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My Motorcycle Blog: Memorable Rides
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

* November, 2006 blog * * October, 2006 blog * * September, 2006 blog * * August, 2006 blog * * July, 2006 blog * * June, 2006 blog * * May, 2006 blog * * April, 2006 blog * * March, 2006 blog * * February, 2006 blog * * January, 2006 blog * * December, 2005 blog * * November, 2005 blog * * October, 2005 blog * * September, 2005 blog * * August, 2005 blog * * July, 2005 blog * * June, 2005 blog * * May, 2005 blog *

The "Haunted Dog" Run

May 10, 2008:
Sometimes my rides have a goal, and sometimes I am just riding for the joy of it. This ride started out as my 10,500 mile run. I needed exactly fifty miles to make that goal. I could already visualize the picture of the odometer reading exactly 10,500. And I had the precise route planned to ensure that I was back in the driveway at the magic number.

We had several gardening tasks on the agenda for this Saturday, and an early dinner date with friends. Often, I will do the gardening stuff in the cool of the morning and go for a ride in the heat of the afternoon. But with a six o'clock reservation, I was worried I would not have time to reach my mileage goal.

After a leisurely morning, and a good breakfast (not to mention a long walk with the dog), Maria convinced me to go for my ride before it got in too late in the afternoon. So, just after nine, I went upstairs and changed into my riding gear.

By the time I headed out, it was 9:15 a.m. Temperatures were still cool, and the skies were overcast. Not enough clouds for rain, but enough thickness to make things gloomy.

Still, it was good to be on two wheels. After warming up, I entered the freeway, heading west on I-10. I took the Loop northbound, then turned east. Traffic was pretty light, and I was making good time. When I reached the exit for Highway 59, I took it south. This is my normal morning loop, and two of these loops plus an extra ten mile segment would add up to exactly fifty miles. Everything was going perfectly, except for the overcast skies.

After a couple of miles on Highway 59, it forks off to the right to intersect with I-10. The two exit lanes narrow down to one just before you reach I-10. On workday mornings, this is the bottle neck in the road. Backup is the norm. But, on this Saturday morning, no traffic was around. I took the left-hand lane so I could see farther into the curve as I rounded it at a fairly nice speed. As I reached the apex, I noted that no cars were in sight, so I continued my high speed arc.

Just as I was relaxing, a movement on my left caught my eye. It was a dark German shepherd, caught on the freeway. It looked to be about two years old. It was on the emergency lane on the left. There was no way it could get away without crossing several lanes of high-speed traffic. The dog seemed to lock on to my eyes. It was slunk over and pacing, like it didn't know what to do. As I came up on it, its eyes seemed to speak to me, as if to say, what do I do now? It had that haunted look of an animal that knows it is in deep trouble, but doesn't quite understand why or how. The dog continued to take halting steps toward I-10 as I rode past.

One thing about a motorcycle: You see more, but it is hard to stop and do anything. There was no place for me to pull over, and I don't know what I would have done if I had stopped. Calling to a strange dog might get it to come, but the dog's natural hesitation at coming to a stranger might have spelled its doom as it slowed its crossing to decide whether to trust me.

I couldn't get the look of the animal out of my mind. I continued down I-10. I had to decide by the Heights exit if I was going to go back to see if the dog made it. Part of me didn't want to know, because I feared the worse. But the very fact of not knowing was more unacceptable. I knew that if I didn't go back to check, I would always believe the dog had been hit. And I would not be able to get that forlorn image of the dog asking for help out of my mind.

I decided to make another circuit. Traffic continued to be light, although I had to dodge a blowing box and rubber debris from a big truck tire. I headed south on Highway 59, toward the spot where I had seen the dog. Once again, I had the exit to I-10 all to myself. I was traveling slower this circuit, because I was sure I would have to dodge the body of the German shepherd.

But, as I cleared the exit, no dog was in sight. I chanced a quick look back to the east as I headed west on I-10. Nothing registered. I looked to the west, and scanned the emergency lanes, and the grassy areas just off the freeway. No sight of a dog. I decided I needed to adjust my route to rule out one last possibility.

It occurred to me that the dog might have headed east on the inside of the westbound lane for I-10, and then tried its crossing. I took the I-45 exit north, then got back on the North Loop. This time, instead of exiting at Highway 59, I stayed eastbound until I hit the exit for I-10. This jaunt adds about ten miles on a trip. By taking it I knew that I would not have my photograph of mile 10,500, because I would still be on the freeway when I reached that mark. Still, I wanted to check on the dog. The fact that I had not seen its body on the part of I-10 I had searched gave me optimism that the dog had made it safely across the freeway. But the same unease at not being sure made me have to scope out the segment of I-10 the dog would have taken if it had headed east instead of west.

I took the I-10 exit off the Loop, and headed west, toward Highway 59. I was watching the odometer and the sides of the road. As I reached the exit for Gregg Road, I watched the mileage roll over to 10,500. It was a neat sight on the odometer. It would have made a great picture. But I did not regret for one minute the fact that I had decided to enlarge my route to check for the dog. That look was still haunting me. I had to put it to rest.

As I approached the intersection with Highway 59, I carefully scanned both sides of the freeway. No dog in sight. It looked like the canine had beat the traffic, and made it to safety. As I passed the merge with Highway 59 for the third time, I reconfirmed by assessment that the dog had not been hit by a car. Even though the skies were gloomy, the day seemed brighter.

I'm not sure why this dog bothered me so. I think it was the look it gave me. The look of someone in trouble, and not sure what to do. The look of someone who has realized that the metal boxes rushing by are a threat, and could spell doom. That is a feeling every motorcyclist has from time to time. The feeling lessens as one gets used to traveling on the freeways, but it never goes away. And the fact that it doesn't go away helps keep you alive. I hope the dog carries a deep memory of this morning, and lives to a ripe old age. I am glad he made it, and the four-foots and the two wheelers scored another victory over the four wheelers.

For all you dogs out there, watch out for cars. For the rest of you, see you on the road. And don't forget to think.

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For the November, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the October, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the September, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the August, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the April, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the March, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the February, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the January, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the December, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the November, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the October, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the September, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the August, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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*Note to Law Enforcement:

All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.

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