I want to tell you why I started calling Gordon “Wizard”.
Near the end of 2013 I ran into a garbage truck and totaled our suv. Gordon offered up his 2002 Honda Odyssey as a replacement gift, so in April of 2014 he further helped me wrangle a speaking gig and fly down to Houston and watched me drive away in my ‘new’ van. Skylar met me in San Antonio and we had the daddy/daughter trip of a lifetime! We went through mostly side roads and National Parks in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California and of course Oregon. Most of our sightseeing was from the leather bucket seats of the Odyssey. But at Arches National Park we did some hiking.
I wanted to get her to walk out there to the Delicate Arch so that anytime she sees those Utah license plates bearing this Arch’s picture she’ll remember our time together. This is one of my favorite spots on Earth. She’s one of my favorite earthlings. Skylar has been chronically ill since age 11, nauseous almost daily. This was a few months before her 21st birthday and she hadn’t been walking much at all, but trooper that she is, she hiked uphill the nearly 2 miles it takes to see this sacred spot. I’m a proud father and a lucky man.
We drove on through so much beauty that eventually she’d mockingly roll her eyes every time I said, “Hey look at that!”
On highway 50 through Nevada, the “world’s loneliest highway”, I was feeling anything but lonely. I raced the old Honda up to 119 mph, just to see if it would do it. This is as safe a road as you can imagine; desolate and flat and seemingly infinite; almost no other traffic at all. Skylar sat unaware of our speed as she made a talisman for our new family member, the van we still call “Fiona”. The cactus thorn and three shells still hang from the mirror and will as long as we can keep Fiona. I think they represent the four of us in our family. Guess who’s the thorn.
If I have presence of mind when I die, that time with Skylar will be one of the last memories I’ll have and be the reason for the smile on my face when I take my last breaths. Being with her, listening to the band Kansas, “Carry On”, as we drifted through the iconic western landscape; that was a piece of heaven, a preview of heaven; a trailer for coming attractions. Magic made possible by the generosity of Gordon and Fiona. Magic.
I started calling Gordon “Wizard” for a couple of different reasons, but none more that this: he can do magic. I think he gets it from Fiona, but that’s about her and for another time. This is just about the magic I’ve seen my old friend do himself, over and over for years.
He made some magic on Greg’s r75/5 that year, 2015, when we headed up to Hiawassee. Gordon had never been one of our faster riders. I know that prudence and responsibilities, along with his own near death experiences on the road, kept him among the more cautious 1* club members. But when he got on that old Beemer some kind of transformation occurred and he instantly morphed from Mr. Blasius into Mad Max. The Wizard has been a hard man to keep up with ever since.
For several years he’s made it a point to come out and ‘check up’ on me here in Portland. Whether on my old bikes or rentals, Wizard and I have a good time and I always know that part of his visit is just to make sure Lisa and I are alright. How many people in the world get that kind of love? Really?
Back in 2015 we headed up to a house in Hiawassee and spent at least two back and forth rides on one of my favorite roads, Highway 64 from Franklin to Highlands, where we passed the Bridal Veil Falls. I couldn’t find that picture of the old guy on the Vespa. Who’s got it?
This pic was taken on the Friday of our ride and is sans Rick only because he wouldn’t get in until the next day, which is a story unto itself. Very early Saturday morning, Rick flew down to Atlanta, got a ride to Athens, met 3 of us at Greg’s house …
… packed up and then flogged Goyo’s Multistrada the 100 plus miles up to North Carolina to rendezvous with the rest of the gang where we then beat it over to the Blue Ridge Parkway…
… had a “track day” on the blue ribbon of road twisting through the mountains and then visited this place, just missing Jay Leno by a minutes (I coulda danced for him again)…
… and then got back to Hiawassee late Saturday night, had communion Sunday, rode back to Georgia and said our goodbyes that evening… ah… sigh… Thing of it is that Rick spent the next week trying to explain to his New York friends why he flew to Georgia to spend less than 48 hours with a bunch of hooligans who don’t really accomplish much when we get together.
Or do we? The thing about magic is not knowing how the trick is done. Maybe one of these days Wizard will explain it to us all better than I ever could dream.
P.S. hey fellas,when i started this thread i mostly just wanted to try and remember ‘when’ we did stuff. i’ll never forget ‘that’ we did stuff… we’ve done stuff. a lot of great stuff. thanks is mostly what i’m trying to convey. and how much you’ve all meant to me, how much you mean to me everyday. the impact and help you’ve given my girls, and me… i love and thank you hardly seems enough. wish i could wiggle my nose and bring you all here for a cheeseburger.i’m feeling a lot these days, probably normal; but some of these notes i’m writing to you all don’t always feel as ‘inspired’ as i wish i could make them. writing sometimes lightens my heart and things seem to flow a little easier. i’m a little heavy hearted and writing isn’t as much the distraction as i love for it to be. no serious troubles, Lisa is fine, girls are the same, just a lot of stuff with my folks, work, you know; same as anyone.i just wanted you to know that your memories are important to me. part of my heaviness is seeing dad be gone before he’s actually really gone; not being able to remember. it’s cruel and hard to watch. i don’t want that to happen to any of us. so i started these remembrances, testing my memory and looking forward to you sharing your’s as well, if you want, when you can. i know none of us needs another ‘thing to do’ , so … no pressure… and i’m not fishing for anything here or expecting. but if you’ve got a pic or a thought then be aware that i’m saving all of these threads and will figure out some way to keep em all; some safe place to put em so future generations will marvel with astonishment at our feats of bravery… or ability to productively waste time like few other grown up men who ought to know better.i love you all and hope this finds you well on the 4th of July, 2019. God bless and happy trails!
p.s.s. there’s a road going into Hot Springs from Iron Duff (which is down on interstate 40) called 209 and dubbed ‘the rattler’. Rick and i took that road to get to hot springs where we met cmack and his brother michael. then there’s highway 281 (107 meets it at tuckasegee) it runs down to meet 64 at lake toxaway. i’ve been with some of you guys at the store at tuckasegee and we bought some stickers (keep paddling i hear banjos) and some kind of moonshine… and i’ve been mistaken for a long time, i thought that was the rattler and i thought we met the guy who was trying to get it named, like tail of the dragon… anybody remember better details of this story…?
The only correction on the Hiawassee trip was that Gordon, Greg and I got up early and rode down together back to Athens to meet Rick that morning at Greg’s house because his Moto Guzzi Le Mans needed a tire and some minor work. I was on Greg’s Multistrada up to that point and was reluctant to have to give it up. But for Rick showing up, I’d have ridden a Chinese moped.
We had a great back porch, a great meal and a great night recalling the days ride and laughing over Mexican food at the bottom of the hill. We talked about how, at speed, your mind processes unimportant images slower and you use your brain power to read the road conditions.
As usual the time passed too quickly and I had a presentation in Atlanta at a conference.
i remember your trip with Skyler- i’d talk to you guys every day and give you a thought for the day.
i remember the final ride home with Wiz and setting up that pic. Shortly after that Wix bought his own R75 so I know that ride left a mark. Mayday.
a thought for the day? often as not, it was a brilliant poem…original… or a deep thought… those i guess maybe not so original :)i remember riding down to get rick, but i also remember not riding down there… that’s why i want to talk about these things!!! if it wasn’t for the ghost of a memory of talking to you about how the le mans rode… the fact that your first hours on it i wasn’t there and you filled me in… i’d swear i made that 100 mile trip too, but i trust your memory on this much better than mine. so i guess i stayed with lance and mitch and mike and met you four…near the blue ridge parkway? where? Mango.
Actually not that you mention it, i think you were with us. maybe it was you, I and Goyo and Wiz stayed back .. Mayday
maybe one of the others will remember. my memory kicks in at that blueridge parkway overlook when everyone got off their bike to take a picture except for rick so i nodded to him towards the next curve and we just took off for a while, me trying hard to keep up with him on that ducati…dang…
well, not trying too hard… : ) Mango.
PSS… RIP the “FIONA”…
not long after this post the Fiona was in an accident that totaled her out. she went out doing what she did best, taking care of the occupants of the ride. my daughter was hit from the rear and then thrown into a truck in front of her…
fortunately no one was injured severely and skylar was put at ease a bit by a jolly tow truck driver…