First chapter...First attempt

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  1. #1

    First chapter...First attempt

    Sorry if I have posted this incorrectly somewhere else on the site. This is my first time posting. Any feedback would be [email protected] { font-family: "Arial"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }
    Chapter 1

    Tray rolled his Yamaha motorcycle over to the stand and stepped down firmly on the lift. The bike lifted into the air just enough so that each tire was a few inches off the ground. He already had a drop cloth spread out with all the tools he needed for the oil change. Tray had learned to do all of the maintenance on his own bike; something his dad had taught him over the years. Almost every weekend between the months of October and May, when the Southern California deserts had cooled, Tray and his dad would load up the pick-up truck with their bikes and head out to the desert or the local motocross track to do what Tray loved the most. The rule was that if Tray wanted to ride, he would have to learn how to maintain his bike and clean it after every ride. Tray’s dad was big on this and also believed that anyone who was going to do a long distance ride on a motorcycle must have enough knowledge to perform basic repairs. Tray didn’t mind doing the maintenance on his bike; it gave him a sense of independence.
    “Dad, can you hand me the oil pan?”
    Tray’s dad stopped working on his own motorcycle, brought the oil pan over and slid it under Tray’s bike.
    “Here you go Tray. Make sure you don’t strip the bolt on the oil plug.”
    Tray and his Dad spent most of their spare time in the ohana. That is what Tray’s dad called the old garage where they worked on their motorcycles because it reminded him of the small houses built for elderly family members in Hawaii, enabling the elderly to remain independent, yet near the family.
    Tray’s house had been built in the late 1940s when most homes had only a one car garage. The garages were not connected to the house in those days like they are now, they were detached from the house and were used as a workshop or storage shed. Most people in those days were more self reliant than they are now. They did most of their own auto repairs, mowed their own lawns and painted their homes. Keeping their cars inside the garage was not as much a priority as having a shelter for the necessary tools for daily life. Cars were generally parked on the driveway. Tray’s parents had in recent years built a two-car garage, but wanted to keep the old garage as a place where Tray could learn to work on things and hang out with his friends.
    Tray’s backyard looked like a tropical paradise. There were palms, tropical plants, and a small waterfall that flowed into a koi pond. The earth in the yard was black from the volcanic topsoil and the plants his parents planted, thrived. A narrow gravel path meandered through the garden and led to the north-east corner of the yard. The ohana looked more like a little beach cottage than it did a garage, from the outside. Small windows swung outward from the top and were propped open at the bottom, letting in the fresh air. The windows were sparkly clean and the blue sky reflected on them like mirrors. Over the black, Dutch door was a hand painted sign that read,
    “E komo mai”, a traditional Hawaiian greeting that translates to “Come inside, the house is yours”. The smell of gardenia and plumeria filled the air and the local birds were singing away, busy building their new nests. Tray’s dad hung bird-houses in the palms every spring for the birds.
    Upon entering the Ohana it looked much more spacious than what was revealed from the outside. It had a modern roll-up garage door that when opened looked out to a long driveway that ran beside the house and down to the street. The ohana had become a place that Tray loved to hang out with his friends. There was a TV mounted to the wall, a stereo in the cabinet, and the original 1940s workbench where the tools were kept. There was a big L shaped sofa and an old rectangle wood table that was used to kick their feet up on, look at maps or whatever. The ohana flowed with action and the two were happy watching old movies like Endless Summer, Dust to Glory or listening to music while they repaired their surfboards, tuned up their snowboards or maintained their motorcycles.
    Tray had done the oil changes on his bike so many times that he could do it with his eyes shut and he knew exactly how much pressure to turn the wrench so it would not strip the bolt. First, he pulled on a pair of latex gloves from a box in the cabinet. He removed the oil filler cap and placed it on a clean towel. Then he placed the oil pan under his motor and removed the drain plug and then another drain plug. The old oil poured out from under the bike and into the pan. The dark color of the oil told the story of an engine that had worked hard on recent rides to the track and open desert.
    After removing each piece he would carefully wipe it off and place it on the clean towel. Next he removed the oil filter and the oil screen. Tray sprayed them both with contact cleaner until they were shiny clean and placed them along side the other items on the towel. Tray then reversed the process and replaced all of the parts, applying a little fresh oil to each bolt. He turned the wrench slowly, with just the right amount of pressure, being careful not to strip any of the bolts. Tray opened up a new container of oil and poured it into a small red funnel that was inserted into the oil filler hole. The oil looked like pure honey and it made Tray feel good to give back to his motorcycle that sweet oil for all of the hard work it had done for him.
    After Tray finished changing the oil he began to change the radiator fluid. It would be very important to have fresh radiator fluid for this trip - the Baja desert could over heat and burn up a motor in no time. Once again, following the maintenance steps that Tray had learned, he finished replacing the radiator fluid in record time, managing to keep his hands, tools, and the floor of the ohana free of any dirt or fluids. Tray’s dad always liked the work shop to be neat and organized and Tray had learned to be the same way. He looked over at his dad working on his bike and felt a sense of pride that he too could take care of his own motorcycle.
    Tray wondered to himself how he was going to be able to pack all of the gear he needed for the trip on to his bike. He had been riding for several years, but had never needed to carry gear with him, other than what fit into his camelback. His dad had made a list of stuff that they would need and the list looked pretty long. They were going to be sleeping in the open desert 90% of the time and needed to make sure they had enough protection from the elements. Each of them would carry their own gear so that if they were to become separated, each of them could survive on their own.
    Tray went over to the wall of the ohana where his dad had a corkboard on the wall and removed the list.
    “Let’s see here”, said Tray.
    “We are going to need:
    A tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, micro stove, 3 gas canisters, a titanium pot, matches, a compass…”
    Wow, he thought to himself, this is only part of the list.
    Tray reached back up to the corkboard and pinned the list back to the board. Tray began to spin his rear wheel slowly while spraying his chain with a waxy lubricant. He ran his hands over the chain as it moved to check for any irregularities in the chain and then inspected the chain’s tension. The week before Tray and his father had adjusted the valves, replaced the brake pads, and tightened up all the bolts on their motorcycles. Everything looked to be in perfect order and they were prepared for the 1600 mile round trip to the tip of Baja.
    Mexico had always been a part of Tray’s life indirectly. His father had spoken about Mexico many times throughout the years and told Tray of the experiences that he had there. His father had worked on a fishing boat in Cabo San Lucas in his youth. He told Tray stories of fishing for blue marlin, roosterfish and tuna in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Tray’s dad had once described to him the sights and sounds of the bay in Cabo San Lucas at night. The boat that he worked on was anchored directly in front of the Hacienda Hotel, not more than one hundred yards from shore. The nights were warm and soft breezes blew, blending the fresh salt air with that of the arid desert. Every star was illuminated making the entire sky look like a blanket of twinkling lights. You could faintly hear the sounds of people talking and laughing in town and the momentary applause after the mariachi band played a popular tune for the hotel guests.
    The bay was almost completely still; the only thing moving were the lights reflecting - dancing - swaying on the surface of the calm water from the hotel’s dim lanterns. In the early morning hours when all the fishing stories had been told and the Giggling Marlin closed its doors, the water taxis would return crews and tourists back to their boats. As the taxis passed, and the sound of the engine faded into the darkness, their small wakes would lap upon the shore in a rhythmic pattern, until they too, faded away.
    Trays father told him about the great surf spots that existed all along the Baja peninsula and how he would take the dingy early in the morning to the best surf spots, set the anchor outside from where the waves broke and paddle into perfect waves by himself. On one evening he was surfing all alone at a spot called Monuments. The sun was setting over the Pacific while a full moon rose up over the desert behind him. He could see a whale breaching some 200 yards off-shore. A seal was only 20 feet from him feeding on mackerel, throwing them into the air and catching them in his mouth as they fell back to the sea. The water was warm and clear and the air was cooling down as the sun set. This was the moment Tray’s father fell in love with Mexico. He has always used that one moment to express what he saw as paradise.
    Tray’s dad climbed on top of his bike to see if he had adjusted his handlebars in the correct position. He was a big guy and looked even bigger on his bike. He rode the same bike as Tray, but it was the larger Yamaha WR450F. Tray’s dad had been riding for many years and had become a very good rider, having ridden every desert and mountain area in California. When his dad was not much older than Tray, he had ridden a DR650 enduro from Southern California to Mainland Mexico, alone. Tray’s dad was an adventurer of sorts and Tray looked up to him for that. He had been to a lot of places around the world, sometimes with friends, but often times when he could not find a fellow adventurer, he would go it alone. Tray was getting excited! He was about to ride his motorcycle into another country with just he and his dad.
    “Tray, hand me the maps. We need to choose the maps that we want to bring.” Tray grabbed the maps that were rolled up in a rubber band on the workbench. He walked over to the table, handed his dad the maps and sat down on the sofa beside him.
    “Which route do you want to take Tray?” he asked as he spread his forearms outward over the map to keep it open.
    “I think we should work our way southward along the Pacific side and come up the Sea of Cortez on our return to the North”.
    The Baja Peninsula is surrounded by the cooler currents and onshore winds of the Pacific Ocean on its West coast and by the warm, tranquil Sea of Cortez on its East coast. The Pacific Ocean is deep blue with white waters trimming its shores, while the Sea of Cortez has more shades of blue and green than you one could ever imagine existed. Baja has mountains with pine trees, uninhabitable deserts, beautiful valleys, lagoons and some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.
    Baja may look like it lacks life because it is so barren, but it has an abundance of flora and fauna with its oceans full of life. Crabs, lobster, squid, shellfish, tuna, roosterfish, dorado, bottlenose dolphin, whales and the list goes on. The land teems with desert snakes, tarantulas, badgers, pumas, burros, ring tailed cats, bobcats, coyote and foxes to name a few. The most common plant in Baja is the cactus.
    “Well Tray, it is all incredible so that plan is as good as any.” With that Tray’s dad took out a sharpie and began plotting their journey on the Baja California map.
    “We will enter here from the San Diego/Tijuana border crossing and work our way down the Trans- peninsular Hwy. Once we get down to Ensenada we will take to the off road and that is where the journey will really begin.” Tray could not believe that they were really going to do it. He was going to actually ride his own motorcycle 1600 miles and for the first time in a foreign country. He kept trying to imagine what the people would be like. Will it be anything like what his dad had said or would it be a completely different experience for him? He could not wait to start up his bike and cross that border!
    “Guys, dinner is ready” Tray’s mom yelled from the open door to the backyard.
    “Come on buddy, you know how mom gets if we let dinner get cold.” Tray’s mom made his favorite dinner tonight since he would not get a home cooked meal for the next two weeks. Tray loved his mom’s typical Dominican dish of Pollo Guisado, arroz y frijoles. In the Dominican Republic, where Tray’s mom was born, they called it “La Bandera”. It consisted of chicken, rice and beans, but it is flavored with sofrito which is like a Caribbean secret sauce. Sofrito is a mixture of cilantro, onion, green pepper, garlic, lime and oregano all blended into a green paste and it makes regular food taste amazing.
    Tray’s dad met his mother while on a surf trip to the Dominican Republic and they had been together ever since. Tray had learned the customs and traditions of the Dominican Republic and even though his Spanish was not great, he understood quite a bit and could speak a little when he needed to. Tray’s mom encouraged him to use this trip as an opportunity to practice his Spanish. She was constantly speaking to him in Spanish so that he would have the foundations of her native language. She told her son that learning a language was the key to understanding another culture and its people.
    Tray’s mom worried about their trip to Mexico. In recent years she was continually hearing on Spanish news stations that many people were being killed in Mexico daily. Latin America has witnessed many violent moments in its history, but the current trouble in Mexico was spiraling out of control. She prayed that Tray’s dad would take good care of him and make sure they both made it home safely.
    “Tray, would you like more dinner, mi amor?”
    “Just more chicken, mom.”
    Trays mom brought over to the table a pot with a lid on it that was dripping on the inside from the steam. Tray always loved the smell that escaped the pot when his mom removed the lid. All that vapor of chicken seasoned in sofrito smelled so good.
    “That is enough, thank you mom”.
    But Tray’s mom always had one more spoonful for him even after he said stop. Tray was about to contest the last spoonful when he suddenly realized, he better enjoy this last home cooked meal.
    After Tray and his father were done eating they returned to the ohana to finish preparing for their departure the next day. Tray gave his bike one last wiping down with a soft, dry cloth and checked that no oil was leaking from his drain bolt. Tray had a habit of going over everything two or three times to insure that things were in perfect order. He pushed down on the stand lever, lowering his wheels back to the ground and rolled his bike over to the area where he parked his motorcycle. He leaned it gently against the wall and retrieved his bike stand, placed it under the skid plate and stepped back on the stand lever. He was done working on his motorcycle and now all that was left to do was pack his gear. Tray looked up on the wall where there was an old shop clock. It was 3:35 PM. He figured it would take him a couple hours to finish packing all of his gear and get it strapped to his bike. He and his dad had already done a test run on the packing and knew that all the gear would fit into their packs. He calculated that if he could finish packing in two hours, he would have time to take a shower, watch a little TV and get to bed early. He was going to set his alarm for 5:00 AM. Even though his dad was getting up at 5:45 Tray wanted to have a little extra time so he would not be rushed in the morning.
    As he lay in bed thinking about the adventure to come, he suddenly felt a little nervous. He had been riding long enough to be a good rider, but riding in another country and on roads where there would be cars was going to be really different. He hoped that they would not have any problems with their bikes. He switched on the TV and turned to his favorite channel, Fuel TV. Just by chance, the program that was on was a documentary about ten friends riding their motorcycles to the tip of Baja. Tray was no longer worried about anything. He began to drift off to sleep, picturing himself with his throttle wide open and the sun at his back, riding his motorcycle through the Baja desert.

  2. #2
    Member Once_more's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Olympia, WA

    Congratulations on posting your first chapter. I find it a very nerve-wracking process to share my work and open up to criticism. I have a few suggestions and a few comments for you.

    Suggestions: put spaces between your paragraphs. Large blocks of text are very difficult to read. In the same vein you have several paragraphs that are very long. Not that the information in them isn't contextually valid, there's just a lot going on. For example
    Mexico had always been a part of Tray’s life indirectly. His father had spoken about Mexico many times throughout the years and told Tray of the experiences that he had there. His father had worked on a fishing boat in Cabo San Lucas in his youth. He told Tray stories of fishing for blue marlin, roosterfish and tuna in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Tray’s dad had once described to him the sights and sounds of the bay in Cabo San Lucas at night. The boat that he worked on was anchored directly in front of the Hacienda Hotel, not more than one hundred yards from shore. The nights were warm and soft breezes blew, blending the fresh salt air with that of the arid desert. Every star was illuminated making the entire sky look like a blanket of twinkling lights. You could faintly hear the sounds of people talking and laughing in town and the momentary applause after the mariachi band played a popular tune for the hotel guests.
    On the positive: It is obvious that you are well versed on the mechanical workings of motorcycles and on dirt bike genre in particular. You've gone to the trouble of providing a lot of details and incorporating the importance of responsible maintenance. You have introduced enough of the basic story to give the reader a curiosity of what will occur.

    On the negative side: Maybe I missed it, but the reason for WHY Tray and his Dad are taking this trip never comes up. You go to a lot of trouble to describe the garage they are working in, but the sentence structure feels clunky and difficult to read. This is a continual theme through your writing. It feels like the basic story - a boy and his dad take a motorcycle trip into the baja desert - is a good one, but you have so much else going on, so many other details that I wondered if the author was trying to give me lessons on the art of motorcycle maintenance.

    Details are great, when they build the story. You have thrown out a lot of factual information that seems to have to relevance on the fiction you are writing.

    But as I said, I think you have the bare bones of a good story and hope that this post will help you edit for your next draft.

    Good Luck!


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