Every morning when I wake up, before I get out of bed, I say a little prayer. It always starts the same way, "Dear Lord, thank you for this day. It is a good day." And then I go on to whatever is on my mind, and often ask for mercy for Lisa S. who is recovering from massive surgery, radiation, and chemo in a situation much worse than my own. So started this Monday. After a quick shave and a shower, nice breakfast and I was off to work! Except when I got into my classic 1987 Toyota 4Runner, it wouldn't start - dead as roadkill. This was very odd since we had used the truck all weekend and had returned from dinner near midnight the night before. It was pitch dark, so if I had left lights on or failed to close the door, it would have been easily seen. Got the Pilot and it jumpstarted easily. Ran for several minutes and turned it off. Dead again. Jumpstarted again and ran for half an hour. Called my friend Rusty - if there's anything he doesn't know about Toyotas it's not worth knowing. He said the alternator and regulator were combined into one unit on my truck, or it could be a battery. The battery was pretty new, and there had been no warning that it might fail. I feared it might be the much more expensive alternative!
This situation had tremendous potential to be annoying, since I had just spent about $1000 on general maintenance to get the inspection passed. Nothing big - just a lot of routine things needed doing at once - muffler, belts, steering hose, rear brakes, rear seals, wheel bearings, etc. The truck has over 250,000 miles on it, and it has served us well. I went to the place that had done the belts, radiator, and hose, and they ran a charging system check for me. Five minutes later we knew it was the battery. GREAT NEWS! How much did I owe? No charge! MORE GREAT NEWS! I decided to go to Sam's Club, where I purchased the battery, and see if maybe I could get a credit for the old one. Drove to the tire center and parked outside. Waved through the window to get their attention - they are open only to business members before 10 AM, and I am one, but they don't get much activity this early. I explained that I needed a battery, but did not want to park, since the truck would then not start. They cheerfully pulled it into the garage for me, and found a new battery. Although I had purchased the old one at a different location, they were able to find me in the computer. Purchase was May, 2005. Three years ago. They also found that my battery had a three year full replacement guarantee. So my new battery, installed, was free. And I now have another three years of warranty! EVEN MORE GREAT NEWS!
I was only a couple of hours late to work, and didn't miss any meetings. Came home for a late lunch, geared up, and went out and pre-flighted the bike. It was in perfect condition and ready to roll. So out we went. I mentioned in an earlier entry that motorcycling requires tremendous concentration to ride safely, and is an ideal hobby for my personality type. I had been getting irritable of late over small things. When I was young I found sports to be a great release. But with age and injuries all I have left is riding the bike. The cognitive part of the brain must be fully engaged, and such an exercise really purges the spirit like a good workout can purify your muscles. A friend captured it well:
On the open range the road, the landscape, and the machine all provide an experience that is for me soul centering. The rhythm of the ride is at once calming, reassuring. It is rarely achieved until more than a hundred miles have been traveled. This period of lonely introspection and intense observation yields a sense of appreciation and perspective of life that I've never experienced in any other endeavor. It is like meditation, but perhaps a little more like worship. The intensity of concentration required is at once enormous and yet completely liberating. - W.C.H. June 1, 1999
I believe the desire to ride a motorcycle is in your genetic makeup. I wanted to own one and ride one from the very first time I saw one as a little kid. Like musicians that must play music and writers that must write, bikers must ride. Or they get physically and emotionally ill. This often happens in the winter, and my group jokingly refers to it as "Motorcyclene withdrawal." Motorcyclene is a mythical endorphin that is released to cause joy when riding. On this afternoon, temperatures in the mid 7os, sky clear an blue with some decorative white, puffy clouds, and surrounded by mountains covered with snow, the ride was PERFECT!
I had not ridden since January, so I took it easy on the speed (for me), and kept it under 100MPH (mostly). It was a fine experience. Life improved minute by minute. Unlike WCH above I am not on the open road, but on twisty back roads covered in winter silt, my cognitive mind is busy noting and avoiding all the potential hazards, there is no time for introspection, and that's a good thing! I rode to a knoll overlooking the railroad tracks and popped open a bottle of water. Eastbound train traffic was thick, and a long coal-filled train passed me by. I could not resist the urge to place a couple of coins on the track and wait for the next train. A few minutes later a chemical tank train came by and obliged. I had 11 cents change from mailing my passport renewal, so that dime and penny were sacrificed to my boyish urge. You can barely makeout the penny's design from the oxidation. The dime is completely blank, and you can barely see the knurled edge. While all this was great fun, I decided to check my messages. There was one from the Urology Clinic, with a question about my surgery date.
Hmm. I tried calling out, but could not get a good signal at that remote site. Guess they can wait! Finished the water and gave some back to the environment. Rode down to the top of Echo Reservoir dam and parked illegally while I made the call back. During my last visit the surgical coordinator had taken the afternoon off for a new grandbaby. The backup person knew the paperwork and procedure, but she forgot to check Dr. Hopkins' vacation schedule. Turns out he is on vacation this week and next, so we need to delay from May 14 to May 21. I asked if that meant the doc would be relaxed, rested, and refreshed for me and was assured that would be the case. So we are rescheduled for a week later. What does this mean? Just one more week of feeling good, eating well, doing work and chores, and riding the motorcycle. Sure, the prognosis would be delayed, but this seemed to be a small thing compared to all the benefits. And really I was not prepared for another surgery so soon. The new schedule makes it 6 weeks later instead of 5, and I think it's ALL GOOD NEWS!
I called my wife with the update. She was annoyed at the delay, but accepted my interpretation of it. I rode some more, and came home mentally and physically exhausted - in a good way. After a nice dinner and some TV, I went to bed and SLEPT LIKE A ROCK for the first time in weeks.
So even though the start of the day seemed to be a problem, we see that it ended up as A PERFECT DAY!