"Wind in my hair and bugs in my teeth” Part Two - by Wes Rutt

Introduction:

In January, 2019, Wes Rutt began to unfold his story of motorcycle riding with his wife, Nicki, on several continents and over 50 years. He ended the first part of his tale with the destruction of their trusty bike in the High Park fire, both of them assuming their motorcycling days were over. But it turned out that more adventures awaited them after all.


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We were physically beginning to slow down by the time of the fire. Reflexes weren’t as quick. Sitting on a motorcycle saddle for hours day after day would have left us hobbling around in pain. We told ourselves that losing the bike was probably a sign that we had had a great run but it was time to be realistic. It would be silly to press our luck.

We decided that it was time to sit back and enjoy the many fond memories of our past adventures, so we did...for a while. A few years after the fire we were in Chile returning from the Patagonian International Marathon (an adventure for a different story). Sitting in an airport waiting for a connecting flight, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman from New Zealand who was wearing a T-shirt that advertised an “Adventure Motorcycling” trip. He explained that he was returning home from eastern Europe where he had been on a motorcycling tour.

I told him that my wife and I had traveled rather extensively by motorcycle over the years and asked if there was anything special about “adventure motorcycling”. He informed me that in the last few years a few motorcycle manufacturers had introduced bikes that handled as well off the road as on it, so motorcycle tours could now reach more locations that were impossible to get to on ordinary road machines. I was intrigued because: 1) some years before we had visited Chaco Canyon National Park in New Mexico and had to travel several miles down a very rough washboard road. We literally shook the headlight and one of the turn signals off our road bike before reaching our destination; 2) I was starting to feel the wind in my hair and the bugs in my teeth while hearing about the New Zealander’s tour.

When we returned home I couldn’t get “adventure motorcycling” out of my mind. I started researching the topic and discovered that the two most highly praised manufacturers of adventure bikes happened to have shops in Loveland. Nicki has always been the (slightly) more practical member of our partnership, and we had already made a perfectly rational decision to retire from motorcycle riding so I straightened my hair, swallowed some imaginary bugs and determined to be rational.

A few weeks later, however, we were picking up some art in Loveland and, as we just happened to be driving by one of the bike shops, I mentioned that it might be fun to drop in.  Just to look, you understand. So, although it was a cold, cloudy November day and certainly not conducive to motorcycle riding, we stopped in at Elite Motorsport, the KTM dealer. Roger, the owner, who is about our age, asked if he could show us anything. I said that our last bike was destroyed in the High Park Fire, that we were too old to start riding again, and we were just there to “look.” Roger nodded knowingly.

 Of course, as motorcyclists do, we spent some time swapping stories with Roger of riding adventures.  When I mentioned that we had purchased a motorcycle from Elite Motors in London in 1970, he eagerly replied that in 1971 he too had purchased a motorcycle from Elite Motors in London...same shop and owner.One thing kept leading to another, and Roger ended up giving us such a good deal on a bike, a bike that we had rationally decided we didn’t need or want, that we, now in our 70’s, became the proud owners of a brand new adventure motorcycle.

Wes & Nicki - 1975

Wes & Nicki - 1975

Wes & Nicki - 2018

Wes & Nicki - 2018

 Unfortunately, having a shiny new machine in the barn didn’t do much to reduce our physical infirmities. Some days just swinging a leg over the saddle was an iffy proposition. However, having a motorcycle in the barn again seemed to improve our mental outlook dramatically. Instead of dwelling on memories and starting to feel “old,” we began to plan new adventures. We thought back on what we enjoyed most about our motorcycle trips. What we particularly enjoyed was the anticipation of going somewhere new, the people we would meet along the way, the new things we would discover, and, since this is a story about aging, reliving memories. So how could we enjoy those things again without spending so many weeks and thousands of miles on the bike?

In 1970 when we took our first long trip, there was no internet, there were no cell phones, and good cameras were bulky, hard to carry on a bike, and they required lots of film. We often didn’t do a very good job of recording our adventures. Nicki’s sister recently found some old postcards we had sent during some of our trips. They described adventures and discoveries we had almost completely forgotten about. It seemed to us that if we were going to embark on a new set of adventures, we might as well make some use of our hard-won experience and avoid making the same mistakes over again.

What we had to do is figure out how to take trips on our new bike that would take advantage of our maturity and experience, provide us with a little more of that adventure we so fondly remembered, and, this time, do a better job of recording everything to help us relive those memories  in the years to come. Fortunately here in Colorado we don’t have to travel far in order to enjoy some of the best scenery anywhere. To add frosting to this cake, Colorado is loaded with fascinating history that can make that scenery come alive.  We decided that the best way we could experience adventure motorcycle riding at our age would be to research local history and take relatively short trips, stopping often to relieve aching joints and, at the same time, relive the history at sites that might be overlooked by many travelers. But this time we wanted to do a better job of recording what we experience and discover. 

So we have created a YouTube channel to record our adventures and store our memories. We have just published our first adventure: Adventure Motorcycle Trip #1 - Laporte Loop. Now I understand why it can take years to produce a movie. This is complicated, but we have no timetable or deadlines to meet. As with our earlier adventures, and perhaps life in general, it is more about the journey than the destination.

Adventure Motorcycling for the More Mature


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Wes Rutt is a runner, biker, and woodcutter who spends his free time as the Outreach and Education Chair for the Colorado Tree Farmers.

Staying Alive -by Clay Carter

Each year makes me more aware of distinct choices for living with aging.  One choice is to welcome the inertia of reduced energy and meager responsibility:  Make no non-medical commitments that can’t be easily broken, avoid engaging in reading or interacting with anything or anyone that is mentally challenging, make exercise a matter easily dismissed, disengage from issues beyond my constricted circle of activity, ignore activities that excited me in the past, rationalize and excuse indulgences, become gradually more secluded except for being merely a spectator.  In this mode, lethargy spreads like spilled syrup on a pantry shelf: invasive and hard to get rid of; the mind and body become dull and sluggish.

Another response to aging is to keep adapting so that my essential self is not lost. Not just living until I die, but staying lively till I die. This is where meaning-purpose is relevant.  Meaning-purpose energizes. (I use the hyphenated term to suggest a connection like two sides of the same coin.  For many of us, “meaning” connotes static essence, while “purpose” connotes action. Think of the one term as the blend of two aspects.)  

Aging often moves us beyond roles in which we found satisfying meaning-purpose. Sometimes it is retirement from important work, or children growing beyond the need for care, or physical decline, or loss of access to people in whose company we most liked ourselves, or…you have your own list. The changes affect not only our external routines, but also the way we see ourselves and relate to ourselves.  

How to regain the sense of being alive? We think of times when we were fully engaged in an activity that we could do well, that we enjoyed, that resulted in something we wanted to happen, that fitted with who we are. Then we remember how it felt: fullness of energy, ability to think what came next, alive! 

Next, we tease out all the skills and attributes that we expressed in doing what made us feel alive. We may notice instincts for mentoring, or being a catalyst for productivity, or nurturing cooperation between antagonists, or engendering camaraderie among mere acquaintances, or problem solving, or having empathy, or organizing people to do complicated tasks, or encouraging love for excellence, or sharing resources, or seeing new solutions, or giving hopeful perspective; the list is longer than my imagination.  We may be surprised at the complexity and range of what we know how to do with excellence.

The next step: look for a place to express the essential self.  This can be difficult in a culture that pays closest attention to youthfulness.  However, we keep in mind that all the wisdom and skill we possess is something sorely needed somewhere by someone.  When we get frustrated or confused or disrespected, we pause and remember the energy and satisfaction of our best moments. We try again.  We find places to live out who we are to the fullest.  We find ourselves staying alive.

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As a minister, family therapist, and addiction therapist, Clay conducted groups for over two decades designed to facilitate positive change in attitude and behavior.  In 2008 Clay published a book entitled Older, Wiser…HAPPIER: 10 Choices for Rebooting Your Life at 50+.  He has used the book as a text for more than twenty pro bono multi-session workshops in senior centers, churches, and libraries for groups who wanted to address issues related to aging. Since his retirement to Loveland in 2012, Clay has continued his pro bono senior project in local area senior centers and churches. 

FROM AGE-ING TO SAGE-ING IN THREE ACTS -by Richard Thompson

Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi’s 1995 book, From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach to Growing Older, has proved so helpful to so many since then as to have become part of a movement across the county. It describes a process which might be described as occurring in three acts, based on the fact that while everyone ages, not everyone sages. 

Act One:  Deepening One’s Spirituality                 

Some might think this development is like the grandchild, when observing her grandmother reading the Bible more often, asked, ‘Nana, are you cramming for the finals?” Rather the Rabbi defines spirituality as ‘expanding one’s consciousness.” Certainly, anyone of any age who becomes increasingly aware of his or her awareness grows wiser.   

Act Two:  Preparing One’s Life Review 

The Rabbi describes this part of the process by asking the question, ‘Have you been saved?’ By that he means doing so electronically – by writing your story, and/or reflections upon its meaning, then saving it on the computer or speaking it into a recorder, as part of your legacy.

Act Three: (in two scenes) Dealing with Life and Death Matters

The life scene has to do with taking care of your health and being realistic about your physical limitations. This attitude was suggested by a doctor who advised a newly retired couple, ‘Get your travels done before you turn eighty, because then the wheels begin to come off!”

The death scene is suggested by the title of Margie Jenkins’ book, You Only Die Once. That fact suggests that we do what we can to spare our survivors unnecessary grief by having our affairs in order – from preparing a will, and perhaps a living will, to providing a list of those to be notified, with contact information, along with user name/passwords of agencies and businesses which need to notified. 

Also it is fitting to prepare a draft of one’s own obituary, as a way of indicating what one would want to be remembered for. A written description of what Jenkins calls “your going away party,” i.e. your preferences for a memorial service’s participants and setting, as well as a reception afterwards, is in order. 

Finally, Psalm 90, verse 12, sums up the sage-ing process as a whole, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” 

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Rich Thompson is a retired Presbyterian minister and past president of the Fort Collins Interfaith Council. He recently retired from the board of Faith Family Hospitality. He is married to Jane, a retired school librarian active in the League of Women Voters.

Adventure, Part One -by Wes Rutt

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There are surely lots of ways to age gracefully. I have chosen to continue a practice that I started when I was young.  Although age has necessitated some modification, it continues to provide me with new friends, interesting learning opportunities, and frequently some pretty exciting adventure.

Before I was old enough to legally drive, my brother and I tore down, rebuilt and started riding motorcycles. I immediately became hooked on having wind in my hair and bugs in my teeth. My mother did not openly object to my newly acquired passion but made it clear that wind and bugs would only take me so far in life. She strongly suggested that I supplement that with a little additional education. So, for some years, I traded in my motorcycle for colleg

While in school I met Nicki, who has turned out to be my perfect companion and partner for a little more than 50 years now. We might have settled down and led a normal, contented and happily-ever-after life together. But she loved wind and bugs too.

Before the ink on our marriage certificate was dry we were planning adventures together. Since we both were born and grew up in the Midwest, our first trip had to be somewhat farther afield. So we flew to London, bought a motorcycle at a local shop and rode over 6,000 miles before returning home. Every day was an adventure. With the challenge of remembering which side of the road to ride on, we proceeded to ride our motorcycle through the Alps and even through a busy train station, among many other first-time experiences. We never planned more than one day ahead. We made many friends along the way, and we still stay in touch with some of them almost fifty years later.

There have been more trips since then. We traveled through the South right after the movie Easy Rider came out. One little motel in Georgia refused to accommodate motorcycle riders.

Once a local in an old pickup with his deer rifle in the back window drove up very close to me in a parking lot and stared at me. I tried to remember what had happened to Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the movie. However, friends were made on that trip too.

One year we both found ourselves in jobs we didn’t care for, so we rode from Chicago to Oregon while stopping at all the national parks along the way. On one memorable night a bear stole our food pack from the table at our campsite. We unzipped the tent to confront the intruder and then decided to just go ahead and share our food with a new friend. We don’t really stay in touch with the bear, but for years we displayed the canvas food pack that he had opened with one sharp claw down the side.

On the same trip we flew to Australia where we worked out a deal with a local shop to sell us a used bike and then buy it back from us after we rode it for a month. We camped in an isolated park one night and experienced a wind storm which blew over our tent to the accompaniment of maniacal laughter outside. We lived through that and made still more friends on that trip.

As we got older our trips became shorter but just as much fun. Then in 2012, while I had the bike apart in our barn, the High Park Fire hit us. The barn was destroyed as was our faithful ride. We had many other things to think about at the time so we decided not to replace the bike.

To be continued...

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Wes Rutt is a runner, biker, and woodcutter who spends his free time as the Outreach and Education Chair for the Colorado Tree Farmers. Watch the YouTube video of his “Motorcycle Trip #1 - Laporte Loop” with his commentary on the history of the area.

 

The Kitchen Table -by Verley Boulton

When I was growing up, the kitchen table served as a place for a quick
breakfast before everyone engaged in their daily routines. When we all left,
no matter what the weather, Mother opened the window in our little
breakfast room as well as the kitchen door and aired out the smoke from my
father's luxury of the day, a cigarette smoked in quiet comfort after he had
cooked breakfast. Mother kept an immaculate house, so she was dust-
mopping the dining room and kitchen floors while Dad cooked, No one
would catch her with crumbs on her floor. In the late 1940's style, this
linoleum was dark red and, much to my mother's disappointment, it showed
every speck of dust that came in from the yard. Conversations at this table
were hurried and  just used to keep the family calendar intact. 

The table that was the centerpiece of our home was in the dining room. It
was an oak treasure that my mother had purchased second hand, but it was
new to her, and we were never allowed to rest our feet on any of the four
legs that balanced the lovely oak top. There were usually two boards added
so all seven of us could sit comfortably and there would be plenty of room to
do homework after the evening meal. I was fairly well educated by the time
I started school as this was where assignments were read and discussed, and
math problems were solved. Everyone was involved in getting the right
answers to any question that came up. 

Mother cooked a huge meal by noon on Sunday; this was our family
time. Dad, who often worked away during the week, was always home then, and
great discussions would sometimes last until three or four 0' clock in the
afternoon. There was no question about whether our parents knew what was
going on in our lives. 

As my older siblings left home, Sunday afternoon family time was the thing
I missed most, as I was home by myself for my high school years. My
brother inherited the table, chairs and buffet when we emptied my parents’
home. My niece bought the set when my brother died, and we still sit
around the table in her kitchen when we visit her home in Denver. 

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Verley Boulton moved from South Dakota to western Colorado at age 10. She received an accounting degree from Barnes School of Commerce inDenver and worked as a financial analyst for 25 years at Teledyne Water Pik.She revisited the kitchen table in her niece's AirB&B in Tucson in October