Do you see the light!?


YES, I SEE THE LIGHT, but daylight savings time doesn’t show up on pinpoint accuweather doppler 12 radar, does it? So why does the weather person get to announce it?

Rev Brown still

I’d rather hear it from The Rev. Cleophus James, because when the light comes back I feel I might do handsprings like Joliet Jake, and finish with that dance sponsored by Acme Knee Replacements.

Today, at 6:15 p.m. it was not only still light out, the sun was up. It shone brightly over the rooftops to the west of  my writing window. Good time to bang out the blab on recent developments.

I’ve got reams of scribbling to do, both for my daily bread and on spec. Busy learning a new camera to replace the ones I wrecked in Alaska. You’ll see a few test pics below.

The bride went back to work full time last week, mostly recovered from her mishap, the second broken shoulder in as many years. She has a new and better job now, and regular hours. Enjoys the work and the people, so I think she’s there for the duration and won’t be persuaded to chuck it all and hobo around the world with me. Which means we’re here at the humble manse for as long as she wants to be doing what she’s doing. No complaints about the manse, it’s been a happy home for us.

Since we’re here, we’re planning to do the logical build-out on the house: two more porches off the back, similar to the one I built off the front. Our friend Frank Gesualdo, an architect from New York, was here for brunch on Sunday and to look over the work site. He sent me preliminary drawings today. When it’s all down on paper I’ll go up to city hall and pull a building permit. Dunno how much I’ll get done this year. Maybe just the foundation.

In the meantime, I’ve got Labrador on the brain and have to keep telling myself I’m not going. Not in 2014. Too much to do! The only distance riding I expect this year is no real distance at all, Rhode Island to Tybee Island, off Savannah, Georgia. Three easy days down, three back. Daughters #1 #2 and #3 are behind the island visit, a family getaway to celebrate the bride’s 60th birthday.

This is cool: Malcolm Clarke, a writer/director friend of ours in Montreal, won the Oscar for best documentary short. His second Oscar! That puts him in quite a small circle.

As I write these words I’m getting the deja vu and thinking I’ve already written ALL of this! As indeed I have, in emails to friends around the country. So if it’s not some breach of etiquette, or netiquette, frowned upon in Connecticut, I’m going to forge ahead with a cut & paste job. Outgoing correspondence only, will keep my friends’ sides of it private.

Okay, Duane Collie, Fairfax, Virginia, always trying to get me off Harleys and onto “adventure bikes.” I say Wha? Every bike’s an adventure bike as long as the rider will point it toward one. Duano would like to see me on a BMW R1200GS Adventure, billed as off-road capable despite that it weighs as much as a highway cruiser. And I don’t care about looks but it looks like a bug. Duano, said I, years ago, It’s a bug bike. Now even he calls them that.

In 2004, actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman rode the big bugs around the world in Long Way Round. Which made it seem longer yet.

Duano, I must tell you, knows how to set up a motorcycle. I respect that. He spares no expense, does them up to the nines and changes them like socks. Yesterday he suggested that I acquire the bug he bought new in 2006 and later sold to his buddy, Dave. And now Dave’s selling it, asking $13,900, firm. The bug sold new for $19,000 and Duano equipped it with $14,000 in aftermarket bling, gizmos and farkles. So here’s the deal I pitched:

Lordy, I just came up with the answer out of the blue. Dunno why I didn’t see it before. Tell Dave I’ll make him a deal, at asking price. Bike has $14,000 in farkles, he wants $13,900? My opener: He keeps the farkles, gives me $100 and the bike, we’re square.

CB JULY 4 032

Here’s Charley Boorman with the big GS bug, German-engineered to fall over in the slop. Just exactly tall enough and top-heavy enough. And this isn’t even remotely the slop! And Charley’s a rider. But over he goes. Ewan dropped his bug 20 times for every time Charley dropped his. Throttle, Obi-Wan! Throttle! He couldn’t stay up on the 650GS training bike let alone the big bug.

Later in the day, I fire this other shot across the bow, fair warning that the piggy and I are likely to turn up unannounced at Duano’s. Because the bride is turning 60.

All right, I was gonna blow off the Tybee Island thing, no fun riding in effin Dixie in the summer, but I’ve been duly advised that it’s the dog house for me if I fail to participate, so dig it, I’ll be passing through Fairfax in late May, Moe. Don’t spiffy the guest room, will sleep on the lawn or in the driveway, usual m.o. at Jan’s, etc. Will go by stealth if the past is any guide, probably coast in without lights or motor in the wee hours, be noticed making hobo Zzzz’s while you’re stumbling around drinking coffee in the a.m. Don’t call the cops.

Tell me the street address again, neighbors will likely phone it in if I miss by a driveway or two.

Dunno if the phone numbers I have for you are still good.

All 703 area code…


Also, might as well throw in your Social Security number, credit cards with expiration dates & security codes, etc.

About the new camera gear, I blabbed that to my friend Hugo Munday, in Seattle, after he wrote me about the Alaska report.

When I finally sat down to write it I realized how many photos I was missing of interesting people I’d met along the way. I’m always concerned about the “observer effect,” how an experience changes as soon as you pull out a camera. Usually I want to remain a visitor and not suddenly morph into a reporter. Next time, though—more faces! A few weeks ago I bought a Canon T3i with a 300mm lens (killer deal at Amazon) so I can capture images from a comfortable distance, not make people feel as if they’re the overnight gas-station attendant and I’m waving a camera in their faces as if it were a .45.

Test pics ahead: Here’s a close-up from clear across the room, with the 300mm.



The T3i has an 18mp sensor, grabs a lot of information. I expect to get good people pix with this. Doing animal testing first. Left-click on the nose and check out the detail.

This is Big Bully Boy Felix, Daughter #2’s ex-college roommate/watchdog. Humans fail to amuse him.



The ’49 grille from 60 feet away. Not bad. I think I shook the camera just a bit, but you can see enough detail to know that it takes a flat-bladed screwdriver to change the bulbs in the running lights.



Daughter #3, the graphic designer. She stopped by the house on her way home from work last week so I tried out the built-in flash on her.

After goofing around with the camera, I dash off the news to my friend Mark Patinkin, a columnist and former newspaper colleague of mine. None of what I wrote to Mark makes sense unless you know that his cousin is the actor Mandy Patinkin.

Ahoy, Mark!

Long time no blab. I thought of you a few evenings ago when the bride and I finally sat down to watch the Homeland series. Daughter #2 had been recommending it for quite some time. Your cousin MP does a good job. A tip of the hat to any actor who can go toe-to-toe with Claire Danes and not get every scene stolen. She’s an amazing talent. I thought MP played it exceptionally well when Danes’ character came on to him.

In other entertainment blab, a friend of ours in Montreal won the Oscar for best documentary short, his second win. We didn’t even know he had been nominated. I’m trudging off to bed and Pam says, “Come back here! Malcolm’s at the Oscars!” So funny and unexpected. He gave a good speech, too, very natural and relaxed. Can’t be easy with half the world watching.

Okay, well, will hail you with the verdict when we finish up with Homeland. We’ve only gone through one disc so far, three episodes. I don’t trust MP’s beard, I think he’s in on it.

Remember Bill Peterson from Pleasanton, Kansas? Knapper of stone weapons from prehistory? I asked him to relay a message to Wendy, the town librarian.

Oh… meant to report: When I was passing through Pleasanton last summer and mooching the free WiFi at the library, Wendy recommended a book to me. She wrote the title and author on a post-it note that I stuck in my journal. Tell her I finally got around to picking up a copy of the book just a week or two ago. It’s about the adventures of a young woman riding her motorcycle from New Jersey to Alaska. “Breaking the Limit,” by Karen Larsen. Looks like a good read! Say thanks to Wendy for me.

Every few months I hear from Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, late of the U.S. Senate, now serving his final year as chief executive of the biggest little state ever. He invited me to Providence for lunch last week, the usual haunt, usual blab, family news, current events. The Governor mentioned he had done an interview with HuffPost Live, so I looked it up after I rode home.

Well done! Does that kid’s mom know he’s interviewing governors after school? Everybody looks so young to me nowadays. Except that graybeard in the mirror.

My obsession with riding across Labrador, I blathered that at everybody over the last two weeks, including a film producer in Malibu, California. She’s written coverage on two of my screenplays in recent years. Helpfully so.

They’re paving the Trans-Labrador Highway more and more every year. About 650 miles of wilderness gravel left and I’d love to ride it before it’s gone. Keep telling myself I won’t do it this year, can’t do it, absolutely mustn’t do it, but… come June, July, I won’t be surprised to wake up one morning and just go: “Hey, babe, you don’t care if I go riding, do you?” Wander home months later, minus 20 pounds… oh well….

Rode this morning and last Saturday in single-digit temps… frosty at 75mph… can’t get enough. Makes heroin look optional.

–Tony DePaul, March 11, 2014, Cranston, Rhode Island


About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 63, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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15 Responses to Do you see the light!?

  1. Matthew Reed says:

    One of my favorite Belushi films. So much talent, wasted, being wasted.

    Good blab and glad to hear you’re still around and at it.

    Be careful out there.

    Bettendorf, Iowa

    • Tony says:

      Instant classic, despite that it needed just a little more John Candy. “Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips!”

  2. brad says:

    Tony, lots of fun in there, thanks for sharing. Glad to see ol’ Drano is still selling farkled vehicles and think your offer was extremely fair. Also glad to see you will not drink the Bug-Aide. Cheers.

    • Tony says:

      Thanks, Brad. I wish somebody would start making knobby tires in 16-inch. Imagine how the iron piggy would go then!

      • brad says:

        LOL, the designer in me just drew a hilarious image in my mind. Iron Piggy on tall knobbies with you riding standing up, ala Dakar sand dunes.

  3. Keith Hackett says:

    I catch a little undertone in there that you are sick of winter,
    and ready for summer.. I miss WARM ALASKA.

    • Tony says:

      I’m told it was toasty on the Kenai this winter, no snow to speak of. It’s all in Chicago today and will be here in New England tomorrow.

  4. Chris Whitney says:

    Hi Tony,

    Coincidentally my wife and I just finished Season 1 of Homeland as well. Suspenseful, graphic stuff to those of us who “don’t have cable” and are thus dining strictly on over-the-air fare.

    I’d say you done good on the photography, those shots look really great based on what my several year old point and shoot camera can (not) do. Main drawback to an SLR seems to me to be packability/fragility, it’s sort of a deterrent to having it handy to whip out at a moment’s notice.

    I see a bit of bare ground by the ’49. The peepers were out for the first time last night here in MD, spring is about to spring, it seems. Can’t come too soon for me.

    • Tony says:

      What about Saul’s beard? I don’t trust it. I think the beard is a big enough clue that it should be listed separately in the credits.

      The DSLR bulk is definitely a drawback but I’ve got the big Pelican case on the piggy now. Wouldn’t attempt to carry the Canon and the long lens without it.

      One of the cameras I wrecked by crunching it between the triple tree and the gas tank in a low-speed turn. Predicted it would happen eventually and that I’d drop the piggy in the road when it did. “Eventually” turned out to be 9,000 miles later. Almost dropped the piggy but not quite. Obi-Wan would have dropped her for sure.

  5. Daughter #2 says:

    Re: taking photos of people from a safe distance away…good thing you’re not driving a tinted out econo van or some people might get the wrong idea about you…

    • Tony says:

      We use the tinted-out vans so our beards don’t give us away. That’s our story, direct order from Beardo Saul. Sticking to it.

      • Daughter #2 says:

        I remember quite a few father-daughter dance pictures where you sported a beard that put Saul’s, and Moses’, to shame.

  6. Joe says:

    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for posting. I say buy the GS if your going to do Labrador. I did it back in 2012 on a KLR and it was rough in some areas . Allot of wasboard sections and lots of ruts along the way. Only incident i had on the bike was a leaking fork seal from all the pot holes. The Harley can do it but it’s not the ideal bike for that terrain.

    I also did Alaska in 2006. Iron butt style. 11k miles in 14 days.

    Learned about your blog from Mike at Conntech.


    • Tony says:

      Aha! So you’re the Mystery Joe! Mike has mentioned you. When we get front-porch weather, come on over to the humble manse and tell me all about the Labrador and Alaska runs. I’m betting you did that 11,000 miles in 14 days on something heavier than a 650 thumper, but what do I know, people do amazing things. In Border City AK on my way back I ran into a kid from New Jersey on a KLR, he had blasted all the way up there with some big-mile days behind him. Thanks for reading, Joe!

      • Joe says:

        Thank for the invite. I’ll be sure to stop by. I have a GS also and that’s the one i used for Alaska. Traded my 01 Electric Glide for the GS to do that trip. GS is a great bike. The only thing i miss from the Harley is the radio.

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