The Lost Girl

I stopped at a friend’s home to pick up a part for my motorcycle I had left there.  While talking to her, she asked me if I had time to go visit a cemetery. There was something she wanted to show me she was sure I would find fascinating.  On the way over in our conversation she mentioned the phrase, “my lost girl”.  When we arrived she took me to the middle of the cemetery where she told me there was a tombstone in the middle of the cedar tree we were standing in front of.  I immediately began looking inside the hole on the side of the tree.  I started to remove some sticks and dug out some loose bark and dirt.  My friend stood back and smiled.  That wasn’t where it was.

DSC_1033What you see in the above photo is a black and white picture my friend took when she was in college almost 30 years ago in 1980. We set her photo next to the tree for comparison.  In the original photograph, the tree had obscured the girl’s last name and the dates.  Today all that is visible is the upper edge of the stone.  The cedar tree has grown around the entire marker.  In just a few more years only my friend’s memory and her photograph will be the only proof that a grave is here.

My friend has long considered this her secret discovery.  I am honored that she chose to share it with me.  She gave me permission to post this on the blog, but I am going to refrain from giving the location.

Advertisements
Posted in Hiking and Exploring | 2 Comments

I DID A VERY BAD THING

A friend of mine called me up to ask a huge favor of me.  He had shoulder surgery and hasn’t been able to ride his Harley motorcycle in a while and won’t be able to for a few more months.  He asked me to ride his bike around to run the old gas out of it and keep things running.  Since I’m just such a nice guy I agreed.  I know it is a huge sacrifice on my part, but I’m just that kind of person.

What I neglected to do was tell my wife the truth.  Instead, I told her I was buying a new motorcycle this weekend.  I figured since I was showing up this weekend with a new motorcycle, why not have a little fun with it?  All week I have been telling her about the new bike I was getting.  At first she thought I was pulling her leg, but then she began to realize that I was in fact coming home with a motorcycle.  As she started asking some specific questions that I couldn’t answer I made things up on the spot.  It worked.

SAMSUNG

This is a 2006 Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster with low miles still looking brand new.

I’ve never been a Harley guy.  They just don’t suit my style of riding.  I like the dual sport motorcycle world with the ability to go off road and get dirty.  My wife is keenly aware of this little fact.  Apparently this week she and her best friend have been having girl talk about me having a mid-life crisis.  She got upset, but nowhere near as much as I thought she would.

I came home with the bike as promised and then convinced her to go for a long ride with me on my “new” bike.  I took her out to dinner and then let her know I had pranked her.  All in all things went quite well.  I had told her I was coming home with an expensive new Harley.  I did not discuss this purchase with her ahead of time whatsoever.  I told her I was just going to buy it, then I came home with it, which is totally out of character for me.  She handled it fairly well chalking it up to a mid-life crisis.  This has some interesting implications.  There is a Triumph Tiger Explorer I have had my eye on down at the dealership…

Posted in General Motorcycle Related | Leave a comment

Richloam

Old State Road 50 Bridge

Old State Road 50 Bridge

Last year I found a really cool lost bridge in Richloam that turned out to be Old State Road 50.  Today I went out looking for another one I had heard about that was supposed to be nearby.  I followed the directions I was given and realized I had been there before.  I had been backpacking that section with my buddy Andy a few hours before the State of Florida Division of Forestry fire bombed us.  That is a story for another time though.  I have also been there four wheeling in my Range Rover.  I found where the bridge was supposed to have been, but there was no bridge.  It is just a river crossing where jacked up 4×4 trucks go to play now.  The road name is the only thing left designating that there was once a bridge there.  The road is named Pole Bridge Road.

That was disappointing, but since I was in the woods I was going to explore.  Last week Andy and I canoed, or better phrased, dragged a canoe down the Little Withlacoochee River

Believe it or not, I crossed this one on the DR.

Believe it or not, I crossed this one on the DR.

down river from U.S. 301 because there wasn’t enough water.  Ironically, there was too much water up river for me to explore all the trails by dual sport.  I will push my luck a little more when I have someone with me, but getting a stuck bike out of deep mud alone is quite the chore that I do not want to do again.  I learned my lesson.

The Little Withlacoochee River is formed by the watershed of the Richloam State Forest.  The land is swamp land.  Sometimes the trail disappears under shallow water and sometimes the trail becomes the river and there is no longer a trail.  The trick is determining when water can be crossed and when it can’t.  Today, I was conservative in my exploits.

DSC_1865I know the area was logged out at one time, but there is still a considerable amount of old growth cypress trees that have huge girth and tower over the canopy.  There were many times I got deep into the swamp and then out of caution stopped the bike and went deeper on foot following the tufts of high ground that would support me but not the bike.  It is amazing how quickly I could get enveloped by the deep swamp.  No sounds of people.  No sounds of traffic.  I could hear the splash of something big just out of sight.  I could hear the swoosh of a heron taking off in flight.  The sun was barely visible through the thick tree canopy and reflected green off of the plant life of the swamp.  I find that places like this are where I am most at peace.  There is a stillness that exists here where I can find my thoughts, where I can let the stress of life go.

DSC_1867 DSC_1869

Then I saw things I wanted to photograph.  I saw the ripple of the creek over the rocks and the solitude of the scene.  I raised the viewfinder to my eye and pressed the shutter release.  Nothing happened.  NO CARD INSERTED displayed across the camera screen.  In my rush to get out I left my 32 GB memory card still in my computer.  I had my 8 GB, but that was full.  There I was in the woods trying to determine which photos were not worth keeping based on the small screen on the back of the camera.  I hope I made the right decisions.

I caught a few photos while I was out there today, just not as many as I wanted to.  I had an owl swoop down in front of me DSC_1849and fly ten feet in front for about fifty feet or so and then arc up to a tree branch.  I stopped just past him and we watched each other for a while.  I frantically erased photos to catch a few shots of him before he flew away.

I took another trail that dead ended into the swamp except for a thin trail that was just narrow enough to walk.  So I did.  What I didn’t do was stay quiet enough.  I spooked up three huge deer, but I was not quick enough with the camera.

DSC_1858

DSC_1866

Many trails dead end into impassable waterways.  I am still amazed at where the DR can take me.  It will never win any races.  It will never win any beauty contests, but it is a dependable and capable machine.

DSC_1872

DSC_1870  A friend of mine has sent me some pictures of some more lost bridges in Richloam and Green Swamp so I have my assignment in the near future to go find them.

In the meantime, keep the rubber side down.  It works better that way.

DirtMedic

Posted in Dual Sport Motorcycle Rides | 3 Comments

You go first

I love riding my motorcycle every chance I get.  Granted, it means things can get a little uncomfortable at times.  I don’t mind getting a little cold on the motorcycle and sometimes I even enjoy the chill of the wind.  I can tolerate getting wet while riding.  Although I wear protective gear, when heavy rains come down the water seems to find a way in.  If I am prepared for the rain, I do have a rain suit.  When my helmet visor fogs up or my sunglasses get a little difficult to see through I find a way to either wipe off the excess moisture or adjust the visor to allow the appropriate amount of air to blow it off.  It will hardly slow me down.  Hot weather? No problem. I just drink more water and soak my shirt in water to get the benefits of evaporative cooling.

If a tiny gnat gets inside my helmet and then into my ear canal while riding… well… all bets are off.  The ride is taking an unscheduled stop . Now.  Right now!  Something inside my helmet with me is the one thing I absolutely cannot tolerate while riding.  I’m not moving again until the tiny offending vermin is extricated.  As the saying goes, “It isn’t the journey to the mountain that stops you; it’s the pebble in your sandal”.  For me that is anything touching inside my ears.  I will instantly lock up the brakes and have the bike shut off before it comes to a stop while ripping the gloves off so I can tear the helmet off as fast as possible.  I want that insect out of my ear NOW!!!

The other one that does me in are banana spiders.  They are a large, beautiful spider with spindly legs common to the areas I like to ride here in Florida.  They make one of the stickiest webs and place them between trees

A banana spider web.

A banana spider web I photographed at sunrise.

and underbrush along trails.  I know it isn’t true, but it seems like they place them at head height on purpose.  When I am off road I ride with my visor open, so you see where this is going.  I can never stop in time.  Inevitably the spider and its web hits me square in the face as I am riding the trail.  The problem then becomes stopping while simultaneously plucking the banana spider off my face before it disappears inside the helmet.  The whole time I have to fight the urge to just leap off the moving motorcycle and claw at my face in midair.  That would be bad.   Even if I SEE the spider fall away, the web the banana spider makes is sticky enough to make me feel like the spider is still on me.  It gives me the heeby jeebies every time.

So if you go riding with me through the woods and I ask you to take the lead, there is probably a reason why.  Ride with your visor down.

 

Keep the rubber side down.  It works better that way!

Dirt Medic

Posted in Dual Sport Motorcycle Rides | Leave a comment

Tomás de Torquemada. Torture Specialist Extraordinaire.

From 1480 to 1530, Spain engaged in the barbaric practices of torture during a time known as the Spanish Inquisition in order to punish those deemed heretics and false converts.  In an effort to consolidate power, this regulation of faith was spearheaded by the reigning monarchs Queen Isabella and Ferdinand II who pressured Pope Sixtus IV into giving Papal authority to the Spanish Inquisition for the purposes of driving out of Spain the Muslims, Jews, and Protestants.

To make the effort more efficient, the office of Inquisitor was established in different regions of Spain to oversee tribunals and to mete out punishment.  The most famous or more appropriately described as infamous Inquisitor was Tomás de Torquemada.  On October 14, 1783, Pope Sixtus IV named Torquemada the Inquisidor General of Aragón, Valencia, and Catalonia under pressure from the Spanish monarchy to do so.  This was a position which Torquemada took to a new level.  Any half-hearted student of history knows the name Torquemada and the torture that he inflicted upon the people of his time.  In order to gain confessions from the accused victim that they were indeed a heretic or other undesirable, some of the most horrific methods of torture were devised.  Today, the name Torquemada is synonymous with the word torture.

So, you ask, why has Dirt Medic decided to write about the torture of the Spanish Inquisition?  Why is it relevant? I’m glad you asked.  If you have been following along you are aware of my broken ankle and torn ligaments that I am desperately trying to get healed up so I can get back to work and back to having adventures to write about.  The answer to the above questions can be summed up in two words: Physical. Therapy.

Anyone who says Torquemada’s torture techniques are old history has not encountered his modern proselyte, The Physical Therapist! I don’t know what I did to my doctor to make him hate me, but he has condemned me to this fate.

The first appointment was all about getting me, the victim, more comfortable.  They lie. They deceive.  The Therapist, in my case Cynthia, will tell you that she wants to make you better.  The first visit is a simple exam.  My ankle was poked and prodded which wasn’t too bad.  She then declared that my calf muscle and foot muscles were too tight and needed to loosen up.  I got a massage and some minor stretching.  It felt good.  I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.

Day two.  I go back and Cynthia says that we are going to do a little more work on the ankle.  Some more stretching, some more massage, some exercises.  I felt sore, but it was all for getting better, right? I’m tough.  I can handle this.

Day three.  That was today.  The office staff has been very friendly.  The office atmosphere is relaxed with Christmas music softly playing in the background.  When I look around the room there are soft pillows and mats everywhere.  Some gym equipment lines the wall.  In other words, I had begun to get comfortable and trust my physical therapist.  It’s a trap!

We started off with massage.  Yeah! I can handle this physical therapy stuff.  Then while I am comfortably (and ignorantly) lying on the table she pulls out this GIGANTIC butter knife, coats my leg with what feels like butter (real butter, not that margarine in a tub crap) and “HEY!! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING TO DO WITH THAT!?!”.  She begins slicing the dull blade through my leg claiming with a smile that this is for myofacial release.  “huh?” All while shaving my skin off she asks, “how is that?”  “Uh, you are shaving my skin off.  Feels great!”

Next up is electrical stimulation.  I should have run, but now that I have one leg that is no longer functional, I couldn’t.  On go the pads covered in wet sponges.  Remember the execution scene in “The Green Mile” with Tom Hanks?  I couldn’t get that scene out of my head as she placed four wet sponges on my leg and then inserted the electrical pads.  This is all for my healing, right? Don’t I get a blind fold at least? Please?!?  For a quick death the pads should have been placed on my head.  Torquemada’s rule book states that it is more appropriate to place them on the leg to draw out the condemned’s agony.  It starts with a mild pulsating sensation.  “Can you feel that?” she asks.  Up goes the power.  This thing goes from static electricity on a balloon kind of a pop to full on capital punishment electric chair with the twist of a knob. “Can you feel that?”  The sound of me screaming through my electrically stimulated locked jaw must sound like “no ma’m, not very much.   Would you please turn it up even more?” I can only surmise that, because the power went up.  If you reside in Citrus County and experienced an electrical brown out for about an hour today, that was me.  Sorry.  I shall endeavor to die a quicker death next time.

While I am locked in this muscular convulsion she leaves the room.  If. I. can. only. reach. the. knob… But I cannot.  She comes back in with what can only be described as a heating pad she plucked from the deepest depths of Hades and prepared by Satan himself.  While I am in this electrically induced paralysis she wraps my leg in molten lava.  Anything she may have missed from shaving my skin with Paul Bunyan’s butter knife is now melting off the bones of my lower leg.  “That’s not too hot is it?”  “MMMHHPPHHHMMM!!!” is all I can get out.  “Good, just let me know if it is”.

Finally, the bell on the electrical stimulation machine goes off and I am released from my full body spasm.  I am still trying to catch my breath but before I can ask what prison auction she got her surplus electric chair from she comes in with a rope with knots tied in it  on one end and a loop at the other end.  I was contemplating whether I wanted that loop around my neck to put me out of my misery when she put it around my foot and handed me the end with the knots.  Whew!  How bad could this be?  I’m holding the rope and she isn’t.  I am instructed to raise my leg and use the rope to stretch out my ham strings.  Cool.  I can do that.  Up goes my leg.  Feel the burn!  No problem.

This woman must have trained in Jiu Jitsu.  Before I could react she has grabbed my knee, thrown my foot over her shoulder and driven my lower leg over my head in a move that would make any professional football coach proud.   I felt my knee bend backwards and pop out the backside of my leg.  My exposed femur was now pointing to the sky while my toes were jammed in my eye sockets.  Blood covered the ceiling.  Her maniacal laugh let me know that I was going to suffer the most humiliating death Tomás de Torquemada Inquisidor General of Aragón, Valencia, and Catalonia had returned from the grave to personally teach her.   Just to make sure I was equally crippled, she proceeded to break my other leg in half backwards too!

I hobbled over to the parallel bars on my stumps that used to be my legs too afraid to disobey.  If only the loss of blood would end my suffering.  Cynthia brings over an 18 inch by 18 inch square thick pad.  I am told to stand on it.  Again, I succumb to the blessed thought that there is no way I could be tortured anymore by standing on a soft pad.  I am instructed to “raise your good leg and balance on your left foot”.

“What? Who put marbles in this thing?”  Ever watch a circus walrus balance on a ball?  That is a good description of watching this fat guy get humiliated.  I am sure there is a youtube video she will publish soon titled, “Hilarious fat guy tries to balance on a bag of marbles!”.  I just couldn’t figure out where she hid the camera.

After my reward of a frozen sardine I was allowed to step off the Pad O’ Humiliation.  A couple of stretches later and she decided I needed to freeze to death.  Today’s torture session ended with a frozen blanket wrapped around the protruding bone and flesh that used to be my leg.  I assume that since she is personal buds with Satan and Torquemada, she also has some kind of extra dimensional portal where she gets her supply of arctic ice.  Now that I have lost all the flesh on my leg, broken both femurs, lost my manhood by getting beaten up by a small filipino woman, and made into a circus act, I slipped into unconciousness by freezing.

Just before I passed into oblivion a timer went off and she woke me up.  My next appointment is this Monday at 9 a.m.

Posted in Everything Else | Leave a comment

Set back

I want to apologize for the lack of adventures recently and a lack of writing.  My broken ankle bone has healed, but my torn ligaments have not.  It is kind of hard to write about sitting in a chair all day for two months and  I am sure no one wants to read about it either.

I saw my doctor today and I am getting more frustrated every time he says it is worse than he thought it was from the previous visit.  I have yet to have an appointment that I didn’t hear those words.  Two visits ago he said I didn’t have to wear the ortho boot if I was comfortable walking without it.  Needless to say, that thing was not comfortable so I went without.  I did keep my ankle wrapped with an ACE wrap and wore good quality hiking boots.  If I wasn’t on my feet, which was most of the time, I had my foot up with an ice pack on it. I have also been taking anti-inflammatory NSAIDs and pain meds.   Today, I was told I have been “non-compliant” for not wearing the ortho boot.  I am really beginning to wonder if they missed something.  This should have been healed up by now.  Instead I have pain, point tenderness, swelling, and fluid in the joints.  My ankle is still not stable.  The day after Thanksgiving makes eight weeks exactly.  As of now, I am restricted from work until December 17th.  In the meantime I have been sent for physical therapy.

Last week I started doing things like hiking and riding my motorcycle in anticipation of going back to work next week.  If I can’t successfully do those things then there is no way I am going to be dragging fire hoses or pulling people from wrecked cars out of a ditch.  The mmotorcycle riding wasn’t too big of a deal.  It has been fairly sedate riding while sitting.  The hiking though gave me a run for my money.  I came home in pain both times.

I think it is time for a second opinion.  My biggest fear is that I have a completely torn ligament that was not properly diagnosed and will need surgery.  That will set me back to square one.  I would appreciate prayers for a swift healing.  I am itching to get back to life again.

THE GOOD NEWS

I do have some exciting news to share.  At least to me it is.  I bought a new (used) camera!  I borrowed my dad’s Nikon D40x to experiment with using a DSLR camera while riding and to generally get the feel for a DSLR type of camera.  I used it on the Tour D’ Alachua trip and loved it.  My requirements were that I needed a camera that had a good quality sensor with features that would produce a high quality photograph. I also wanted a camera that would offer some control over the point and shoot which is pretty much all automated.  I was willing to spend a little bit of money, but it couldn’t be so much that if I dump my motorcycle in the swamp that I would be sleeping on the couch for the rest of my life because I spent too much money on a camera I destroyed.  I also wanted video capabilities to make video recordings of some of the sites I find. The D40 does not have video capabilities which ruled it out. The answer was a used Nikon D3200 from craigslist.  The D3200 has good reviews and comes highly recommended by a respected photographer as a good all around entry level DLSR that will meet my needs.  It is also referred to as a prosumer’s camera.

Up until now, I have been using a higher quality point and shoot.  A P&S is easy to carry in a pocket or in my tank bag and offers the ability to catch photos quickly.  The DSLR camera I just bought will require me to get off the motorcycle, open my top case, remove the camera from the carry bag, and then I can take my photo(s).  I will continue using the P&S camera for the convenience of it, but now I will have the opportunity to take higher quality photos when I feel it would be better to do so.   The guy I bought the D3200 from purchased it new six months ago and never used it much.  He recently lost his job and is selling some of his personal things to pay bills.  I really felt bad for him.  It is becoming a very common story as of late.  I may be buying a few more things from him soon that we discussed.

Dinosaur! Run!

I have been researching a ride that I want to take soon.  I am going to call it “Dinosaur! Run!”.  Florida has a unique history of odd roadside attractions.   One of the common attractions were dinosaurs and huge statues.  Many of them still exist today.  Some are well cared for while others are hidden under the overgrowth of jungle.  I plan on taking a ride to capture as much history of each individual one as I can.  So far I have a list of about twenty very unusual concrete and fiberglass oddities.  Look for that story by the end of December.   The new camera is going to get a work out on that run.

If you happen to know of a forgotten roadside oddity that I may not, please tell me about it in the comments section or email me or facebook me.  The more that I can include the better.  I am specifically looking around Hernando and Citrus counties, but would be willing to check out most things in the West Central Florida region if interesting enough.

Until next time, keep the rubber side down.  It works better that way!

DirtMedic

Posted in Everything Else | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Gobbler Adventure Ride 2013 report

Ride report coming soon. In the mean time follow this link to the one I posted on Dixie Dual Sport: http://forum.dixiedualsport.com/post/2013-gobbler-adventure-ride-gainesville-6625242?trail=30 .  When I write it up here on DirtMedic, I will add more pictures and details.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment