Goodbye Pete & Nip’s Art (Oct 29th)

Pete was busy packing when I got up this morning. Sadly, it was time for him to return to his normal life. On the up side, this was a good opportunity for me to get a closer look at how his gear is set up. The backpack panniers are a nice touch.

Surprisingly, Pete uses a bike to tow his bike. I’d seen pictures of things like this before, but I’d never gotten an up close and personal look. Nip helped him load the dirt bike onto the trailer.

Of course, I had the usual questions. How does it handle? What kind of gas mileage do you get towing that thing? What happens if you need to stop? He seemed pretty happy with his setup. It handles decently, though the gas mileage while towing left much to be desired. Braking was assisted with this:

He had some unique solutions to problems on the road. My favorite was probably his SAE-powered electric thermos.

He had a number of switches to control power to his accessories, a bit clunky looking, but beats the hell out of an accidentally-dead battery!

On the dirt bike, his navigation was old school, a scrolling paper roll with directions.

With the last of Pete’s stuff attached to his bikes, I gathered them both together for a picture. Thanks for a great time guys! I learned a LOT!

Bye Pete! Ride safe!

With Pete gone, I had to figure out what to do with the rest of my day. I decided to catch up with the internet. My plans were in the air. I started thinking about Rob’s recommendation that I visit Saline Valley if I ever got the chance, and did some research on the current road conditions. A friend of mine, who wanted to climb Mount Whitney with me, wouldn’t be ready for another week, so I had time to kill. Could I do it?

Well, why the hell not? It couldn’t possibly be worse than the last few days…


I walked back to Nip’s place, grabbed my dirty clothes, and visited a laundromat nearby. I did more research and downloaded maps. Nip visited for a bit and we talked about Saline Valley, and he agreed that it was a great place and was definitely worth visiting, although he seemed concerned about me doing it solo. He’d spent a winter there once, years ago.

Eventually I wandered back to Nip’s, put my clothes away, and found him railing away at his drums in time to the radio. We chatted for a bit. “Have you ever sat at a drum kit?” “No, not really…” “I only ask because nobody ever let me sit at one and it took me buying one for myself to find out I liked it.” I sat down, and he gave me the basics. “Hit the big drum with your foot, then hit one of the smaller drums with your hand. It’s simple. Foot, hand, foot, hand. The basic rhythm was indeed easy, but when I tried to bring my other hand into it, the foot would falter. It felt like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. Takes practice, I guess. Nip got on another set of drums (bongos?) and played along. We had fun.

Pete had mentioned that if I got the opportunity, I should ask Nip to see his portfolio, as he was once a professional animator. I worked up the courage to ask, and he laid it out on a table for me. I’ll admit surprise at what I saw.

He had a long and interesting career in animation, working on many of the shows that I had watched growing up.

It was a bit surreal. His resumé was impressive, he’d worked on everything from She-Ra to Scooby-Doo. His personal art was fantastic as well, but I feel that it might be an invasion of privacy to post it publically.

I made my way back to the garage and asked him about his art. “I was another person then.” His brows furrowed and he seemed a bit sad. He described how he used to want to make a difference with cartoons, but eventually was disillusioned by the industry. We spoke about love lost, greed in the business, politics and government. I found this in his portfolio too:

He seemed to be happy with the new life he’d built after he abandoned animation. He owns his house, has few bills, and lives in peace in a beautiful, small town. It seems such a shame that people can be chewed up and spat out by something they enjoy. “If you do go to Saline Valley, I did the art on the bathroom walls. You know, if you’re interested.” We bid each other goodnight.

I fell asleep with plans to head to Saline Valley the next day.

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