Helmet Time

While researching for a blog topic this month, I spent some time looking back at all the past articles we’ve written. Do you know we’ve been writing and sending out these newsletters for almost five years? Five years! That’s a lot of material on the same general topic of sustainable home building. But -- as Monty Python would say – now for something completely different.

Three weeks ago, I took a ride out to Big Bend to enjoy the spring weather, see some bluebonnets, ride some roads I’d never ridden, and enjoy some helmet time. The BMW R1200GS adventure touring motorcycle I ride attracts a lot of attention. On one saddlebag, there’s a map of the United States, a map of Canada on the other -- you know, the kind of decal you can get at Camper World. I’m filling in the states and provinces with stickers of places where I’ve ridden a motorcycle. Yes, I tell people, my goal is to fill them all in. Seventeen more states to go. Another attention getter could be the fact that I’m usually loaded down with all my camping gear. Everyone has a motorcycle story and wants to share.

When I stopped for a break in Harper, Texas, a young man asked lots of questions about my bike. He was seeking a recommendation for a beginner motorcycle. Since I’d been a motorcycle safety instructor for five years, I was able to share what I’d learned. At one point, he asked how long I’d had been riding. “Do you mean today, or in my life time?” I said. “Lifetime,” he said. I had to stop and think for a minute. “Forty years,” I told him. Yeah, I’m that old. Then I had to admit that if I were to count riding a minibike at age 10, then it would be 50 years of riding.

After I got back on the road, the young man’s question stuck in my mind, and I began to think about why I ride.

No, I’m not going to get on my soap box about riding because it’s environmentally friendly and because I get great gas mileage. I ride because it’s fun. The closest thing to flying I can experience. I go places I would never go in a truck, and I meet lots of great people. But the number one reason I ride is helmet time. I own a t-shirt that says, “You will never see a motorcycle parked in front of a psychologist’s office.”

There’s not much that will clear your mind quicker that doing 80 miles per hour headed west on IH-10 on a motorcycle. With a clear head, I can focus on the important things. I can make plans. I can create. I can dream. I know -- you’re thinking I should be focused on the road and what I’m doing. Trust me I am. I am way more focused on the task at hand on a motorcycle than I ever am behind the wheel of a truck. But with that focus comes a type of Zen moment that truly allows my mind to explore.

During the summer of 2002, I took a three-week motorcycle trip to Canada. During that trip I created Solluna Builders in my mind. I planned what I would build, where I would be located, who would be involved, and how I would market the business. Much of that planning has come to fruition.

Just before I left on my recent trip to Big Bend, I was given the challenge of thinking about another phase Solluna Builders will be entering.

For years, we've tried to be a leader in the local business industry. We offer pre-construction services instead of competitive bidding. We’re a design/build firm instead of just a general contractor. We offer consulting services to developers, to homeowners looking to renovate, and to clients wanting to build new homes. We offer consulting, public speaking, and training to other sectors within our industry. We participate in Home Builders Association of Greater Austin Custom Builders Council and in the Hays County Chapter of the Greater Austin Home Builders Association. So what does all this mean?

Today is Earth Day. Even if you don’t believe in manmade climate change, green building, or recycling, today should be the day we at least take the time to stop and look at what we are doing to Mother Earth.

At Solluna Builders, our core business has always been based in building green, sustainable, healthy, energy-efficient homes.

In 1996, singer-songwriter Steve Forbert recorded a song titled Good Planets Are Hard To Find. Planet Earth the only planet we have. We have to ask: Can we continue down this path of using up resources without replenishment? Can we expect our planet to keep absorbing our waste? Can we keep ignoring a better way to do things just so a few people can make more money?

My helmet time gives me time to think about why we build the way we build.

When do you take the time to think about Mother Earth?

I’ll leave you with the words of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.”