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July 17th, 2002

In Old Leathers
Tuesday. I have slides to scan tonight for the office, so I won't be posting until tomorrow. (My, my, which has now slipped to Friday.) Probably end up doing laundry tomorrow night and leave early Thursday morning. My sister and brother in law are back from Hawaii and we'll all go up to Seattle together for the family gathering on Sunday. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the drive up, either take two days and go up the coast, still a long drive, or just go inland to Sacramento and rip up Highway 5. I'll bring a laptop and I may post from the road, but I think I'll post pictures when I get back.

I see where Mr. Amaya has completely flipped and bought a motorcycle. Mid life crisis, he says. I went another way at age 40 flipping a coin between a new tricked out Jeep (We had vineyards, you understand, and there are no paved roads in Napa.) and a Jaguar. A straight six, white, dark blue leather interior Jaguar. Not the first time the Jeep has lost this contest. (And there are paved roads in Napa.)

The wine business isn't a good place for motorcycles, two wheels and wine are not a good combination. I explored some of this territory in San Francisco with a twin-cam Honda, not the same thing as a big black nasty beast with bits of chrome, you understand, there being a not subtle distinction made between big painted black - preferably American - iron and an any caliber rice burner, with the almost, but not quite exception back then of the Honda six. There have been changes in these intervening years. The Japanese seem to be getting their hands around big - bad - laid back black with chrome. Sorta. Maybe.

This "not a good place" realization began one night as I was swinging my leg with some difficulty over the Honda behind the Filmore West, swacked on acid and alcohol at three in the morning, roaring alone up Market Street and Twin Peaks to my apartment, thinking, as I was riding in that clear cool acid light, this is maybe not such a good idea. I liked Thompson's description in Fear and Loathing, blasting on his bike out of San Francisco with a head full of acid knowing full well wherever he went, wherever he travelled, he'd find company as swacked as he, deedle-dee-dee.

That's a nice image, but, you know, the actual doing of the thing can get you dropped into a ravine on the less careful nights, doesn't take much, distraction by a moth spattering against your helmet sending you into the trees. "Into the trees." wouldn't look bad on a tombstone, though, the distilled essence, the breeze through the trees.

I dunno, Steve. A motorcycle is a prescription, I admit, for the mid life thing. I stumbled through mine - there's two or three blank years there, a woman I seem to recall and wine, plenty of wine, I'm still not clear on the particulars - but I do worry about you hanging with Atkins. I know, I know, Chuck confided at the air show you were the trouble down there, adding Jalapenos to the pasta sauce at the local Rotary Club dinners, but I say Atkins is leading you astray, rocketing as you now seem to be down the long hell hound highway, bad assed black motorcycle and everything.

Steve, Steve, mad doctor Atkins just doesn't care. He drops money on baggage carousels in airline terminals for purposes too strange and personal to imagine. Or am I keening a note of jealousy here? That Jaguar. Nice, but, you know, ultimately a bad choice for the journey?

My friend MRK once ran the early morning LA hills every weekend on a big bore Moto-Guzzi with a similarly tricked out band of freaks punching into their forties at about a berzillion miles an hour. He worked in television too. Eight weeks in a body cast. I drove down to visit him in the Jaguar. We're not planning on anything too colorful, now, are we Mr. Amaya? Mr. Atkins? A big black motorcycle with bits of chrome? What are you guys up to?

Wednesday. Have the car parked down in the lot on the corner. Packing a bag and a computer. Packing the cameras. I'll leave tomorrow, one way or another.

Friday morning, eleven hours yesterday on the road. Gonna take a nap pretty soon. Did you know you can rent a big black stretched fork Harley motorcycle from Enterprise Rent-a-Chopper, pick it up in Oakland, drop it off anywhere you want bent or broken, just be sure to sign for the triple indemnity add-on, fifty dollars a day including helmet? Nah. Just thinking about it makes me feel foolish, standing in their office with my helmet, a grey haired guy in old leathers.

Photographs later.