Ralph Couey

Ralph Couey
Photo by Darryl Cannon, Powerhead Productions

About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Favorite Rides: Fort Valley Loop

Copyright © 2013 by Ralph Couey
Maps from Microsoft Streets and Trips,
and Google Maps
 
 
160 miles
3 hours
US29, US211, US11, Edinburg Gap Rd., Ft. Valley Rd., VA55, VA626.
 
This enjoyable jaunt takes in some beautiful Virginia countryside with a couple of history lessons thrown in.
 
This run starts in the parking lot of the Manassas National Battlefield Park visitors center.  This large park is the site of two major engagements during the Civil War.  In July 1861, public pressure was strong for a march to Richmond, the Confederate capital, to quickly end the war.  Union Commander Irvin McDowell pleaded for more time to train his very green troops and officers, but the political pressure overcame his objections and he was forced into battle. 
 
It was expected, but the public at least, to be an easy victory.  People from Washington came out with baskets to picnic on the battlefield and watch the fight.  But it turned into a bloody rout.  McDowell's orders were poorly executed by his untrained officers and after a heroic stand by an unknown VMI Colonel named Thomas Jackson, hereafter known as "Stonewall," the Union troops were routed.  Throwing aside their weapons the fled for Washington, along with the terrified civilians.
 
A little over a year later, in August 1862, Robert E. Lee was on the offensive.  He sent Jackson's Corps on a wide flanking march to capture the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction.  After two inconclusive engagements, Jackson dug in on a ridge.  Convinced he had Stonewall trapped, Union Commander John Pope committed most of his troops on a direct assault against Jackson.  Unknown to Pope, however, another corps of Southern troops under James Longstreet broke through at Thoroughfare Gap, marched to the battlefield and hit Pope's forces in a massive flanking attack.  Pope's army was crushed, the remnants sent into retreat.  This time, the Union troops didn't flee all the way to Washington, but collected themselves at Centreville.  It was a disastrous defeat just the same.
 
Leaving the visitor's center, turn left on Sudley Road and go up to the US29 intersection, by the Stone House.  Turn left and head west.  After about 18 miles, you'll have to navigate some heavy traffic through Warrenton.  Look for the turnoff to US 211 and take it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Favorite Rides: Southwest Sojourn


 
Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
 
Alamogordo, New Mexico to Tombstone, Arizona
330 miles, about 6 hours
US70, I-10, NM80, AZ80
 
There's something special about the Southwest.  It's hard for people from the more forested regions of the United States to see the inherent beauty within the harsh and unforgiving terrain of the desert.
 
This ride starts in the city of Alamogordo, New Mexico, nestled at the foot of the Sacramento Mountains.  To the west lies the Tularosa Basin which humans inhabited some 11,000 years ago. The city was established in 1898 when the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad extended their line into the area.  The name, Alamogordo, which means "large cottonwood," was inspired by the presence of a grove of the hardy trees.  From the 1940s on, Holloman Air Force Base was the site of aerospace work, including rocket sleds and high-altitude balloon flights.  The two chimpanzees who flew in space, Ham and Enos, were trained here.  That tradition carries on with the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
 
Heading west on US70, you cross the basin and the Rio Grand Rift.  To the north, the forbidding desert called Jornada del Muerto, Journey of the Dead, points your attention to the Trinity site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated.
 

Favorite Rides: The Winelander Run

Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
 
For six great years, I hosted a two day motorcycle ride which I called "The Winelander Run."  The route started in Kingdom City, MO and ran through Fulton, Columbia, Rocheport, Jefferson City, Hermann, and ending up in Hannibal on Sunday. It was a great run, and a great weekend with fun had by all who attended.  This was the Ride Brief I provided to the riders before we started.
 
Winelander Run
Welcome to the Annual Winelander Run!  I am very happy to have you along today and hope your ride will be enjoyable.  First, a few rules for safety and fun enhancement:
 
1.  Fill your tank before the ride starts and at all designated fuel stops.
2. When possible, use the approved staggered method of riding.  Don’t ride directly behind the bike in front of you.  On twisty roads, however, stretch the spacing out and use as much as the road as you need.   
3.  No passing. That is, maintain your position in the group through out the ride.
4.  After the ride has started, please don’t leave the group unless you suffer a breakdown or a medical problem.
5. Each person on the ride is responsible for the rider behind him when making turns.  If you have lost sight of the rider in front of you, continue straight ahead, assuming that he will wait for you at the next turn or change in route number.
6.  While in the curves, ride at a pace that is comfortable for you. When you come out of a curve, use the straightaway to catch up.
7. Do not tailgate.  However, in congested areas, keep the formation tightened up and staggered as much as you safely can as you approach traffic signals so that the group moves through the light as a unit.
 
Now a few notes about the route.
 
1.  This is “critter country” that we’re riding through.  We shouldn’t see many deer during the day, but there are plenty of dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, etc., so be alert.  Also, the great Missouri turtle migration starts about this time, so watch for little helmets with legs and avoid them.
2.  There are places where you will see me slow down a bit.  Some are curves where there is always a spray of gravel around.  There are other places where I have often seen deer cross in the past, so if you see me slow down and begin to scan the roadsides, there’s a good reason.
3.  If you need to stop for gas or to pump bilges (an old Navy term) give three long beeps on your horn and I’ll pull over at the next available spot.  We will take breaks about every 60 minutes or so.  The travel distance to Hermann on this route should be about 190 miles.   I have scheduled the fuel stops within a mileage range that should not present a problem.  
 
 Here’s the route for Saturday (220 miles, 5 hours):