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reader submitted story by Jef V.
February 2013
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The Jillster in anticipation of her first big
ride. Little did I know she would develop
into a speed demon!  Zeb, a veteran, all
mounted up and ready to go!
Star date: November 23rd 2012, Mile 38, Captain's Log:..... Pocket's mount in the foreground.
Notice the switch of sunglasses for reading ones. This picture was taken with
a zoom. Zeb and me were hiding in the brush until she calmed down! (Never
stopped loving her though.)
Our metal horses (Vera & Jack) corralled for the night.   
"Come and Get It!"
Little house on the prairie." Wait a minute... could it be?
No way!? Pa Ingalls?
Yes I got my own bikes. Hondas, Triumphs, even a Harley but I was still missing something. A riding buddy. Riding a
motorcycle is fun but once you get on it and start rolling, where do you roll to? Many times I craved riding someplace and
ended up aimlessly wandering thru the neighborhood because I had no plan. Quite boring. There were some biker meets
and gatherings where everybody tried to look cool and stereotypical, ill fitting chaps and mean looking tattoos included.
But that was not what I envisioned. I wanted more. I wanted to ride. I wanted to go places and see things but share it with
someone that had the same interests. I looked around, talked to some people, tried to persuade friends but to no avail. I
was alone with my vision. Bar hopping was the name of the game if you wanted to associate with the Big Bad Biker
Business. Until I realized I looked in all the wrong places. How could I be so blind not to see my wife in retrospect? We did
everything else together. Plus she was my back seater most of the time. Did I ever ask her if she wanted her own bike?
No. Did I ever talk with her about the possibility of going on trips together? No. I assumed she wouldn’t be so I didn’t. I
think she was too close to home for me to see it. Very quickly I got hooked on the idea. But how do you approach a
debacle of this magnitude where you have to convince your other half to buy yet another bike when you should be
grateful she let you keep the one you have? Well, I was always a firm believer in a frontal attack. So I asked her.
Next day we went shopping! I felt like I walked straight into the “Pina Colada Song”. I couldn’t have wished for a better
scenario. She said she liked the thought of it. My wife is a timid person but I could feel she really was in to give it a go.
We looked on line for a decent used bike and since I am a Triumph “nut”, it didn’t take me a whole lot to gently guide her
in that direction. We found one at the dealership where I bought my Bonneville a couple years before. A Triumph
Adventurer. Purple with white trimming. On the pictures it looked great so off we went.

At the RPM dealership, they already rolled it out and parked it up front. We drove up there and when I parked the truck
across the bike it hit me. What are we doing? I started doubting myself if this was the right thing to do. It scared me a little
and I felt responsible for all of it. I didn’t want Jill to get hurt or fall or worse. Motorcycling is a whole new ball game if you’
re not used to it. It’s exciting and fun but it can bite you in the butt in a wink. Plus there is not much room for error.
Especially when you start out it can be very critical. To top it off my wife is a delicate person. A 500 lbs piece of metal is a
lot to handle if the weight ratio between your body and your motorcycle depends on how heavy the boots are you're
wearing.  

We got out of the car and walked towards the bike. We stood there for awhile gazing at the chromated machine. We both
felt somewhat uncanny about the whole set up. Talking about it is one thing but actually doing it is another. I told Jill to
hop on it but she was reluctant. Meanwhile the sales person came out and we got the whole dog and pony show about
the bike. The low mileage, the kept up maintenance, new tires, one owner, they don't make 'm anymore like this, etc. I
heard all the clichés before and wasn't listening.  Again I asked Jill to jump on and this time she swung her leg over.
Since she was not accustomed to it she felt helpless. Like when you dress up a puppy for Halloween. Nevertheless she
looked great on it.  Plus she's a trooper, feisty and not easily intimidated. I felt my confidence coming back. I asked the
guy if I could take it on a test ride and that was "absolutely!" ok.
When I got on the bike and started it, there was already so much difference with the one I rode. Although this was a three
cylinder and mine was two, I could not get over the feeling that the engine sounded like a tractor fueled by diesel. I kicked
in first, released the clutch lever and started rolling. This machine was slow! Even in acceleration I was worried that a
bicycle would overtake me. Well I thought, this might be a blessing. At least the bike wouldn't "escape" underneath her
when she pulled up. Balance was good but after awhile I could feel extra heat coming from the engine block. I was not
used to that but dismissed the potentional annoyance for the fact that a three cylinder block was wider and generated
more uplifted hot air just because of that. My mind was racing a 100 miles an hour. It was entirely up to me to cut the knot
and buy the thing. Yet I struggled dearly between the decent price sticker/appearance and performance. Though
decision!

Meanwhile the dealership came back in sight and slowly I pulled up the drive way. Jill looked at me with Argus eyes and
said "well?" Replying more in a daze than anything else, I said that it was "ok". It didn't sound convincing, not even to me
but I let nature take its course. So we bought it.

After some paperwork and laying down the funds, they told us we could pick up the Triumph Adventurer the next day. On
the way back home I reminisced of what just happened. I think Jill was doing the same since she was silent and did not
even make one comment on my truck driving abilities (Jesus must have been on vacation when they handed me my
license!) That never happened! Hey, I'm a rider not a driver! Anyway the damage was done and we would have to make
the best of it. First thing to do was getting her some riding boots and a helmet. She was wearing my old helmet ever since
she rode back seat. I had bought her a leather jacket earlier but she needed the whole biker spiel now that she became
"one of us"! Sweet Lord have mercy!
When her helmet arrived in the mail I thought that it would be cool to give her a biker nickname. Since we worked an
appropriate AKA so I applied the name in black to the back of her helmet.

The next day arrived and we were both in anticipation to pick up the Adventurer.
Still not sure that buying the bike was another act of impulse, my self confidence
started to come back and I knew it was going to be alright.  As promised the
motorcycle was all spiffed up and ready to go when we got there. I jumped
on and rolled off the parking lot at the dealership, followed by my wife in the truck.
After a few miles it started to bother me that the bike didn't sound like a bike. It
really sounded more like an automobile. It probably was my imagination but still.... .
When we got home I parked the purple oversized trinket next to my Bonneville
only to discover to my horror it was bigger! Another strike against it in my
discernment. A Triumph Bonneville is not a small bike. Compared to a bulky
Harley, yes it is less in mass but still overall it is a pretty good sized motorcycle. T
his was not going to work. I could not expect my tiny wife to ride a bigger motorcycle. That's against all laws of physics
plus I didn't want us to look like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (me). Also I was too much attached to my Bonnie to
trade bikes. Dang it!! This was not good. A mistake that would cause a bunch of consequences. Will I ever learn? What
was it; "Measure twice, cut once"? In this case I didn't even bother to look at the measuring tape.  Whatever the original
plan was, it sure went SNAFU in a heartbeat! What now?! The more I looked at the bike the bigger it got in my state of
mind. At the end of the day it was gigantic! Usually when you sleep over it things always look brighter in the morning. But
at the rate it was going, I was afraid to close my eyes out of fear the bike would keep growing in my dreams and chase
me!

                                                               
I woke up hoping it was all a bad dream and everything would be
just dandy. Until I saw the Adventurer standing next to my bike
again and the rock in my belly reappeared.  Jill decided to give it a
try and ride it a little on an empty parking lot. So we rode the
Adventurer a couple miles away from society where nobody could
spot us. We found a desolate area close to an industrial zone with
lots of wide open concrete surface. Perfect!

I gave her some basic tips of what and what not to do and made her
"dry ride" the bike several times to get used balancing the weight
without any danger. So far so good.

Although I could see the determination upon Jill’s face, I also noticed
the unavoidable outcome.  Motorcycle overkill! Strike three, you’re out!
This bike had to go ASAP. In my mind I already had cut my losses. But it
wouldn’t hurt to use it as a training platform. If she could handle this one she could basically handle anything of that size
or smaller. I was contemplating if I would let her start the engine and put it into gear. Since we came this far we might just
as well go a little further. She pushed the starter button and the Adventurer roared to life. I told her that the clutch lever is
her best friend, especially in maneuvering or at low speed. When there is trouble just squeeze it. She gently released the
clutch and started rolling. I kept running next to her, yelling commands. I told her to gradually pick up speed and stop
after 50 yards. She handled it perfectly and came to a slow halt. Gasping for air I caught up and under my watchful eye
let her turn the bike. Again same scenario. This time in the opposite direction. Meanwhile the hamburger with fries I
consumed 1/2 hour before wanted to make a partial reappearance and I felt it coming up. What we do for love! I felt
nauseous and to speed things up I saw to my shear trepidation that she was trying to turn by herself before I got there.
Then disaster struck! She jackknifed the bike and it went down and she with it. Everything happened in slow motion and
all I could hear was glass breaking.  With everything I got I rushed over there. Jill, shaking and shivering, crawled up. She
seemed to be ok. The Adventurer lay on the ground like a dead carcass. She started to tear up but I pointed my finger
and with a “don’t you dare…!” made her hold back. We picked the bike up and set it straight. I could not detect any
damage. I looked it over 3 times but couldn’t see anything wrong. But what about the crashing sound? Again we both
gave it a thorough inspection. Nothing. Could we be this lucky? We sat down for a minute and let the adrenaline subside.
It was time to call it a night. Plus it started to drizzle a little. Time to bring the horse back to the barn before anything else
would go awry. At least it ended well.

Next morning, without telling Jill, I called the dealership and explained the current state of affairs. I asked Cliff the sales
rep if there was anything he could do to correct the situation. He was going to call me back in the late afternoon. He
might be able to work out something. All day I felt anxious. I wanted to get rid of that bike so badly but I was afraid it was
going to cost us dearly. Well I couldn’t be further from the truth! Cliff called me back with some good news. Since I was
already a good costumer there he had a deal I couldn’t refuse. He promised me to take the bike back without losing any
money and offered us a floor model at highly discounted price. It was a metallic black Triumph Bonneville SE, which
basically was the same bike like mine except for a lower wheel base and lower seat and about 45lbs lighter.  Great!
Although it was over budget, it was too good to pass up. Plus it was a brand new motorcycle with no mileage.

We both were so relieved. After shuffling some paperwork we were good to go. This time we were going to do it by the
book. Jill looked a lot more comfortable and it seemed the bike was custom made for her. Now it was just a matter of
protocol to get her on the road. First things first, safety class!

We signed her up for classes a week later but I liked for her to at least dry handle the bike a few times before all that. So
again we took off to a place away from public view. We found a spot closer to home, next to a church. I let her straddle
the bike and walk it that way back and forth. It was all about balance and legwork. I felt bad but she was not complaining.
It was hot as hell outside and she was sweating like a draft horse. I was sweating too but only bullets from unease.
We repeated this set-up for the next couple of days until she was quite
familiar with the weight of the motorcycle and the quirks of
choreographing in tight corners. More and more I became comfortable
about her handling and decided it was time to fire up the boiler and make
her airborne. This time I laid on the law of NOT to turn the bike before I
got there. With a short “Yes sir!” she kicked it in first and slowly slid away
from me. 50 Yards further she deployed her Nike landing gear and made
a perfect stop. I could exhale now. I realized every time she took off, I
stopped breathing. She was ready to go to school! It was all in God’s
hands (and the instructor’s)!
School time!

It was going to be another scorcher that Saturday morning and only 7 students showed up. Needless to say Jill was the
only female. The pressure was on! First there was the indoor theoretic part. I dropped her off and promised to return
around noon for the second chapter which was the practical side. I think I was more excited than her. I wanted this to
work out so badly. I had plans!

Around 11.30am they were done with the written conundrum and took a short break for lunch. I met a few of the other
participants and exchanged some stories. Then it was time for the fun part.

They all were assigned a 250cc motorcycle. Jill’s ride was smaller than the one she had at home, so that was a plus. I
knew she could do it. The initial exercise was pushing their bike to the practice area. “Crap!” I overlooked that part.
Myself never was any good at this. I was always concerned to push too much and flip over. But not my Jill! Like a
wintered lumberjack handled his axe, she pushed that Suzuki to its destination, never blinking an eye. I was floored! I
couldn’t even slide a fly screen door without derailing it. This was going very well. Then they went thru the motions of
getting on and off, clutch control, starting, gear manipulation, etc.

Finally the pupils were allowed to ride their first stretch. Everyone did just fine. I made the observation how funny this was
seeing little Jill zooming around between all the testosterone on their motorcycles. After every exercise was a 10 min
water break. It must have been 104 degrees in the sun with no shade.
The day passed and the next morning, tests and graduation were on the menu. She did wonderful. Even the instructor
told me that she was a natural. It made me feel good. Everything was coming together.

Sunday morning was a little cooler. Since there were only seven students the instructor
tried to cramp everything into a morning event. Testing began right away. Circles, tight
corners, short stops, emergency stops, making 8’s, obstacle avoidance, the works. Jill
breezed thru all of them without one hiccup. So right around noon they were done. All
graduated. After some last debriefing, all seven of them received their Motorcycle Safety
Course certificate. A mandatory paper to get their drivers license adjusted.
our feet up. I think I was as exhausted as she was from all the stress watching her. But I
learned one thing that it is not the size of the dog in the fight but it’s the size of the fight in
the dog! Jill proved that without any doubt.

For the next several days we returned to the training ground in the evenings just to make
her more accustomed to her own machine. The following Saturday we finally hit the road.
It all came full circle. I’ve finally found my riding buddy!
Jef and Jill Take To The Road!
Into The Wild!
Submitted by Jef V.

Jill and I talked about going camping by motorcycles for months. It was something we'd like to do together and see places up close. Little by little we aquired all
the essentials but weren't able to set a date. There was always something that prevented us from proceeding with the plan. Finally we agreed on the day after
Thanksgiving, weather permitting. Llano, Texas was the destination. A friend and colleague invited us to stay on his 5 acre property in the hill country. A perfect
opportunity and a safe testbed for this endeavour.  I looked forward to this first trip into the wild. If everything went according to our made up scenario it would
set a precedent for future travels. This initial trial of weathering the elements of nature would make or break or even definitely burst our bubble of camping out.

The BIG DAY!!!

9 am was "kick stand", time to get on the road in biker jargon. At 10 am I still had to load the bikes! Luckily we packed everything up in bags the night before.
Although I "Kentucky windaged" it, I did a pretty good job in balancing the luggage. It looked like a professional had a hand in it. Even Wifey gave me a couple
taps on the shoulder for a job well done. Secretly I thanked God for bungee cords, all 13 of them! Zeb was constantly twinkle toeing around the bikes, eager to
jump on. Strange how some dogs are. When I wanted him to ride with me more than a year before and taught him how to sit on the motorcycle, I never
imagined he'd actually love it! Now every time when I have to leave without him he  gives me a dejected look. That little critter knows how to lay on the guilty trip.
It was a little windy and chilly that morning, so I put on his jacket and goggles. The man was ready to roll! A quick short whistle and he  jumped in his seat. The
picture tells a thousand words.

10.39am. We tweaked a few things here and there and strapped our small backpacks to both fuel tanks. Now we were really ready. About time! Just a few
seconds more to take some pictures to preserve history in the making and off we went!
We took the Bush toll way to I-20. Traffic wasn't bad but the wind took us by surprise. Plus it was colder than I had
anticipated and severe wind gusts rocked us sideways constantly. Not a good omen for things to come. Weather forecast
promised warmer temperatures but that was later by the end of the day. After about 35 miles my goggles came detached
from my helmet. We were doing 70mph and there was no way I was able to adjust it without looking for trouble. Too risky.
I signaled Jill to take the next exit. This wasn't going well. The military efficiency of the trip was already out of the door and
it wasn't even 11.30am.  We pulled into a gas station parking lot and I fixed the problem. I promised myself to keep a log
of the trip. My wife told me to call it the "Captain's log". I liked that. Although she took lead of the whole trip as far as
directions (I couldn't find my way out of a  Walmart parking , even if I had a GPS), she made me feel in charge! LOL!
Good old Jill. How was it again?; "A man is never as strong as the woman behind him."   So true.

After Zeb took a quick little whizz behind the bushes we were back on the road in a jiffy. Except for the loss of time and
another dent in our schedule, it felt good being out of the wind for several minutes. We got energized by it and were able
to find our bearings and brace ourselves for things ahead.
We decided to proceed to Granbury and have lunch there,
about 50 miles further. Still the wind was pounding but we
made good time. Jill pulled into Braum's. Excellent choice.
Quick and cheap. We were famished and thirsty. Hard
work riding a motorcycle in a wind tunnel! People get
hungry.

12:45pm, after wolfing down a couple burgers and fries we
were back in the saddle. We past Stephenville, Cowboy
Capitol of the world and Dublin. Jill wanted a few pictures
of the town's clover sign. I took a few of her in front of it
and then handed over the camera so she could take one
of me. Except for my eyebrows, helmet and a blurry sign in
the background, no one will ever know I was there! I love
my wife but please don't buy her a camera for Christmas!
We accumulated another 70 miles till we hit Comanche. This time it were the Bonnies who needed attention and a
drink. We got good mileage out of the bikes. About 57 mpg! When we stopped at a Shell gas station it started to warm
up a little. We treated ourselves to a coffee and some Subway cookies. Zeb made another pit stop and gladly
stretched his legs. The little guy is the perfect back seater.

Time became the essence. The loafing around in the morning and the stops, necessary or not, burnt up too much
daylight. We knew we had to make up some. The pressure was on to get to our destination before nightfall. Gary and
Connie's cabin was in unfamiliar country, away from population and nearly impossible to find in the dark. No room for
error! And then there is Murphy's Law! We were suppose to hit I-16 near Goldthwaite but missed it. Partially my fault
because I noticed the sign but was over- confident that our fearless leader had seen it too and knew what she was
doing. Apparently her radar was switched off at that particular moment and we both passed it. About 5 miles outside
Goldthwaite she realized something was not right and pulled over. When I told her I had seen the sign at the town's
intersection and not bothered to make her aware of it, I was so glad she wasn't carrying a baseball bat!
We had to backtrack the 5 miles to town and start over. Llano was still 55 miles away and it was already 4.15 pm. Dusk
was setting in and on top of that it looked like it was going to rain. Dark heavy clouds hovered over the Llano region.
Temperatures dropped tremendously and the wind was picking up again. Miraculously the weather gods were on our
side and the threatening storm subsided just as fast as it had appeared. At 17.33 pm after some of the most sublime
maneuvering by my lovely leader through little unknown back roads, we arrived at the gate. A push on the button and it
opened like an inviting arm. About 50 feet of pressed gravel took us to our friends' garage. I put my kick stand down but
quickly realized that a thin metal rod is no match on gravel. We decided to park on the concrete slab in front of their
garage. Jill on the right, me on the left. I looked at my wife and saw the outlines of her sunglasses on her wind beaten,
reddish tired face. She became an instant pro! There was still enough energy for a smile. A job well done Babe!
We had about 15 minutes of daylight left to pick out a spot and set up shop. Our friends were nowhere to be seen and
probably on an errand run. We walked around the premises and threw our bags down about 20 yards to the side of their
cabin. This was going to be home for 2 days. Gary told me that everything on his property either prickles or bites and
how right he was! There was flora and fauna of the worst kind. Cacti, ants, stickers etc., everything nipped or punctured.
We made a little clearing and by the end of the day we didn't do too badly. We planted ourselves in folding chairs and
nourished our insides with cheese and crackers we had stuffed in our bags at the last moment. We were too tired to get
out and find a place to eat. Coffee never tasted so good sitting there in the quietness of the evening, (except for the
noises of crickets, quails, birds, frogs, dogs and some other critters I'm afraid to think about). But the presence of Jill
made it all good and wonderful. This was the life! This trip was already worth it even if it would rain for the next two days.
Darkness arrived without further notice and so did our friends who returned from a trip to historic Fredericksburg. It was
7.30 pm by now and we told them we were going to take a quick nap and join them later. Well we woke up 2 hours later!
Our batteries were 30% charged. Enough to get up and walk to the cabin. Gary and Connie offered us some left over
pizza and we gobbled it down like two hungry wolves. It was a welcome treat (even without sugar.) .
We chitchatted for awhile about the day's passage and promised our hosts to serve bacon and eggs in the morning,
cowboy style.

We staggered back to the tent and crawled into our sleeping bags without further adieu.          
"Goodnight Ma!"                                                                                                                                          
"Goodnight Pa!"
Lights out 11 pm.

Dawn over the hill country.

The night went by and except for the feeling of having spent 8 hours like a corpse on a marble slab, it was alright I guess.
On my right side was my dear spouse all duffled up in her sleeping bag with only one eye visible. Probably the one she
opens when there is an alarm situation. She looked pretty comfortable on her blow up mattress. Another mistake I won't
make again. I wanted to go in all Rambo and use my old army mat to buffer the hardness of the ground but it didn't pan
out that way. Guess age crept into my bones. Yeah, my airborne days are surely over. Comfort is the name of the game
from now on. Zeb woke up too and although I wanted to strangle him for most of the night, he did quite well. He heard
noises that were there but also ones that weren't and his constant growling drove me to a point of insanity. I unzipped the
front opening of the tent and let him thru to do his leg up thing. It was sunny but cool. I crawled out and took a towel. I
was going to freshen up at the cold water spigot. Man vs. nature! Bare chested and full of confidence I strode to the spot
where the water well was located. Meanwhile Gary came out to raise his flag.
I turned the water on and cupped some in my hands. It was pretty cold and smelled like wet
rusty iron. With a small public watching, there was no way back. I had to go thru with it and
make a damn fool of myself. I threw some over my back and tried vigorously not to flinch. I'm
sure there were some jealous looks (or not) but all I wanted to do was to take off and sit on
the sun for 30 seconds. Anyway I walked away like a caveman with frozen nipples but with
his head held high. Now it was time for BACON!!!

We brought eggs and bacon on the trip and cooked those on the 2 small burners we
packed. These things worked like a charm. In no time Jill had results and the smell of bacon
and eggs filled the Llano air.

Gary and Connie came over and we all filled our plates. Then and there I knew life was
simple. You only had to accept it. I could do this forever and be happy. I felt fullfillment at
that moment. I was lucky to finally have found someone to share this with. I realized I didn't
need much after all. Our friends have it right. This is a wonderful place. Heaven sometimes
is hidden in small corners.
Riding Buddy...
Submitted By Jef V.

The earliest recollection I have of me and motorcycles is at the beginning of the sixties when I was 3 or 4 years old. My
15 year older brother had a bunch of friends and one of them had a Harley Liberator which he’d acquired from an army
surplus dealer and had painted bright red.

I vividly remember the big brown saddle and saddle bags with long fringes, the smell of oil and gasoline and the
distinguished sound of his exhaust pipes when he turned in our potholed street and rattled the 100 yards to our home.
He let me play on it every time and for hours I imagined many stationary journeys to wherever my fantasy would take me.
He also carried a German Luger P.08 pistol in his left saddle bag. A souvenir his father left him after the war.

My second memory is when I turned 18 in the mid seventies and was eligible for a drivers license. Motorcycles were
machines of the devil and in no way I could convince my unadventurous parents to let me have one. Mom and Dad were
not overly protective but old fashioned in their ways. “Only hooligans and carnival people ride motorcycles!”And that was
it. But where there is a will, there is a way.

My best friend Dirk at the time purchased a Honda CB450. Man, was I jealous! I could look in to his backyard from my
room and see the bike parked there every day. It was plain torture! Meanwhile my Dad bought me a Datsun 1000
“Cherry” to make me mobile. Nice little car but riding around in a cherry really didn’t help my manhood! Anyway, I talked
to my friend and gave him money to buy a second helmet and keep it at his place so whenever we would ride, my parents
wouldn’t get suspicious. Finally the day arrived and I would get my first ride on a motorcycle. As a back seater
nevertheless but I was not complaining. It was bitter cold and I was shivering heavily, part out of being underdressed and
part of anxiety. When I put on the helmet and gloves I could feel the chill subsiding and my posture growing. World here I
come! My friend started the Honda and I climbed on. Just when I wanted to reach the grab rail behind me, he took off! I
made a back flip and fell flat on my back and hit the cobblestones pretty hard, hurting both elbows! It knocked the wind
out of me! Needless to say it did me in for the day. We both were silent for a couple minutes until I thanked him and
walked home.

After that we got a little more careful and we rode regularly. Him up front, me “in the back”. Eventually we both got drafted
into the army later that year and that was it again as far as becoming a biker, even a pseudo one.

Memory Lane


Now looking back for almost 35 years lots of things happened. Good times and bad ones.
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Downtown Llano

After some tasty dessert zucchini bread, made by Jill's sister in law Sue, we got ready to hit the town of Llano,
about 2.5 miles from their place. Meanwhile Gary and Connie were going to plant a Mountain Agave. After
Gary earlier that day gored a poor Mexican with it at the local nursery (he claimed it an "accident"...), they
were going at it hard core. Shovel, rake, pick axe, anything short of a drill platform and after 3 hours of hard
labor and reaching an astonishing depth of 1.5 inch, both, sweaty, red faced and hardened by frontier life,
were finally ready to plant their prickly baby. The Llano soil doesn't take any prisoners!

It promised to be a glorious day and Jill and I were eager to go and explore
the area. We decided to shed our leathers and wear light Jackets since it was
only a short ride. Gary told us there was not much "going on" in downtown Llano
but worth visiting. He was right. Llano is basically a one street town with an
intersection but quite picturesque. Still you get the impression how the landscape
is changing and life becomes more laid back. Definitely worth the exit on the
interstate. Hunting season just started and camouflage was in fashion! I'm sure
shares went up at Mossy Oak this time of year. We needed some supplies and
stopped at the Dollar store. Basically the place to be in Llano if u need something
essensial. Like Oil of Olay!

After that we parked our bikes I think in the only side street Llano has to offer
and strolled to the bridge over the Llano river. That by itself is worth doing. The
water was pretty low but it gave us the opportunity to see the riverbedding filled
with heavy boulders. We crossed the bridge to look at a couple of antique shops
and talked ourselves into descending the bank of the river and take some pictures
there. We sat down for a moment and took it all in. For about 30 minutes we let
the world go by. Wonderful feeling not being noticed!
Gary and Connie,
Friends and
Frontier (wo)men
After spending several hours sightseeing it was time to get back to base camp. We were supposed to have Mexican dinner with our friends later on the
evening. But we were thirsty and craved ice cream. Jill noticed a Dairy Queen on the way to Llano so we decided to split a banana split.  Great when
plans all come together.
We bikers need our daily
facial cream. I mean, where
would we be if we don't take
care of ourselves?
"Daddy, Daddy! Please
help me! She's gonna do
it this time for sure!"
Before
After
"No ice cream for you!" Poor Zeb. As always standing guard. Friend and loyal soldier!
We got back in time to our bivouac and freshened up a little to go out again. This time we would ride with Gary and Connie.
Zeb had to stay behind. Although our friends' property was fenced we didn't want Zeb to roam loose, so we tied him to a
tree.(30 foot leash for Humane Society readers) Still I didn't like it but he would be ok. That morning he made friends with 3
neighbouring dogs and the chance he would take off was iffy. Too far from home to take risks.

Back to Llano. Gary pointed out a few things we should investigate on our next trip down and gave a few tips. We already
decided earlier to come back in springtime. We liked it here. Away from the stress of every day life, this was a good place to
hide.

We stopped at a Mexican restaurant. I forgot the name of the place. (El Patron?) Food wasn't all that great but I think
mostly we were too tired to eat. Also the ice cream from an hour before wasn't helping our appetite. After that we returned
back to their cabin, only stopping to get a bag of marshmallows.

Playing with fire!

At the tent site, Zeb was nowhere to be seen! Just when panic was about to set in, here he comes out of the brush, his
stubby tail wagging. Still in shock or maybe more mortified I walked over to the tree where I had tied him up. He simply got
his head out of his collar. From the evidence he left behind I could make up it didn't take him all that long. Nice job Jef and $
well spent to buy the leash!

Before we left for dinner I had gathered up rocks to make a circle and piled up some dry wood to start a campfire. Luckily
the county burn ban was lifted and we could go ahead and make one. In my book you can't go camping without setting fire
to something. I got my brand new miniature axe from my saddle bag and started chopping. Now was the time to become a
frontiers' mountain man. When I got done, I wanted to smell like one! To the others I must have looked no more than a little
kid playing in a sandbox but the vigor I produced in my hacking kept them silent. Or maybe they felt sorry. I will never know
and that's a good thing.

I cut some sticks to roast the marshmallows and I was ready to start the pyrotechnics. The kindling caught fire with no
problems and in less than a minute I had a good thing going.

The four of us sat there under a bright starry sky gazing at the fire for almost 4 hours, drinking Sangria and munching
marshmallows. The latter are spent on me. All I got out of it was gagging and a sticky beard. A blemish on my Jeremiah
Johnson image. Sometimes I do not get "the American Way". Smores  are awful!

Suddenly the Llano nightly silence got disrupted by Connie's scream to look up. And there just for a fraction of a second,
was the biggest meteor I ever saw, splitting up before our eyes! A present from the heavens and a nice ending of a
wonderful evening in the company of good people. We all had a cup of Joe, brewed on our stove, to end the day and like
all outlaws do, I poured the rest of the coffee over the fire so we wouldn't be detected or scalped by Indians when we
bedded down. We exchanged good nights with the neighbours and crawled one more time into our wickiup.

Thinking things were bad for me the first night, it was worse now because I knew what was coming. I saw Zeb at home doing
his "nest making" ritual where he stepped in the middle of his blanket and worked it with all fours. I'm telling you, in a
confined space this does not work for humans! I just decided to lay down and take it like a man. Meanwhile Jill Derece,
again, nice and cozy cocooned in her sleeping bag, enjoyed the comfort of not being stupid. After 15 minutes of tossing
and turning I gave up and assumed the position for the duration. I still regret that to this day! Something in my neck must
have fused together that night.

Needless to say I did not sleep a wink. I woke up 23 times finding myself spooning Zeb to keep warm, hence his disgruntled
growling. I must have turned the wrong way each time. It was cold and temperature dropped close to freezing. Plus
condensation set in and made the inner lining of the tent wet so every time I turned and brushed my head against the wall, I
got flashbacks of my mother slapping a wet rag over my face to make me wake up and get out of bed! Good old Mom! Still
miss her.

180 Degrees

Well all good things come to an end and so did our trip. But we had loved it and if we would make it home without trouble,
the roads were ours from now on!

Jill started to break down camp while I contained my morning cold shower at the spigot to just brushing my teeth. Good
enough!

I started re-packing the Bonnevilles and again it went like I had been doing it all my life. So within the hour we were ready to
go. Glad to go home but sad it was over. Time flew by. But both of us felt replenished with another experience and the
satisfaction that it was only the beginning of our travels.

We hugged Gary(not me) and Connie, said our goodbyes and thanked them again for their hospitality. Gary took one last
picture of the 3 only members of the 50/50 Motorcycle Club and opened the gate to let us through.

9.35 am HOMEBOUND!
Gary putting some
more wood on the fire.
In the background you
can faintly make out
the silhouette of the
ghost of Pocahontas,
stealing a burned
marshmallow.
50/50
From left to Right; Jill, President. Jef, Vice President and Zeb, Prospect.
ahead of schedule. After 35 miles we stopped to fuel up in San Saba. A small town between Comanche and Llano. We
pulled up at the local gas station and parked our bikes in front of one of the pumps. At the same time an old and beat up
pick-up truck parked on the opposite side of the pump.The door swung open and an rough looking old timer nodded at me
with a straight weathered  face and disappeared inside the small convenient store. A minute later he was back, coming
straight at me. "Hey buddy, I seen the mutt on the back of your cicle, how long it took ya to teach him that?"  I explained to
him that Zeb was pretty smart and it took me no time to teach him to stay on.         
                                               
"Well," he proceded, "on the farm I got me an old New Zealand Heeler and he rides in the back of the truck. You know how I
thought him to stay in there?" Looking at the Neanderthal in front of me, I was afraid to inquire. Politely I asked how. " Well
see, I put a chain around his neck see and hooked one end to the bed of the truck and drove around the yard. When he
jumped off, I let him hang there a little bit and choke a little bit see and from then on he stayed put." I swallowed painfully
and nodded wisely with my hand rubbing my beard like he gave me the best advice ever. I could barely respond at the
thought but heard myself whisper , "Well, that's one way to do it I guess." He said him and his wife cracked up when he saw
us at the intersection. "Well buddy, you and the misses have a great day." And like he was on a mission he got back in his
truck and took off. I looked at Jill and she looked at me, both without blinking an eye. The world is a strange place.
We rode another 20 miles till we just got out of Goldtwhaite and stopped at a
Dairy Queen. From then on we would push on until we reached Dublin and make
a stop there to have a rootbeer float. We parked in front of the restaurant and
walked into an almost empty dining room area. However 5 minutes later the
place was packed with Church goers! We didn't arrive a minute too soon. We
could see through the window how Zeb got all the attention and cameras
flashed! He had jumped back on my bike and it looked like he owned the thing!
The weather was great but still windy, although not as bad as when we came down. We mounted our horses and took off. This was going to be the longest stretch
of the trip without a pit stop. The roads were fantastic and gently we could see the landscape go back to a more familiar shape.

The ride went flawless although my butt started to complain and the vibrations made my right hand numb. I could see little Pocket in front of me letting go of the
trottle once every few miles and wiggle some blood flow back into her fingers.Triumph is not nessecarely recognized for comfort. But who's complaining? All went
well.

Dublin the home of Dr. Pepper came in our sights and so did the craving for rootbeer and ice cream. Out of all places during our trip this little town outside
Stephenville had the only traffic jam! How ironic. Luckily we could swing to the right and pull into the parking spots in front of the Dr. Pepper museum.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the luxury of time and we only could visit the gift shop and ice cream parlor. We would have to come back to see the museum. A
perfect one day trip for the future. We picked up a few souvenirs and t-shirts and treated ourselves to the long craved Rootbeer float. They made it all from
scratch and that with a couple scoops of Blue Bell Vanilla........ Speechless!
Just before this picture was taken we past;
Baby's Head Cemetery! Wonder how
that came about.
Zeb, mesmerizing about his
blanky back home. I could see
the tiredness on his snout.
Jill at the controlls of the camera again. It's
ok baby, my boots were dirty anyway and
the face of the statue was not all that well
done!
Best float ever!!
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The last stretch was going to be the hardest. We all were tired and wanted to hang out on the couch ASAP. We were ready to tackle the last etappe of the
trip and again off we went. Traffic was almost none existent until we hit I-20. There we were back smack dab in the middle of it and more wind joined into the
mix.

Meanwhile Jill with no worry in the world, was zooming the interstate at 75 mph. One hand on the
throttle the other scratching her nose and pushing her helmet down! I felt Zeb’s teeth in my back
trying to stay in his seat and myself clutching the handlebars, holding on for dear life! That girl
knows how to enjoy and use her windscreen to the fullest. #*#@)%!!! Sure I looked cool without
a shield, if only in the reflection of a window or at a stop sign but at 80 mph and 30 knots head
wind, it’s a different story. Anyway she slowed down a bit after awhile and when we pulled off one
more time to get gas, I asked her if she could go any faster. All she did was grinning and with her
big brown eyes wide open said she was only trying to make up time!

Finally Marsh Lane and the last few miles to a warm shower and feet up loomed. It was a great
ride and I loved every minute of it. My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me and I'm glad
we're doing this together. I think we both earned it. There will be more to come!

Home!
"Let's do some serious motorcycling.You
think I was going too fast? Watch me!"
Exhausted but happy to be home! We made it!
Glad it happened!
A man and his beast! Glad Zeb came along.
THE END!
By Jef V. (viewer submitted 2013)
Metamorphosis of a little grey mouse
Viewer submitted story by Jef V.
2013
December 2011
December 2012
Best proof in the world. With a little
guidance and inspiration, people
can
change!  (even little grey mice)


                                               
"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day,
When it's cold outside, I got the month of May,
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?
My Girl, My Girl, talkin' 'bout My Girl"
-The Temptations  1964
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