Cat_FinalFolks can spot somebody “cool”. Not counterfeits, like the cocky jock masking insecurity or the greasy hipster generating image. But a person who is entirely themselves, true to their nature in every manner. One who makes their own code and lives by it unapologetically. Maybe that person is the misunderstood actor who smokes aloofly, drives cars fast, and dies young. Or maybe it is someone closer to home, like the stoic girl tending the neighborhood bar. Either way, they stand out. They are often emulated. And they are rare.

But then there is the very rarest of cool. A type of person few of us ever get to see: one who lives by their own mantra, but still includes and cares for those around them. They exercise virtues that transcend simple cool. Traits like honor, integrity, or the one I witnessed, forgiveness.

More »

T2Wildlife changes from one side of North America to the other. Not just the type of animals, but each species itself. Squirrels, for instance, are mostly grey on the east coast, but brown in the west. In places with large amounts of snowfall, they can even be white. The squirrel’s fur color and other physical attributes formed over thousands of years in response to their environment. Such adaptations are how animals survive. Yet some creatures defy the logic of Darwin, evolving in ways that seem worthless, or even detrimental to their existence, leaving us to wonder how they came to be.

The first time I contemplated this was at 45 mph with both brakes locked up on my motorcycle.

More »

Riding a motorcycle across the country you stumble into fascinating folks. Some are simply standouts from the crowd who tickle a fancy and make us smile, then fade into the dormant vaults of memory. But others are complete outliers; true anomalies. The ones who become embedded in our consciousness, emerging from time to time when mood or surroundings invoke them. They are the fascinating characters who enter our lives as a natural result of wandering.

For me, one of the greats was Saul.

More »

pine-graphicAn abandoned coal mine stood within riding distance of my house as a kid. It was a huge trench thirty feet deep, fifty feet wide, and about two hundred feet long. The sides were steep with trails that ran between adolescent maple and oak trees, re-growth from clear cutting done decades before. Along the trench floor rusted steel relics of the coal industry jutted from the dirt here and there in tribute to forgotten endeavors. Motorcycle riders would drop in one side of the trench, fly down the trails to the bottom, then climb the other side. With enough momentum, they would launch off the lip of the exiting side jumping ten or fifteen feet in the air.

The entire mine was like this except one end, where the trench floor opened to a wide and gentle grade into the surrounding woods. Near this opening resided Fritchie’s Run, the biggest and meanest of all the hills. It was forty feet tall – four stories of a building – with the last fifteen feet being perfectly vertical. The top was a small plateau barren of anything except a lone pine tree standing sentinel in the dead center. The tree was never of any significance until the day came when one kid’s opinion forced me to take notice.

More »

FireMotorcycles are a polarizing form of transportation. Broach the subject and you will find people fall into two groups. On one side are the folks who think they are loud and dangerous, ridden by dirt-bag miscreants who eyeball women. On the other are those who lecture how the vehicle offers ultimate freedom, complete with the self-bolstering undercurrent of a social outsider. But like most matters in life, the truth is an alloy of these viewpoints. And the real beauty of a motorcycle comes from the random and at times dangerous events that occur along the way. This is the stuff that makes stories and legends for years to come, told and retold with steadily growing warpage of the facts.

This is one of those stories.

More »