And then there were two.

It’s kind of a sad day, but it’s nice in many ways too. 7 and one half years ago I entered the “motorcycle enthusiast” world with the purchase of a 1997 VS800 Suzuki Intruder. This was my first taste of what would become a passion.

Since buying the bike, affectionately called “Stephanie,” I’ve ridden in more than 13 countries for more than 100,000 miles. Motorcycle travel has inspired me to explore the world, and I cannot imagine my life without riding.

Stephanie came to me on a truck. She was delivered in May of 2003 after a purchase on Ebay. That was one of the best decisions of my life. She got her name from the character Stephanie in the first Short Circuit movie. There’s a scene in the movie when Johnny 5 protects the female lead from her ex boyfriend and states, “no disassemble Stephanie.” Serendipitously my friend Forrest and I were taking apart the motorcycle just to see what how it was constructed. We were in his garage, with parts strewn everywhere, and I blurted out, “don’t disassemble Stephanie.” She’s been called that ever since.

What attracted me to her were the sheer good looks. I had never seen a motorcycle that looked as good as this one. And boy was she fast. I really enjoyed riding that bike.

We traveled together a lot, she and I. My first motorcycle trip was just a couple short weeks after buying her. We rode to central Arkansas to visit my at the time girlfriend, Sharon, who was soon to leave for Officer Training School. She liked the bike too, and it became a part of our lives.

You can see more here.

The next year would prove to be another great one for riding, and I finished off the last of the 48 contiguous states and even rode a little ways into Mexico. That bike and I have been so many places together that if I ever go back it won’t be without her memory.

After the summer of 2006 I prepared the bike for storage and flew to Europe, my new home for exactly 365 days. The thrill of traveling was only getting stronger, and I made it a point to visit as many countries as I could. Some of those were with a bike I purchased and sold there. One great thing was the knowledge that when I got home my trusty steed would be ready. And she was. After a little work I got her started again, and I was back to riding. This lasted a few months, but soon my tastes began to change, and I bought a bike more appropriate for off road as well as travel.

Soon Stephanie became a second thought as I rode her less and less. Eventually I didn’t even start her for months at a time. Since then she has always been there, ready and waiting to ride. I never needed anything more than a charge on the battery to get her running, and for that I am very pleased. Suzuki made an amazing bike in the Intruder, there is no doubt about it.  Last year I bought a third bike, which became my every day rider, and now two motorcycles filled my garage. I held out for a long time. More than once I’ve heard older men say, “I wish I had kept that one.” And thinking they were right I held on probably longer than I needed.

So yesterday, when I heard that she had sold at a local consignment shop to a man that lives in Houston, I was a little taken aback. After all this time, so many memories and miles, and all the great momentous points in my life that we shared, Stephanie is gone. She was always there for me, even during breakups, possibly the cause of one breakup, and I’ll have a soft spot in my heart for that motorcycle that wanted to go everywhere and never let me down.

In September I took her for her last long ride. We rode to the Texas rally for Intruder enthusiasts. She performed perfectly as always. It was a fitting send off for a long trusted friend.

Goodbye Stephanie. I’ll miss you. You gave me so much and made my life far better than I ever imagined.

I’ll just end with some precious moments caught on film.

The two of us before leaving on my first cross country trip, for which I earned the nick name crosscountry.

Us, fully loaded on the second leg of my first big trip.

Riding on a wet Houston road.

In Upper Peninsula Michigan, again with rain gear

She took me to Maine, somewhere so far away that I could never reach.

Research and writing

These days I’m doing a lot of the former but beginning to get into the latter.  I started my second paper this week.  It won’t be as ground breaking as the first one, but it certainly will add to our knowledge of Mars.  That’s what we’re all about!

I’m looking forward to the process, which I expect will take several months, and then the final result.  It is rewarding to watch these things grow.

In the mean time I’ll try to finish up the trip from this summer.  I didn’t die at Bryce Canyon!