Pandemic Pursuits

It has been awhile since I have written. Life has been crazy with the COVID-19 Pandemic, and everyone has struggled in their own ways. In mid-March, I instantly became a Quaranteacher, meaning I taught my classes remotely for my undergrads. Some people didn’t have reliable tech devices, some didn’t have reliable internet, people were (and are) struggling financially, and some have lost loved ones to the virus. At the same time, I was supposed to be dissertating. It is a lot to deal with.

Finally, in May, I got out on my motorcycle with my dad, and I was able to check an item off my bucket list: a photo of our bikes on River Road in New Braunfels, TX. This is a beautiful, windy road, shaded with trees, following the river. There are campsites for tents, RVs, and cabins along the way, and there are businesses for tubing. The scenery is gorgeous, and the shade of the trees is refreshing! We stopped to take photo under the U.S. flag that hangs down from the trees. This has been on my bucket list for awhile, so I am glad I did something I wanted during this pandemic.

River Road in New Braunfels, TX

NEW WHEELS

In bigger news, I got a new bike! I have been eyeing a 2017 Road King for a few months at Caliente Harley-Davidson in San Antonio because I LOVE the paint job. I asked in March if we could possibly make a trade, but they have the bike listed at the top price, and we could not come to an agreeable deal. It’s ok. I assumed it just meant it is not for me. However, my dad surprised me in the last week of May, and he said he researched on the internet to see where else in the country people are selling the exact same bike, and he found one that was SIGNIFICANTLY more affordable in Las Vegas, NV. It was so much more affordable that we still saved money even after driving both ways and paying for hotel rooms and shipping. We did ship the bike back to San Antonio because there were rain and hail storms at the time here in San Antonio.

Ready for a test drive!

We left at about 5:00 AM with our boxer, Harley, in the backseat. We stopped in Albuquerque for the night and made sure to fill our gas tank. Then, the next morning, we cut into Arizona, and eventually into Las Vegas. We passed by the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade, which is pretty. When we got to Las Vegas, we used Clorox wipes to clean every hard surface of the hotel room before bringing our belongings in. This was our first time to leave our own self-quarantine bubble during the pandemic, and we hope our precautions will be enough. While in Las Vegas, we visited the Harley Davidson store on the strip, located near the famous Welcome To Las Vegas sign. We also visited Red Rock Harley Davidson, where they fussed over Harley (our boxer) and agreed to ship my bike to San Antonio for me.

Harley Davidson, Las Vegas (on the strip)

At the store where we got my bike, the guys pulled the bike out for me and parked it with the kickstand on a steep downhill. When I got on the bike, I couldn’t lift it. They told me to put my body into it, and I did, but I just couldn’t lift it. I panicked and thought the bike was not for me! Thankfully, one guy exclaimed that he would move the bike down off the hill, and that it is always stupid to park a bike on a hill like that. Once he moved the bike down to a parking space on fairly level ground, I was able to pick up the bike. However, I could tell that all of the guys were nervous about me riding the bike, which only gave me more anxiety. On the Road King, there is a dial you turn for the ignition, which I don’t have on my Softail Deluxe. So, I forgot to turn it, and they all jumped and let me know I had to do that. (The only thing that could have happened is I wouldn’t start the engine.) After that, I turned the ignition dial, heard and felt the rumble of the H-D motor, and slowly exited the parking lot. Once I got onto the streets, all my anxiety dissipated and I felt ready to ride! I took her around a few neighborhood blocks, stopping, starting, and turning in each direction. I felt confident that I could handle the bike, and as a matter of fact, my legs feel more comfortable with the slightly added legroom. I pulled back into the lot, and backed the bike up into the space. The guys smiled, and the helpful one said, “Oh yeah! Now you look like you own it!”

The bike has removable backrests, the quick-release backrest with luggage rack, and small fold-up floorboards for a passenger on the back. I do not plan to ever take a passenger, so I think I might remove the passenger floorboards. I also plan to remove the backrests, and I will only use the luggage rack when needed. One of the things I really like about the Road King is the larger and painted saddle bags. I will definitely fit more things in there, and they are much easier to open and close. The saddlebags can also come off easily, which is helpful when washing the bike. The thing I love most about this bike is the color! I love the royal blue on a Harley Davidson, and this bike just calls to me.

After we purchased the bike, I followed my dad on city roads and some freeway to take it to Red Rock Harley Davidson for shipping. I wasn’t worried at all on my bike, and it felt great. It was already about 95 degrees outside with blazing sun, but because there is no humidity, I didn’t sweat as much as I often do here in San Antonio. Once we arrived, we met with the necessary people for paperwork and payment for shipping. Both customers and employees loved on Harley, and a few people admired my bike. One older gentleman had his H-D in for a replacement bulb, and he called me “sweetheart” which was nice. He commented that he doubts I will use the highway pegs on the bike, and I told him I use them on my Deluxe. He was surprised because he assumed I wouldn’t be able to reach them. I told him that you just have to adjust them for your own legs. This man was close to my dad’s age, with white hair, a cowboy mustache, and a tall, lean frame. He told me he rides a 2017 Softail Slim, which surprised me because that is the lowest bike they make! I was surprised such a tall man would be on that bike. It just goes to show that everyone has to choose the bike they love.

So, I know people are thinking it, and I don’t disagree: I am spoiled. I was worried about getting the bike, and my dad said it is his graduation gift to me for my PhD. I told him I will pay part of it back, but he says not to worry. He told me that he enjoys our time together on our bikes, and he is glad to have the experiences with me. He says he can’t take his money with him when he dies, so he would rather spend it now on experiences. I have always loved having activities and projects with my dad, and my dad is the reason I got into motorcycles in the first place. I feel so lucky to have such a loving, involved, and supportive father. I hope to make him proud, and I hope we have many more miles to cover on our bikes.

While I do feel kind of worried about a big item purchase during the pandemic, part of me is in YOLO (You Only Live Once) mode. We don’t know who is going to die during the pandemic or when. We have to take care of ourselves, but we also have to enjoy the life we have. My rides with my dad and others are my escape from the everyday stresses of the world. At the same time, I am a hard worker. I always had two jobs after graduating college, and I work hard as a student. I hope that my studies will enable me to make a greater positive difference in my world, and I know I will continue to work on the educational and social issues that matter to me and my students, but every now and then, I will be thankful for the break I can take with my dad, riding my new 2017 Road King.

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