Monday, May 25, 2009

Musings on Memorial Day as the Showers Continue to Fall



Yesterday and today (Memorial Day 2009) have continued to be wet days here in the increasingly green and lush mountains of Western North Carolina. Having risen early this morning to keep from awakening my “better half” on her day off, I managed to get some office work done and “listen” via VeloNews to today’s stage race of the Giro D’Italia. I appreciated the running commentary of the “announcers” and enjoyed sort of virtually being there as they called what seemed to be a pretty interesting event. I’m still impressed that Lance Armstrong is riding so strong after his return to racing. I wonder how much of Levi Leipheimer’s energy reserves  depleted when he flatted and had to catch back up to the chase group…

This coming Saturday (May 30th), I will have the pleasure of accompanying 100 WWII Veterans to Washington, DC to visit their memorial. This will be my second trip to the Memorial but first going on the chartered jet. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to escort these ladies and gentleman to and from their Memorial.  For those unfamiliar with the HonorAir Flight Network, it is an outstanding program that helps the remaining WWII Veterans get to Washington to see their Memorial, which was finished way too late for most of their comrades to see. NBC Nightly News just featured a brief segment on our May 16th flight. You can view it HERE…  Being a Guardian for 3 Vets this coming weekend means that I have to function as host, companion, first responder, and “pack mule.” Since the youngest of our group will be 82 years old, we don’t want them lugging around jackets, water bottles, cameras, etc. so those duties fall to the Guardians. I knew that I needed to improve my backpack situation seeing as the only small pack I had was not much of a day pack and wouldn’t carry sufficient materials. I also wanted to improve my ability to carry items when commuting from work to home on my Fuji CCR3. So, I started working on “killing the proverbial two birds with one stone.” 

My initial research led me to look at the Ortlieb Flight Pack but I couldn’t find one to purchase locally and I couldn’t find one on and other USA based retailers. I did find several European retailers from whom I could purchase but, being on a time limit, I opted to continue searching for just the right option. My search took me to my local Mast General Store where I explained my goal to Jay Schoon. Jay has been featured in a couple of local newspaper articles on his dedication to commuting by bike. I see him often as he comes and goes to work. While agreeing that the Ortlieb product was, in fact, a fine piece of craftsmanship, Jay suggested that I look at what he has used for the past 15 years. He reached into the closet and pulled out a messenger bag that had clearly been used for awhile. I was also impressed with the weight he was carrying in the bag!

Showing my ignorance on the subject of messenger bags, I expressed to him that I was really looking for something that wouldn’t swing to and fro as I rode. It was then that my lesson in why professional messengers use bags instead of backpacks began. Jay whipped out a large Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag. Timbuk2_ClassicMessengerBag

Hooking me up and explaining the cam lock system took all of 30 seconds. He then connected the short strap running from the bag across my chest that holds the bag securely in place.

The bag is waterproof and quite large so I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll be able to handle my “pack mule” duties this coming weekend. I’ve had one chance to try out the comfort of the bag while riding and I must admit I was quite pleased with the result. While I didn’t carry much weight at all, i.e., sandals, shorts, cell phone, etc, the bag rode solidly on my back and did not manifest the weight shifting that I had concerned myself with in my ignorance.


As you can see from the image to the left, the bag has lots of undivided space along with several pockets for storing smaller items. There is also a zippered pocket underneath the lid that contains a key tether. This particular model also comes with reflective strips to highlight your presence when riding at night. Advertisements indicate that there is an additional loop for attaching a flashing light. I’ve yet to discover that particular loop but I’m probably overlooking it.  I’ll certainly have a closer relationship with this bag by next Saturday night when we land back at the Asheville, NC airport. I’ll update this review after my all day experience with the bag. (Please note: both images of this Timbuk2 Classic Messenger bag were taken from the Timbuk2 website and credit for the images should go accordingly to their photographer.)

I hope each of you have a safe and memorable Memorial Day Weekend and that you stop and give a nod of thanks to those who sacrificed so much for us!

Until later,

-- Zeke


Jim Artis said...

Hi Zeke, You have a very nice tribute there. You trip to Washington, I'm sure, will be very rewarding. Thanks for honoring those who have fallen. --jim

Unknown said...

Thank you for the kind words. This will be my second trip with WWII Vets. David's and my dad was US Navy to the core. He was on the first Destroyer into Normandy on D-Day and later was part of the fleet that escorted FDR to the Gibralter Conference. He didn't speak much about his experiences in WWII until near his death. He began to open up a little bit about it then. His brother, and my namesake, was a Marine and was killed on Saipan when he and a comrade stayed behind so the rest of their platoon could escape a Japanese attack. I've read the letter from the Chaplain a number of years ago. My mother saved all of the correspondence that she received from our Dad and his brother so I've had the chance to "see" their day-to-day experience of the war. Dad stayed in the reserves and was recalled to the Korean War. Following that, he was the lead recruiter for the WNC area for many years until he finally retired. I can recall, as a youth, going with him to Monday night drills in Asheville, NC. I remember walking into the building and then everything being just as if you were on board a ship. I regret that my Dad didn't get a chance to see the WWII Memorial. It is, indeed, a thing of beauty.

I spoke to the Haywood County Senior Democratic Party group yesterday about HonorAir. I told them that I had 3 entirely different emotional experiences of the WWII, Viet Nam, and Korean Memorials. As I've already said, the WWII Memorial is simply beautiful. I was in awe of the sophistication of its simplicity. (I hope that makes sense.) The Viet Nam Memorial was emotionally overwhelming to me even though I didn't serve in the military. That entire period was my adolescence into young adulthood and there was a great deal of conflict for me and my Dad. I also lost friends and that weighed on me during the visit. The Korean Memorial was an eerie emotional experience for me. Sometime, I hope to go back and see it at night. I want to see the statuary lit from below. All in all, it was/is/will be a very emotional day for me.

-- Zeke

Jim Artis said...

I can see that it will be. Please write about your experiences and post pictures when you return. Memorial help in someways to relive history. I think many do not appreciate history for what it is. They want to hate for what it was. Any yes, I understand the sophistication of the WWII Memorial's simplicity. I've got to visit on my next trip to Washington. Thanks for the post and comments. --jim

Unknown said...

I will be certain to do so. I'm even more motivated to get back to see the Korean Memorial at night after I spoke to a friend last night. He had just returned from the Ride to the Wall and went by to see the Korean Memorial at night. I knew that the statuary was underlit but I didn't know that somehow they manipulate a fog that comes up about waist high and the lights shine through it. I really want to see that!

- Zeke

Jim Artis said...

I'll have to do the same. Thanks for the heads-up.