") then it's her loss for not expressing herself (I just don't have the time to try to figure her out).

Rational or not about two weeks out from this trip she developed a Jon Travel Phobia. "I have this fear that you are going to die on this trip;" maybe not verbatim but she told me something real close at least a half dozen times. Luckily it was her phobia, not mine. And don't think I didn't use it to my advantage.

"This might be our last night together. Can you PLEASE make me a martini!" True story. Posted by Hello

My flight out was mid-afternoon. Jamie picked me up from work just before noon and we went to lunch at Carrs, both ordering Chinese takeout. She had broken a lunch date with a close friend to see me off. It may not seem like much to you but I appreciated it. I love that woman.

So, I had a pass to the Alaska Airline Board Room (thanks Alisa) and about an hour and a half to kill before boarding (show up two hours early for your flight so you can spend some quality time shopping for overpriced nick-nacks). One of the awesome things about the Alaska Airlines Board Room is the free wireless internet. I got to take care of a few things, check some account balances and play some solitaire before leaving town. Woot woo. Not to mention the martini incident (see Episode No. 1).

The flight from Anchorage to Seattle was uneventful. I leafed through the in-flight magazine, gave a cursory look over my big Atlas for some possibilities but mostly spent the flight with my eyes closed in noise canceled bliss listening to the Oliver Brown Experience and Tom Waites (not together, separate CDs).

Seattle is always amazing to me. Probably more so because Alaska Airlines has two wings there and I can't say that I haven't had to walk from one wing to the other EVERY SINGLE TIME I pass through. Land at C, walk to D. Land at D, walk to C. It never fails.

Don't look down. Don't! I SAID DON'T! Posted by Hello

So, after treking over to my gate and noting another hour to kill I settled at a table in the lounge for a martini or two. If I had known that they were $11 and a double was only $2 more I would have started bigger (and stayed bigger). The maps came alive with possibility (kinetic even) and I wrote down options, alternate routes, easy riding and tougher riding. The best laid plans... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

After I'd emptied my wallet at the bar (not literally, but I did feel used) I sat by the gate and decided to play with the little camera (Nikon CoolPix 4300; as opposed to the big camera, Jamie's Nikon D70). Buy the girl the big camera, get the little camera as a hand-me-down.

My attempt at an "art" photo. I did learn that turning the flash off gets a closer version of what I'm looking at (with the flash on it shows the reflection in the glass; probably a no brainer for you but this is ME we're talkin' 'bout, Willis). Posted by Hello

So, blissed out on a couple of martinis, headed for an ideal ride I hop on the next flight and that pretty much catches you up to Episode No. 1. Stay tuned for Episode No. 2 - Strollin' the Hood and Rollin' the Pannier.

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