Sunday, March 6, 2011


The other night, Margaret and I calculated the estimated mileage for the round trip and this is what we came up with.  It's more than twice as far as New York City is from Los Angeles.  Farther than Seattle to Miami.  Farther than Kansas City to Mexico City.   I let Margaret know I reserved the right to cut the trip short if needed! 

As I was reading ZMM today, I came across this which helps me see the pilgrimage in a more significant way.  It's a passage from ZMM where Pirsig is talking about a pilgrimage he had made to holy Mount Kailas, the source of the Ganges and the abode of Shiva, high in the Himalayas, in the company of a holy man and his adherents.  "He didn't make the climb and noticed the other, smaller men, going on without him.  He speculated that the other pilgrims, the ones who reached the mountain, probably sensed the holiness of the mountain so intensely that each footstep was an act of devotion, an act of submission to this holiness.  The holiness of the mountain infused into their own spirits enabled them to endure far more than anything he, with his greater physical strtength, could take."  I'm hoping by day 12 that I can still see the trip with this perspective!

This is also the part of the book where he begins to talk about quality.  For those who haven't read ZMM, here's a peek into one of the key themes in the book.  When he engages his students and asks them to define quality and they struggle with the task, he works up a definition of his own: "Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognized by a nonthinking process.  Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, quality cannot be defined."  More to come!

My dad and I have been shopping for a bike together.  We had been looking at several touring bikes but I kept zeroing in on the BMW R1200.  It's also the bike I had identified in the beginning as the one of most interest to me.  Last Tuesday, we looked at one in Overland Park and bought it.  The owner, Randy, has to get the title fixed and then he should be delivering it tomorrow night.  It's actually a 2001 BMW K 1200 LTC.  I'll post a picture of it when it arrives.  I've thought about whether I'm "staying true" to the spirit of this pilgrimage by not riding a bike similar to Pirsig's, but my backside says not to worry about it. 

Planning has been more intricate than I had thought.  I'm now in the process of finding two motels and two campsights for each of the stops.  That will give me several options at each stop - just in case.  The tentative plan will be to search the area a couple of days before I arrive and, if I'm not camping, see if I can find a cheap motel on Priceline.  

The list of camping items is daunting as well.  Everything from an appropriate tent to a self-inflating mattress to a small, portable stove.  I will hopefully be borrowing most of these items.  Yesterday, I went to buy a helmet and gloves and between the three different styles and two different shades of black, I passed on the decision until after I have passed the written test for my license.  That way, I'll make sure to buy the right one ;-)  I will most likely take the written test this week and then will be issued a temporary riding license.  After a couple of weeks of practice, I'll hopefully be prepared to pass the riding portion -- even though I haven't ridden a motorcycle since my old Suzuki. 

Planning has also been more rewarding than I had thought.  I'm on chapter 18 of ZMM.  I had wondered if it would be a different experience than the first time I read it and it certainly has been.  I would say it is a richer experience as I'm bringing such a broader knowledge-base to the experience than when I was younger.  It is a significant and important book that I'd recommend reading more than once.

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