Monday, June 18, 2007

Change is always part of the road

Day 2 will see me departing from Amarillo early in the morning. I will take a detour as I leave Amarillo, to explore one of Ride Texas Magazine recommended routes. This should add about 60 miles to the day's ride, but from what I hear, it is well worth it. The rest of the day shall remain unplanned, except for the late afternoon arrival in Albany, TX.

A few days ago I started looking at the preparation that will be needed to deal with changing temperatures along the way. Thanks to the great variety of online weather information systems, I was able to plot the changes in maximum and minimum temperatures as a function of distance from Denver, the starting point.

With temperatures dipping into the 50s and 40s in the Denver and New Mexico areas, I am looking forward to the desert and to Texas after the first day.

While things feel pretty nice and balmy, for people like me, but more like really hot and humid for others, here in Houston, temperature will not be as nice at night or during early morning, at the beginning of the trip.

The ongoing preparation for this journey makes me continue to reflect on God's promise as He spoke to His people through Joshua: "It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled "(Joshua, 24:17). I know I have moved through life, always wanting to do things myself and my way. I have always been a planner and contemplated things from all angles, trying to predict all the pitfalls and all the bends on the road. I have always tried to be the owner of the journey. And the harder I worked at that, the harder my journey has become. In those times when I have now come to the realization that I can only be the project executor for Him, and not the project manager, I must confess that I have found great relief. I am to constantly be reminded that He has brought me so far; that He has reached down for me and did not concern Himself with where I was; that I all needed to do was reach for His hand. And while the temperatures may fluctuate wildly, the sun may shine, or the cross winds may hit us unpredictably, His hand is always there. What better fairing can we ask for. We have one that fits us better than any Italian engineered machine.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Counting the days

This week brings me closer to boarding the plane that will take me to Colorado. As I count the days I reflect on how this trip, how this adventure, how this dream, is just another facet of how we should face charted routes and the uncharted days of our lives. In Philippians 4, God continues to reassure us of His Loving care when, through Paul's letter, He tells us: "The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

As I approach this trip, I am thankful to Him for the support of family and friends, not just in this endeavor. He has listened to my prayers, even at times when I could not tell what was coming around the corner, and the current stretch of highway seemed like a never ending deluge, even though it was actually like a South Texas early afternoon shower. Knowing He is always near; knowing that He is my Savior, knowing that He will answer my prayers, should always give me the trust that I need to approach Him in prayer, especially when I need His loving hand to guard my heart and my mind. However, I often fail to do so.

Today I charted the first day, Denver to Amarillo. This time, using Google Earth, I identified an interesting stop outside of Colorado Springs. About five miles west of Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods. It looks like a good number of rock formations and a good place to stop, have breakfast on the side of the road, and take a moment to read the Scripture. This should be a fairly short ride before the stop, since Colorado Springs is only 70 miles south of Denver.

From here is will be another shot down to Raton, NM, just 148 miles, where I can take another brief detour through the curvy roads of Climax Canyon. I swear, I wish some of these names were more Godly. This should put me here around noon time. And from here it will be another 4 hours or so to Amarillo, TX, where I will spend my first night.

Most of the supplies are in. There are only a few odds and ends to be completed. Thanks to Sandra, who added a great number of goodies I am almost ready to roll. Still need to print a couple of maps, even though this time, I am traveling with a GPS unit. Still, I need to figure out the wiring, and be mindful since one of the big principles of motorcycle riding is "No Big Changes Before A Big Ride".

In the coming week I need to pack it all, and finalize the second and third day of the trip. At the end of the week I depart for Boulder. It still will be one more week before I pick the Futura up, and another week before lift off. In the meantime. Please pray for me, but more importantly, that the success of this journey, not just the trip, be all a reflection of His Glory, His Mercy, His Love.

Mas Later.

El C

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Be Still in the storm

Preparing for a trip like this is a great experience. A very dear friend asked me last night if I felt anxious, afraid, or angry, in dealing with the different aspects of this trip, such as dealing with reservations, dealers, route mapping and so on. I had to honestly respond that I felt all of those, but also a great level of excitement. Throw anxiety management in this mix and you will know that you have a potentially explosive cocktail in your hands.

However, I also have come to realize in the last few days that riding a motorcycle can in so many ways be summed up by verse 10 in Psalm 46,
"Be still, and know that I am God;"
When you ride, your mind can not afford to wander. You are fully enveloped in the environment. No barriers exist between you and the wind, the sun, the smells, the rain, the asphalt. All your senses and thoughts have to work together to keep you on two wheels and out of trouble, but you also experience it all. Your thoughts may not wander; you can not worry about tomorrow. Not at that particular moment. You have to be in it fully. And my aim is to reach a similar state in my relationship with God. Being fully in His environment, with all my senses, thoughts and feelings focused on Him. Knowing the He is God and experiencing the luxury of being still because He will take care of me. If God told Jeremiah: 8 "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you", why do we afford ourselves the thought that He will not do the same for all of us?

So, as I continue the preparations for this trip, I keep thinking of His Love, Knowing the He is God.

As of yesterday, I have finalized my route. It has changed some, to take into account some lodging concerns. The route is now 1,100 miles, with the first leg going from Denver, to Amarillo, via Raton, DesMoines and Clayton, NM. The Second leg will take take to Albany, TX, instead of Abilene. I will pass Canyon, Lubbock and Snyder. On the final day, I will still go through Temple, but I will now hit Cisco and Comanche (sounds like a good western to me) before I that. From there it will be down to Houston.

Equipment has started to get here and hopefully the whole packing list will be complete by next week.

Mas Later

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Knowing the truth

This was posted this morning by my friend Janet. She lost her son in a tragic accident in Colorado, after he came back from serving in Iraq. Her walk with God is inspirational to me.

June 4, 2006
Twice in a Blue Moon

The first time I rode a motorcycle it was on the back of my brother’s dirt bike. Neil was barely 13, full of sullen anger, the tinny sound of the engine a high whine, he would put the bike through its gears, skirting trees as he traversed woody paths. Who knows why, but when I asked, he shared the biking experience with his 6 year older sister. On the back, scared and yet enthralled, I learned to lean into the curves and trusted the strength of his young body and mind to safely navigate our trips. This kind of bike riding was addictive and over the next several years, as Neil's taste in bikes changed and his sullen nature matured, he shared them with me. Riding on a motorcycle is a strange kind of freedom. It’s moving through space, fast, with nothing between you and the world around you. That’s why it’s so dangerous and that is why it’s addictive. Over the years I have shared a ride or two with Neil and more occasionally with my brother-in-law, almost always riding in the passenger seat. I have had my share of muffler burns and the few times I attempted to drive it was more scary than freeing.

At the beginning of May, for reasons that are probably complex and about temporary freedom of his own, Neil borrowed a bike and drove from Ft Worth to Houston to visit. After dinner, right at dusk, I asked. “Yeah, get on. We won’t wear helmets tonight. I will be careful. Watch out for the muffler.” I sat behind him, my hands placed gently at his waist and noticed his shoulders and back were still strong but older and thought about the past. The moon was just leaving full and I talked loud directly into ear over his shoulder as the engine whined. ‘That’s a blue moon, Neil.” “Yeah, he says, “the first of two full moons in a single month.” I relaxed into the seat, trusted his ability and his care, and for a moment was free. Free not to worry or doubt or be sad or think anything other than hear the loud wind rush past my face and feel as my body reacted to the acceleration on whatever straight-aways the road provided. When we got back from our ride I wanted to tell Neil what it meant to me. All I said was thanks. Over the years I have come to appreciate men for their use of economy of words. Mind you, sometimes it’s annoying, but many times, its all that is appropriate.

At about this time, a friend of mine fulfilled his lifelong dream with the purchase of a street bike. Nothing fancy, but a good first starter and I suspect the indulgence of freedoms of his own that he needed. It had been a while since I had seen David, a lot can happen in people’s lives in a month and so at the end of May we planned to hit some tennis balls. Finally the evening came, after postponements and delays for Houston summer rains. Coaching me through some bad habits and laughing and talking a bit we got ready to call it a night. “You want a ride?” he said, “I finished my safety course.” We packed up the tennis balls, he had me strap on his lone helmet, and right at dusk, with the second full moon in May, we set out. We rode on quiet roads east of Houston, where the flat lay of the land allows you to feel the sunset long after the light is gone. “It’s a pretty night,” I yell across his shoulder, hearing the familiar scream of wind and beginning to lean into the acceleration of the bike. There is a special kind of thinking you do when you are that close to the world around you. “Yeah, he says, a blue moon”. I let myself, for the second time in a single month, feel the freedom of a motorcycle ride. I know that Jake’s last moments on this earth were about this freedom on a full-moon lit night a year and half ago. A small tear rides the wind and a heartfelt prayer is sent skyward. The ride winding down, back in David’s neighborhood, David says “watch the muffler” as we pull into his garage. David’s been one of those friends who continue to find ways to shoulder the burden of loss with me. He says, “I got you something. I had some decals made of Jake’s crede. I thought you might want to put one on your car.” I look at him. “Let’s put one on my bike.” In companionable silence, we do just that, and it looks right, like it was painted on the tank. “Thanks, for the ride and the decals, David," I say as I wave and get in my car. Only for a moment do I hope he knows how much I tried to tell him in those few words. He does. “Anytime Janet,” he says. On the way home I think how good, how much I cherish the freedoms I have, the temporary ones and the ones that are more permanent. Like the freedom that God grants me to question and mull things over in my mind and the steadfastness that He shows me of His love while I do so, through friends and bikes and blue moon months.

Happy Monday. I wish you a few temporary freedoms, but most of all I wish you real freedom.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32