Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

April 28, 2013

I FOUND THE REST OF MY LITERS!

... after an exhaustive (and exhausting) online search, confirming my suspicions that the bmw f650 cs is, indeed, a bit of an odd duck of a bike, i was beginning to think that there were going to be only two options to add storage space for long trips ... one would've been to purchase the givi 60 liter tail bag, which is extremely expensive and yet "unavailable at this time" from the company ... the other solution was to get a set of custom bag mounts and add quick-release soft or hard luggage, a very attractive choice but one that also costs a hideous amount of money ... 

... this morning roger and eric and i drove over to whitehorse gear in conway, new hampshire ... at their warehouse store there is an unbelievably extensive inventory, and the staff are all knowledgable, polite, and totally lacking any style or type of "hard sell" approach ... they had the jacket that interested me in both my size and the color i wanted, i tried it on and the instant fit made it mine ... i then perused the shelves where was stored a huge variety of various types of motorcycle luggage ... there i chanced upon a set of sidebags that had a center-yoke support, something i'd not been able to find online ... took the bags out to my bike, dropped them in place, they never came off again until i got home ... extra bonus, they were on a clearance sale ... they'll only go on the bike for long trips, and installation takes only a minute or two ...

... driving back, in very cool and windy conditions, the combination of my new jacket and wind/rain pants allowed me to be comfortable to the point that i had to stop and take a nap for a few minutes at a cemetery alongside the road ... another point scored for the gear i bought, since with my gloves softening a piece of wood for a pillow i was quite snug on my bed of grass ...

... i'm just about ready for some really long-distace drives ... only thing left, perhaps, is that i think i might like to have a set of high-intensity driving lamps mounted down low on the fork tubes, but even without that i'm feelin' good to go ...

... being that i knew the back-road route, on the way over i got to lead out little expedition ... considering the collective riding experience shared by roger and eric, for me that was a real treat ... on a little downhill patch of sand somewhere along a side road leading to route 11 i discovered that, indeed, my a.b.s. braking system works wonderfully ... and, after lunch at the bagel shop in conway i was given a giant bag of "day old" bagels to take home ... what a great day ...




April 27, 2013

EAST POND SEASON OPENER

... after a nice day's ride, including a stop in augusta to share lunch with liz, i drove out to east pond to begin this year's round of "lake therapy" sessions ... bella joined chuck and i for a cruise along the calm surface of the lake ...

... for about half of our cruise bella ran laps in the boat, chewed up a plastic bowl, and pestered me to scratch behind her ears ... finally, exhausted, she perched herself on her favorite resting spot where she spent the rest of the outing looking for fish while we enjoyed watching an eagle do exactly the same thing ...

... how much do i enjoy my time on east pond ... what does it mean to me ... well, suffice to say that at this picture those of you who really know me are saying, "oh, my, there's something ... he's smiling with his teeth showing" ...

April 26, 2013

RANDOM MEMORIES


... by now adrien has gotten past where books were another thing to be eaten, and is instead clearly in the "read me a story, dad ... read me a story, dad ... READ ME A STORY, DAD" developmental stage ... meanwhile, it appears that long before she had any awareness she would need the skill, liz is already beginning to practice her award-winning soccer goal kick ...

... with her ma's patient encouragement, at gram and gramp's pool on pleasant street liz became elegantly proficient in her "jump from the side" skills ...

... we stopped at a parking area near rim of the grand canyon to cook up our supper, then wandered over to the edge of the great gorge to enjoy the sunset ... hearing a tapping sound, i turned to find that completely in tune with the spirits that pervade the landscape, adrien was making her very own arrowhead ... this is my favorite photograph of this magnificent natural wonder ....

April 25, 2013

BMW - A MORE FORMAL INTRODUCTION


PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT
... okay, first of all, i've extended the nature of my "olympus e-p1" project to include all my cameras ... for those of you who might be tiny bit disappointed at not seeing f/stop, shutter speed, i.s.o., and other data, all you need do is ask and i'll provide that information ...

... here it is, mid-way through our first major outing ... this morning i drove down to lewiston to talk to the dealer about the battery/charging issue/non-issue ... reading support group postings from other 650cs owners, i've decided that it's quite possible this machine is simply somewhat finicky in nature ... it needs perfect adherence to the listed startup sequence, and i'm beginning to suspect that before shutting off the ignition it needs to sit at idle for thirty seconds or so ... i told the service manager that i'd give it another week, if all this remains consistent then i'll know i'm correct ...

... after lewiston, i followed a compass heading to falmouth ... wandered several twisty back roads until i popped out onto the main street of yarmouth, then took route one down to the bmw dealership in falmouth ... bought some key blanks and an oil filter (ouch, my suspicions were confirmed concerning the prices of bmw parts), then did a high-speed run back to oakland, making it out to east pond just in time to help chuck and anne and joyce put the boat in for the summer ...

... 185 miles total ... absolutely no regard for gas mileage, i pushed hard on the back roads and cruised with traffic on the interstate ... during the second half of my ride i had to deal with rather severe wind conditions, too ... final tally, 63mpg ... i was most pleased, since i was prepared to be happy with 55mpg for this type of driving ... my bet:  driving on the highway for "economy," i think i can get almost 70mpg out of this motorcycle ...

... single-cylinder "one-lunger," smooth is not the word most motorcyclists would use to describe the bike ... all up and down the rpm range there are various minor vibrations or harmonics, and when i crank down on the throttle the engine sounds like a lobster boat trying to clear the chop where the harbor channel leaves the breakwater ... but, coming from a single-cylinder 250cc machine, and before that a 125cc thumper, i find the bmw a delight to drive ... the 50hp is even more than i'd imagined, the bike responds crisply to my direction, and, as i said before, the seat seems quite possible a reverse clone of my own butt ...

... i'm not changing my mind about its looks, to the point that i'm thinking david robb was smoking an imac while he was making his first design sketches ... that's probably the reason i don't care much for the bike's styling, it is purely superficial and thus has no intrinsic connection to the nature of the machine it simply sits upon ...  but i have to remind myself that i'm first and foremost a functionalist, and, so far, this motorcycle is doing exactly what i intended ...

... first round of luggage works perfect ... tried out side bags, no luck ... they just don't fit ... options are now:  very expensive racks with quick-release bags (gorgeous, but at $500, ouch) ... a 60 liter form-fitted bag that is designed for bikes like this (not all that expensive, but a sort of "all or nothing" solution) ... or, two 10" round-bags nylon strapped alongside the above-pictured backpack bag ... latter solution is where i'm leaning, not very fancy but cost-effective, versatile, and functional ...

... that's about it ... exhausted ... chuck and anne served me supper ... oakland's corner store pizza, so i've got to make sure to take a stomach pill before i go to bed ... i'll close with a couple of shots of the features that make this bike a bit different:  the single-cylinder 650 cc engine, the single-arm rear suspension, and the belt-drive ... (click on pictures to enlarge) ...

PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT

PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT

April 20, 2013

BMW


OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... it's all mine ... okay, me'n the credit union, we're on good terms ... brand-new—well, minus eight years and 12,000 miles, that is ... after waiting and waiting and waiting for honda to deliver the motorcycle i'd ordered, only to find out that one month after the promised delivery date they'd added the words "sometime in the future" to the schedule, i decided that i wanted to be on the road ...

... i'd looked at the bmw last fall, but passed on it for several reasons ... rethinking the situation, i decided that i'd been too cautious with my reasoning ... yes, the bmw is "used" ... then again, considering the reputation of bmw when it comes to mechanical realiability, that amount of mileage is actually relatively minor ... and, of course, parts and repairs will be more expensive compared to a honda, absolutely ... but ...

... but, the bike fits me like a glove ... it's almost as if the frame and seat had been custom made for my measurements ... single-cylindar water-cooled, a "one lunger" with 50 hp and incredible mid-range torque ... it'll go over a hundred (don't ask how i know that), but mostly it's designed to cruise long distances on the interstate ... my (amanda's ... !!!) suzuki is a great motorcycle, but 16 hp was it's one serious shortcoming when it came to this kind of riding, and that's something i had to ponder since my "plan" is to go all the way to the pacific ocean on two wheels ...

... luggage, i think i've got that figured ... back rack will have to go ... (anyone interested in a givi locking trunk, i've got a deal for you) ...

... what a day ... !!! ... i was sick to the point of total incapacitation all friday night and saturday morning ... i won't describe it, since the writers' guide warns that that's a sure way to lose readers ... i'm thinking food poisoning, to be honest ... anyhow, liz picked me up at noon and took me down to lewiston ... i could barely think, which wasn't a good situation since the finance guy kept playing all those "oh, you can add this and this and this for only this a month" ... my sweet little girl, she took over and ran interference for me ... "he doesn't need that ... do you dad ... oh ... oh, why that comes to $1,200 over the life of the loan ... oh, my ol' dad can change his own oil" ... at one point he pushed what was probably a tiny bit too much, i thought she was going to come out of her seat and rip off his head ...

... anyhow, here i am ... i now own what is quite possibly the ugliest motorcycle every built, but i don't care because it's going to do exactly what i want ... previous owner's "12,000 miles in eight years," big ha, how much you want to bet that before they start salting the roads again i'll come close to matching that ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... me, after we got back to waterville ... looking after her dad, all the way from lewiston to waterville liz's car filled my mirror ... parked the bike, went back upstairs and crashed ...

... p.s. ... sharped-eyed readers, yes, you're absolutely correct, those aren't really motorcycle gloves ... forgot mine were out the lake where i keep my motorcycle stored, had to settler for regular cloth mitts ... ah, electrically heated hand-grips, how very nice ...

April 15, 2013

SPRINGTIME AT THE HEIGHT OF THE LAND


OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... springtime in the valley, but, as is usual, mt. washington will wait a another month or more before it grudgingly begins to let go its hold on winter ... even then, as late as mid-july there'll still be a dedicated few nutsoid enough to hike to the top of tuckerman's ravine and strap on their sticks for one last death defying downhill descent between the rocks and boulders ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... and, after thirty-five years, still seemingly a springtime couple ... kudos to beth, she seems to have mellowed him out to the point he'll actually allow a smile when the camera's pointed in his direction ...


April 10, 2013

BARBERSHOP BUDDIES

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... walking from the parking lot to my apartment i often come across the kids hanging out with their grandmother at the little barber shop that's across the street from the cancun restaurant ... i like to snap pictures of them and print them for their gram, who tapes them up along the edges of the mirrors ... she always loves the photographs and often expresses her appreciation by cutting my hair for free ... wheelin' and dealin', i think pa would be so proud of me ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

April 3, 2013

2013 WANDER-ABOUT: DAYS 11-14

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... after a long, long drive across nebraska, and a stop to visit my childhood home in bellevue (there were no signs along the interstate directing us to the house, i'm going to have to call someone about that), we scooted across iowa to a hotel outside des moines ... score one for adrien and the desk clerk, when we had to wait twenty-minutes to get our reservation confirmed we ended up with a free room ... having learned that it was opening day, the next morning we took a side trip to visit the farm where "field of dreams was filmed" ... here you can see the "ray loves annie" carved by kevin costner while waiting to shoot a scene ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... near as i could figure, this is the spot ... "if you build it, he will come" ... okay, so the actual spot is about forty or fifty feet further on into the field ... high corn season i'd have walked all the way out, but not this time of year ... yech ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... after a long, long drive we stopped in columbus where we spent a nice weekend visiting with jon ... we watched movies, both on the big screen and on his own personal big screen, enjoyed eating some fresh cane's chicken, and grilled $3.49/lb. sirloins (there're times i'd move to ohio just because of the price of meat) ... as you can see, we visited all sorts of important cultural attractions ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... it seems adrien recruited jon to become a member of her jump team ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... for me, at least, rare, in columbus we became instant fans of "sugardaddy's" ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... jon and adrien made sure we found the most famous sign in columbus ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... naturally, there's no way i'm going to stop in ohio without having at least one serving of most scrumptious skyline chili...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... with the extra days we had decided to split the 1,000 mile home ride into two segments, so we stopped for the night on the canadian side of niagara falls ... 150,000 gallons every second, 1/5th of the world's fresh water crashes down this cataract into the gorge below ... that's a fact, as is that if the power companies took as much water as they could to generate electricity this would be pretty much "the very damp niagara cliff" ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... every time i visit this spot i get dizzy ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... it was freezing cold, with a bitter gusty wind, but we were lucky to find that rather than cloaking the shoreline the mist from the falls was staying over the middle of the river ... because of construction and my unfamiliarity with all the new hotels and casinos we ended up walking about three miles ... i give us a special gold star for this, since by this point in our little wander-about we were getting a tiny bit exhausted ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... taking a break, we treated ourselves to a ride in the huge ferris wheel ... the heated cars were a special incentive, of course ... it was supposed to be an eight-minute ride, so we considered it a great deal when we got to go round-and-round-and-round for almost twenty minutes ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... it was an especially beautiful ferris wheel, so adrien celebrated ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... the next morning our plan was to descend into the tunnel that goes behind the falls (to the right in the picture) ... the first lady i asked said, "oh, yes, it's open, but you can only do the observation deck" ... i found adrien and said, "let's do it" ... when we went back to the ticket counter the second lady, a very grandmotherly woman, advised us, "oh, you can go down, but you won't see anything put a great wall of ice because the portal is all frozen in" ... that was enough for us to make the tunnel visit part of another wander-about ... 

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... since i first came here as a small child the falls remain both fascinating and awe inspiring ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... our last major spot on the trip, after this we did a minor wander-about looking for a wal-mart so adrien could purchase some canadian candy ... did you know that cadbury's chocolate in canada is made in canada, while the stuff we buy comes from pennsylvania ... don't believe me, get a sample of the same bar from each country and taste the difference ...

... a long drive home, lake effect weather to both sides but clear skies overhead ... 5,835 miles after we started we turned the car off in front of adrien's cabin ... living in maine, i get to add 240 miles to that figure ... so much we saw and did, this was a most wonderful wander-about ...

... all of you who have been with us on this little excursion, thanks for staying with us ... i hope that our wander-about will perhaps inspire one or two of you to make your own ...