Friday, September 5, 2008

The Mississippi Journey : Days 1-3

Finally, after weeks of editing photos and getting my notes from my journal, the first 3 days of this journey are now on my website.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


RedBull, originally uploaded by JadeRider.

One of the many great pieces shown at the Houston Galleria as past of Art of the Can Expo

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 1: The Memphis Ride

Day 1
Its about five pm and I am in Natchitoches eating meat pie and dirty
rice at Papa's Bar & Grill. This is almost the end of a 260 mile ride
and while Fleetwood Mac blares in the baxk I reflect on a day that
started at 7 am. After breakfast I loaded up Hidalgo and waited for
Joe and Adelina to come by the house to see me off, along with Sandra.
I left just before nine and traveled east first and then North. Part
of the trip took me near Vidor and Jasper, and as I avoided those spot
I reflected on the long legacy of the sins of a few.
Two of the highlights of the day have to be the 40 mile ride through
the forests that lead to Hemphill, and the rookerie on the Louisiana
side of the Sabine river. What a testament to God's creative hands.
I am blessed today whith Him riding along, providing unforeseen
surprises and feeling His love in my life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

+ The Road Ahead

As I prepare to ride off tomorrow, I am filled with excitement and a bit of anxiety. Yep, with as much preparation and thought, I still feel that more can be done. Yet, we can never prepare for it all and life is indeed enriched by the experiences that we did not anticipate. Like an afternoon storm that blows over tents and flags for a brief moment, just before a birthday party at the beach on a 4th of July. Or like an old biology professor of mine used to say. You learn the most form the experiments that do not yield the results you expected. So, on the day before departure, I am taking a moment to share with you how thankful I am to God for bringing me this far. For providing me with the moment, the materials goods, and the flame that keeps driving me to travel this road.

The routes have been laid down. They will take me from Houston to Memphis and back in 12 days. Seems quite a bit of time for an estimated 1,400 miles, but truth be said, besides allowing myself to rest, I also want to experience the life in some of these places I will stop by. True to my ecology roots, I have laid down the projected temperatures as a function of distance traveled, and it seems like things will remain balmy along the way.

Day 1
July 7
Houston to Natchitoches, Louisiana
259 mi – about 5 hours 18 mins
This day will see my first state crossing
I will visit the city and surrounding areas, and will hunt for venison meat pie or fried alligator.

Day Two, July 8
Natchitoches, Louisiana to Lake Village, Arkansas
241 mi – about 5 hours 56 mins

I will spend a day here, July 9th, and use some of the time to explore Arkansas, but also to rest, read, and seek His word.

Day 4, July 10
Lake Village, Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee
184 Miles

The day will start with the crossing of the Mississippi river at Greenville, MS, and then I will ride north, following the river in to Memphis.

This day, and the following one will be spent with family, and in pursuit of the famous Memphis BBQ, and the music, including Graceland, of course.

Day 6, July 12
Memphis, Tennessee to French Camp, Mississippi
via Corinth and Tupelo
227 mi – about 4 hours 29 mins

This day marks the beginning of the return trip. I will travels East first, to Corinth, where I will then start travelling south on the Natchez Trace, until I reach French Camp, where I will spend the night. This stop was inspired by my friend Joe, who recently completed a bicycle trip from Houston to Tennessee.

Day 7, July 13
French Camp, Mississippi, to Monroe, Louisiana
221 mi – about 4 hours 52 mins

This day I return to Louisiana, and will arrive at the house of Dot, Cindy's mother, and a very faithful friend to SO. SO and I will meet there, along with Cindy and Dot, and spend this day, and the following one in the area. Chilling and hanging with fellow believers.

Day 10, July 15
Monroe, Lousiana, to Nacogdoches, TX
191 mi – about 4 hours 22 mins.

I will use this day, and the following one to visit what is called, the oldest town in Texas.

Day 12, July 17
Nacogdoches, TX to Houston, TX
via Center
253 mi – about 4 hours 44 mins.

This is the final stretch. Home bound.

During this time, dear friends, I covet you prayers for safe journey and divine appointments. Blessings to all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

+ Getting ready for the road

With the focus set on the journey and the road to travel, and recognizing that being able to hit the road would be best served by Hidalgo, I had to set a new goal for myself in terms of a place and a time to do it. While my original intention as I recovered from back surgery was to ride to the Bonneville Salt Flats this summer, I have come to accept that it is to soon to try to reach that far. It was hard to give up on this goal. I also realized, in one of those moments of brilliance [i.e. what took ya so long?], that giving up on that one, did not mean I could not do something else. So I turned my eyes East and focused on the Mississippi. After some consideration, I decided to follow the river from Louisiana to Memphis, where I will hang with one of my cousins before turning back via the Natchez Trace.

The estimated length of this trip is a minimum of 1,400 miles, and while Hidalgo is indeed a fine motorcycle it was not designed as a touring machine, so some work had to be done to make it more touring capable. Work has been ongoing, and now Hidalgo has been fitted with a new wind screen, saddle bag holders, and a GPS mounting ball. Along the way I re-routed electrical wiring to power the GPS.

Systems are now installed and a road test remains to be taken to check on the operational capabilities of my transformed ride. Basic routes have been laid, even though they will like change, even during the ride, and weather projections have been consulted. At this point just time remains until departure, and my prayers center around safe travel, and Divine appointments, asking to have people placed on my way, with whom I can share God's word

Friday, May 30, 2008

+ Riding again, one more time: its not the bike!

I have now about three entries in draft mode, just sitting in a true digital limbo. Unlike to old days when drafts sat waiting for the author to do something with them on a piece of paper, and unlike the not so old days when drafts sat in one's computer or hard drive waiting to be printed or published somehow, these days online drafts sit in a computer we have actually never seen, waiting for the publish bit to be flipped by someone with the proper user name and password. So there are 3 pieces of writing sitting out there, waiting for me to flip that bit and make them public to those that happen to drift into the space called my blog.

Those drafts try to convey and relate my struggle with health and mechanics, which has kept me from riding and writing since November of last year. More appropriately, since September of last year. At the end of the day though, they all these writings have felt somewhat empty, somewhat shallow, somewhat self-centered. During this time off, a lot of thought, reflection, and conversation has taken place. One seemingly important stimulus came from my church friend Steve B., who happened to mention to me the Lance Armstrong book "It's not the bike" (or really, "Its not about the bike", the actual title). This happened in a casual manner after service many Sundays ago, and while I have yet to read the book, the title itself has generated a lot of cogitation. For a while I have been struggling with the fact that as I was hoping to develop a deeper relationship with God through riding. Many years ago, the seed of developing a motorcycle ministry at our church also began to take shape. Even the thought of exploring a carrier in motorcycle travel journaling has been entertained in my mind. All of this has been accompanied by setting goals for myself as I continue to recover from back surgery. And yet, it seems that the longer I entertain these ideas, the farther away I move from them, as the focus of my attention has shifted and affixed itself on the actual motorcycles. The situation goes even more out of whack, when I see two motorcycles in my garage, and my mind becomes filled with anger because one of them has developed mechanical problems, and also challenges me more physically. While the Hidalgo, my Kawasaki cruiser, sits faithfully waiting for my attention, Luke, the Aprilia sport tourer, challenges my patience and sense of faith and trust with its faults and nuances. Hidalgo is this steel hearted machine that has carried me around for thousands of miles. Luke has this unique body style designed in Italy, and stands out in a crowd because of its unique shape. I have tinkered with, and heavily modified Hidalgo, fearlessly taking out parts, replaced and customized the body, and this faithful steed remains strong, barely needing a battery replacement, or an oil change. Luke I dare not touch, besides adding gas to the tank, as I have no idea, in this complex body, what anything does, besides the standard mechanisms that operate all motorcycles. So the sensible thing would be to say, why do you bother with Luke? Is it just the looks? There are days when I think that it is indeed about the looks, but somewhere I also believe that there is a lesson in faithfulness here, but then again, I may just be stubborn and fixated on the wrong issues.

As I started riding again a few weeks ago, I was able to get on Hidalgo first, and my body has been able to take it. It felt indeed like a blessing to feel the wind, the heat of the sun, and the power of the engine responding to wrist flicks and body leans. A couple of weeks later I was able to ride Luke, but for shorter distances, mechanics getting in the way of the joy of riding. Indeed, each of these motorcycles translate their characteristics into something that leads one to say that each has a different personality and style. Each of these styles offer a different experience, and even provides the rider with some personality traits by association. Hidalgo is well planted, has plenty of chrome, a loud engine with plenty of muscle. Luke is dark, more nimble, fast and quiet. Even for the casual observer of motorcycles, you may tell yourself upon sighting each of these, that you have seen a number of bikes like Hidalgo, but rarely will you have seen one like Luke. In my pursuit of individuality I long for the unique in Luke, but in my need to reliability, I find comfort in Hidalgo.

But at the end of the day I need to continue to remind myself that it is not the bike. It is rather the moment, the slice of time that repeats itself thousands of times while riding, in which the segments of tire, infinite according to calculus, touches the road and creates an analogy of what life and prayer could be. As I ride down roads, taking in the beauty of creation, the smells, the shifts in temperature, the ever changing landscape, my mind remains focused in the moment, and some thought get placed into taking in what is ahead of me, allowing me to both take in the richness of the experience, and arrive at my destination, being filled with the experiences of the journey.

If I can approach prayer, and coming in to the presence of God in the same manner, how sweet it will be when I arrive at my destination.

Indeed, at the end of our journey, it is not about the bike.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Red Spokes

Red Spokes, originally uploaded by JadeRider.

Red spokes, calipers, discs, rubber
Steal and rain forests, fossil fuel and men in a forest
Glory and misery
Praise, glory, sin and exploitation
Men sweating for no money, women crying for a call
Prayers to God for a small child
Ice house chatter, cold beers, immigrant bus boy scrapping in the back


duc-banner, originally uploaded by JadeRider.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Riding Again!

Finally today! I indeed got to ride again today. After the disappointment of almost two weeks ago, today was they the day. A new battery, and waiting for almost two weeks was a small wait after all. The day started foggy, cold and cloudy. However, by 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the sun was up and bright, and with the new battery in the holder, I had strapped my new helmet on, and was riding down the road. The ride was not exhilarating, but rather one that brought a sense of inner peace and thankfulness to God for being next to me and taking me this far.
But between the start of the day and the ride during the late afternoon, God had called me to do something else. It seems delays were in His mind for a purpose, and before engaging into my own goals, I was to attend the funeral services for a young biker who got killed in a traffic accident earlier in the week. During the services held for this young man, the youth pastor related the story of having, just a few weeks earlier, asked a funeral home to lend him a casket. He had taken the casket to the church and asked the youth to think what it would be like to see themselves, or their best friend, in that casket, knowing that they had not heeded Gods call to serve Him. Comfort was found in the fact that the young man in that casket today, had indeed committed his life to our Creator.

For me the search continues. As I look forward to more riding. As I look forward to achieving my goal of riding to Bonneville this summer. As I look forward to life, I continue to ask myself how am I really serving God? How do I make my passion for motorcycling translate into actions that glorify God and indeed bring His Love to those that have yet to know Him?

Friday, February 15, 2008

When Things Do Not Go As Planned

Last weekend was the weekend I had been waiting for for a long time. It was to be the weekend when I would get back on a motorcycle. For several weeks I had been working on getting my back in shape and I felt physically ready for it. Knowing that my bike had been sitting in the garage for a long time, having only started it occasionally since September of last year, and knowing how cold days and nights can really wreck havoc on batteries, I even ran the battery through the charger the day before. I wanted to make sure I was ready. In my mind I getting ready for a big moment and I had said to myself, "What a better way to get back on the saddle than making your first ride one to church on Sunday and praise the Lord on that day. I had just received a new helmet and took it out that morning, peeling off the protective plastic sheet from the face shield. The helmet itself I chose making sure that the paint job would allow for the inscription on it of some of my favorite Bible verses, namely John 1:4-5 and Luke 17:24.

As you probably already guessed by the tone and structure of the story it seems like the Lord had other things in mind. All the power that had been stored in the battery the day before had been drained off the battery overnight. A few days later I jokingly said to my friends, I seemd like God had decided He needed some lightning Saturday night and He had borroed the power from my motorcycle. At that time though, I did not see the humor in this. Deeply disappointed I made my way to church, and what in the back of my mind was to be a public celebration of Go's healing power, and in the secret crevasses of my mind, a celebration of my own 'awesomeness', ended up in a series of 'My bike did not start this morning' answers when friends asked how come they had not heard the thunder of the Mean Streak.

Dejected and upset, but still with a thankful spirit, I sat in midst of our community to worship God. Half way through the service a visiting lady and her daughters got on to the stage. They had come to our church to sign and praise with us. For the next few minutes, the sound technicians struggled with the music sound track and equipment while the singers patiently waited. Nothing the sound crew did seemed to be working. Not letting the circumstance phase her, and while I was sure that these singers had been rehearsing to the sound track in preparation for this event, the mother led the group in an a-capella performance that filled the halls of our church with a wonderful, soulful, and celestial sound. It became clear to me at that moment how ever present our relationship with God is. We always have an opportunity to be with Him. We always have an opportunity to praise Him. And while it is great to always prepare our hearts and souls when we will be joining others to worship Him, we should not let life's circumstances separate us from Him and take every chance we have to celebrate this, the ultimate of relationships. The thought of God should be with us at all times, and yes, when we stop to think about, we should not be able to help ourselves and just say: 'Dude!' with a wide grin on our face.

I will still get on my motorcycle, just a bit later than what I had planned, and maybe the circumstances will not be the ones I had envisioned, but still His is the road, and I will be praising Him while I rumble down the high way, pistons pumping, chrome and paint shining, and the air He placed all around us whistling by. In the end, even when things do not go our way, He is still with us.