Category Archives: A Great Ride – 2012

Good, Boring, Bad – On two wheels?

 

Day 1- Saturday 6/6/2020 Started well with a tailwind. That was fine until I turned south, and that same wind pushed almost sideways off the road. In and out of wind tunnels for a hundred miles or so. Then running below the flow of traffic at 80+ mph on I-5. But sure ate up the miles. When I turned onto SR 138, it was a smooth ride, and a bit of scenery again had a tailwind, nice road, smooth as silk. Hit cruise control. After a couple of minutes, glanced at the speedometer, 90 mph in a 55 zone. Dropped to 75 until I the 210 and turned toward the coast, and now the wind was pushing me around again.
210 and I-10 to San Bernardino was an experience. At 85 mph, I was forced to the slow lane. The fast lane was 95 to 100 mph.

528 miles got me to the Best Western in Indio as I enjoyed the welcome dust blowing in the wind. What an experience check-in was.

What a boring day. The only positive was being on two wheels.

Day 2 – Sunday – Not as boring even without any scenery

Sgt. JAK woke me before 7:00 a.m. “You up yet?”

Hit the road and missed the turn to I-10. A mile down the road, asked a guy in a jeep, “If I keep going straight, will I hit the I-10?” He pointed straight ahead and said yes. I kept going for 35 miles. Stopped at the end of the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Checked my map, made a U-Turn, and back the way I had come for a 70-mile experience to the I-10. Trust me; the Salton Sea is not much in the way of scenery.

I-10 is not quite as boring as I-5, but not much less. Crossing into Arizona, I was feeling the heat and felt as though heat stroke was a possibility. It may have taken me 76 years to realize, when that happens, you should get out of the sun. I pulled into the first rest stop, drank two fruit juice packs, a bottle of water, and splashed water on my head a few times and sat in the shade. After a half hour, I felt refreshed and got back on the road.
Being in Arizona, I kept the speed down to 80 mph and watched those doing 90+ fly by.
About thirty miles from JAK’s place outside Phoenix, the cruise control bucked and quit working. This is usually a clue. The amp meter dropped and indicated no charging. I figured I could keep going and get closer to civilization as long as the battery had some juice. Nope, after a couple of miles, everything failed. As I pulled to the side of the road, I spied an overpass ahead. Time to get into the shade for what I knew would be a wait of several hours. I made it.

I pulled out the iPhone. Crap, almost out of charge because the GPS sucks power like the sun melts ice. I did manage to call the Harley-Davidson Road America and get the process started. Four cages and one BMW Motorcycle stopped and offered help. Four Harley’s went by without stopping.

I called JAK, and he came out and got my gear. When the two arrived, the operator was a woman. She was a character. In large letters, she had “TOW CHICK” tattooed on her neck.
IMG_7078Loading was an adventure. The bed of the truck was as slick as snot with oil. Of course, JAK had to get a photo of me sitting on the scooter on the truck. Almost a duplicate of a photo he took about ten years ago when the bike broke down on the way to Sturgis.

We get to Roadrunner H-D. No service personnel until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. They would not allow me to lock the Ultra inside. “I’ll lock it up in front of the service door.” That was not well received, but look where it’s parked and locked.

I’ll be waiting when they open.

IMG_7080 (002)

 

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It’s Time – 7 State Ride

It’s time!
My riding budding and I, 153 years combined, are ready for a road trip. Our route will traverse seven states and cover 4,000 miles give or take a few. I’ll be leaving from Oakland, California on Saturday, 6/6/2020. We’ll blow out of Phoenix on the 8th or 9th.
The photo shows our route, exclusive of a few side trips. If we hit 4-Corners then it will be nine states.


If anyone is riding some or all the way with us give shout out.

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QUARANTINE SPEED

I keep my Ultra Classic in the garage on a trickle charger. For non-bikers, that is a slow charge that keeps the battery alive during winters parked on cement.

Not long after the Shelter in Place (SIP) started, I decided to take a ride. Low and behold, a dead battery, couldn’t even charge it. I checked and found the extension cord was plugged in. Next stop the bike, yup, charger connected. Last stop, the charger. Oh, Oh, not connected to the extension cord.

With my years of investigative experience, I make a deduction: someone in the family used the cord and tossed it back in the general direction of the charger. Hoping, I guess, for immaculate connection. Asking the usual suspects, I received what I expected, a litany of not guilty pleas.

Out to the local Harley-Davidson dealer and $200+ later, I have a new battery.
After working on my soon (hopefully) to be released novel, writing with my on-line writer’s group, and a fantastic grilled SPAM and cheese sandwich, it was time to change out the old dead battery. I’ve done this too many times over the years.
Well, removing the backrest wasn’t too bad, even with a touch of arthritis. I could not for the life of me get the seat off. Swallowing what little dignity remains in this beat-up body, I turned to my wife. “Honey, please help me.”

Between the two of us, mostly Cathy, we got the seat out. I was happy; she dropped the mounting screw, something I never fail to do. She’s human. Then for the battery, my hands would not grip. We constructed a makeshift battery strap and got it.
Putting it all back together was a snap.

Warmed up all 88 inches and went for a ride. On the ride out of town, the traffic was as heavy as a normal commute. What gives? Who are these people? In my neighborhood, it seems most people are staying at home.

Anyway, it was great to be out on the road. When I came back, the traffic was light. I was on a five-lane highway in the number two lane, second from the center. I was rolling along with the flow of traffic when I noticed a car coming up fast in the number three lane. Thinking I might be impeding traffic, I checked the speedometer. Wow! I was clocking along at 85 MPH. The car passed me doing at least 100. A minute or two, another IMG_6900speedster passed me in the fast lane going about as fast. Dang. It was a short but exhilarating ride, and yes, I was wearing Shorts.

If the hotels are open, my buddy and I will be heading out for a fortnight in about five weeks.

 

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Under the scarf is a happy rider.

 

 

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Thanks, Gig Harbor SJP

It’s been several years since my wife and I took a road trip to Gig Harbor, Washington.
We took a couple of weeks up and back. Other than Gig Harbor, the trip was in some ways like a motorcycle trip, except we were in a cage. We went hither and yon with no other plans. When we arrived, we were pleased, not that we would move there.

One morning while on a walk, I saw one of those newspaper boxes advertising free local IMG_6885papers. I opened it and there on top of the papers was a shiny rock. Painted on it was a rainbow with happy faces at each end. Smiling, I picked it up and felt a sense of wellbeing. I took a paper and put the rock back and walked on, thinking about that rock and the feeling it gave me. Back I went. Picking it up, I thought: I’d like to take you home. But I couldn’t bring myself to take something that wasn’t mine. Back a third time, like a thief in the night, I looked in all directions. No one in sight, I slipped the booty into my pocket and fled.

I didn’t know about rock painters leaving a friendly face to be found by people like me. The finder is supposed to take the gift or leave it for someone else to find. Not happening!
Back at home, I put the rock on the window shelf over the kitchen sink. Many times since then, I stop and look at MY rock. I always smile and perk up.

I’ve been suffering writer’s block. I needed something to get me going, so I brought the IMG_6886rock into my office. Holding it helps. I turned it over and found a note from SJP, allowing me to keep it. At the top was a request to post on FaceBook.

Today on the blog and FaceBook, I’m sending my thanks to SJP.

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It is the Ride, not the Destination

Over the years, my motorcycle trips have been more about the journey than the destination. I have been to the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, at least a dozen times. Three or four times, I was what is called derisively ‘a trailer queen,’ we pulled a bike trailer behind a motorhome. Those trips were in the early days, and we were all about getting to the rally: no side trips, only twelve-hour days driving straight through. Once there, we took rides to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wounded Knee. These trips were made quickly so we could get back to the rally. Everything was a crowded rush.

We could say we had been there and done that. (I hate that cliché)

In 2001, I got an Ultra Classic and began riding to Sturgis, following the advice of Robert Pirsig: “Sometimes it’s better to travel than arrive” (Pirsig 103). No longer on the road 1c4nPGlJQmVpftM0Tu9w_Beartooth-Pass_54_990x660from morning until dark, I looked around. Instead of the most direct route, we mapped out places we wanted to visit. Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Beartooth Pass are just some of the big names. Places we never imagined like US-191 north out of Green River, Utah, and through fantastic country and on through Wyoming. I liked US-191 so much that I made a solo trip south on it. Not as scenic, but a great ride. I have made these long rides with a dozen riders, three or four, and alone—never once lonely.

This summer, my buddy Jim Kennemore and I, plan on heading north to the Cascades, make a right onto Washington-20 across the state to Kettle Falls on the Columbia River. There we will flip a coin and go—

We have room for other bikers; we don’t care what you ride as long as you miss the open road and the wind in your face.

 

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Bantam Books, 1981.

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BLACK PEARL – A Review?

Bell, Donnell Ann. Black Pearl. Bell Bridge, 2019.

In most good detective stories, the hero almost always states: “I don’t believe in coincidences.” I beg to offer a different view. In over fifty years of law enforcement and private sector investigations, I have run across more coincidence than you can shake a stick at.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted a few book reviews that I was quite proud of until I got a telephone call.

My best friend is a voracious reader. After but a brief hello, he said, “Cramer, I have to tell you I think a couple of your reviews are bad.” Yep, he used the “B-word.” He went on to tell me that one review was of such a frightening nature; he would never read the book.; another so boring he wouldn’t spend money on it until he read some reviews on Amazon. The Amazon reviews convinced him otherwise.

I asked my friend what was so bad about my reviews, and he said, “You didn’t write them for a reader, you wrote them for someone like you.”

My usual response to criticism about what I’ve written is to get angry, set the comment(s) aside for a few days, and then with a much cooler head examine the %&^$#. Usually, I find value and what has been suggested. In this case, I didn’t need to wait or think it over. I knew he was right.

First coincidence: I had just settled down to read Bell’s, Black Pearl. I had my usual toolkit with me, Post-It notes, pencils, red, black, and blue ink pens, three different colored hi-liters, and a note pad. If you looked at books I’ve reviewed, you would them almost destroyed by the different underlining, high lighting, comments written in the margin, and dogeared pages. These readings take anywhere from one to two weeks.

After the call ended, I took all my weapons of mass destruction and dumped them on my desk. I retired with Black Pearl to where I only read fiction by Bernard Cornwell, Michael Connelly, J.A. Jance, and a rare few others. I read until dinner and then spent the evening enjoying it with my wife.

The next morning, I skipped breakfast and finished Bell’s book before lunch. I enjoyed it and felt fresh; it wasn’t like I had been working on an MFA review.

41lbPhTdeILToday, I wrote and submitted this Amazon Review. I hope it works for my friend.

“Drenched in mystery and violence, from the first page, Bell gives both misleading and factual clues. These are in such a cryptic fashion; it only becomes clear at the end of the action who the killer is. Or does it?

There were several places where I was taken out of the story by a confusing sentence or statement.

What worked for me, but then gave me concern were descriptions. The friendly difference of opinion between Agent DiPietro and the retired sheriff about their choice of motorcycles was realistic and added to the pleasure for me. What didn’t work for me was the lack of description of the Harley-Davidson. Even more distracting was the lack of a word picture of Ouray County and Montrose. I’ve ridden my H-D through there. It is some of the most breathtaking country in Colorado. Bell left out a description of the countryside, as well as some of the other settings.

What worked was the interaction of the characters. Bell drew me into the conversations, and unsaid messages that conveyed much of the action, and worked well with the story’s pacing.

It was an excellent and riveting read. I will buy more of Donnell Ann Bell’s work.”

Second Coincidence: During Shelter in Place (SIP), I am not wearing shirts that require ironing, just T-Shirts. In my closet is a stack of over a hundred of these souvenir shirts. Most are from Harley-Davidson shops. I just reach in and take the one at the top of the pile, sight unseen.

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Today: BLACK PEARL Harley-Davidson, Belize

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August 12, 2012 – Ely, Nevada to Dublin

The last day of this Great Ride was not a lot of fun, especially the last two hundred miles. Earlier I mentioned “bug bites” and how much they itched. They didn’t go away, daily a few more appeared. I called Kaiser hoping for a prescription. “No Mr. Cramer, we can’t do that. This could be a serious allergic reaction and you must be seen soon.” They scheduled an appointment for the next day. 550 miles made for a long last day as I headed home.

Now for some good news, no rain, no hail, no wind, and no blowing sand. Crossing from Utah into Nevada, a memory from another ride returned. A few years ago as we approached the Utah state line and a gas station, Larry Eade and I were running on fumes. Ahead of us JAK did not stop.

Welcome to Utah

In the background is a blue sign with “Next Services 83 Miles”. JAK had no more fuel than Larry or I. He didn’t stop. We pulled in to the pumps. JAK came back a few minutes later to inquire why we had stopped.

Two signs stuck in my mind during this ride, the one above and one on I-70 a few miles from Green River. “Next Services 100 Miles”. With a range of 135 miles on the Ultra, I pay attention to signs like these.

Leaving Ely

Leaving Ely: The Loneliest Road in America

US 50 West Bound

This is indicative of the 259 miles from Ely to Fallon. I made it in exactly 4 hours, an average of 65 MPH. During those four hours, I made two gas and water stops, and twice for photo ops. I might have exceeded the speed limit once or twice.

About half way across Nevada I passed a woman riding a bicycle with camping bags. My thought, She must be one tough lady. Wow! Minutes later, I saw a herd of wild horses grazing alongside the roadway.

About a half hour from Fallon, Nevada a van stopped in my lane and a motorcycle stopped in the oncoming lane. As I rapidly decelerated my first thought was; Oh my God, there’s an accident, I hope it isn’t a biker. It wasn’t.

US 50 Steer

It’s a steer. I didn’t take another shot. It came at me and the Ultra. I jumped on and rode away.

A tradition is lunch at Jerry’s Restaurant in Fallon. They were so busy I had to sit at the counter where I downed two iced teas before ordering. I saw the biggest and best looking open faced chili cheese burger ever. It was smothered in onions. I want that chili cheese burger! Regrettably, I thought of Larry Eade and what he would say to “Gravy Boy.” I ordered a chef salad.

From Ely to Fallon the temperature hovered around 90. Leaving Fallon it shot up to over a 100 and stayed there.

I hit the only truly bad road of the entire trip as I crossed into California. The road became bumpy and in need of serious “Road Repair”. The last 200 miles were by far the worst, worse even than the rain and hail. Those were adventures, and the hail was certainly a new experience. I found the California highways dangerous and unpleasant.

At home, I found my missing boots on a stool. Handy so I wouldn’t forget to pack them. Oh, well, my sneakers got a good workout. I quickly changed into a bathing suit and jumped into the pool.

I put 4278 miles on the Ultra over thirteen days.

I hope you have gotten a wee bit of pleasure from my ramblings. Thank you all being such a great audience.

Four weeks from today I will be back in Ely, Nevada. Jim “JAK” Kennemore and I will be on our way to Marseilles, Illinois.

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Mesa Verde National Monument – A Biker’s View

Approaching Mesa Verde National Monument, I noticed a very steep road cut into the face of a high mountain. This is the road into the park. Road Repair season ensured that new pavement covered the 23 miles to Cliff Palace. About fifteen miles was “almost” smooth with fresh tar and gravel.

Not this biker’s favorite!

Despite the construction, the ride from the park entrance to the Visitor Center is scenic with sufficient turn-outs for the tourist to enjoy and photograph the panoramic vistas.

There was a long queue for tour tickets. A volunteer talked about Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House cliff dwellings. His photo album presented shots of multiple ladders, of crossing an open rock face, and crawling through a tunnel. This got my attention. For starters, I’m afraid of heights, especially ledges, and the knee replacement dislikes weight on it. We asked him for details. He showed close-ups of the rock face. There is a safety wire to hold on to.

Okay, I can do that.

Then he showed photographs of a 32 foot ladder one must climb to enter the dwelling.

Okay, there are people older than me doing the climb.

Next he pointed out a 12 feet long tunnel carved through stone.

Maybe I can drag my right leg.

The tunnel is narrower than my shoulders, and parts of my body tend to be large. If I didn’t have to worry about my knee, I think I could squeeze through. The volunteer suggests; “You might want to try Cliff Palace.”

Mesa 1

I check Cliff Palace, no rock face, no tunnel, and the longest ladder was only 10 feet long.

This is for me.

I bought a ticket for Cliff Palace. I didn’t notice 5 ladders and a 100 foot vertical climb to exit the cliff dwelling.

Oh well, live and learn.

Spending four hours in the park, I only saw Cliff Palace. If I can get back here, I will stay in the lodge and spend two or three days exploring.

Mesa 2

The oval pit above is a Kiva. All 23 Kivas of Cliff Palace were perfectly round until just a few years ago. Several have changed dramatically. Without going into detail, it has to do with water and foundations deteriorating. Recently the park lost 80% of its trees to fire. Without the trees to use and hold the water, it seeps into the ground and undermines the dwellings.

Mesa 3

When I climbed out, it took me ten minutes to get my breath back.

Mesa Fire Damage

This gives one an idea of the magnitude of the fire damage.

When I started out of the park, it began to drizzle. Ten miles from the park exit, I decided to follow some sage advice that JAK had imparted when considering the prospect of rain several years ago. “If in doubt, suit up.” I pulled to the side of the road and dug out my foul weather gear. George Bob (GB) had paid me another visit. My boots were nowhere to be found, leaving me outfitted for a blizzard but wearing sneakers. Thanks GB!

I continued down the mountain. After no more than a quarter mile, there was a clap of thunder followed by a cloud burst. Five miles down the road, right at the apex of a curve posted “15 MPH” was a mud slide.

Oh what a joy.

The minute I exited the park the rain stopped. Within 20 minutes it was 100 degrees. The good thing was that my sneakers dried out. It was 50 miles before I stopped at a Ute Indian casino for gas. I changed out of my foul weather gear, now a sweat box. I chugged some water and put the rain gear away.

As miserable and as dangerous the ride from Mesa Verde to the highway was the sheer grandeur of the cave dwellings made it worthwhile. An added benefit was checking off one more item on my Bucket List.

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Grand & Glorious Motorcycle Ride Day 10 – Second Installment – On to Durango

The scenery on 285 and 160 was spectacular but difficult to enjoy with the traffic. There are little towns and homes all along 285. One of the mysteries of the universe is where all the thousands of “Snow Birds” go when they leave Arizona for the summer. Now I know, they go to US 160 in Colorado. I passed one RV Park where there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of RVs parked ever so close together and with only a narrow lane between rows. I don’t believe it possible to pull one out or put one into the rows without moving dozens. There was not a single shade tree in sight. For a hundred or so miles along 160 there are endless RV parks, fishing camps, rafting companies, and hunting lodges. All seemed full. Even with all the distractions, I was glad I took this route.

I bet you all thought you had heard the last of Jim Bob and his exploits. Well on that eventful ride in 2009, we were Four Amigos, JAK Kennemore, Larry Eade, Burny Matthews and me. All retired cops headed out to D.C. to honor fallen comrades. All except me from OPD. I retired from San Leandro PD. I had lunch at a small place on US 285 at US 50. 23 miles east on US 50 is Monarch Pass, Colorado at 11,312 feet. We crossed the pass in May, 2009; it was 22 degrees and snowing. The coffee shop at the summit was covered in snow, with a tunnel dug to the front door.

As usual, Jim Bob was doing his Alpha Biker thing. As we other three prepared to dismount our steeds for a photo op, Jim Bob rode away. Not a word, he just left. We looked at one another, none of us had a clue, but figured we’d skip the photo op of a lifetime and follow Jim Bob. When we finally got clear of the snow, we had ice on our clothes up to our waists. Finally stopping for fuel, Jim Bob told us; “The snow plow operator told me I should get off the mountain, so I left.”

Asked why he didn’t communicate with his three amigos his typical Jim Bob response was; “You’re big boys.” Not sure what that meant.

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I had lunch near the intersection of 285 and 50.

I was wearing the last of the non-Harley T-Shirts I brought along to wear and discard. I never throw away a Harley T-shirt. I began to wear my new Harley Ts.

About an hour out of Durango, Colorado, I took a hydration break. I called ahead for a room. Yelp gave me a list of a half dozen motels. I called Best Western, $189 for a single. No thanks. Next on the list was an independent motel. A call got me a room, with free WiFi for $54.

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From one of the scenic overlooks.

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Looking back up from the valley floor.

Until I reached Durango, the only wildlife I saw was a turkey. Whoop Dee Do!

In Durango I saw two deer happily munching away alongside a city street. Pulling into the motel lot, I saw a D.E.E.R. As I maneuvered across the uneven and steeply sloped parking lot, a big D.E.E.R. came running in my direction. It crossed not twenty feet in front of me. Can you imagine the catastrophe had I collided with the D.E.E.R. and wound up in the hospital?

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Grand & Glorious Motorcycle Ride – Day 10 (First Installment) – Fort Collins, CO to Durango

I had a rough night at the Best Western in Fort Collins. Right after I went to bed I started itching, ankles, elbows, and nose. When I got to Durango I picked up some cortisone. The pharmacist said it would stop the itching. Nope it didn’t work.

In 2009 while on a ride to National Police Week in Washington, D.C., I woke up with identical bites. I was covered from the soles of my feet to my waist. It was so bad I wound up in an ER in Asheville, North Carolina. Bugs always get me. If ten people are in a line and one person gets bug bit, that’s me.

These “bites” forced me home early. I called Kaiser, “You need to get in here right away. You probably had an allergic reaction, not bites.”

When I saw the Dermatologist, he said; “It’s probably an allergic reaction, but I really don’t know what it is.”

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I got to Thunder Mountain H-D in Loveland, Colorado at 8:15 a.m. for an oil and filter change. They had me back on the road at 10:15 a.m. The largest dealership I’ve ever seen, this picture does not do it justice.

In addition to this building, they have an amphitheater that seats several hundred. And yes, I did buy another T-Shirt. That made three. I didn’t know what to do with my collection of Ts. Somewhere in the vicinity of 150, my wife has this selfish idea that her Hope Chest should not be filled with Harley T-Shirts.

Riding gave me plenty of time to think about all those T-Shirts. I came up with a plan. I had quilts made for my children. I managed to get quilts made for all four in time for Christmas.

Blog Shot

Above is the personalized quilt I had made for my son Paul. It is a combination of Harley Ts and shirts from his life. I especially like the Isla Guadalupe T. It is from a Great White Shark Dive the boys and I went on a few years ago.

Before reaching Denver, I had the bajeebers scared out of me. Trying to keep up with a LOL (little old lady) driving a Prius at about 85 MPH, a tractor with an empty flatbed trailer tried to drive over me. It took me back to the 2009 ride to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. In Arkansas another LOL warned me and my three OPD buddies to be careful on I-40. She said “those darn truckers think they own the road”. She was right. Not quite into Tennessee a tractor with an empty flatbed blew by me. I wonder how fast he’s going. I tried to pace him. At 100 MPH he was still pulling away, I decided it wasn’t important enough.

I got around Denver and headed south west on US 285. It was as attractive as the maps suggested. What I didn’t know was just how popular US 285 and US 160 are. I was in traffic for at least 200 of the next 300 miles.

The day was far from over but time runs short. I’ll finish Day 10 in a few days – See Installment #2.

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