Friends and dear three readers I have been on the road for the last week. If you wanna see pics check out the instagrams button located above. It was a grand old week with great weather and minimal hassles until the return, I'll get to that in a moment.
I struck out for Augusta, Georgia. I know, I know in the past I have headed for the mountains. Usually I would, in this case I had a class (TECC Trauma Emergency Casualty Care) I wanted to take because of my back ground of being an EMT. I really felt under trained when it came to active shooter situations and shit I got to learn from some high speed special forces operator types. I won't bore y'all with details but I learned some cool ass stuff, had other stuff reinforced and in general made me like being an EMT and start to ponder things in the medical field again. Then for shits and giggles I looked up PHTLS classes and was rewarded with finding a class the following Monday after TECC. I jumped on it of course because I am ALWAYS looking for CE hours. I have not taken PHTLS since 2009 if I remember correctly.
I remembered that FATS was just outside Augusta and it would afford me the chance to ride a really great trail system that I have kept hearing about since I moved out here. I then remembered that Augusta is closely tied to James Brown. That's right the godfather of soul, Mr. Please Please Please himself, soul brother #1. It was also the place where I won my first BMX trophy and a road trip with Pop many many years ago. I figured that since Augusta revolves around one of the most vile elitist "sports" ever (golf) that I should not hold it against that particular zip code and as always just GO!
I had a sorta plan and some free time so I loaded up the mazdarauder and went. I had planned to ride FATS my first day there. The trail gods conspired against me for some reason. The local forest service and trail advocacy group decided that since they got some rain to close down the entire trail system for the ENTIRE week I was there (in fact it's still closed). This absolutely blew my riding and camping options right out of the water. First it was rain and blown down trees and then it was a controlled burn at FATS. My tires never touched the trails at FATS because I'm not local and really who wants to deal with forest service rangers when thy don't have to. I learned last year in Pisgah that although you may not be doing anything wrong talking to a forest service ranger is never any fun in that context.
I scratched my bald head a little and headed over to the closest bike shop to get some beta. They steered me towards Bartram trail and advised on opportunities for stealth truck camping. I even showed off the mazdrauder to one of the locals and went into my philosophy of dirtbag mountain bike trips. I did get a ride in that first day at Bartram. Nice trail and hell I even beat the rain back to the mazdarauder. I ended up staying in that area for the next week in various places dirtbagging in the back of the truck. Man I really saved on hotel bills. I did splurge on a truck stop shower (12.00!!!) because although I was kinda remote I did have enough people around my camping areas to not risk it. Thinking about it now I think in the future I'll lock the door to the bath room and rig the solar shower in the toilet stall for a quick shower in some privacy.
Four days of my seven day trip I spent in a class room. First at a local police academy for TECC then at the local level 1 trauma center for PHTLS. I won't bore y'all with the details of the classes. I had fun and learned tons, I'll leave it at that. Seems like I cannot get enough of class time between college and work related classes. The reward came after classes with camping spots right on the water of the local reservoirs in cool non-buggy weather. Never got rousted by the police or bothered by the locals. Both of which are a definite bonus. Honestly I could get use to that kinda of lifestyle.
After classes were over and it seemed that FATS was going to be closed due to any hint of moisture in the air I went over to Mistletoe State Park. Mistletoe was a good hard ride. Rock dam was off camber bit of trail and there was a funky arroyo there as well. I spent nearly the entire day at Mistletoe swilling beer on the shore of the local lake in quiet cool weather watching nature and reflecting on life in general. Sorting things out if you will.
The real challenge came the next day. I got up early to make it back to bville and have time to sort gear out. Then about 30 minutes the mazdarauder with 182000 miles on it decided to give up the ghost and the engine blew stranding me on I-20 west just past mile marker 169. It sucked. I had no clue the engine having probs. I check and change the oil regularly and stay on top of the preventive maintenance because frankly the mazdarauder has a lot of sentimental value to me because of Pop.
Thank heavens for roadside assistance. I got the mazdarauder towed to a local mechanic who gave me nothing but bad news. The engine needed to be replaced and it would take 10 days. Keep in mind I live about 2 hours away driving time from where the truck broke down. I have a shift on Saturday that I cannot miss because I missed last shift for the TECC class. I had no way but to hemorrhage money.
The mechanic said frankly that I should just walk away from the mazdarauder and get something newer. Because of sentimental attachment to the truck there is no way I'm gonna do that. I also thought on it and new car payments would kill me monthly. Sure, it sucks paying a couple of grand to get the engine replaced but in the long run it's gonna be cheaper. Two to three hundred a month for car payments and the same amount for mandatory full coverage insurance. Say 5-6 hundred dollars a month for a new car that's on the cheap side six thousand a year for 5-7 years. Which would mean more work on top of school. I don't mind work too much but in my profession there is a thing that I've dealt with a lot and that is burn out. I try very hard to live within my salary and means. So that's my justification for getting the mazdarauder fixed, I also wanna put a million miles on it. Really I do, so if this new engine lasts another 180000 miles more is the better. I just hope the transmission does not go out soon, knock wood.
I rented a shitty jeep compass loaded up everything in it and drove back bville. Yup more money hemorrhage. I got back and got drunk while unloading the shitty jeep compass. Why...oh why could it not be a jeep renegade?
I found the upside to the engine episode with not having to worry with the engine again for a long while. The other is that maybe in 10 days that there is a slim possibly FATS will be open if no one sneezes on it. I may just take the chance and ride it and skip my evening west civ class on the 21st.
It was a good trip despite the mazdarauder probs. The weather was great the entire time the locals were wonderfully friendly. I got to see the James Brown exhibit and finally and not least I got to some trail time on the voodoo. As compared to last years spring break trip which consisted of cold rain and horrific arm pain that lasted for months afterwards.
Give me a chance and I'll go for it every time, I'll gamble it because life is meant to be lived and not trapped in a cube someplace. Friends and readers get outside and enjoy life. I'm willing to pay the price.
Thanks for reading.