In addition to releasing some awful financial results (Link), Harley-Davidson also released the latest in their Dark Custom lineup; another Sportster they are calling the Forty-Eight.
One comment I have already heard is that it looks like H-D has been watching what the guys on the XL Forums do in the first few months and copied it. I can some truth in that and it definitely shows that, at least with the Sportsters, the boys in Milwaukee are definitely watching and reacting to what is happening with grass roots customizes.
The bike should be available soon and, in the meantime, you can find more information on the Forty-Eight here and if someone can explain the name to, I would sure appreciate it.
January 24, 2010
Most of the time I try and maintain a fairly upbeat tone to my posts. Poking fun at myself and others, especially when we do something stupid. The tone of this post is a little different, a little more serious and maybe even a bit of a downer. Why?
Well, because that was exactly how I felt for most of this ride. The last month or so has been cold down here in Houston. No, not the bitter cold they get up north but still really cold for Houston. Not only did we already get some snow this year, we got snow earlier than it has ever snowed in Houston. To top it all off I have been sick. So, between four weeks with a head cold and the cold outside I have had almost no chance to ride since back in November sometime and so it was with high hopes and expectations that I sat down Monday morning to plan a route and destination.
Most of the places that were pretty high on my list were too far to risk on a day that was more overcast and less warm than promised by the weatherman. Undaunted I picked a route that would take me almost to the Louisiana border to visit three towns I had never been to Kountze, Silsbee and Lumberton. There was nothing really special I wanted to see or do there but I had never been. So I was off...
The last forecast I saw said mostly sunny with a high around 70, the reality of that was not nearly so pleasant. It was gloomy and mostly overcast and if the temperature hit 70 it was because someone had a heater going. As I headed east out of Houston, the reality and the impact of the recent weather really started to hit home. Contrary to popular belief some parts of Texas are green, very green. We have oak trees in this part of Texas that never loose their leaves in winter. Not this winter. Outside of the pines and a few grasses in sheltered areas, the countryside east of town looked dead and gray. It looked like, well...winter.
Now, even being from around here, sometimes riding around this part of Texas can make me a little nervous. Nervous in that way where you hear dueling banjos in your head. Somewhere out on FM146, east of Liberty I got that feeling as I passed this little place in the middle of the woods.
It sounds like it should be maybe a gun store, or a church, or since this is Texas maybe a combination of the two. What was it? I don't have a clue. The sign on the building advertised beer and ice and Wonderful Wife said I should have gone in to see. I thought about it, I really did, but the sounds of banjo music in my head made me decide against it and I headed back down the road.
I did't figure that I needed a map since most of the roads I was to be traveling I had ridden before and besides it was not that long a ride but when I saw a road sign the gave me the option of going back to Liberty or on to Cleveland I decided that had been a mistake. So I changed my plans and decided to have a burger at a little place in Onalaska and maybe check out the sights in Coldwell, after all, flexibility is a good thing when you set off with no map. Before long I hit Highway 105 and I realized I had been on the right course all along and I was eastbound again.
Along the way I passed through the town of Batson. There is not much to Batson. The population is less than 1300 and I don't think I saw so much as a Dairy Queen. But there is a memorial to the veterans out on the edge of town.
Heading east I came to Sour Lake. Being a native I should have known this, and maybe I had heard it sometime back, but according to the water tower Sour Lake is the birthplace of a little oil company named Texaco.
Following the road signs to Beaumont lead to another surprise. Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic church in China (of course there is a China Texas!). This church, built around 1935, is one of those special and unexpected sights to be found all over Texas. The architecture is unique and reminds me of a small French country church with some Spanish mission styling thrown in. You have to see it to believe it.
There is an outside pathway with the stations of the cross set along its length and a shrine that I assume is a replica of the grotto in Lourdes.
Since I had no map with me, I was dependent on the copy of Google Maps on my phone to find the place I was looking for. I also knew that it was close to the Jefferson Country courthouse. I found the courthouse.
I even have the picture to prove it.
It took a while and once I found it there was no place to park any closer than the VFW about a block away but I found it.
I tend to think a lot of things were different back then...or at least I hope they were.
Monuments like this do not seem to have much meaning anymore. In fact a stop at the MLK memorial on the way out of town showed that there was not much more traffic there. The only family at the MLK memorial in Beaumont, on MLK day, were tourists.
Why is it that people outside our country can see the value and importance of our heritage better than we can? Why do we focus on the frailties and failings of the great men and women who have shaped this country rather than the ideals and visions that they championed? Especially, when those ideals and visions have made not only the United States but the entire world a better place? This country has been, and can still be, the shining light on a hill but not as long as we devalue our own heritage and our own values.
As I turned west on Interstate 10 these were the sorts of thoughts and questions that occupied my conscious brain as my unconscious kept the bike on the road and out of the way of the eighteen wheelers doing their level best to break the sound barrier. I wish I could say that some great inspiration came to me but nothing did.
Maybe I just need a sunny, warm day to break the melancholy. Then again, maybe I should spend a little more time thinking about these things.
Maybe we all should...