Saturday, April 26, 2008

Flying with Shakespeare.

The first day of really being in my 40’s sets in the way it should, with a hangover. I have eased into this stage of life by looking at being 40 as the start of a trip towards being an adult. Now with 41, I will start to contemplate the need to consider growing up. Nothing too drastic this morning, just acknowledging that I need to ponder it sometime later. With coffee comes the yearning to get out and about since Saturdays are made for this. First thought is I need to go to the folks and also take my other BMW motorcycle staying there for a spin. I need to make sure it still runs.

The RT fires right up and I take the boxer out for a spin around the neighborhood. My Mom is in love with it and loves to show her friends that she has a BMW Moto in the garage. To be safe I document the mileage. Not that I don’t trust my Mom to leave it in the garage or anything.

I make my way back over and we decide that we will have breakfast at the Good Egg. After this I am off to meet Chris O at the Radio Control Airplane expo. I don’t know the first thing about them but it sounds interesting. Nick Purzer has also expressed interest so I tell him to meet me there.

After all this fun, I see that I still have some time to kill before heading over to the stadium. What do I do? "Tennis Balls My Liege" which means I decide to go to the Tempe Market Place to see how the Shakespeare Marathon is doing. I have read that the Southwest Shakespeare Company is doing the complete works of Shakespeare without interruption this weekend. To me that sounds crazy enough for me to check out. Their goal is the Guinness Book of World Records.

I am in the right place.

After parking I get there just as they are in between plays. Next up is Henry IV Part One but I have a few minutes to wander the outdoor mall. Turning the corner I see two little guys playing in the fountain as their parents watch them. This again proves that anyone can have fun almost anywhere!

Man O Man this scene tells me that I need to put off this growing up gig for at least a few more days. Being a big kid is too much fun still.

This is actually pretty amazing when you think of all the works of Shakespeare…and they aren’t skipping the Sonnets!

As Henry the IV starts you see Henry on the right and Falstaff on the left foreshadowing the bad things to come in Henry the V. At first I am disappointed since they are really more reading the play then acting. Soon though I determine that this is a lot like what a radio play would be like back in the 30’s. So I sit and listen rather then focus on the visual. The play opens up to me then and the players do an amazing job inflecting the prose. Bravo.

Reading aloud is not easy when at 10am the temp is already around 90. Thank goodness there is a PowerAide event here today too!

It is amazing how fast birds near public places forget to fear humans. This little guy is working the tables like a pro.

Think he found some bubble gum.

From here I leave the mall (but manage to get some sneakers) and take off towards the West Side of Phoenix to meet Nick and Chris.

This event is inside the UofPhoenix Stadium which looks like a big space ship to me. The cool thing is the grass is on a big tray and slides out to the left here to get sunlight. Pretty darn worthy.

Wandering down into the stadium I come upon the world of electric flight. The planes are way cool. Chris is there and he is really into this hobby. Nick joins us and before you know it we are talking about Milliwatts, KV ratios, and all sorts of things I haven’t a clue about.

The Brain Trust talking amperages to Propeller size like something out of the Lockheed Skunkworks. Me, I am looking for war bird planes that shoot paintballs.

Getting Closer to my level of sophistication!

They are actually racing the planes around the stadium which is fun to see. The thrill of victory

The Agony of Defeat

Most of the people you see here can’t be put into a bucket. There are some engineering types. Kids, adults, I find the Sun Lakes Model Airplane Club, and the US Air force recruiting. I start to see where the next generation of UAV pilots will come from.

In my mind this guy is some old crop duster who flew Huey’s in Nam. He had such a cool look.

As I wander the hall I see a number of sparrows flying around. I then hear a slight screech. Up ahead is the AZ Game and Fish Department with the oldest “controlled remote Flyer's in the world”.

There is nothing cooler then a bird of prey.

So Majestic yet they creep me out with the way they turn their head.

I know he is eying the kids dropping those French fries by the snack bar.

I need to get back to the house to do some things and I tell Nick and Chris goodbye. We do come upon these cool robots though which I think are the highlight of the show.

You can see in the montage the range of motion. This little guy would be fun to have just to chase the cats around with.

A nice way to spend the day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Road To Ruidoso

[EDITORS NOTE APRIL 25: This entry was originally posted on April 21st but I have moved it up so that it reads in chronological order.]

There is always so much going on in my head as I get ready to embark on the first long ride of the season. With the GT, The bike is close to its 3000mile check up (wow I have ridden the GT 3000 miles in just over 6weeks) but I am going to let it wait until I return Sunday. The weather is going to shift at least 50 degrees and more since the ride will take me across the desert and up into the mountains around 8k. Only 2 real days away so I won’t need the duffle. I decide I am not taking the electrics mostly because I haven’t hooked up the plug yet on the GT. For those reading this and not aware, motorcyclists such as myself have electric clothes we use to keep warm.

Why Ruidoso New Mexico? Larry “Whip” has a way of twisting my arm to do silly things. He uses great subterfuge like “Brother, we need to go to Ruidoso and to look for some good roads, and maybe discover the real story of Billy the Kid“. This beguiling double speak leaves me no other option then to stammer…”I’m in”. Before he is done, we have a 5 man Posse. Chris and I from Arizona, along with Whip, Ed and Billy from Texas. Ed, is a new acquaintance of mine outside the internet riding community and Billy aka “The Lawman” is from East Texas where he is constable for a county there.

I have done a few 300 mile days but this ride is over 500 and I am going to be riding with Chris O. Chris is a very experienced rider but we have not ridden together all that much. We meet at 6 at the normal spot out by Apache Junction.

Chris gets there in no time and lets me know either that he voted in the last Iraqi election or that he just ate 3 Raspberry Zingers. Actually that smile just makes you know we are in for a glorious day.

We make tracks to Globe and then make our way to Safford. I am riding in a good vibe and look for a theme to develop. We pass a few old planes and helicopters on the road before pulling into Duncan Arizona. I see a sign that say “Jet Plane”. We have to go see it.

It seems that the Air Force left the town of Duncan a F-100 Super Sabre as a monument. That’s right Chris…any landing you can walk away from…even one done on a pole.

I am glad to have stopped but we need some breakfast and Safford seems as good a place as any. After breakfast we moto on towards Silver City and on down towards Deming New Mexico.

Chris earns the nickname Glue from me by about 10am it seems. No matter how fast I go or where I turn, “Glue” my wingman is on my six. Got to love it

Many of us have driven through Deming New Mexico, maybe gotten some gas there or had a bite. Few have gone into the town to have a look.

They have a pretty cool courthouse just off the main drag and we stop to have a look around and get some water.

I have walked many of the battlefields of WWI and II and these monuments always get my attention. Hey Dan another person to track down I think.

The trees around court houses seem to weather more and have interesting shapes.

We spent a few more minutes checking out the town and came upon another public park.

They take their city ordances pretty seriously in Deming. There was a museum but we still have 200+miles and we want to stop at White Sands for some pictures. So off we Moto.

My GT really stands out against the white and the area is still amazing. The following pictures are shot within about 100 yards of each other. We only have a ½ hour since we need to make the climb up the mountain to Ruidoso to meet the Texans.

Amazing Place to visit. We get back on to the road and make our way up to Ruidoso and find the cabins. They are rustic, not level and really pretty cool. The Texans have beaten us by about 15 minutes so we decide to head over for dinner at Michelena’s. Mainly because it is about 100ft down the road and we want a drink and some food.

The food is fantastic but they have no liquor license so I doubt they will be around for long without one. Too bad but Ruidoso is a tourist town for mostly Texans.

It is weird eating on little Joey’s School Picture.

Larry has a friend Jim who agrees to pick us up and take us to his place for some drinks and even ferry us back later that night.

Eddd calls Shotgun but too late. Billy starts getting mouthy with Whip and suffers for it.\

There is something poetically wrong with stuffing a Lawman into the back of a car.

It could almost be a picture right out of “Good Fellas”

We are men of simple tastes….

The Lawman holds court.

Whip telling us how he swears its true

Edd is the only one among smart enough to not drink and quickly catches on to Whip and the Lawman’s tales of adventure.

I wish we all lived a little closer as usual but we make tracks for home around midnight. After all we have to find Billy the Kid Still.

Like all good Western Riders, we make sure the steeds are bedded down for the night before turning in ourselves.

Tomorrow it will all be about the old west, Little do I know what surprises await in Lincoln County. Unfortunately right after taking this picture it dawns on me... I am taller then the door. Ask me how I know…

[NOTE: Looking for Billy The Kid should be posted no later then Tuesday so check back please]


Monday, April 21, 2008

Chasing Down Billy the Kid

I awake to find Chris making coffee and saying that the posse is getting ready to get the kid. Ed saunters over and soon enough we see Whip come in. I get a quick shower and am excited because other then movies like “John Chisum", and “Young Guns”, I am only vaguely aware of the exploits of the Lincoln County Wars. Today is the day I am going to get the facts and with the Lawman in tow, I know justice will prevail.

Whip cleans his weapon of choice while Ed entertains us with stories from South Texas. Where is the Lawman? I mean we brought him along just to make sure we could really call ourselves a Posse.

He arrives not unlike great peace officers of the past. I can’t tell if it is more Barney Fife or Quick Draw McGraw with Ed being Baba Looey, Matt Dillon has nothing to worry about.

We get into a conversation about how Larry won’t carry at a gun in his store usually but it diverges into the fact that Larry is the last shop keeper in Texas that wants all shoplifters arrested and will prosecute them. The Lawman is adamant that if you steal you need to go to jail. I reason that some folks make mistakes and should be treated leniently. He won't budge on his position. This is important folks, the Lawman knows all about the justice system in the West.

We mosey on up to the bikes and saddle up to ride off to get some grub at the log cabin. Chasing a legend will be tough work so we better get some vittles.

Larry thinks this will be a picnic but looking at the Lawman’s eyes tells another story. We are going to look for clues and get to the bottom of this like all great posses do. I keep asking myself what would Dan Blocker do? Will I have the fortitude to not be scared if it comes to a fight. Should I get Belgian Waffles or Steak and Eggs?

We mount up and head off to find the trail. We come upon the first stop near the horse track. A note about Ruidoso, it is really famous for Ruidoso Downs which for many years had a larger purse then any of the triple crown races including the Kentucky Derby. They still race quarter horses there regularly in the summer.

We hear there are artifacts here from Billy The Kids adventures

A couple of cool wagons. I have never seen them in color which is interesting since my vision of the west is mostly black and white from growing up watching old movies.

They “pimped” their rides back then too it appears

This Kachina Chess set is worthy

A clue! Whoohoo we are on the trail! I better go find Whip and the Lawman. The lawman is real interested in my find. Like Hoss, I give him the ah shucks it was nothing routine.

Whip is daydreaming…I hope

He does eventually graduate to having a turn on Mr. Ed

The pony’s are ready to gallop but where to next? I have to think fast. I see a building across the parking lot that claims to be the Billy the Kid Visitor center. I go in and meet Jackie Stroud. She is a real pistol and tells me all about the history of the area and what I need to go see in Lincoln. She is wonderful and as soon as Larry and Chris come in we are chatting like old pals. I am sad now that I do not take a picture of her as she is one of the hidden gems of Ruidoso. We decide to follow the signs

The sign..

As I ride into the town of Lincoln I am surprised that it looks like a small town, not a tourist city like say Tombstone. We look at the place and decide to park in the middle of town.

This feels like the old West. I keep thinking that John Wayne walked these streets, heck Billy the Kid Walked these streets. Men died here by the Kids gun. Maybe even the one in the museum. Yet somehow I want it to be more immersive. Every time a Buick drives by I cringe a little.

This area is home to the Mescalero Apaches and they didn’t feel like sharing with the Spanish or the Anglos. Fort Stanton was founded near here and Kitt Carson commanded the troops which is pretty cool. This is also an outpost that had Buffalo Soldiers.
A better description of the tower above

The story of the real John Chisum

As we get into the State Park Headquarters we meet Beverly Hammond. Now Bev, I quickly get to be on first name basis with her, is one of those rare treats. Someone who you literately come upon traveling that in a few minutes tells you about her life and you completely memorized by it. I ask her about the town and the history. She is 82 years young and was born and raised in Lincoln. "Being a child in Lincoln was great" Bev says. She relates to us about how they sat in the tower and used to shoot cow pies with Daisy Air rifles. “The explode Tom” she exclaims as if she would be willing to take me out and show me right now if I could come up with the proper gun and obliging bovine.

We talk about the Lincoln county war and she has opinions about all the players which seems to make them all the more real. Like all things there are shades of gray with everyone involved in the fighting. We start to talk of films and I ask her if she ever saw John Wayne here when they made the movie “Chisum”. She hisses “The real Chisum was a cheat and a tyrant! But John Wayne used to send me Christmas Cards.” I tell her that I can’t keep Jennifer Aniston from calling me all the time either so I relate. She tells me “no I mean it” It appears that Bev was at one time a stewardess with United Airlines. And she had the great honor of spilling breakfast all over the Duke as he was returning from filming “The Quiet Man” in Ireland. That is one of my favorite films and her telling me about the incident makes it more personal now should I see it on Turner Classic Movies again.

Don’t fret Bev married a rich lawyer from Philadelphia and ran into Mr. Wayne several years later in Acapulco and they struck up a friendship on his yacht. That story is as glorious as the breakfast one and I don't want to leave. There is however a line at the counter now of those people from the damn Buicks waiting to get in. As much as I want to ignore them, etiquette gets the better of me and I move on to the museum. This lady is way better then finding the ghost of William “Billy the Kid” Bonnet. Her story and actions with us is the kind of gift you never see coming and reaffirms that almost anyone you meet has a glorious story if you take the time to listen.

We wander down to the Tunstall Mercantile to have a look at the store that started the war. It is stocked with merchandise from the era. Again the color seems so much more pronounced then I imagine.

Ok so marketing has come a long way since the 1880’s I admit

Not a lot of charts and graphs but the prices aren’t that far off considering it was 110 years ago. Not sure what the amount was though for the goods. While I think I may have been something of a rouge back then, odds are I would have been a merchant.

We came looking for a outlaw and leave finding a stewardess who knew the Duke. I am happy. Later on we ride through Cloudcroft back to Ruidoso on a fun road. The next morning it is up early and we make tracks back to Arizona while the Texans have one more adventure without us. As soon as Whip shares that with our motorcycle friends I will post the story.

The tale of the tape shows that I have ridden 1200 miles on the GT as I pull into the garage. Coming home we take the Northern route and fight the wind. We see one cop until the last 100 miles when I count 6 on the road. New Mexico never disappoints me.