of moms, motorcycles & magpies or how one cockatiel coped with separation

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This is a tail of separation anxiety between my bird and me and my mom and her village.
from the Joni Mitchell song “big yellow taxi” come the words “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” So it was interesting to hear that popcorn was “beside herself” in my absence – I learned this from a 1000 miles away – in Oklahoma – maybe. How did I get here? Funny you should ask.

 

some of us compensate for anxiety by over eating
last week’s email header said:

This week things are a bit abbreviated. Please let me know if there’s any errors in the news letter – rushing down to Silver City, New Mexico – 3200 miles in 4 days round trip on the Rocket (’09 Triumph Rocket III Classic for all you bikers) so I can argue with my mother in person.
The skinny.

Some of you may have gone or be going through this now. In 1993 I personally moved my mother with all her possessions including her car into a small apartment in Silver city New Mexico. For reasons I don’t remember a town she fell in love with.
Recently at the age of 85 she found herself with fewer friends. Some moved away, others had passed. She decided to come back to Chicago. Originally the plan was for me to fly into El Paso Texas pick up a 22 foot truck, Drive to Silver city, load up the truck and haul her and all her stuff (although she still drives she’s selling her car) back to Chicago.
Not the perfect plan but I’m old-school and do what my mom asks. In the meantime I booked a ticket but I also started calling movers. I remember having moved her into a one-bedroom apartment. I had not returned to Silver city since the move (she comes up to Chicago on a regular basis) and the fact that she had moved into a two-bedroom apartment during this period apparently eluded me.
Although one my sister Melinda Rezman is a well-known psychotherapist here in Chicago I really didn’t need a professional to tell me that my mother was experiencing separation anxiety and was having a melt down. It was profound and needed to be addressed. Airfare with car-rental $500-$700. Car-rental with gas $600-$800. My other sister Monica. is residing in Mexico with my niece Ruby now so she dodged this bullet.

 

I don’t have an actual bucket list, but if I did my next move would have been a scratch off. The phone call with mom ended at 11:10am. I was on the Rocket at 2:15pm, Thinking this “will be fun”
2009 Triumph Rocket 3 Classic bought new in 2010 w/ zero miles

2 of 3 crash helmets used on trip – a whole other story
Rubberbanding my way out of the city through rush hour traffic in a direction I rarely if ever travel of late – southwest. At some point south of Coal city IL, I owned the road. Pulling into some town southwest of St. Louis about 1 AM, I wanted to ride farther but I found it difficult to negotiate winding roads in darkness at high speeds (90 mph +)
Saturday started out overcast. No one who rides motorcycles likes to ride in the rain but you can’t do a cross-country trip without a rain suit. If you are a motorcyclist reading this and are thinking about getting a rain suit or you’re unhappy with yours, the trick is to make sure it’s not only waterproof but “wind proof” so you don’t have flapping fabric annoying you on top of the rain.
I have a high quality Triumph rain suit and had the foresight to practice putting it on before I left because you don’t want to struggle with something like this on the road – in the rain.

 

NASA wannabe
Somewhere on I44 just before getting on the Oklahoma Turnpike clearly now missing some other components of foresight, I learned 3 valuable lessons about motorcycle rain suits after getting raindrops on the windscreen and helmet face shield

  1. Take your wallet out of your chaps and put it in the outer pocket of the rain suit otherwise you’ll be forced to go through 10 feet of zippers and Velcro to get four dollars to pay your toll pissing off a lot of other divers (karma) .
  2. Put the reflective belt use to cinch the fabric around your waist, around your waist not on the left mirror, where I noticed it as I was entering the on-ramp.
  3. When you need to pee, you’ll have access to the wallet which means you can take four dollars out and stick it in the gauntlet of your clutch hand glove (The 2nd tollbooth girl got all giddy when I asked her to root around my glove for the four bucks:-)

 

The rain meant I wasn’t going to do near the 700 miles in one day I thought I could. An unmemorable night 2 was spent in Amarillo Texas. Full from my La Quinta Inn breakfast (nothing says welcome better than a waffle the shape of Texas), I was psyched knowing I would be in Silver city by the end of today, the (third) day. The 50 mile an hour gusts of wind across the geographically flat panhandle (as the weather channel predicted) brought the relationship between motorcyclist and motorcycle closer than ever.
Dodging tumbleweed, which I thought only existed in old movies, I continued to descend the United States while starting to climb the mountains towards Albuquerque New Mexico. The faster I went the more aerodynamic I became. At 100 miles an hour (around 4000 RPM) the three cylinder water cooled 140 Cubic inch engine with transmission & shaft drive by Maserati made it remarkably easy to pass an endless conga line of trucks & RV’s laboring up the steep grades in a headwind.
Ironically I was listening to Dave Matthews “Ants Marching” on XM radio at one point with my modified Harmon Kardon earbuds using disposable moldable silicone ear plugs replacing the standard rubber tips, sealing out the sound of 100 mph plus air rushing in and around the helmet.
At some point I lifted the face shield at highway speed and it was never the same again. It wouldn’t stay up and would drop-down with the edge in the middle of my line of sight – ergo the third helmet (see pic above) with new embedded electronics purchased on day 5 at Cycle Gear in Albuquerque. (a terrific sales staff there).
As the wind died with my ascension to the mountains and green was oozing everywhere – it’s spring – and birds – are everywhere too. This made me wonder how many kinds of birds might be found in New Mexico? here’s the list from Wikipedia.

Ducks, geese and swans

Canada goose

Order: Anseriformes sweetheart Family: Anatidae

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. There are 38 New Mexico species.

Partridges, grouse, turkeys and Old World quail

Order: GalliformesFamily: Phasianidae

Phasianidae consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump with broad relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. There are 7 New Mexico species.

New World quail

Order: GalliformesFamily: Odontophoridae

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. There are 4 New Mexico species.

Loons

Order: GaviiformesFamily: Gaviidae

Loons are aquatic birds the size of a large duck, to which they are unrelated. Their plumage is largely gray or black, and they have spear-shaped bills. Loons swim well and fly adequately, but are almost hopeless on land, because their legs are placed towards the rear of the body. There are 4 New Mexico species.

Grebes

Order: PodicipediformesFamily: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 6 New Mexico species.

Storm-petrels

Order: ProcellariiformesFamily: Hydrobatidae

The storm-petrels are the smallest seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Pelicans[edit]

Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Cormorants[edit]

Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Phalacrocoracidae

Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Darters[edit]

Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Anhingidae

Darters are cormorant-like water birds with very long necks and long, straight beaks. They are fish eaters which often swim with only their neck above the water. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Frigatebirds

Order: PelecaniformesFamily: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black or black-and-white, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have colored inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Bitterns, herons and egrets

Great blue heron

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills. There are 12 New Mexico species.

Ibises and spoonbills

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Threskiornithidae

The family Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings. Their bodies tend to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. There are 4 New Mexico species.

Storks[edit]

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Ciconiidae

Storks are large, heavy, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills and wide wingspans. They lack the powder down that other wading birds such as herons, spoonbills and ibises use to clean off fish slime. Storks lack a pharynx and are mute. There is 1 New Mexico species.

New World vultures

Order: CiconiiformesFamily: Cathartidae

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers, however, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carcasses. There are 2 New Mexico species

Osprey[edit]

Order: FalconiformesFamily: Pandionidae

Hawks, kites and eagles

Red-tailed hawk

Order: Falcon in each identify iformesFamily: Accipitridae

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight. There are 20 New Mexico species.

Caracaras and falcons

Order: FalconiformesFamily: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons. There are 6 New Mexico species.

Rails, gallinules and coots

Order: GruiformesFamily: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and tend to be weak fliers. There are 8 New Mexico species.

Cranes

Order: GruiformesFamily: Gruidae

Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Most have elaborate and noisy courting displays or “dances”. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Lapwings and plovers

Killdeer

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water. There are 7 New Mexico species.

Stilts and avocets[

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes and phalaropes[edit]

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Scolopacidae

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 34 New Mexico species.

Gulls, terns and skimmers

Ring-billed gull

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds and includes jaegers, skuas, gulls, terns, kittiwakes and skimmers. They are typically gray or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 27 New Mexico species.

Skuas[edit]

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Stercorariidae

Auks, murres and puffins

Order: CharadriiformesFamily: Alcidae

The family Alcidae includes auks, murres and puffins. These are short winged birds that live on the open sea and normally only come ashore for breeding. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Pigeons and doves

Order: ColumbiformesFamily: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 8 New Mexico species.

Cuckoos, roadrunners and anis

Order: CuculiformesFamily: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The Old World cuckoos are brood parasites. There are 4 New Mexico species.

Barn owls

Order: StrigiformesFamily: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Typical owls

Order: StrigiformesFamily: Strigidae

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 14 species in New Mexico.

Nightjars

Order: CaprimulgiformesFamily: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. There are 7 New Mexico species.

Swifts[edit]

Order: ApodiformesFamily: Apodidae

The swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have very long, swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang. There are 3 New Mexico species.

Hummingbirds

Order: ApodiformesFamily: Trochilidae

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 17 New Mexico species.

Trogons

Order: TrogoniformesFamily: Trogonidae

Trogons are residents of tropical forests worldwide and have soft, often colorful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. They have compact bodies with long tails and short necks. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Kingfishers[edit]

Order: CoraciiformesFamily: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Woodpeckers, sapsuckers and flickers[edit]

Order: PiciformesFamily: Picidae

Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized birds with chisel-like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 14 New Mexico species.

Tyrant flycatchers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Tyrannidae

Tyrant flycatchers are Passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust and have stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, are rather plain. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 32 New Mexico species.

Shrikes

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Laniidae

 

Fun feathered factoid –>>Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike’s beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Vireos

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Vireonidae

The vireos are a group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in color and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 13 New Mexico species.

Jays, crows, magpies and ravens[edit]

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Corvidae

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence. There are 10 New Mexico species.

Larks

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Alaudidae

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Swallows and martins

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Hirundinidae

The Hirundinidae family is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 8 New Mexico species.

Chickadees and titmice

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Paridae

The Paridae are mainly small stocky woodland species with short stout bills. Some have crests. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. There are 5 New Mexico species.

Verdin[edit]

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Remizidae

The penduline tits are a family of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Bushtits[edit]

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Aegithalidae

Bushtits are a group of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They make woven bag nests in trees. Most eat a mixed diet which includes insects. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Nuthatches

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Sittidae

Nuthatches are small woodland birds. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike other birds which can only go upwards. Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. There are 3 New Mexico species.

Treecreepers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Certhiidae

Treecreepers are small woodland birds, brown above and white below. They have thin pointed down-curved bills, which they use to extricate insects from bark. They have stiff tail feathers, like woodpeckers, which they use to support themselves on vertical trees. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Wrens[edit]

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Troglodytidae

Wrens are small and inconspicuous birds, except for their loud songs. They have short wings and thin down-turned bills. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 9 New Mexico species.

Dippers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Cinclidae

Dippers are small, stout, birds that feed in cold, fast moving streams. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Kinglets

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Regulidae

The kinglets are a small family of birds which resemble the titmice. They are very small insectivorous birds in the genus Regulus. The adults have colored crowns, giving rise to their names. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Gnatcatchers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Polioptilidae

Thrushes[edit]

Western bluebird

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Turdidae

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 12 New Mexico species.

Mockingbirds and thrashers

Sage thrasher

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Mimidae

The mimids are a family of passerine birds which includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalization, especially their remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. The species tend towards dull grays and browns in their appearance. There are 8 New Mexico species.

Starlings

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are medium-sized passerines with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen. There is 1 New Mexico species.

Wagtails and pipits

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Motacillidae

Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 3 New Mexico species.

Waxwings

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Bombycillidae

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds with soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 2 New Mexico species.

Silky-flycatchers

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Ptiliogonatidae

The silky-flycatchers are a small family of passerine birds which occur mainly in Central America, although the range of one species extends to central California. They are related to waxwings and like that group, have soft silky plumage, usually gray or pale-yellow. They have small crests.

Longspurs and snow buntings

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Calcariidae

Olive warbler

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Peucedramidae

The olive warbler is the only representative of its family. It was formally classified with the Parulidae, but DNA studies warrant its classification in a distinct family.

Wood warblers

Yellow-rumped warbler

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Parulidae

The wood warblers are a group of small often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some like the ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are more terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 47 New Mexico species.

American sparrows, towhees and juncos

Green-tailed towhee

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Emberizidae

Emberizidae is a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with distinctively shaped bills. In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are 34 New Mexico species.

Cardinals, saltators and grosbeaks

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Cardinalidae

The cardinals are a family of robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 15 New Mexico species.

Icterids

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Icteridae

The icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds and New World orioles. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 17 New Mexico species.

Fringilline finches, cardueline finches and allies[edit]

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Fringillidae

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have twelve tail feathers and nine primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 15 New Mexico species.

Old World sparrows

Order: PasseriformesFamily: Passeridae

Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or grayish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There is 1 New Mexico species.

 

end Wikipedia

 

Who’da thunk it?

Vultures are unmistakable and easy to identify. Turkey vultures are not all that uncommon in the Midwest but not in the quantity you’ll see New Mexico. Not too far west from Interstate 25 about 200 miles north of Albuquerque – any time from March through mid-September you can see as many as 50 – 60 vultures roosting in the main area of Frijoles Canyon near the visitor center
I saw many of these magnificent creatures easily spotted by the white feathers on the underside of their wings, floating on the wind waiting for humans to do what we do best – be wasteful. Vultures are considered “nature’s janitors”
Turkey vulture in New Mexico

Feathered factoids about vultures: The short feathers on their head giving them that “crewcut” look is nature’s way of helping them stay sanitary while their heads are rooting around the carcass of their prey.
One of the biggest threats to vultures (including “New World” Vultures like California Condors) today is lead poisoning (working on a blog post about that). Hunters will maim a deer with buckshot but the deer escapes and wanders off to die. Vultures feeding on the carcass buffet unknowingly eat the lead shotgun pellets which results in their death.

 

I’ve always felt vultures were beautiful birds. This is a Turkey vulture.
Techno geek that I am, besides streaming XM in the helmet, Google maps was giving me directions the entire way through my earbuds courtesy of Ms. Android. I would stop for gas every 125 miles (only about 30 mpg when you’re traveling an average of 95 mph on the Rocket – speed limit was 75 from OK on down) because even though 6 ½ gallon tank sounds big for a motorcycle you never know where the next gas station is in Texas or New Mexico.

 

It was more than a little annoying hearing the words “in the next 800 feet make a U-turn and continue south on interstate whatever” every time I stopped for gas – she thought I took a wrong turn. I could see how she would get confused talking to all those people all over the country all at once. As punishment I would silence her occasionally but made sure I could hear her clearly once I started seeing signs for Las Cruces (New Mexico).

 

Dutifully I exited Interstate 25 at Route 152 per her suggestion and was to follow Route 152 for X amount of miles into Silver city. Suddenly I found myself on this beautiful 2 lane highway in the mountains. The fact that the sun had disappeared behind the clouds was minuscule compared to my motorcyclist’s dream come true of riding in the mountains – not on an interstate.
Rolling west, a couple of happy motorcyclists passed me eastward bound, exchanging mc waves. A car here and there and then signs for a town. Seeking no problems I downshifted to second gear and kept a solid 30 mile an hour speed which was captured by the County Sheriff’s radar gun at the bottom of the hill. I waved and kept going.
New Mexico is a beautiful state with as many plant species as birds. I didn’t see any tanager’s (they are found in the area) but I did see these flowers. I’ve always liked this picture. (can anyone help out on the flower species?)

 

The western tanager is found along the western coast of North America from southeastern Alaska south to northern Baja California, Mexico. Western tanagers extend east to western Texas and north through central New Mexico, central Colorado, extreme northwest Nebraska, and areas of western South Dakota to southern Northwest Territories, Canada.

 

The area I entered is named Gila National forest. I was clearly gaining altitude feeling like I was about to morph into a Walt Disney movie barely noticing the drizzle when I said to myself “Holy Crap”. I’m climbing a mountain on a 20 foot wide road with no guard rails, in the rain alone & the speed limits are between 10 and 15 miles an hour – there’s your sign(s). Normally I would’ve leaned the Rocket in & out of every turn, but today the roads were wet, I was in a hurry and riding solo. I’ve learned to maintain a relaxed grip at any speed on a motorbike but not being able to see around many of the turns was a bit nerve wracking.

 

To give you a sense of what the road looked like, I found this video.

It took me about 45 minutes to get to the other side of the forest

My mother and her friends had traveled the road a lot by car and were always amazed at the knuckleheads who didn’t do their homework and tried to muscle large RVs up & down the narrow twisting road. Ironically Catherine & I have friends that actually worked at the Gila national forest reception area for two or three summers. They always said they were close to my mom but it was interesting to see this remarkable place up close and personal.
After about 45 minutes of chanting to myself “motorcycles are line of sight vehicles, & with no else other than where you want to go – stay focused on the road – no sight seeing grasshopper” the road went from crinkled twists and turns to gentle curves. I was off and running – at the posted speed limit.

you can always take your bird with

With a reassuring voice Ms. Android guided me to mom’s front door. She was clearly happy to see me and a little surprised that I actually made the trip especially by the method I did. She said “put your bike up the sidewalk here”. I said “you’ve never met the Rocket”

 

All she could say was “I’ve never seen such a big motorcycle” I brought in my gear, placed the hefty triumph lock on one of the front rotors and began to chat with my mom. By the time I left we worked everything out. She was already preparing for a big house sale on Saturday. We confirmed arrangements to have a moving company haul all of her stuff to Chicago into a new assisted-living apartment on the lakefront. I love it when a plan comes together.
Not visiting mom’s place often, one can forget how Jewish mothers have a compelling need to feed you.

 

“Would you like a steak?’

 

“Sure”

 

“Do you want cinnamon sugar kugel or egg kugle?” (noodle pie)
“You know I’m diabetic I’ll take the egg kugel”

 

“You want a baked potato with that”
Oy
We had a great conversation before bed. She explained to me her desire to be near family at the age of 85. I think we both felt comforted by the thought and agreed that we would see each other at the very least once a month. I awoke to a bagel, cream cheese and lox from Sam’s Club (300 miles away) along with percolated coffee (anyone remember that?) – the best.
I offered to fly down, pick her up and fly back with her once the movers left. She was indignant – understandable for a woman who’s traveled to five of the seven continents on our Planit. “I can get myself back to Chicago just fine”. Silver city like any small town brings out friends and neighbors when “strangers” arrive. Mom’s friend Lisa wanted to meet me was kind enough to take this picture.

 

Mom was happy to look at and not ride the big blue motorbike

 

Interestingly her attached neighbor in the front of the building, Rob had an old Prevue parakeet cage cage I recognized it in the picture window when I arrived. The next morning I met Rob, retired but an aspiring artist. Noticing the three cute little parakeet faces in the front window I asked to come in.

He had all these very happy budgies

of all colors flapping around the apartment having a good ole’ time.

We’ll be sending a care package to Rob next week.
We said our goodbyes and they were happy goodbyes because we knew we would see each other again, soon. This was now the fifith time that I was packing the Rocket’s saddlebags and sissy bar bag. I finally figured out the Rubik’s cube of motorcycle storage. Everything fit perfectly when mom said “I made you lunch” handing me a shopping bag that weighed about 12 pounds.
I smiled and like a sailor re-rigging a ship heading into a storm I started snapping and unsnapping elastic cargo nets, leather belt clips and USB wires to enable my lunch (for me and any family of four that I might want to entertain at a roadside rest area) settle into in its own saddlebag so it would not get crushed.

 
I left on a different route bypassing the Gila national forest challenge although it was sunny, so I could access Interstate 25 northbound in a timely manner. I had two goals for the day. Make it to Amarillo dry and acquire a bottle of Jameson’s whiskey to enjoy in a motel room.
I’m normally a goal achiever but nature proved to be too much. By 7:00 pm not only was it now pounding rain but I lost daylight. About 90 miles south of Amarillo I saw a sign for the first hotel in close to 200 miles. I checked-in and asked if there was a place in town to buy whiskey?
Directions to a small liquor store not half a mile away on the main drag we’re a no-brainer and it was “only drizzling”. Sadly they stop selling alcohol in Texas at 9 o’clock. It was 9:05. Back to the “no tell motel” to get some work done. It’s not easy keeping the international renowned Windy City Parrot bird supply empire running smoothly, especially from a motorcycle seat
I have a high distrust of public networks especially because I’m exchanging information with a lot of you folks – my customers. FYI we never use public Wi-Fi (free or paid) and carry at least three sources of Internet (including my smart phone) wherever we are on the road.

 
A Chromebook and an iPad make a great redundant system for keeping in touch

as well as all the other chargers, wires, batteries and everything else that can fit into a very small computer bag.
I awoke to the sounds of an unfamiliar bird. Some of the Texas trees in the motel courtyard had leaves and others were just budding. In the top of the big tree with few leaves across from my room sat three big black birds. They weren’t crows or ravens. A quick phone call Catherine confirmed what I suspected – she had seen them in Nevada. Magpies! Magpies are part of the Corvid family. I briefly talk about Corvid’s here in Hookbills, hardbills, softbills & waxbills – just the feathered factoids

 

Black-billed magpie

Moving northeast from Amarillo I had the foresight this time to stop during daylight acquire a bottle of Jameson’s for my fifth and final night’s stay on the road. Pulling into my second La Quinta Inn of the trip they once again were kind enough to allow me to park the Rocket under the front canopy.

 

The two most notable events of the final leg on Wednesday were getting lost coming out of St. Louis when Ms. Android took a smoke break (gotta be a stressful job) while going through downtown St. Louis and by the time I reached the southwestern area of Chicagoland I realized I underestimated my need for winter riding gloves. I also learned rain suits can help keep you warm when it’s 40 degrees (fahrenheit) and you’re traveling at 95 mph.
By the time I arrived home, Popcorn’s light was out and her cage was covered. We uncovered the cage and she was content to stay on her flat manzanita sleeping perch. In the morning when I opened the cage door she was more than happy to be back in her regular routine of flying after me around the apartment. Although she spent a lot of time on the top of my head being very clingy before I left for the shop.

 
When we got home from the shop Thursday, all Catherine could say was Popcorn never greeted “her” as loudly and as strongly as she had heard today. Popcorn was a very happy bird now that I was home.

 

3296 miles – six days – five states – 60 hours saddle time – 12 hours in the rain

be careful what you wish for

2009 Rocket 3 Classic – 2294 CC – 140 cubic inches – 2.3 litre engine – 140 hp – 157 ft/lbs torque (@1850 rpm) – 3 cylinder (6 spark plugs) water cooled

750 stock rear tire – 7-1/2 inches wide

 

there’s a reason this factory vid got 1.4 million views

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing