April 24, 2005

Time and Weather Take a Toll

The Montauk and I rode a long-ago memorized loop of historic country roads yesterday. It was sad to see that Winter had been so unkind to these aged friends.

Like faces wrinkled by age, sun and wind, Old Route 13 and Clough Park Road were a sea of undulated cracks, agape with pitted skin pulled tight over their once rounded -- now peaked -- crown. Not even a decade of serial mini-quakes (the kind we get in New Hampshire) would have sundered the tar this badly.

I was heartbroken. What had for years been one of my favorite afternoon cruising routes, winding through the hills and towns of Goffstown, Dunbarton, around Clough Park and Everett Lake, down to Weare, and then back to Goffstown, now resembled more a gravelized motocross track than a road.

Many of the important things in these townships thankfully remain the same. The farms still smell alive. The fields and ponds still surround me with panoramic beauty. The hills still rise and fall beneath the turning wheels of the Montauk. All is well in the world on such days.

I just wish that time and weather could be kinder to our little country roads.

April 16, 2005


Riding in April, at least here in New Hampshire, is an adventure. Two weekends ago, for example, my friend John and I decided to enjoy a sunny afternoon roam up to Lake Winnipesauke. Winnipesauke is NH's largest lake, with over 75 square miles of water.

We meandered along country roads taking in all of the wonderful smells and sights that Spring offers. But springlike weather in one location does not necessarily make for springlike weather 50 miles north.

We found the Lake still a victim of winter's icy grip. Only the first few feet of of the water's edge was moving. Vast stretches of shore to shore ice pack, at times more than 3 miles across, were visible from the scenic vistas along the road.

Yet the same weather existed here as it had further south. The water, of course, was resisting the state change from solid to liquid. It resisted change with a calculated coolness that quickly invaded my riding gear with frigid result.

I pulled alongside John. His face, like mine, was red with the cold. Our smiles were nonetheless from ear to ear. This is the stuff of springtime riding. This is why we would rather ride the motorcycles for an afternoon runabout than do just about anything else.

As our route along the Lake ended, and we pointed our machines South for the return run, the temperature climbed quickly. It was 65 again. It was wonderful. The air was again pungent with the smell of a reawakening forest. A mile later we were enveloped in the smell of fresh farm soil that had just been released from its Winter blanket. Rich, deep, musky -- all of those sensations caressed me at a single moment.

Ten miles from home I turned to John and shouted: "Next ride's to the beach!"

I got no argument. John's broadly grinning face said it all.

April 03, 2005


Agra India is the home of the fabled Taj Mahal. It is also the home of a lesser known attraction, The Hotel Kiran. It was there, in '73, that Peter Agrafiotis and I bunked in for a couple of nights during a pilgrimmage to the Taj Mahal.

The Hotel Kiran is not much to look at. It's been beaten up by time and dust. The whole town seemed that way. Only the Taj Mahal stood out in splendor. White marble, with gleaming stones and jewels that caught and then released sunlight.

It was our rickshaw driver that selected our lodging on our first entrance into Agra. "I take you to Hotel, very nice. My brother there. You like it." He was a salesman of few words.

Check-in was unceremonious: the desk man spoke little English, and my proficiency with Hindi bordered on useless. The Hotel Kiran was ready for such circumstances, nonetheless. The desk man handed us a printed sheet of instructions, paid the rickshaw driver a tip for the referral, handed us a rusted key, and pointed at the stairway. Our room awaited.

For your enjoyment, I share with you the written instructions, verbatim. Peter kept them, and sent me a copy recently. They are wonderful:

Rules & Regulations
  1. Prostitude & wine is structly prohibited in the Hotel.
  2. Passengers are requested not to keep cash and ornaments in their rooms or in Locors.
  3. Passengers are requested that they should maintain perfect silence and hormony in the Hotel.
  4. Passengers should take proper care for cleanliness and should not spread dirt.
  5. The minimum lodging charges will be for 24 hrs. The charges for a period less than 24 hrs will also be the same.
  6. Passengers will be to allowed to leave only after paying the Hotel bill in full. In case of failure the hotel manager will be entitled to with hold the baggage etc of the passangers.
  7. It is a legal offence to keep arms and amunition without license in the Hotel. Defaulters of law shall be liable to a penalty of Rs 500 per day.
  8. Cooking of food in any part of the Hotel premises is prohibited. Defaulters of law shall be liabile to a penalty of Rs 500 per day.
  9. Passengers should not cause harm to the Hotel.
  10. Passengers are requested not to make payment to the waiter for the bill in excess of Rs 5. Bills for sums more than Rs 5 should be paid by the passengers at the Counter.
  11. Entry in the rooms or keeping baggage in the Locors without entry in the register is prohibited.
  12. Eatables from outside will not be allowed to be brought in or consumed in the Hotel.
  13. Any complaint or suggestion may be noted in the book with the Manager. The complaint against any employee of the Hotel may be made to the Manager. Passengers should not take any action against them directly.

So, at the Hotel Kiran, you can bring your licensed guns and ammunition. You can eat the Hotel's food, but not your own food. Don't pay the waitstaff more than 5 rupees and don't bother looking for a one night stand. Cause at the Hotel Kiran you can sleep, you can dine, you can and must create perfect hormony, but remember this: at the Hotel Kiran "prositude & wine is structly prohibited."