Friday, June 9, 2017

June Run, 2017

June 2017

Day 1, June 7.
I hit the road about 10:30 and decide to skip Hwy 17 and head down 101 to 126 over to Watsonville. There is a lot of traffic, and the ride is not enjoyable, but I know GREAT roads lie ahead. After hitting Carmel, I ride down the Carmel Valley Road. I have never been to Carmel Valley; it is a nice small town and I make this my first gas stop. It is here that I discover I did not set up the GoPro to shoot time lapse photos and ended up with 1 hour and 29 minutes of crappy freeway driving. I turn it off and figure I'll try again tomorrow.

Leaving Carmel Valley, I headed sound on the CVR and route myself through the hills on roads that I HAVE ridden before: Arroyo Seco, Elm, Jolon, Interlake, Naciemento Lake, Adelaide, Klau Mine Road, Chimney Rock (which I never saw) Road, onto Vinyard, Hwy 46 then Santa Rosa Creek Road. 17 miles of Santa Rosa Creek road is very similar to Tunitas Creek Road off Skyline up in my neck of the woods. This road is in very poor shape and is badly patched. In 3 places there are short sections of NO road, but gravel has been laid down. Many of these small roads are in need of repair. I have seen many signs that say, "Roadwork ahead." Which I have come to understand really means, "Some of the road is washed away and we put some cones down." Cambria is as beautiful as ever. I head down Hwy 1, rushing to meet Linda Price in Morro Bay. As I pull off in Morro Bay, there is a text from Linda, she is wetting her whistle in a nearby watering hole. I grab us a couple room at a nearby hostelry and meet here there. After some dinner, we head to our hotel. Only it wasn't our hotel. I thought I booked 2 rooms at the Motel 6. So here we are trying to make our keys work in the right rooms, wrong hotel. Of course I had already schlepped all my gear up the stairs. The hotel I DID book the rooms in was right next door, so I moved my trappings next door. Nice room, a bit chilly. Linda and I go over our route for the next day, and after a few laughs, bid each other good night. 

262 road miles, 5 hours, 4 road minutes.

Day 2, June 8
I pack up and meet Linda down by our bikes. She and Colleen have bought a BEAUTIFUL Pearl White Can Am 3 wheeler. It suits Linda to a T. We have breakfast on the water and hit the road (Hwy 1 S) at 8:30. We cruise through SLO and get onto Hwy 101 S. Just above Santa Maria, we connect to Hwy 166. A ways down, we head south on CA 33. It looks like the next gas is in Ojai, 50 miles away, and my bike says Range: 60. GULP. Well, I hope we make it. Hwy 33 is in the middle of NOWHERE. A ways in, there is a bar/store/gas station. I pull off, NO GAS.  Sign says, "Next gas 40 miles." Harley says, "Range 50 miles." I slow the pace quite a it for the sake of fuel management. We get up to about 5,200 feet elevation and I decide to coast downhill. At this point the bike says range = 40 miles with gas 30 miles away. All of a sudden (after coasting for a bit) the bike says range = 50 miles, then 60, then finally 63. As we approach Ojai, I have plenty of fuel in the tank. As I fill up, I decide to use the old fashioned method of fuel calculation. How many miles/how much gas. I am getting 33+ mpg. 6 gallon tank, I should be good for 180 miles. I won't worry the next leg. We get onto 150 to 126 to 136 and head up the Linda's cabin. We stop for fuel (this leg, 35+ mpg) and supplies and head up. They have a beautiful place overlooking Lake Gregory. Linda is a wonderful host and there is a CHANCE Colleen will make it up. Linda has a well stocked room for adult beverages. I suppose consumption is next. 

337 road miles, 7 hours 40 minutes road time.

Day 3, June 9
I left PPYC at 9:00 after a wonderful cheese omelette created by my host, Linda Price. She led me to Hwy 18, which was going to be my point of departure from Crestline. If you haven't been on Hwy 18, WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR? This road is awesome. It is also called the Rim of the World Highway. Believe me, it lives up to its name. It rises up to 7,300+ feet, and the views are spectacular. After passing small towns such as Rimcrest & Skyforest, what goes up, MUST come down, so as I descend I frequently put the bike in neutral and let 'er coast. At Big Bear, there is a lot of construction on Hwy 18. SOMEHOW I navigate all the detou rs and find myself heading UP Hwy 18, towards Hwy 247. After you come off the mountains, you are in the desert. 247 going up towards Barstow is in the middle of nowhere; flat, straight, hot. Wind blowing like crazy from the left (west), bike leaned over. At Barstow, I stop in a juice bar, where the young woman makes me a carb free, espresso smoothie. It was very refreshing, prepping me for that AWFUL I-15. I-15 SUCKS. Flat, desert, hot, miles and miles of solidified petroleum product. AND, there is awful traffic. 69 miles to my turn off. Freaking YUCK. At Baker, I get off fuel up and drink the water Linda gave me. What I didn't finish, I pour on my shirt. With all the coasting, this tank I get 40+ mpg. This gives me a theoretical 240 miles fuel range. Route 127 is 56 miles of hot (100º), rolling, desert riding. In 56 miles, I pass 21 cars. About 2 miles south of Shoshone, there is a TERRIBLE automobile accident. A car CREAMED into the side of a hill, and is demolished. Sheriffs, fire trucks, ambulances, road crews, it's a mess. Someone got hurt real bad. I roll into Shoshone and stop at the Shoshone Inn. The door is open, but no one was in. I helped myself to a cup of water (several actually) and a nice cool apple in the bowl on the counter. I walk around back where Rebecca is cleaning rooms. As I chat with Rebecca, the owner, Pam, drives up and I get a nice room in the back. It's early, but I'll get a good night's rest and go through Death Valley before it gets too hot.

212 road miles, 4 hours, 30 minutes road time.

Things I learned today:
•When riding in a cross wind, relax. Keep your arms loose, lean the bike INTO the direction of the wind and BREATHE. You will be fine.
•CONVERSELY, it is really eerie with the wind at your back and it is nearly SILENT as you roll down the road.
•Trucks coming the other way will really give you a blast. Put the bike in the center of the lane so when they blast you, you have room to get shoved by the wind to the right.
•I am not as smooth in the twisties as I used to be. I need to take a brush up riding class. I also don't know how far I can lean the bike over.
•The bike is still not packed right, it's too top heavy; I'll try something else tomorrow.
•If you want to do ANY motorcycle touring (pavement riding only) you HAVE to consider a Road Glide. This bike is PERFECT FOR THIS TRIP.
•MOST IMPORTANTLY - When you are riding in real heat (95-100º), leave your jacket on. With vents open and a wet t-shirt, your gear acts like an old swamp cooler, and you can easily ride in that kind of weather. Heading due east, with the wind coming out of the south, I actually felt COOL inside my jacket. PLEASE, do not be tempted to ride in your shirt only.

Day 4, June 10
I bid the Shoshone Inn a hearty farewell @7:30 and as I drive out, Rebecca is arriving at work. I bid her goodbye and head out. There is nothing open in Shoshone before 10 AM so eating will have to wait. There are two roads into Death Valley, 190 and the longer 127. I opt for the latter and plan on getting into Furnace Creek in the 9:00 hour. At 7:30 AM, it is 83º, and before long my thermo indicates 91º.  This road (127) dips down to a GPS indicated -256 ft below sea level. I pull up into Furnace Creek, fuel up and head into the village. EVERYTHING looks closed. I spot a young couple eating something and I ask if there is anything to eat there. The man is having no part of me, but the woman cheerfully approaches me and points me in the direction of the buffet (only choice). $12.12 for all you can eat. I opt for the 'lots of stuff' scramble, bacon, and sausage links. I make a big glass of ICE coffee and top the whole thing off with a bowl of watermelon and honeydew (the green one). I snag an apple and a banana for on the road. I hear from Jack, he's planning a 5 PM rendezvous in Lone Pine. I'll get there before noon so we plan a meet in Lee Vining (from where this is being written). In Lone Pine, I top off the tank, eat my banana and a slim jim and read the second missive from Jack (received 11:30), he's having speedo cable problems and has not left yet. Lone Pine was the site of the GREATEST of the American Chess Tournaments. From Wikipedia: Lone Pine International was a series of chess tournaments held annually in March or April from 1971 through 1981 in Lone Pine, California. Sponsored by Louis D. Statham (1907–1983), millionaire engineer and inventor of medical instruments, the tournaments were formally titled the Louis D. Statham Masters. The events were seven- to ten-round Swiss system tournaments, with entrance requirements that made them the strongest recurring Swiss tournaments in the U.S. in the 1980s. Jack & I confirm Lee Vining. 395 from Lone Pine to Lee Vining is a sweeping 4 laner in the old eastern highway model. With mountains on each side (lots of snow to the west) it is a way better North/South option than I-5 or 99. It gets pretty cold as I approach Lee Vining. Today, I went from -256 elevation to 8,063, and from 91º to 56º. I have a nice room at the Lake View Lodge. I get a text from Jack, he's stuck in traffic in Stockton. Maybe I'll see him tonight. Getting over the Sierras may be tricky tomorrow. 120 is closed; so is 108 and 4. I'll have to alter my trip plan and take 89 over the mountains. So much for bagging 3 passes this trip. Jack got here in the 6:00 hour. He checked into the hotel. We go across the street for a great bowl of chili and a few adult beverages. We bid goodnight and look forward to tomorrow's ride. We'll be able to go over 89/88, and plan on camping in the Jamestown area. We'll see what's there when we get there.

305 miles, 6 hours, 30 minutes road time.

Day 5, June 11
Jack and I got up early and hit the road (after a breakfast at the local diner) at 8:10. All of the passes are closed, save one 89/88. As hot as I was yesterday, that's how cold I got today. Knowing I was going to be cold, I donned my sweatshirt under my jacket and my gauntleted leather gloves. In a VERY short time, my gloves were not warm enough, so we stopped so I could put on my HEAVY Tourmaster® gloves. As we climbed up to about 8,300 feet, the temperature gauge hovered around 36º. Soon, it started snowing. SNOWING. Not 24 hours earlier, I was sunburning my nose in near 100º weather, now it's freaking SNOWING and 36º!! Oh, the joys of biking. Seriously, it was not really THAT bad. My sweatshirt and jacket kept me plenty warm, and my chaps (custom made at Just Leather in San Jose) and heavy firehouse pants (from Duluth Trading) kept me warm. The only thing really cold was my hands, which got quickly remedied by the heated handgrips aboard my Road Glide CVO. We talked about staying in Jamestown, but Jack wanted to meet up with a friend in Reno. We stopped for fuel in Jamestown, and grabbed some grub. Over lunch, we decided to ride to Auburn together (via one of my FAVORITE roads, CA-49). I would stop there, & he would continue along to Reno via I-80. I take a room in the Holiday Inn in Auburn. I call my friends, George & Mary Rose to see if they are available for dinner; I left a message. We meet. I'll decide after dinner what roads to ride tomorrow. A lot depends on the weather.

318 Miles, 9 road hours.

Day 6, June 12
It is cold in Auburn. I will have to bundle up for this leg. With the road closures, my schedule is a bit discombobulated. Today, I decide to ride out to Fort Bragg, via Hwy 20. I have never been on 20 beyond Marysville. From Auburn, I need to take I-80W to Hwy 65 to catch up with 20 in Marysville. Hwy 65 is a piece of crap. 2 lanes, under engineered, over trafficked. After Lincoln, it opens up so you can move along briskly. Marysville is a bit of a maze to navigate, but I get through it right away. RIGHT over the Feather River is Yuba City. One could say that Marysville & Yuba City are the Budapest of Yuba County. I take 20, and plan a stop in Clearlake. The town is 4 miles OFF the route I'm on via the Old Hwy 53 (that's what it's called). I drive around  looking for food (breakfast) and cannot find anything worth stopping for; Thai, Chinese, and some indeterminable cuisine simply labeled, "Food." I fuel up at a no named gas station and head back to CA 20. I should have STAYED on 20 because in several little towns (Clearlake City, Lucern, Nice), there are plenty of name brand gas stations and plenty of food. So if you are headed thisaway, bypass Clearlake, and stay on the east side of the lake, there's plenty there. I stay on 20 and hit 101 North towards Willits, just north of UKIAH, contemplating a stop to see my optometrist, who lives there. I'll stop in Willits for lunch. Apparently, they have completed a bypass of Willits; you have to take an EXIT (there are 2) to get into town. Like many small towns up & down California, these bypasses are DEVASTATING to the local economies. Willits is no exception; store closures up & down the main street (formerly 101 N). I stop at a local burger joint and get a bacon ortega burger (no bread) and sit with few other bikers that were stopped there. I get to 20 west towards Fort Bragg. 20, west of Willits, is an INCREDIBLE m/c road; great asphalt with wonderfully cambered curves. It is very similar to our Hwy 9 going down from Skyline, only THIS road is 32 miles long! I pull into Ft Bragg, planning to camp. Instead, I get this oceanside suite with a hot tub. I am going to need it as my left shoulder/neck area has been grousing. Maybe a massage as well. My trip plan has hit another snag. I'm meeting Dave on THURSDAY, not Wednesday as I originally planned. So tomorrow, I have to to ride SOMEwhere from Fort Bragg that is within a day's ride of Chico to meet up with Dave. Hmmmm, go North, or South....???

236 miles, 6 hours, 30 minutes road time.

Day 7, June 13
Today as the WORST! I leave Fort Bragg early, hoping to get to Hwy 96 by early afternoon. I'm meeting Dave in Chico on Thursday AM, so I have to get over thataway by evening. I have a classmate from Jr College in Eureka and we make a plan to meet for lunch. I head up Hwy 1, in cold weather and really enjoy the ride. Hit 101 @Leggett and the day is very promising. I stop for breakfast in Garberville and meet 2 bikers from Belgium. I get off in Redway and take the Shelter Cove Road down into Shelter Cove. The road is very twisty and good asphalt. I really like Shelter Cove. I park near the Lighthouse and walk around. The campground is for sale. 6 1/2 acres  right on the airstrip. Anyone want to go in? I head back UP Shelter Cove Road and take Ettersburg Road towards Honeydew. This ULTIMATELY becomes Hwy 211. THIS IS THE WORST ROAD ON THE PLANET. Rough road does not even BEGIN to describe the torture chamber of horrors. As great as this Road Glide is on the highway it is AWFUL on this road. My kingdom for a GS!!! For almost 2 hours I hit holes, bumps, wash outs, and at one point a part of the road dropped and I actually lofted the whole bike! I couldn't tell holes in the pavement, from shadows cast by the trees. I get 1/2 way to Ferndale, (I WAS planning on taking this all the way) when I was stopped by a road construction crew. (Did I mention the miles of ALL DIRT ROAD?). I talked to the guy and he told me the way to Ferndale on this road was, "pretty rough." He advised me to take the road out @Honeydew. Even taking this 'shortcut,' was the worst. I bottomed out countless times, and hit bumps (many) that turned the iPod off. I hope I didn't BREAK anything. The load shifted and now my stuff was shoving me off the bike. FINALLY, I get to 101 N, and in 32 SHORT miles I get to Liz' place. We have dinner and doing some laundry. I will sleep well tonight. So, I won't get to 96, I'll be staying in Eureka; it'll be a long day tomorrow. You can see my (lack of) progress:

192 road miles, 7 hours, 32 minutes road time.

Day 8, June 14
CURSES, foiled again!!! I leave Eureka at 9:35 AM heading north towards Highway 96. 101 to 299 to meet up with 96 at @Willow Creek. Not knowing about the fuel situation along 96, I top off the tank in Hoopa. 96 is a wonderful road; it runs along the Klamath River almost up into Oregon, before it drops back down into Yreka. There are sections labeled ‘rough road’ which, under normal circumstances would FEEL rough, but after yesterday, it is a piece of cake. There were several stops along the way for road repairs. There were places where the mountain had slid onto the roadway, and crews were clearing a path. I get into Yreka about 2:00 where I fuel man & machine. I head towards Lassen and for all the way along 5, Mt Shasta accompanies me on my left. What a beautiful mountain. As I turn east on 89, Shasta is still on my left. At this point, this road is called the “Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.” I get all the way to Old Station to top off the tank before I head through Lassen. Here’s where I get foiled: As soon as I pull out of the gas station, I see THE SIGN: No travel through the park. Winter road closures. Curses, foiled again!!! I call Dave to tell him I’ll be there tomorrow and I turn around (you KNOW how I love to back track) and head to Burney to take a room in the “Charm Motel.” REALLY!!! Now, I have to figure out how to get to Chico, withOUT going through the park. Maybe we'll meet in Red Bluff, before we head over Hwy 36. I have several Gentleman Jacks at the bowling alley with the owner, SEVERAL!

360 road miles, 7 hours, 25 minutes road time.

Day 9, June 15
Welp, I’m BACK in Eureka. Here’s how it goes: I contact Dave about meeting up and we make a plan for me to come to his house. As it turns out, he is available earlier so we plan a 10:30 meet in Red Bluff. From there we will got over 36 back to 101. I leave Burney @8:30 and stop for breakfast @9:30 in Montgomery Creek. It’ll be an hour from there to Red Bluff. About 10 miles in, and we get stopped for road construction; I’m going to be late. After I break free from the pack, I am able to wick it up and make up for lost time. I get to the meeting point right on time. I gas up and wait for Dave. Some time later, he and his friends meet up with me and we hit the road. The other guys have sport bikes, so I offer to run sweep, figuring they will be much faster than me. Since I haven’t been riding so much (before the hip replacements), my technique is a bit off. I am not entering the curves at the right angle, causing me to EARLY apex, which is NOT very smooth. So that, my inexperience with this bike and my apprehension with the new hips and I am not as quick as I used to be. I’ll get help with this when I get home. But for now, I’ll ride leisurely and cautiously. About 40 miles into Hwy 36, one of the guys enters a corner too fast and blows the turn. He goes up the side into the grass and ALMOST gets back on the road, but at the last possible moment, his wheel hits a rut, and jerks to the left, dropping him. The lead 3 guys don’t see this, but riding sweep, it happens right in front of me. I stop and help the guy up. Luckily, this happened in the grass and the actual falling down was done in soft grass. The guy is ok and the only thing that happened to the bike was a broken right front winker. The other 3 guys circle back and in short order we are on our way. Highway 36 is a nice ride. MOST of it is nice roadway, sweeping and beautiful views. (Oh, yeah, it is 20 degrees cooler than what we left in Red Bluff). We stop a couple times for a short break and we ride into Eureka. The guys are staying at the Clarion (one of them has a connection for cheap rooms), and I find myself bunking on Liz’s couch for another night. I’ll meet the guys at the Clarion at 9:30 AM tomorrow. Dave and I will ride with them up to Coos Bay, OR, then come up with a ride plan. I tell Dave, “We better do some camping, I have been schlepping this camping gear over 2,300 miles!”

248 road miles, 10 road hours

Day 10, June 16
I meet the guys at the hotel about 9:30. After everybody gases up, we finally hit the road at 10:10. About 10 miles out, one of the young men has to stop and put on more clothes. He is riding an unfared sport bike and does not have adequate weather protection. Dave, who is riding in front of me, has a problem with his right saddle bag. We stopped to duct tape it up and get back on the road. We stopped in Brookings for lunch, in about another hour up the road we stop for fuel. Most of the guys have arranged an Airbnb just south of Coos Bay. Dave and I decide to camp at Bullard's beach. I have posted a photo of my tent already. Tomorrow Dave and I split off, and we have yet to decide where we're going. Heading back down the coast is an option perhaps to camp in Fort Bragg.

199.8 road miles, eight hours and 50 minutes Road time. 

Day 11, June 17
Dave and I get up leisurely; I did not sleep well. The raccoons made ALL SORTS of noises during the night and honestly, it spooked me a bit. I make coffee, and stoke the fire. In the middle of coffee, Dave gets a call from his pals (who had Airbnb’d). They are ready to hit the road, and we were no where NEAR being ready. Striking camp took a while and somehow I end up with more stuff than I landed with the night before. We eat at the “Train Cafe” and are on the road by 10. We head east on 42S, which becomes 42 into Roseburg. This is a nice road, twisty, good graded pavement. At Roseburg, we get onto that awful I-5 heading for Grant’s Pass. At Grant’s Pass, we get onto 199, and the temp starts to rise. We stop at a little store (the Wonder General Store) and it is hot. From there west we are in the heat. My riding is smoother today. I feel like I am entering the corners at the right angle and I find myself smoothly late apexing. By the time we hit Crescent City, the temp drops into a more comfortable range. Our plan is to camp somewhere along the coast. We stop at a few campgrounds and everything is full. Last night, Dave suggested we make a reservation and I tell him, “We’ll find something.” Dopey me! Running VERY low on fuel (I had less than a gallon left), we stop in Trinidad to fuel up. We ride back up to Patrick’s Point to try to get a spot (it’s cold and very windy now), They were full. We ride along a VERY bumpy, torn up frontage road to try to find a spot at one of the many private campgrounds/RV parks along that road. NADA! I’m tired now. So I decide we’ll just get a room off Guintoli Lane in Arcata. Everything’s full (WTF?), but we end up with a suite in the Day’s Inn. Dinner at the Ka-bob Palace.  When we get back to the room, Dave discovers that an old neighbor from Chico is staying at the same hotel. He goes to find him and by the time he gets back, I’m fast asleep. We’ll split up tomorrow and I’ll head home. I am really enjoying this time so I have yet to decide if I get home tonight, to take ONE MORE DAY. Tomorrow is Father’s Day, I’ll be thinking about my dad.

328 road miles, 7 road hours.

Day 12, June 18 - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
SAFE @HOME! Dave and I get up early and help ourselves to the continental breakfast offered at the Day's Inn. For me, this means the hard boiled eggs. We get back to our room to pack up. Dave gets done faster than I do, so we bid farewell and in minutes, Dave is out of sight. It was great reconnecting with my old HS bandmate. I get loaded up and hit the road; it is cold in Arcata. Heading down 101, I am reminded how much I love the North Coast. Coming here since I first started coaching at the Brass Workshop ( since 1982, and continuing until this day as it's director. I always look forward to my annual trek to Arcata. I am able to open 'er up and in no time I am cruising 80+ mph. Highway 101 is nice up here. I decide to take the Avenue of the Giants. I have never really ridden its length, so I figure today might be the day to do that. This is a great ride; no traffic, cool temp. Before long, I am given an option of go left, or go right; I pick the wrong one, left. before long I find myself on Dyerville Loop Road. And in no time is is Rte 211 ALL OVER AGAIN!!! Bumpy, torn up, one spot washed out. This CAN'T be happening! My Garmin keeps telling me, "Make a U-turn, Make a U-turn." After about 30 minutes, I finally turn around on a narrow stretch of washed out road. Miraculously, I do NOT drop the bike (I wouldn't be found for WEEKS out there). I find my erroneous left turn and continue on. At my earliest opportunity, I bail on The Avenue, and get back onto 101. My first gas stop is Garberville. I am ALWAYS stopping in Garberville! It's getting warm now. Heading down 101, there are a few times the road reduces to one lane, and we wait to be waved through. At Leggett, I opt for Hwy 1S. This in one great road. AND the temp had dropped in the mid 60's range. I figure I'll find a place to camp for the night. I stop in Fort Bragg and the spa just to see IF they have my hairbrush (that I left a week ago) and they do. I ride again and I stop at a small stand and buy some apricots and cherries. I chat with the girl selling the fruit and discover she works at a dairy in Modesto. We chat about Modesto awhile, and I hit the road. I stop at Stewart's Point. A fellow rider told me traffic on 1 South will be bad later. How bad can it be? Well, AWFUL! It takes me almost an hour for to go from Jenner to Bodega Bay (19 miles!). The traffic is STOPPED, and I think I am going to burn up my clutch. Waze suggests a by pass and before I know it, ANOTHER Route 211!!! 6 miles later, SOME of the traffic is bypassed and I am off and running. Soon there is a turn off heading into Petaluma. Nice, fast, straight road. I pull into Petaluma and the temp is 92º and rising. Heading south on 101 and my thermo indicated 101º OYE! I get as far as San Rafael and I HAVE to stop. I am committed to making it home tonight (It's under 100 miles at this point), but I am dying of the heat. I can tell when I am not right as I get a tired feeling in my eyes. I stop at McDonald's. I go into the men's room and pee (good sign). My eyes are all red and my shirt is drenched with sweat. I soak my shirt in cold water and put it on. I go to the guy at the counter and get a cup and drink a liter of water at least. I sit in the a/c and in minutes the 'tired' feeling is gone out of my eyes and I can feel my core temp dropping. I climb aboard again and back onto 101S. As I approach SF, the temp is dropping and the traffic is thickening. By the time Robin Williams Tunnel is in view, the traffic is stopped. At this point the lanes are small and I cannot share lanes but have to sit in it. The bridge is magnificent, What a view! When I get onto the bridge, the temp has dropped to 62º and the wind is blowing something fierce from my right (west). The traffic is stop and go and it takes me over an hour to traverse the bridge, and get through the Sunset district. As I pass SF State, the traffic opens up and soon we are going supra legal speeds. By the time I get to the 208/380 split, the temp as gone up to 79º and it is rising. 280 here is beautiful and I am always thankful that I live so close to such a beautiful road. My original trip plan included a ride along Skyline (35) and down Hwy 9 into Saratoga. I option that route and head straight towards Campbell. By the time we hit farm Hill Road, the temp indicated is 93º. The Road Glide (who has since been named 'Cleo') seems to know the way home. As I near my Camden exit, it is closed. There is a brush fire on the side of the road there. I exit Hamilton Ave, wend through the Pruneyard and go down Union. Cleo turns onto Cambrian Drive and right up to the driveway. With the new phone, I cannot open my garage door so I dismount and go around back to see my 3 doggies romping in the pool. The A/C feel great in the house. It has been a wonderful trip. I saw some beautiful things, missed out on others due to road closures (89 through Lassen Park, Hwys 4 and 120) and for some oddball reason, ended up riding through Eureka THREE TIMES!

386 road miles, 10 1/2 hours road time.

Totals: 3,484 road miles, 87.4 road hours.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Motorcycling Beefs

Ok. Here are my beefs for today, and they relate to motorcycles.

First – since I am embroiled in the lifestyle, I am acutely aware of people’s concern and complaints about motorcycles, and motorcyclists. Friends, please realize that bikers account for ONE PERCENT of all licensed drivers (riders) in California. I can’t speak about other states because I simply do not possess the data. In 2015, there were 25.5 MILLION drivers; and only 250 thousand bikers. There are 800,000 bikes REGISTERED, but very few of us only own one bike. Jay Leno has like 400! Even if EVERY BIKER ON THE ROAD was a scofflaw, we are WAY underrepresented in the population at large. Here is an article that talks about who is riding in California:

Second - people are talking to (and around) me about the safety of motorcycles. In my 30+ years of biking, I have gotten to know, literally, THOUSANDS of motorcycle enthusiasts, from dirt bikers, to long distance Iron Butt-ters. Of ALL the biking people with whom I have come in contact, I know of NO ONE who has been fatally injured in a m/c crash. ZERO, NADA, the EMPTY set. Compare that to my experience with airplanes. I have had THREE close friends killed in airplane crashes. In MY admittedly limited experience, airplanes are WAY more dangerous.

Third – Lane Sharing. To the uninitiated, it is called “lane splitting.” A single track vehicle, by definition, cannot physically SPLIT a lane, we are SHARING the lane. Some time back, a man Named Harry Hurt investigated over 900 motorcycle accidents, and 3600 police accident reports involving motorcycles. His research PROVED that it is SAFEER for motorcyclists to share lanes in high traffic (stop & go) situations, than to stay in between cars, like a sitting duck. Further, it is SAFER FOR US to go 10-15 mph FASTER than the flow of traffic. There are guidelines (unofficial, unpublished) that are suggested by the California Highway Patrol to make these practices safer. As bikers, we are naturally drawn to motor officers. I have NEVER met a policeman who was not willing to take some time to talk about m/cs and motorcycling. You can get a copy of the Hurt report (almost 900 pages which I have read cover-to-cover) from the Department of Transportation. It comes in 2 documents, numbered HS-805 862 & HS-805 863.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Train Blog, May 2016

Many of you know that I am a seasoned rail rider. I have spent days, nay WEEKS aboard Amtrak trains. Truth be told, if I NEVER got on an airplane, it'd be too soon. Having said that, there are number of things about rail travel in the US that is NOT good. I will write my thoughts here in hopes of making your train experience more pleasurable, or to help you go in knowing what to expect. I will try to organize them by topic.

Packing - You should have 2 suitcases; One IN your sleeper for all of your needs while you are aboard, and the other you can check through of items you won't need until your arrival.

Things you will need while you are aboard: Clothes you will need. Do not plan on anything formal. Casual, around the house clothes are fine. You will drop food on you when you are eating, you will splash on you in the bathroom, and if you are drinking something in your room, I guarantee the train will lurch just as you are raising your glass and spill all over you. I travel with camo pants. They have lots of pockets for wallet, glasses, iPhone, money, whatever. Plus, WHEN I spill something, you can't see it. I bring one shirt for each day aboard. I sleep in sweats and t-shirts. I bring a sweatshirt (not a hoodie) for if/when it gets cold in my room. I bring my dopp kit with shampoo, toothbrush, shaver (use an electric aboard, trust me), and other personal items. You want all these in a dopp kit of sorts so you can bring everything to bathroom all at once.

In your room: There is a temperature controller in your room, but don't count on it actually doing anything. The car steward actually controls the temp in your car and their concept of warm and cold always seem to be different from mine. In each room, there is an air vent that always blows cold air. There is a lever that "closes" the vents, but it won't. SO I always travel with a roll (or more) of duct tape. If it gets too cold in my room (which it usually does), I cover the vent(s) with duct tape. If it starts getting warm, I remove ONE strip of tape at a time, until I get the temp right. I can very accurately adjust my room temp this way. Works every time. Once, I taped over both vents completely, and cold air came pouring out the lighting fixtures; I taped over them, too. I travel with a ratcheting screwdriver and wire cutters. Once, the speaker in my room would not turn off (again, there IS a controller, but don't count on IT working). I unscrewed the speaker and clipped the wire. I repaired the "fix" before I got off the train. If light keeps you from sleeping, bring a sleep mask. In a roomette, it is impossible to block out the constant hall lighting. It's easier in the bedroom, and in the family room, light comes in under the door, at the floor; you can block this with your shoes. If you want to read, there are plenty of reading lights, and each room has has an overhead light that toggles with a night light that glows a soft, blue light. There is an electric outlet in each room. I bring a power strip and multi outlet charger for my iPhone, iPad and Jambox. This keeps my devices charged up and ready to go. THERE IS NO WIRELESS IN THE SLEEPER CARS. There was a wireless network on the Southwest Chief. I was able to hook into it, but it didn't work. On the Coast Starlight there is intermittent wireless in the Parlor Car and sometimes in the observation car, but don't count on it. Make sure your phone has a personal hotspot so you can link your iPad (or lap top) to the phone. In many places the train goes, there is NO phone service. This would be a good time to get your shower. On the train, you must wear shoes at all times. Not in your room obviously, but this is a good policy. There is a treacherous joint where the cars join. I couldn't IMAGINE getting my toe caught under that. I have a pair of hard soled, fleece line slippers that I wear, with no sox. They are plenty warm, comfortable and slip right on and off.

In the shower: If you are on the train for more than a day, you'll want to shower. Amtrak supplies towels, soap, shampoo. May 2016: no shampoo on the Empire Builder. You probably should bring your own. Unless you are really sticky about what you put on your hair, you can use what they provide; it'll be FINE for one or 2 days. I promise your hair won't fall out. In some showers, you punch a button, and the water runs for 2 minutes, then you punch the button again; I haven't seen this in awhile, I guess they fixed that. Sometimes, it takes a REALLY long time for the water to get hot. Be patient. One interesting thing to note, the shower water dumps right onto the tracks. Once there was no drain cover and I could see the tracks going by right under my feet! There is one shower per sleeper; it is downstairs. The best time to shower is right after breakfast, or right after dinner. I have never had to wait for a shower at these times.

In the bathroom: Many car stewards keep the bathrooms clean and fresh smelling. This is not always the case. If it's not, tell your steward. They may or may not do something about it. If they don't, go in another car. Chances are the steward in that car does. When you use the basin (especially the small one in the bedroom) put your hands at the very bottom of the basin. The water squirts out fast and you will get splashed. Some of the fixtures have been changed, but many have not. I don't want my only pair of pants wet at the crotch for the duration of my ride. If you are particular about what forestry products keeps your bum clean and fresh, bring your own. The septic system aboard the train is very fragile, so they use septic system safe paper products (read: single ply, thin). If you are going #2, line the bottom of the bowl with toilet paper before you do (trust me on this). As with the toilet tissue, the paper towels that are supplied are very thin, fold them in half before you use them. You'll use less and they will work better. Bring some baby wipes (wet wipes). You can freshen up, and you can wash your face with them, too. PLEASE, do not put ANYTHING (except the aforementioned paper product) into the toilets. This can be a REAL mess. Also, after you go, if you have other business in the bathroom, put the seat down, they don't sell toothbrushes on the train. Men, put the seat up. And when you miss (and you will) take a paper towel and clean up.

In the dining car: Please, don't expect gourmet food. Aboard the Coast Starlight there is the parlor car, where sometime they serve something special. Typical breakfast fare is a couple different eggs dishes, oatmeal, continental. If they have it, try the French Toast. Bacon or sausage on the side is included. They don't always ask if you want it. If the people sitting with you at breakfast don't get theirs, ask them if you can have it. You can never get enough protein. You will be offered biscuit or croissant. Sometimes, the biscuits are dry. Grits are always available, and are sometimes offered. Don't expect Starbucks coffee. Last I heard, they make the coffee from a liquid concentrate. It isn't terrible. If you hate paper cups, bring your own mug; I do & it is ALWAYS a conversation starter. There is always a lunch special, a burger (overcooked, get the cheese & bacon, it'll help, & add catsup & mayo), a veggie burger, and some kind of salad. You can ask for a side salad, and sometimes you can get one (see tipping below). Recently, aboard the Coast Starlight, I had a wonderful pork shank for lunch, they had it on the Empire Builder, too. For dinner, there is always a special, a chicken dish, pasta dish, fish dish and a flat iron steak. I've had them all, get the steak. Although, on this time out of SJC on the Coast Starlight (May 2016), there was a wonderful smelling & looking chicken dish (I got pasta). Dinner comes with a salad (of the crappy side variety), veggies du jour (steamed, I think, it's hard to tell), and a starch. There is always Newman's Own for salad dressing, 4 choices; mix the ranch and Italian. I don't THINK they have changed the menu in at LEAST 15 yrs. For breakfast, you can sit any time as they serve from 6:00-9:00; there's always a seat. For lunch and dinner, you need reservations. I haven't gotten this figured out yet. I'm either not hungry yet, or I'm starving. Dessert is included for lunch and dinner. Make sure you ask for it if it is not offered. You will have to share a table, you will be seated with 3 strangers; this can be a GOOD thing, or a BAD thing. You'll find a different breed of person on the train. Nobody is in a hurry. They sit. They talk. They hang out. Everybody has a story. Be prepared to chat. I have met some phenomenal people on the train. If this disturbs you, you can get your meals brought to your room by your car steward, but be prepared to tip a little extra, which brings me to my next topic:

Tipping aboard the train: While the stewards and the dining car workers are union members, their union is not as strong as the engineer's & conductor's union (yes, they are different). This harkens back to the day when the car workers were all African-Americans, and the others were Caucasians. The accepted tip for the car attendant is $5 - $10 per day, per person. I always double that and I tip the attendant BEFORE I get on the train. As I show my ticket, I hand the steward the tip and I say, "This is for you, in case I don't see you when I get off." These overworked Amtrak employees are on call 24/7, and they have to be as bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3 AM in Chico, California, as they are at 11 AM in Ottumwa, Iowa. Tip 'em. Learn their name and use it. They will put up your bed when asked, & take it down. "Do you need anything, Mr. Clements?" is the way I'm treated on the train. With the cost of train travel, what's a few extra bucks to get good service? In the dining car, you calculate your tip on the actual cost of the meal. When you get a sleeper, meals are included. Figure your tip (use 25%) at the time you order your meal (don't forget beverages & desert). I always tip a minimum of $5 for breakfast & lunch, $10 for dinner. I always get great service: that extra order of bacon or coffee and soft drink at meals (for which you have to pay, normally). I always learn the name of my server and use it liberally. I give them mine and we develop a nice rapport that makes meal time very pleasurable. On the Empire Builder this time, I knew all of them (Kevin, Connie, Katrina & Liz) and we hung out at long stops. If I get outstanding service by my car steward, I'll tip them AGAIN when I get off. This happened ONCE.

Selecting your accommodations:  If you decide not to go coach (HIGHLY recommended), you'll need to decide what type of accommodation you want. I have been in all types, so I'll comment on my preferences, and why. I suggest you go here to read what Amtrak posts about accommodation choices:

Roomette: This is suggested for one or 2 people. This is 1/3 of the width of the train (on the site I think it gives the dimensions of each room). Honestly, for me, this is too small. For 2 people, with the room set up for day use, you will be bumping knees all day. You can't sit side by side, or lay down together. It has two bunks, one lower & one upper. There really is not room for your stuff. There is a small closet to hang your coat. There are 4 of these on the lower level, and 10 on the upper.
Bedroom: This is for 2-3 people. This is a good choice. There is plenty of room for you and your stuff; tuba & suitcase. It includes a bathroom & shower, it is 2/3 the width of the train. This is the most expensive of the accommodations. I guess because of the private bath and shower. Honestly, for me the shower is too small. Also, I'd rather not poop in my room. I'd rather do this down the hall. It IS good, however, if you reach a certain age and have to tinkle during the night; the loo is right there. There is a shelf right above the single chair to put your suitcase on, and room under the bed for a THIN suitcase. The cool thing about this option is that there is a sliding panel so you can adjoin 2 rooms to make a suite kind of thing. I have never done this, but it seems like a cool option. These are on the upper level, 5 per car.
Accessible: this is for people who have mobility issues. Before I had hip surgery this was a good choice for me. There is only ONE of these rooms per car, so if you need one, better book early. And it is on the lower level.
Family Bedroom: This is my choice. It sleeps 2-3 adults plus 2 kids. I travelled with 2 suitcases a tuba & my backpack. PLENTY of room. It is the entire width of the train so if there is something to see on either side, you won't miss it. The nearest bathroom and the shower is only 12 steps away. Even in the middle of the night, this ain't bad. The only thing "bad" about this room is that it is on the lower level. At many stations, people can see right into the room. Make sure you draw the curtains if you are changing. Sound like the voice of experience? There is only ONE of these rooms per car. Again, book early. Oddly, even with the size of this room, it is cheaper than the bedroom.
Upper level or lower level?: This in an interesting question. You have this choice only on the roomette. On the upper level, there are people walking around all the time. This is the passageway between cars. If your car is near the dining car, you will get a lot of foot traffic walking by your room. Plus, the upper level sways a bit more. Imagine the wheels being the center of a circle and the roof being on the circumference. So if the motion bothers you, this might be an issue. The lower level has virtually no foot travel, and it sways less. BUT if it is the last car the train (like I had on the City of New Orleans, a notoriously BAD section of track) it can be a bouncy and rocky ride, kind of like the last car on a roller coaster. On the lower level the track noise can be louder. Then you got that "looking in the window" thing. I prefer the lower level. At stops you can get right out and back on.

Cars on the train - In addition to the engine(s) and baggage cars, there are these types of cars:

Coaches. There are airplane types of seats, but better. There are 2 on each side of the aisle, and there is LOTS of room between seats; plenty to recline and sleep. There is an overhead for your bags. In each car there is a large space behind the last row. Traveling with a tuba, I put it here for the duration; it was safe. Most people travel on the train in coach. Fare is reasonable and it is easy to get tickets. One caution: while the attendant will keep track of where you have to get off, once they didn't and I ended up 3 hours beyond MY stop.
Lounge - This is sometimes an observation car. This is the BEST place to look at scenery. It is all windows and the seats are comfortable. Many times, there is a ranger on board giving great information about the area through which you are traveling. Food is sold on the lower level, but don't expect much, and it is not cheap.
Diner - Where you get your meals. Details above.
Sleepers - Where the accommodations are.
There is no figuring where each car is going to be. GENERALLY, sleepers are right behinds the baggage car, followed by the diner, lounge car (if there is one) then coaches. Having the diner in the middle, prevents coach passengers from entering the sleepers. On the Coast Starlight, the parlor car is between the sleepers and the diner. 

Other considerations: When making plans, plan on the train being late, VERY late. I was almost late making a connection from the California Zephyr to the Capitol Limited. I left 7 hours to make the connection. Literally, I made it with 4 minutes to spare. Taking the Sunset from LA to Kissimmee, Florida, we were 18 hours late. There were a train full of folks in the next car that were going on a cruise; they missed their boat. They had to CHARTER a boat to the next port of call to catch up with their cruise ship. SOMEONE should have told them. I always plan a day between legs of a trip. You're on a train, what's the hurry? On this trip, we hit somebody. We were stopped for 4 hours while everything was sorted out.
Bring everything into your room that you will need in transit, jacket, sunglasses, snacks. There is a luggage storage area on each sleeping car, lower level, but frequently accessing your bag is a huge hassle. If you've checked your big bag through, you cannot get to it until you arrive.
This trip will not be cheap, adding accommodations will triple the cost of the fare. Plan on it. There are no shortcuts or discounts. There is a small AAA discount and your NARP (National Association of Rail Passengers) membership MIGHT help.
There are some "smoke stops" along the way. This is to slow the train down in the REMOTE chance that it actually gets ahead of schedule or to change crews. (The train will NEVER leave a station before the printed departure time). Take the time to go outside and smell the air in different locales. It's one of the things that makes train travel SO good. If the conductor (or car steward) says, "Stay on the platform," Stay on the platform!!! Once in Eugene (on the Coast Starlight), 12 people went into town, the train left them. They had to get 4 cabs to bring them to Albany to catch up. 4 cabs ain't cheap to go 43 miles.
When walking THROUGH the train, walk with your stance as wide as possible. You will minimize the getting thrown around effect as the train rounds bends. Use your forearms as outriggers against the walls & windows.
Remember, the train is quiet. Please respect your neighbors and make the kids use their inside voices. Quiet time is 10 PM to 7 AM.

Bring mouthwash. You will be sitting up close and personal with people at dinner time. And deodorant.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What happened to top 40 music?

I became acquainted with top 40 music in the 1960s. My brother, Les,  was very current with all the new artists. I heard tunes like "Baby Talk" by Jan and Dean, "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" by Elvis Presley, "He’s a Rebel" by the Crystals, "Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke, "Be True to your School" by the Beach Boys, "18 Yellow Roses" by Bobby Darin, and other tunes by artists such as the (Young) Rascals, the Ronettes, Leslie Gore, Bobby Vee, Jay and the Americans, Roy Orbison, the Rondelles, and many others. I heard, also, a LOT of "Do-wop," by what had come to be known as Rhythm and Blues and street corner artists.

My own interest in top 40 music covered about a 12 year span from roughly 1966 through 1978. My 45 RPM record collection included titles such as "Along came Mary," "Never my Love," "Cherish," and "Windy," by the Association, "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas, "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel, "No Matter what Shape your Stomach is in" by the T-bones, "Sloop John B" by the Beach boys, "A Little bit of Me," "Last Train to Clarskville," "I'm a Believer," "Not your Stepping Stone," and others by the Monkees, "Let's Live for Today" by the Grass Roots, "On the Eve of Destruction," by Barry McGuire, "The Happening" by the Supremes, "I just Dropped In" by the First Edition, "Stoned Soul Picnic," and "Up, Up and Away," by the Fifth Dimension, "Young Girl," and "This Girl's a Woman Now," by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe, "The Letter" by the Box Tops, "I think we're alone Now" and "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and the Shondells, "Rain in the Park and Other Things" by the Cowsills, "Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. And many other hits from that era. Not to mention all of the albums I bought with my papar route money by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, and the Monkees. Even after moving to Los Angeles in 1975, I listened to KRTH which was the local top 40 channel. I kind of tuned out about mid-1976.

After that, I became a serious student of classical music and kind of lost touch with popular music. I learned about Bach and Brahms, Bruckner and Beethoven, Wagner, Debussy and Stravinsky. It was during this period that I was also introduced to jazz. My favorite artists were David Brubeck, Stan Kenton, Don Ellis, and Jaco Pastorius. During that period I purchased albums by those artists but remained completely out of touch with what was called top 40 music at the time.

Recently, I became aware of a group of GREAT studio musicians that flourished from roughly 1959 through 1981. This was a group of musicians who played on virtually every top 40 song during this time. A rough roster is below:

Guitar: Glen Campbell (yes, THAT Glen Campbell), Barney KesselTommy TedescoAl CaseyCarol KayeBilly StrangeRene Hall, Don Peake, Howard RobertsJames BurtonJerry Cole, Bill Aken, Mike Deasy, Doug Bartenfeld, Ray Pohlman, Bill Pitman, Irv Rubins, Louie Shelton, John Goldthwaite, Al Vescovo.
Saxophone: Steve DouglasJay MiglioriJim HornPlas JohnsonNino Tempo, Gene Cipriano
Trumpet: Roy CatonTony TerranOllie Mitchell, Bud Brisbois, Chuck Findley.
Trombone: Lou BlackburnRichard "Slyde" Hyde, Lew McCreary
Percussion: Julius Wechter, Gary L. Coleman, Frank Capp

It was after doing some internet research about these great artists that I renewed my interest in top 40 music. I went online to look for local top 40 radio stations. There were none listed in the AM band, and there were only three listed on the FM side, one comes from, oddly, Ohlone College, which is very weak in the South Bay. I programmed them into the sound system in my van and since that time I have been listening to a lot of top 40 music. Thus my initial question, what happened to top 40 music? Most of the songs that I have been hearing are by rap artists who seem to be remaking the same song over and over, or young artists whose music seems to sound all the same. I don't hear any of the excellence, craftsmanship, or artistry created by producers such as Phil Spector. Nor do I hear quality compositions by quality composers such as Jimmy Webb and Billy Strange, or the symphonic epics, such as "MacArthur Park," "Layla," or Mason Williams' "Classical Gas."

So for now, I'll continue to listen to my three stations, and welcome the relief I feel from the commercials, plugs, and advertisements.

As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in review

January – I did a lot of playing this month; Symphony Silicon Valley, California Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony… I spent some time with doctors discussing my chronic pain & my hip. I spent a GREAT weekend in LA visiting with Jim Self. No matter where you are along the musical path, it is always good to connect with one’s mentors. We talked a lot, we played together and I left there with some wonderful thoughts.

February – First up was the BCMW composition reading session. I ALWAYS enjoy playing new, fresh music and this contest was as good as always. We were able to add some wonderful new music to the BCMW library. Spent some more time with doctors and worked a lot at Lynbrook High School. Mike Pakaluk inherited a HUGE program from John Felder and is doing a wonderful job there. End of the month, I started in the Pain Management Program at Kaiser Hospital.

March – I had THREE concerts to conduct, OWO, OCB & MPBB and a recording session with OWO. SSV played a concert, and a series of Children’s’ concerts, which I always enjoy. I taught a lot of lessons this month, as well as some students at Stanford. Continued at Kaiser with the PMP. Took three bands to Fresno the 24th.

April – I sold my Bruckner to Alex Lapins in Arizona; we met at Bakersfield for the hand off. I got booted out of the pain management program because I missed too many classes. At this time, I am seriously considering a hip replacement, as the chronic pain is sometimes unbearable. I cannot conduct a 2-hour rehearsal standing. As much as I HATE this, I have to run rehearsals from a stool. I played several rehearsals with the Diablo Wind Symphony, preparing for a May solo appearance, and had several rehearsals with our brass detect, and judged a music festival. The Tuba Ensemble did a concert in Livermore, and the brass band played its spring concert. I went to hear the SF Symphony play ‘Romeo & Juliet” one of my FAVORITE pieces. I got reinstated in the Pain Management program with a modified attendance policy. I am moving towards coping with the chronic pain. More work with the Lynbrook bands and I taught a TON of lessons this month.

May – I had my breakthrough with the Pain Management Program. May 3rd to be exact. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a life altering experience for me. I came to some wonderful realizations, and like magic, my back pain all but disappeared. If you want more info, contact me offline. Concerts: Symphony Silicon Valley, OWO, MPBB, solo with Diablo Wind Symphony, OCB. I auditioned to conduct the Watsonville Band. Played with the Monterey Band and I started a long run of Mary Poppins, bass trombone and tuba. Had a BLAST playing this show and made a ton of dough! Notes that my dear Phil Zahorsky had left us one year ago, on May 18. To celebrate his life, we have a band campout at Big Basin State Park that weekend. A grand time was had by all. A decision was made to have the hip replacement surgery; I asked for a MEDICAL leave from Music in the Mountains. I have been playing this festival since 1983.

June – Finished a long run of Mary Poppins. Man, I loved playing that musical. Great part, great orchestra, wonderful conductor. Did some Pain Management classes, prior to my June 19 surgery. SSV had a bass trombone audition; we hired a young trombonist from LA, who’s parents were classmates of mine at Northridge. I taught a lot of lessons before the new hip. June 19th – surgery. The surgery itself was pretty painless. It is really draconian what they do to you, but it is better than chronic pain. The next day, was HELL. I have never had pain like that. They get you right up and walking, but apparently (come to find out MUCH later) I was under medicated because the pain was UNbearable. One of the physical therapists FORCED me out of bed, and I was in tears, I never felt pain like that. June 22, my 25th wedding anniversary, home from the hospital. With drugs (morphine is GOOD!) I am able to control the pain. My extended family (read Ohlone & BCMW) was wonderful, with people bringing over food for 3 weeks after I am home. Thank you to Phil Pollard for coordinating all of that. MANY people stop by to see how I am doing. There is such a HUGE outcropping of visits, support and helping, I feel BLESSED to be surrounded with so many truly extraordinary people.

July – Against doctor’s orders, I play a July 4th gig with the Oakland Park band; THAT was a mistake! The pain was awful. Linda and I buy a new trailer for BCMW and it arrives the 10th. I see my surgeon for the first time since the surgery and he is thrilled with the results. I’m still hobbling with a cane, and medicated (no more morphine, though). Again, against Dr.’s orders I go to BCMW. It WAS a challenge, but with SO much help, it went off without a hitch. I had to hire a last minute coach for week 2 because I can’t go a whole day without pain meds and I can’t concentrate on coaching when I am medicated. I am supposed to play “Tubby the Tuba” with the symphony, but I bailed because there is no way I can do that. Rod Matthews agrees to fill in for me last minute.

August – I continue with the Kaiser pain class and teach a ton of lessons. Ohlone bands start up end of the month. It is great seeing my musical family after this weird summer. I play the POPS in SLO the last weekend.

September – HEART ATTACK!!  Yep, I suffered a heart attack on September 5th. I’m home alone; chest pain, dial 911 and they haul me out of here. I almost croak in the ambulance as my blood pressure goes through the roof. It was pretty scary; a life changing event for sure. They put 3 stents in and they find no damage to the heart muscle. I was back to work 3 days later. I’m not going let a little thing like a heart attack keep me away from my tuba ensemble, AND the first rehearsal of the newly formed Ohlone Clarinet Choir. I need to change my eating habits. It feels so good to be in front of my Ohlone Ensembles again, teaching my lessons and working with the Lynbrook kids. There is a pain management potluck on the 28th and it is WONDERFUL re-connecting with my pain management family. Symphony concerts and children’s concerts at the end of the month. And I start teaching three OUTSTANDING students at Stanford. I am given the position of ‘Interim Director of Bands’ at CSU East Bay, when their band director resigns.

OCTOBER – I play one of the most unique gigs I have ever played: 6 tubas in the Ann Hamilton Tower on Oliver Ranch. Google it, it is fascinating. I GET ON A PLANE! I go to my hometown (Lindenhurst, NY) for a 40th HS reunion. Although I did not go to Lindenhurst HS, I went to elementary school and junior high school with many, many of these folks. I was not going to go, but I was encouraged by more than a few people to go, so I did. AM I GLAD I DID! Not only did I really enjoy the trip, but also I reconnected with childhood friends and realized that truly, my childhood connection was something I really missed in my life. I am so grateful that the people with whom I spent time made me feel so at home. I reconnected with John Geheran and Bobby Arndts, 2 of my closest childhood friends. While I am there, I meet a wonderful horn player/composer/improv artist, Lydia Busler-Blais; more about her later. As soon as I get home, Jimmy Latten comes out from PA to conduct on the MPBB concert. It was great having him and he did wonderful rehearsals with my bands. At the end of the month, I begin rehearsals with the Santa Rosa Symphony, playing “Symphonie Phantastique” with Rod Matthews in the new Green Center in Santa Rosa.

November – That first weekend I played a series of incredible concerts with the Santa Rosa Symphony. I don’t think I’ll EVER tire of playing ‘Fantastique.’ That new hall is awesome, and I love playing with Rod. My rehearsals with the CSUEB band go well and I am teaching a ton of lessons. Nov 16, Lydia comes out here to make some connections. She is SUCH a talented artist; I want to try to get her out here doing some concerts, lectures, and demos. She comes to my clarinet & tuba concert and meets some of our Ohlone family and in NO TIME, she is being pressured to coach up at BCMW. I KNEW our guys would love her! She’s supposed to go home the 21st, but gets sick. She ends up going home AFTER T’giving, missing the holiday with her family. My first concert with the CSUEB band goes rather well. The musicians make TREMENDOUS progress in the quarter. I am looking forward to the rest of the year.

December – SSV concert, Tchaik 6th. STILL one of my favorite pieces to play. George Cleve does a GREAT job of rehearsing and conducting this masterpiece. GREAT performance by the symph. The next week, NUTCRACKER. With the upheaval at Ballet San Jose, there is a new production, reconstituted score and a new conductor. Dec 8, Ohlone Christmas Spectacular. All 5 groups play, OWO, OCB, MPBB, TE and CC. Great concert. Had a wonderful time and the groups played their hearts out. Tom Johnson VIDEO’D the whole thing, and I JUST saw the BLURAY version, YOWZA!! I played “The Legend of Zelda” at the SJ Civic Auditorium with the Skywalker Symphony. WOW, what a band!!! Played a wonderful gig with the Modesto Symphony and I saw an OLD friend of mine, Julie Rydelius, with whom I went to Jr. College. She is still a professional hornist in Florida. Finished up ‘Nutcracker’ and spent Xmas day with my father, who will be 92 on January 26th, 2013. Dec 31, spent New Years’ with my dear friends Phil & Susan Pollard, and Neil Bliss and Wendy Tran dropped by to play some Uno. They say, how you spend New Years Eve is how you spend your year. If I eat a wonderful meal, and am surrounded with friends for 2013, it WILL be a great year!