Saturday, April 26, 2008
First leg: check
Well...I've been surprised at how busy I've been since the last update. When last I found time to write it was Tuesday, I was in Birmingham, AL and I was feeling totally intimidated by the long road ahead to NYC.
I made it. I'm sitting in a friend's apartment (Rob and John) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I met John and Rob through my friend Michal who is moving back to Austin in about 2 hours!
I'm tired...lethargic and full of a heavy Italian lunch of fresh Gnocchi. mmmm. It's been a long damn week.
In Birmingham I was in familiar territory. I felt intimidated and excited at the same time about the new scenery. My friend Matt Myer owns Magic City Motorscooters in B-ham and happened to have a battery in stock to fit the KTM. PERFECT. A quick replacement and a shop to work on it in. Great setup. Then I had dinner and beers with Matt and crashed at his and Joy's house (his wife). Matt and Joy are old friends from my days in B-ham and I continue to be happy to see them and grateful for their hospitality. Blair and I crashed out with them last summer and loved it so much that we stayed an extra night....this time the road beckoned and I wasn't even there for 24 hours.
I got on the road around 3 and headed to see my friend Brian Baker in Knoxville, TN of Yeehaw industries (a great letterpress studio that Blair once worked at ...check out their awesome work at www.www.yeehawindustries.com)......about a 4.5 hour ride from B-ham. It was a great ride and filled with mountains of trees and red dirt. FUN!
Brian greeted me with his standard amazing thoughtfulness and took me to dinner downtown. I got to meet his awesome new girlfriend who I decided makes a great "Steph"....even though her name is Karen. :) Truly great people that make me feel so welcome and loved......I just can't get enough of that....but who can? He's moving to NYC with her this summer and I know that Yeehaw will totally miss him and his amazing talent for poster design.
I crashed out early at his place and went to breakfast with them both the next morning. I quickly hit the road after and was hoping to get through Virginia by the end of the day.
I got past the rough parts and through Roanoke and was feeling a bit ahead of schedule so I used the confidence I'd gained with GPS and headed for the mountains in search of dirt and remoteness...the highways were wearing on my nerves!
I ended up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and LOVED it....even though the speed limit is only 45mph! The BRP is 355 miles following the crests of the Blue Ridge mountain range of the Appalachians. AMAZING views and fantastic twisties along the crests forever.
I met 3 dudes from New Hampshire at a rest stop and we were luckily headed the same way on the parkway. We chatted about their week long adventures of riding and were astounded of how far I'd come so quickly and on "THAT" bike. I rode with them for about 50 miles at breakneck speeds in excess of 40MPH and then realized that my bike was NOT happy. My chain had a dead link in it and was wreaking havoc on my sprocket set. The guys (Ron, James and Kevin) stopped with me and we all determined that Charlottesville, VA was close and that we'd all get beers and food there and a share a hotel room for the night.
Charlottesville was a total surprise.....home of UVA and full of cool shops and bars to hang out in. We drank beers and told stories of how different they live in NH and we crashed out with more than a few jokes about them waking up in the morning to me AND their wallets being gone in the morning. HA...they were more scared of me than I was of them. Good stuff....good people everywhere I turn.
So....to my surprise there was a KTM dealer in Charlottesville (the only one in Virginia)! I camped out on their sidewalk the next morning and at 10, Donny (one of the shop owners) started trying to track down the parts I needed. They had nothing in stock to help me, but another nearby moto shop had a chain that would work....and Donny offered to help me replace it if I came back to his shop with it. I did.....and it was WAY easy to fix in the back of his shop with HIS tools and HIS advice. I was really happy with the help and the hospitality yet again. They had a collection of random old cars in the back and more than a few cool random vintage motos filling up their massive amount of floorspace.
Whew....this is getting long. Anyway...at about 1 pm I had the KTM back together and set off for NYC! I rolled through the rest of Virginia, then through Maryland, Delaware, DC, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and FINALLY into NYC. I pointed my GPS for Greenwich Village (where Michal lives/lived) and found it surprisingly easy to get straight to her apartment. Entering the city for the first time at night was a fantastic experience. The busy city looking back at me as a some crazy nut from Texas on a dirtbike looking for trouble. It was a truly humbling experience......so many people....so many cars....so MUCH energy. Late into that Thursday night I found it unbelievable how many people were out and doing things. I asked Michal if there was some big festival going on or something because this many people shouldn't be walking down her little side street this late into a random week night should it??
Michal was also extremely gracious.......as expected. She was in the middle of an all night packing session to prepare for the movers that were coming the next day, but stopped to make me feel welcome and take me out for a bite to eat. After dinner I sat like a sore-assed zombie on her couch and watched her TV while she packed.....because it was really all I had the energy for! She stuck me in her bed and stayed up packing while I surely snored into deep slumber. DAMN that was the best sleep of my trip thus far. I was TOTALLY gone....regardless of the noise outside.
Yesterday we had lunch in SOHO and finished packing Michal's apartment. Then we loaded up the moving truck and set out for Sushi and Michal's going away party. FUN. I truly enjoyed meeting all her NY friends and her boyfriend Rob too. Rob is awesome and plans to move to Austin to be with her at the end of the summer....SO cool. Great Tennessee guy with a great attitude.....good for Michal.
So...that gets us to today. I've explored Central Park and Manhattan a bit more with friends of Michal and I'm about to go get back on the bike to do a bit more. Riding in the traffic of the city is truly like being on the racetrack....constantly jockeying for position. I'd like to say the traffic sucks, but I truly like the competition and constant attention needed to get me where I want to go. I plan on parking the bike for the most part until I leave the city. We shall see how the subways and walking treat me......I've already walked more than I have in years!
Tomorrow I'm going to an art show in Brooklyn with my friend Sheela and I'm excited to get to check out the hood that everyone says suits me so well. I'll update more later.
On the business end of things....I'm going to try to start taking more photos. As much as I love taking pics I REALLY hate having the 'assignment' of taking them to document my trip. I like spontaneous shots and all the pics I've taken thus far are a bit more of the myspace type. "here's me looking cool here....aren't you jealous?"......well...maybe that can't be helped, but I'm going to use a Flickr account to upload all my pics to. My photos can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26027756@N02/?saved=1
I'll try to link this to my blog soon as well.....and I'll label the pics a bit later.
So....this was a long update, but SO much has happened that I can't even begin to explain it all. Thanks for reading......two more weeks in NYC should lead to more fun stories.