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Blog > April 2012 > Kansas-fornia Dreamin'

Kansas-fornia Dreamin'

Kansas-fornia Dreamin'

No, this has nothing to do with Kansas - it's Germany just a bit away from where I live. 
           In the cold depths of winter, any short walks – even a half-mile jaunt to the grocery store (called the Rewe [Ray-vuh]) was a bitter, hateful expedition of crunching dry snow and numb toes. I hated it, and lived like a hermit. Part of me is disappointed with my pathetic winter showing. I was born in Minnesota, after all, I should have been prepared for this. I held no candle to the Bavarians as they held their cheery, hardy disposition through the entire season – particularly the 'youth.' (God, I sound like a toothless geezer talking about them damned kids,) but them damned kids sloughed winter off, easily, mostly by roving the edge of town in packs and drinking Jagermeister straight from the bottle, which wound up discarded in the adjoining fields (I must clarify that I'm not kidding, even though you couldn't get more cliché.) Me, on the other hand, I stood in the window of my apartment shaking my fist at them damned but cheerful kids, and wrapped myself tighter in a moth-eaten quilt. (Presumably while adjusting my dentures and nightcap before yelling out the window about the degeneration of society in broken German.)
           But now, in spring, things are different. The greens of the fields, and grass and glinting glass 'Yag bottles have renewed me. The first flowers of the season pushed up a couple of weeks ago, invited out of the ground by the sun – the same warmth that finally got me out of the house (willingly) for the first time since mid-November. As I walked through the renewal of purples, yellows and greens, I noticed that I was making plans for the year, thinking about places I would like to see, things I would like to do, and realized I had been doing – this dreamy planning – for quite a while... weeks, in fact. The 'ol pipe factory started shitting out dreams again, and nobody had bothered to tell me. Apparently the sun not only pierces the ground to tell the flowers to grow, but pierces the skin to tell the soul to soften.
           So, as spring hints at summer my imagination thaws and I think about where I'll be when summer comes on strong: Kansas. The Midwest. The (sorry: cliché alert) sun-drenched plains and open spaces. A place where homes come so big they have rooms you may never use, and where garages are an attainable dream of the everyman. They're utilitarian, not just storage for your Merc or X5. In fact, in this part of the world, garages can be such lowly places that they are actually used to store ancient Hondas and American beer. That dream was the first and the strongest.
           Of course, fulfilling it is an... ongoing process. Finding your perfect place is fun – particularly the potential, but it's a slog to boot. Knowing that we will soon have our dream (rental) home (with a garage,) I start to drift away to all the possibilities and adventures that it will open, starting with to the relocation process itself – with three machines that means three rides to the new house, happy as the proverbial pig in shit in the saddle, happy for an excuse of over 1,000 miles of riding – then grinning like a big lobotomized dog as each one is parked – placed – in it's rightful spot indoors, with me free to sit and enjoy the view.
           Not only that, but a garage in summer, my god. Think of the possibilities! It's a place not only to store, but to maintain vehicles, to keep them ready to explore the new worlds and new civilizations (to boldly go where no man has gone before...) that my new position on the globe would allow. It's my own personal concrete springboard. All those possibilities – like the Rockies, and the Ozarks.
           Now, originally, I never would have picked the Ozarks, but they came up in a conversation earlier this month. (Probably in no small part due to my rampant daydreaming, which spews unbidden from my mouth while my wife patiently listens.) Since the actual details of the Ozarks conversation are pretty dry, I'll embellish the scene, how about the 1950s.
The in-laws and a (not their) BMW K1600.
           One morning not too long ago, I prattled on about potential motorbike adventures we could have on our new Harley Davidson. (1950 remember.) After our a lovely breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and bacon, I straightened the cuffs on my suit, lit my pipe, picked up the Morning Herald (yesterday's laptop,) and we enjoyed some Maxwell House in quiet. She was catching up on family correspondence, and I could hear her savor the rough pulp tooth of an envelope with her thumb and forefinger. I turned a page to see that she smiled as she flipped it over, where she found a pink and maroon $0.03 stamp that read “HONORING RAILROAD ENGINEERS OF AMERICA.” “I got one from my parents,” she said, before she looked at the return address – knowing the stamp was a small piece of flourish added by her mother – a reminder that her father had spent most of his working life as an engineer.
Not that kind of engineer.
           Hidden again behind the paper, I could hear a smile in her voice as she read from the letter – which accounted their own recent travels by motorbike – a trip to the Ozarks. It was at this point a mix of pipe smoke and coffee caught in my throat and I had to cough the mascuiline elixir onto the screen of my paper. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed, “The Ozarks?” forgetting that anything is possible when you own a top-of-the-like vehicle – a 1948 Vincent Black Shadow.
The Vincent Black Shadow - from Wiki
           Alright, I'll leave off with my horrid rendition of the early 50s, but basically that's what happened. And as I wiped coffee from my monitor, I realized two things, one – my father-in-law is the extremely proud owner of a modern VBS (a BMW K1600, a machine that has seen 6,000 miles since November. That's winter in the north, folks.) And B – that I had no idea where the hell Ozarks actually were, at all, even by state.
           After I quickly flipped to the map page of the Morning Herald, I realized that the Ozarks were really only a short day's hop from SD (500ish miles from their house) and maybe 200 miles from our future home – in Kansas in the adjoining state of Missouri to those of you as hapless as I.
           When you coupled the report that the Ozarks were pretty fine ridin', with the fact that they could easily be accessed from my new garage, it seemed like a damned fine fit. In fact, it went on the dream platter, the short list of destinations for this summer. Actually, something for the definite list for this summer.
Mr. Chang's Valencia - an orange Ural Hack (sidecar) rig. He actually said
he'd put me in the saddle. Oh, oh... ooh...
See more of it at www.redlegsrides.blogspot.com
           Shortly after my foray into 50s living, I had a brief discussion with Mr.Chang over at Redleg's Rides – who mentioned that if I were to make it to Colorado, he'd let me vroom vroom his brand new orange Valencia (Ural hack rig) for at least a short trip. Colorado I did know about. (Yes before I checked the internet) It's one of the other states that touch Kansas. So hell yes. Very doable. And double hell yes, I want to drive a bright orange Ural. So as I soaked up the sun (or maybe it was the residual, 'Yag aerosolized by the new warmth) I Shortlisted this plan, too.
           Then there was the Southwest. I haven't been there since I was a kid when my family used to visit my grandparents snowbirding in Mesa. Could you get there easily from Kansas? Hell yes you could, it's smack in the middle of country, it damn near touches Texas and New Mexico. Slightly-longer-but-still-short-listed.
Then, in the same week I was asked if I wanted to attend the IMBC (International Moto-Blogger Conference) and if I wanted to head out to Virginia with my Father-in-law. Let's see. Yes, and yes. Abso-friggen'-lutely. I was in a different reality, on a different plane thinking of all the adventures I would have.
It was in the height of this fervor that I began to wonder if there were any brave souls in that area who would attempt a triple 8 with me. (A sub-800cc bike from '80 or earlier that cost less than $800.) It's been done before as a 5/5/5, but I've got a strong desire to do it my own way... If there was a chunk of weather as nice as this weather, then I'd be set no matter what...
           Then there were trips home to MN and SD, ideas of a run to the deep south (if you stop in the Ozarks, it's only 750 miles to New Orleans...) the exploration of local roads...
           Eventually, I realized where my head had wound up. (Someplace dark and unthinking.) I realized that in spite of my fantasy, I haven't even found that perfect house/garage yet. Hell, we don't even know when we're going to move. I need to focus. I need to remember that it's only March and I need to stop, breathe and remind myself that just maybe we need to get to the right country, get back to work, get a life established... before planning out every weekend of a summer.
           I don't know what it is, March Madness leaks into the world, I guess. The insanity that affects basketball fans infects the rest of us, it's the first sunset after 7 (sorry Alaska,) the cleaning crew that comes to pick up the glinting green glass from the fields, and the sound of motorcycles hitting their rev limiters in third gear (from half a mile away.) It's a loss of sanity.
It's good, though, because the thickness of winter can kill your sanity in the complete opposite way. For the moment, at least, I've found the middle ground, and the prospect of finding a house with a garage and storage for the bikes (and maybe even the car) is just about enough. I'm not saying I'll give those other dreams up – just table them for a bit, one step at a time... and remember to breathe.
Posted: 4/5/2012 9:59:33 AM | with 0 comments

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