After that I was home free with the '51 Triumph Thunderbird
and finally with a brand new 1966 Triumph Bonnie off the showroom floor of
Free State Cycle.
First Triumph, First Bonnies
When it was time for Bonnie to leave, she kissed me goodbye in the stairwell, probably tenderly. And said we might meet again someday.
Well, I never crossed paths with that Bonnie girl again, but there were a few other Bonnies. Here's the latest. Found her in a barn: Frank's Brit-Barn.
And then there are years like this, when - with snow on the way - even as we surf a wave of warm, sunny November afternoon exhilaration, we already know this is the last time out of the barn before winter. Bitter and sweet.
Country cemeteries are nearly always situated in scenic locations, the stories they tell are universal and limited only by our imaginations, and they provide us an opportunity to reflect upon our own mortality and look beyond ourselves.
Back in the sixties I spent 3 years stationed at the 773rd USAF Radar Squadron, Montauk Point, Long Island, New York. I worked as part of the team of technicians who maintained the site's FPS-35, then the US Air Force's state-of-the-art long-range search radar set.
The site had formally served as Camp Hero during World War 2. The US Army created an extensive system of underground bunkers there, home to heavy artillery for coastal defense.
Just like the WW2 heavy artillery, the FPS-35 had its day and became obsolete. Eventually the site was given over to the New York State Parks Service, which incorporated it into the Montauk State Park. Today the enormous FPS-35 sail no longer turns under 600 horse powers of electric motors, but it still remains atop its concrete, five-story tower: a rusting monument to obsolescence.
And a challenge to trespassers.
During the summer of 2013 I met up with several other former members of the 773rd for a nostalgic return to the old radar site.
Disclaimer: We hereby disavow any knowledge of 'The Montauk Project'. Rumors and conspiracy theories abound, but Our Lips Are Sealed.
The 78-82 mile circuit includes one of my all-time favorite destinations: Big Falls VT. Big Falls is situated on the Missisquoi River just outside North Troy. North Troy is pretty much exactly half-way around Lake Memphremagog from Magog QC.
North Troy is also the home of Paddie's Snack Bar. Paddie's is the real thing, an experience not to be missed.
Only dedicated back-road riders are likely to stumble upon this spot. The road is marked "Cul de Sac" at one end and appears as a seriously eroded farm road with lots of exposed ledge and mud holes at the other. Not recommended for passenger cars!
Although views from here are great year-round, they are, of course, most spectacular during the Fall, as on this October 2003 ride.
Extracting the clutch center was quite a job, and the reason for that was apparent when it finally let go: the half-moon key fixing the clutch center to the mainshaft was in two pieces.