Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

14 June 2011

Florida To Washington By Motorcycle: The Home Stretch

The third and fourth days of my trip from Pensacola to Brewster were, shall we say, challenging. But that’s part of being a motorcyclist. If you’re going to call yourself one, then you cannot restrict your riding to nice, sunny days. Sometimes you’re gonna get wet. And cold. Goes with the territory. I was actually prepared for such conditions. But the best rainsuit and the warmest clothes are of no use if they’re packed away in your luggage when the weather changes. I had kept my rainsuit handy, and in fact did need it often, but I hadn’t dressed nearly warmly enough when I got to the Rocky Mountains.

After freezing my ass off most of the way through Montana, Wyoming and Idaho on Tuesday, I corrected that for the final stretch. I knew it wasn’t going to get any warmer until I got west of Spokane. And it didn’t.

Butte, Montana to Brewster, Washington is only 450 miles. Wednesday morning dawned cloudy but reasonably rain free. The weather forecast was good. Despite the trials and tribulations of the previous day, I was actually in a pretty good mood. Leaving the rainsuit off, I put on my appropriate cold weather gear and headed out fairly early. Such a difference from the day before! Even though we were still 5,000 feet or so above sea level and the temps were down in the 30’s, I was toasty and comfortable, making good time and having a great time. I was able to remember why it was I took the bike on this trip and not the car. I called Mikey from Missoula and told him I’d be at his place around 4:30. This was one estimate I was confident I could make.

The route to Brewster passes the Grand Coulee Dam and, further downstream, the Chief Joseph Dam. Because dams fascinate me for some reason, I had to stop at both. Luckily there were some showers in my way that needed some waiting-out anyway. Not big enough to have to put the rainsuit on, but big enough to hang out and let them move on.

As it turned out, even with my lingering at the two dams, I pulled into the Brewster Airport right around 4:15. I was tired and glad to be at the destination. It had been a hell of a trip. Mikey met me at the airport and we went out to the Sweet River Bakery in Pateros, the next town over for a celebratory meal (with maybe a little too much wine). As you can imagine, I slept like a log that night.

And so the Summer of Bob begins!

This is me, standing in front of one of a Sikorsky S-55 owned by Golden Wings Aviation, my employer for the summer. It is one year older than I am. It is the same type of helicopter my father flew in the 1950's when he was in the U.S.M.C.


Bob said...

Loved every installment of this story. The Summer of Bob, indeed. Look forward to hearing about more of your adventures.

emonk007 said...

I was just browsing the internet for images of HMR-161 and this one came up. My Dad also served in USMC in the 50's. Corporal Ronald W. Bradbury...He flew HR-6 in Kanoe Bay. GREAT PICTURE

Bob Barbanes: said...

Thanks for the note, emonk. Perhaps our fathers knew each other! The Corps is pretty small, after all.

It was a dismal day when I arrived in Brewster, Washington for the first time. Imagine my surprise to see old "Marine 1" (as we call her) right there on the ramp. It's had its engine and transmission replaced in the seven seasons I've been up there - but all in all it's a really nice flying ship.