The “Red Headed Stranger” is 75 today and it seems like it was only yesterday when I met him.
Willie Nelson gave a show in Roanoke Virginia 27 years ago on his 48th birthday that I attended with a skirt chasing buddy of mine from work. Back then I lived in Lynchburg Va. (home of the Falwell’s) and, believe it or not, worked in a church furniture factory assembling…well, church furniture. We went to the show and it rocked and we met some girls’ cause that’s what we did and talked them into an after show carousing of the local bar scene. Of course they wanted to go out with us because we were the shit and they were of low moral standards. But to get them to agree to hang out with us we had to somehow get them on Willies bus. Seems we must have told them something about being able to pull that off and what did we have to lose if it didn’t go down. So the four of us made our way to the back of the coliseum where the bus and tractor trailer were parked and that’s when I had one of the greatest moments of “my bullshit.” I had been driving TT’s for a couple years for the furniture factory, installing pews and delivering pulpit, chairs, tables and the like all over the country. As we approached the roped off parking area for Willies caravan I spotted the driver of the big rig Bob Tailing it into the parking area. That means he was in the Tractor with no Trailer, the trailer was parked and he was coming in from where ever he’d been hanging out while the show was going on. The roadies were loading out the set into the trailer and this guy was getting ready to back in to hook the tractor to the trailer. I noticed that there was no one to move the rope that was there to keep people, like us, from getting to close so I jumped into action and pulled it aside and guided the driver as he backed in to hook up the 5th wheel to the trailer peg and before he could get out of the rig I had his air lines hooked up and was rolling up the trailer jacks. He checked my work and asked who I was and I said, “I’m a driver and know how much road you have ahead of you so I thought I’d lend a hand and I’m fan of Willies and came back here to try and catch a glimpse. He took all four of us onto the bus and introduced us to Willie and his entourage. After, we went bar hopping and soon the girls dumped us for some musicians but not until they bragged on how we got them into meet Willie.
Most days I put off appointments until after 9am so I can soak up some time in the spring and summer mornings. Just enough to wake up and have an unrushed cup of coffee or two and an omelet.
Today was just like that but there would be no relaxing since this morning’s appointment was with my dentist to prep my mouth for a crown, fill a cavity and replace a filling. I was in by 10 and out by 11:15 and only one delivery of materials to Hannah away before hanging out here for the recovery from the Novocain that had the entire left side of my head numb. It was a beautiful day to lounge in the gazebo under a sun beam and gaze at the azaleas in full bloom.
So I had one lucky day Monday, I was in our master bath, doing what one does in a bath room, and kept hearing what sounded like a drip hitting a surface. As I sat there, my aims not what it used to be, I finally saw the spot on the rug by the vanity where the drip was making contact and looked up, cause I’m smart like that, and saw a bubble in the ceiling paint. I sprang into superhero mode and in a single bound, after pulling up my pants of course, so in a bound and a half I was in the attic to see one of the two hot water heaters had begun to leak. I had been suspicious of this one tank and noticed a change in the hot water verses cold water ratio during my shower, cause I’m weird like that, and it had popped a pressure valve and was on the verge of a flood of cataclysmic proportions. Disaster was averted and I was able to disconnect it and reroute the backup tank to bypass the bad one in under an hour allowing me to return to my regularly scheduled program.
Julie’s train spotting, her report from Italy; I'm in Milan of course. I've had some problems with my email not sending and receiving from my blackberry for two days, so I sent you a couple of emails, but they never went anywhere.
Yesterday I had Tiramisu in Venice, the city that invented it...perfecto! Venice was very cool. Unlike any other place on the planet, and amazing in many ways. Also kind of stinky and run down in places as well. But I'll give them some slack...like about 2 or 3 thousand years of slack!
We also stopped in Verona, of "Romeo & Juliet" fame. It was just the most beautiful little city I have EVER seen. I would love to go back and spend at least a whole day. We were there for about an hour. There is even a huge coliseum, like for gladiators and lions and shit. Really amazing.
Today we mostly wasted our morning going over to the Art Foundation to scout for our shoots. Long boring story there, ... but as we were on our way back to the hotel to get ready for our afternoon shoot, we got STUCK on the subway!! First it sat still for a long time, then it moved very slowly and every time it came to a stop, it wouldn't start up for like 5 minutes, while we all huddled together like sardines.
Finally, they announced something (in Italian, of course) and everyone looked disgusted and started getting off the train. So of course we got off the train too, figuring it was broke or something. I mean, who wants to be underground in a broken train? So then suddenly they announced something again and people started running back onto the train. So like lemmings, we followed.
Then, after the train started moving, to our astonishment, it suddenly stopped and began moving BACKWARD! It took us back 2 stops. We saw the train on the other side now reversing it's direction as well and we figured out that for some reason, they switched the direction of the whole works.
Now hundreds of people are all going up and down the stairs and escalators to trade sides and get to the opposite side of the tracks so we can all go where we intended to go in the first place.
OK, so you think now the story is over? NO! We got on the other train, which now is going our direction. It indeed moves one stop in the right direction. Then it stops, starts the same shit it was doing before with the waiting and the slowness. And AGAIN reverses direction! Of course now the Italian cuss words are flying like fresh pizza dough, along with the wild gesturing they are so famous for. So we just got off the train and started walking. It was raining pretty hard now so that was fun too. Whew! And our work day was really just getting started.
Fast forward and now it's 10:33 and I'm going to lay my head down for a good night's sleep.
And I was having such a good week too. Spring has sprung and I’m actually training well and with purpose for a change but once every couple of years I’ll ride myself into an exhaustion induced sickness. I think between the pollen and the road miles I put in this week along with the two epic rides this weekend it’ll be a week before I recover.
But when I have a bike like this… who could blame me. I stole this frame off a shop owner in San Diego that built it up as a demo and found that, 1) nobody demos a 59cm, and 2) nobody wants to buy a frame that was a built up as a 59cm demo for $2400.00. So he put the frame on Ebay and I got it for a third of retail. Score! I think the last time I got sick due to over zealous cycling, and I’m bragging here, was in Italy and after 5 days of climbing around Lake Como we did the Gavia Pass in the Lombardy region. I could feel it coming on as I ascended above the tree line where you can gaze over the snow capped mountain range at eye level.
This is after the 15 minute descent back to town covered in sweat, freezing and exhausted. This time I just should have taken Sunday off the bike. Saturday was a great ride alone from my house to the Ashland area north where the best hills are and the traffic is light. I like this ride because I can put in 3 or 4 hours and have fun the whole time. I had a great tail wind most of the way up and back somehow, was called upon to lead a lost rider to her destination to meet her friends and then got caught in an epic thunder storm as I crossed the river back to my home and survived multiple lighting strikes. I took a hot shower, got some food and was out the door by 12:30 to catch up on my work schedule by cutting a counter top for the kitchen sink, connecting all the fittings and plumbed it in. I made the electrical connections for the garbage deposal along with the microwave receptacle and powered everything up all before 6pm. I could have easily called it a week and chilled on the couch but Sunday morning I was out the door and had the grass cut by 10:30 and was on the bike by ¼ till 1:00 for my weekly ride to Dorey Park to dice it up with some friend and then head home. I went to bed knowing it’d be a sleepless night with a scratchy throat and an agonizing day of work. It’s worth every minute of it just like the Gavia Pass.
This just in from Julie; We're leaving London for Milan now. We have the priviledge of experiencing "Terminal 5" here at Heathrow. It's brand new, extremely modern, high tech and beautiful. It's all over the BBC news for the problems it's having with baggage and such but we have found it to be perfect so far. No lines, very friendly, got away with murder with our video gear which is bigger and heavier than they allow without excess charges, but they let it all pass. I think they have received so much flack in the media for the problems they're having, so they want people to be happy. Yey for us!