So it's come to this. At the end of today, January 31, 2014, I'll be retired. That is simply fucking unbelievable. To my credit, I took today off so I could get an early start. Technically, the term is "working from home", but we all know what that really means, right? :-)
To my oldest friends and family, I don't think there's any argument that no one ever expected me to live this long. As a hard drinking....a VERY hard drinking biker.....the odds weren't good. Especially when you add in that I liked to fight, and bar fights were a hobby of mine back in the day. And no, I didn't always win. Winning depended a lot on how late in the night the fight took place. Later = Loser
I was often told it was just a matter of time until someone shot me, or that I'd hit something on the way home from a late night of partying. I have been shot at (they missed!), and a cop once assumed I was dead after a fight at the Rhapsody Club in Baltimore Highlands. And riding? I actually nodded out once, riding my Harley, after leaving Partners Bar in Curtis Bay, MD, and even that didn't get me! Lots of road rash, but the bike wasn't damaged too bad! But hey, it was all part of the game some of us played. Sadly, not all of us lived past those days. I miss my Bros, and the girls too, who didn't manage to get the brakes on before it was too late.
Obviously something had to change for Cowboy, and quick wasn't fast enough. I was attending a lot of funerals back then for still-young friends, and one day soon, the people remaining would be attending mine. That was becoming clear, even to me. So I started getting sober back in the early 80's, and while I wasn't an overnight success in AA, I kept going back. I'm now working on 15 years of consecutive sobriety, and if there's any single reason I'm still alive, riding Harleys cross-country, and writing this blog, it's certainly the fact that there isn't a can of Bud sitting here on the desk as I'm writing to you this morning.
I'm making the statement about my sobriety publicly now that I'm retired. No reason to worry too much about my own anonymity, at least not any longer.
All that drippy stuff said, it's time to look forward. Though I've made a lot of great friends in the Washington, DC area, it's time to get the fuck outa here. I hate the traffic, 95% of the pretentious people, and the fact that there ain't a biker bar in sight. "A biker bar?!?!?!" That would be just awful in the eyes of the populace.
What I really need is to get where I feel comfortable. Baltimore/Anne Arundel County just has too many skeletons in the closet for me, plus it's cold as hell there during the winter. Texas was attractive for several reasons, and not just for the cute ladies (lady?)! The Carolinas were also singing a siren song, but I'm single, live alone, and I'm not reclusive enough for a cabin in the woods, miles and miles from the nearest Hooters.
I set my sights on Florida many years ago, since my first trips down there in the 80's. Everyone's heard me talking about it. It was a place I escaped to, and where I felt as if I fit in...where I could be myself. I went kayaking, riding, and just hanging out during the winter, and mainly around Christmas. I met people a lot like me (scary, right?) and I found out the Daytona area was motorcycle-centric, suiting my tastes to the "T".
Every time I went down, it was harder and harder to leave, so after weighing all the other options, I finally bought a little house in Ormond Beach. There's a big-ass palm tree right in the middle of my front yard! I'm just 2 short blocks from Tropical Tattoo, 4 miles north of Boot Hill Saloon, and 6 miles south of Iron Horse Saloon. Yes, I'll wake up smack in the middle of Daytona Bike Week! If you're riding The Loop, you practically ride by my house. Since I'm only 2 1/2 blocks from the water, I'll get the dust off my kayaks and have the best of all worlds.
Ormond Beach, by the way, is Daytona's neighbor to the immediate north. That's where Destination Daytona/Rossmeyers's Harley is located. You can hear the cars running around Daytona Speedway from my back yard.
The house is undergoing cosmetic surgery as this is written, and in a few short weeks my bikes will be in the garage. Yes, a garage. It will be so fuckin' nice to just go into the garage and jump on one of them instead of the current 3 mile drive to my rented garage. And there's a spare bedroom and about a 1/4 acre of yard. Space!
Come summer, I'm heading out on a very long solo motorcycle ride around the United States to see it the way I've always wanted to. No calendar, no date to be back, no itinerary, and no one to debate with if I want to take an interesting side road along the way. The latest route I've looked at is about 10,000 miles long, with a long stop in Sturgis for the 2014 Black Hills Rally. After Sturgis, I'll head for California, ride the coast to San Diego, and then putt over to Texas. And finally, I'll make my way back to Ormond Beach via New Orleans. If I don't do anything else over the next few years, I'm doing this ride. It might take 6 weeks...it might take 2 months. Longer?? Who knows.
Like the picture at the top of this post suggests, I'll be riding and looking to see what's around the next bend. In retirement.
Now if I could stop waking up at 6:30, that would be a damn good start..........