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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Requiem for a Sojourner



Picture credit:  Washington Post

Copyright © 2012 by Ralph F. Couey, written content only
All rights reserved

Requiem enim Peregrinus
Requiem for a Sojourner


Life is a journey and like every other journey, it has a beginning and an end. It is an existence bound by the limits of time and space.
 
Today you left home on your motorcycle. And somewhere out on the road, the journey of your life came to an end.
 
To a rider, a motorcycle is not just a machine. It is the ticket to adventure; a way of leaving the mundane and passing through the musty wardrobe into a world where the possibilities are as limitless as the universe that surrounds us.
 
To ride is an experience and an expression of joy that, like love, can never be explained, but only felt.
 
It was in that moment when you felt most alive that you were taken away.
 
We who knew you, who loved you, who shared the joy of your life now feel an empty ache, one that will never completely heal.
 
But in the midst of our sorrows, we take comfort that your last moments were ones imbued with that singular joy of a motorcyclist in a world without horizons.
 
As we shared the road and the ride, we also shared the joy, and thus we were bound together.
 
We will think of you when we are on the road. We will think of you when we feel the urge to ride,
seeking places we’ve never been, things we’ve never seen, experiences we’ve never had.
 
When the horizon calls to us, it will be your voice that we hear.
 
You now are a Sojourner on a ride without limits on a journey of indescribable beauty. You have nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there.
 
Joy trails in your wake. Peace lies ahead.
 
The sun is warm, the day is perfect, the road is wide open.
 
Ride on, Brother;
 
Ride on.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Motorcycles and the Summer Heat

Copyright © 2012 by Ralph Couey

It was going to happen, whether I wanted it to or not.  After becoming accustomed to the mild summers in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania for the last seven years, I now find myself in Northern Virginia, where they have REAL summers.

It’s been a pleasant spring.  But today, on the first day of summer, temperatures vaulted from the delightful upper 70’s to near 100 degrees.  With dew points in the 65 to 70 degree range, “sweltering” was the word of the day.

Days like this create something of a moral dilemma for this motorcyclist.  Up north, winters run from mid-October to mid-May, so one is loath to surrender a riding day for any reason.  Here, the warmer climes make a 10-month riding season possible, “warmer” of course being a term of some subjectivity.  But in the same way I had to surrender to mountain winters, here I need to re-think my standards with regards to heat.  I work in a shirt-and-tie environment and arriving for duty sopping and smelly doesn’t sit well with my co-workers.  Thus, the hottest days find me in the air-conditioned comfort of a car with the bike in silent, but reproachful repose in the garage.

Some years ago, I did a trip to the southwest.  Mid-July found me in Phoenix, Arizona, the land of triple-digit summers.  I fully expected dry heat, but unbeknownst to me, July is monsoon season for the desert.  That means the usual bone-dry air mass is replaced by a soupier tropical pattern.  So not only was I faced with 114-degree heat, I also had to deal with Florida-like humidity levels.  I learned a lot that day, not the least of which was the addition of Gatorade to my diet.  That saved the trip, and quite possibly, my life.

Now faced with similar conditions, I thought it might be prudent to dust off some advice on riding in the heat.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Civil War: Events of June 1862


On June 1, what was undoubtedly the most important personnel moves in history occurred when Jefferson Davis appointed Robert E. Lee to command of the Army of Northern Virginia.


The next day, James Andrews, the Union special ops warrior who commanded what became known as the Great Locomotive Chase, briefly regained his freedom, escaping from Swims Jail in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He was recaptured the next day.

Confederates, outflanked and outmanned, evacuated Fort Pillow in Northern Tennessee on June 4th.  Ft. Pillow was the last Rebel garrison on that part of the Mississippi River.

June 5th saw President Lincoln establish diplomatic relations with the “Negro nations” of Haiti and Liberia.

The city of Memphis, TN was surrendered to the Union on June 6th.

On June 6th, a short skirmish was fought on Good’s Farm near Harrisonburg, VA.  Stonewall Jackson’s forces had given way before the superior numbers of John C. Fremont.  Fremont advanced from Harrisonburg toward Port Republic.  A Rebel unit under newly-promoted Brigadier General Turner Ashby formed the rear guard, covering Jackson.  The 1st New Jersey Cavalry attacked Ashby’s forces, but Ashby defeated the attack.  In a subsequent infantry fight, Ashby’s horse was shot from underneath him.  Not hesitating, Ashby continued to charge on foot and was killed.