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Delaware

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Since I was close I decided to stay the night in York Pennsylvania and visit the Harley Davidson York operations where they assembled my CVO street glide in 2009. What, no cameras or phones allowed inside? Guess they are afraid the competition will learn something. Since no pictures allowed and tours had to be scheduled I elected to take a few pics from the outside and buy the shirt.

york operationsyork operations 1

Now deep into Pennsylvania and when on the back roads I am seeing manure on the roadways, it did not take me long to figure out where it was coming from.

amishWhere is the Amish Mafia? I am in Lancaster County where the TV show was based but no signs of the dickhead Eli. Easy to tell which farms are Amish with the clothes hanging on clothes lines. They also have huge barns and huge gardens with most having a few goats, cows and chickens hanging around. All are very neat in appearance.

tidy farmtidy farms

Have to ride slow on these hills, it will wake you right up coming over the top of a rise and seeing a slow moving horse drawn cart in the middle of the road. I gave them plenty of right of way but the locals seem to enjoy seeing how close they can get to them and how fast they could pass them, kind of like how bikers handle the  pedal heads in and around Boulder where I live.

I better figure out how to do Delaware since I will not be this close again so back into Maryland and some backroads to Delaware when I came across this old church and community.

rock creek preb churchNow that is an old church, yet looks somewhat modern.

rock creek chu rock creek church

Skirting around Philadelphia to Delaware was a trick but I was able to find back roads and a laid back enjoyable ride.

delaware

Found a spot on map that looked interesting and can now mark Delaware off the 48 state list. Really enjoyed the time spent in this area around Delaware City.

central hotel delaware canal harbor delware city streetWell from here, I am not sure where I am headed, but I am on my way.

where im going

Get out of jail free card

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

“Hey Bruce, I think I am close, give me some directions.”

“Just go straight from where you are at about 50 miles and look for the yellow 39 flattie in the front yard and the downed trees.”

Downed trees, wasn’t sure what he meant by that but oh well go with it. I am in central Maryland now and the buildings show architecture from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s mixed with new mini malls all on narrow roads. The roads were built for horse carriages and often the buildings consisting of barns and carriage houses were a foot of the road now trying to carry automobiles.  Following the route through the tidy towns is anything but straight and the route signs show up at the corners where you need to turn and not a block before so I am constantly going around the block to get back on track.

cool building

I know Bruce said I was only 45 minutes away but he doesn’t know me that well and I learn later that 45 minutes to Bruce is an hour and half to most people and 2-3 hours for me. There is a lot to see in this area.

delaware house

Bruce and I met on line through one of the many Motorcycle circles I am involved in. He and a buddy of his were looking for a spare motor for a 1930-36 Harley to use on the 2014 Cannonball Endurance run which is a rally of over a 100 pre 1936 motorcycles going from Daytona Beach Florida to Tacoma Washington. The endurance run now on its 3rd rally is 4300 miles in 17 days and something I would love to do myself but timing,  money  and the limit of 100 riders with many on a waiting list would keep me from doing this year. I had a spare 1930 Harley motor and though this would be a great way to be part of the rally so on line I offered up the motor. One thing lead to another and now here I am in Maryland about to meet Bruce for the first time. Much more on the Cannonball Rally to come in later posts so stay tuned.

A tornado in Maryland? I found the downed trees in Bruce’s yard and the yellow 39 ULH Harley Flattie

1939 ULH HD Flattie

1939 ULH HD Flattie

trees down in bruce yardLuckily for Bruce they blew over away from his house and into the street but you can see the neighbor across the street wasn’t so lucky.

“I got some stuff lined up if you want to do it, I got a friend with some old bikes, too late to go towards DC to my shop or we could go to this place near DC where I got  friend in a band playing or we could go see some other bikes at this bar and then we could go to DC or we could just hang around here. Have you ate yet?”

Wow that was a lot real quick for my mind to comprehend. In the middle of all this conversation Bruce fired up the yellow 37 flattie on one kick and rode around back to the garage and the he rolled out the 58 pan police bike and started it up on two kicks.

” Tomorrow we got this birthday run with about 75 guys going, you won’t be disappointed, it is a real fun time. it a friend of mine’s birthday party and we started going to her house every year to celebrate and it just kind of turned into a annual run, it is a lot of fun.” During all of this Bruce sorted tools on the bench, rolled some more motorcycles around. “I know I got a float for a linkert around here someplace, it’s all I need to finish this 55 panhead, I tested this one and it is bad.”

1955 Panhead

1955 Panhead

By this time my head is rolling trying to keep up. ‘ Hey Bruce slow down, I am game for anything, but no I haven’t ate yet and I need to find a motel.”

“Oh hell no, I got an empty room and I already blew up a couple of air mattresses, it’s only me and my daughter here so you got your own bathroom and everything. It’s up to you.” Bruce showed me the room and the secret combo to the shop and lights in case I wanted to do some maintenance on my bike. How could I turn this down, I get to sleep with motorcycle parts, so I threw my sleeping bag down on the mattresses and said “Let’s go”

“Ok let me call PeeWee and see if he is around, he has some really cool old bikes and he has one I want and been trying to deal on. Here, load up my saddlebags with some beer and see if we can soften him up enough to deal, plus he is just a cool guy.” “Hello PeeWee, hey there this guy who loaned us a motor for the cannonball all the way from Colorado and we’re bring some brew and coming to see you.”

” Follow me” So Bruce fired up his only push button bike as he called it, a 67 shovel head. I could tell as soon as it fired up, it wasn’t just any old 67 shovel, it had spunk and bark and I would soon find out that following Bruce took all my fancy dancy new 110 cubic inch Street Glide could do. Not only did Bruce have a little Hot Rod, he could ride like the wind and ride he did counter steering around every curve of which there were many. We passed everything, broke the speed limit by at least 20 mph on every road. We hauled ass down the interstate then exited into a two lane that wound around the country club neighborhood passing fancy cars when there was the slightest opening and then over a hill, through a valley, through a forest and onto a one lane road but had two lane traffic and all of sudden we pulled into a driveway with a couple of old barns. Would have been nice to have looked around during the ride but if I ever lost sight of the back of Bruce’s bike, I would have been so lost I could have never found my way out.  We were at PeeWee’s.

“Hey PeeWee this is Cole.” Bruce started tossing beers out of his saddle bags, they were good and shook up. They opened theirs with no problem but when I opened mine it was a geyser! I felt so stupid. “Hey is there a trick to this or something!” Then I discovered that mine was not only shook up but was frozen causing the geyser of beer now spewing all over PeeWee’s shop. Showing them it was frozen allowed me to save face, hey the kid from Colorado knows how to open a shook up beer but nobody can open a frozen shook up beer without a geyser. PeeWee was a little cold towards me and I though it was because of the beer spewing episode.

“Hey Cole is riding all 48 states and he has a couple of panheads and some other bikes and some kind of really old….. Hey Cole what is that really old thing you have?” All of a sudden PeeWee warmed up a little. ” It’s a 1910 to 1912 American Imperial, here is a picture of it.’ I soon found out why PeeWee might be a little cold to strangers, he has to be with the stash and quality of the old bikes he has hidden away. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when he opened the barn doors. Pans, knuckles, flatties, from 1909 to 1965 and a couple of in lines and an extremely rare 1909 Excelsior .

very rare 1909

The bullshit was soon flying between Bruce and PeeWee and I was checking out all the bikes, asking dumb questions and listening intently to them and learning.  Somehow the conversation came up of the all original 63 panhead PeeWee’s wife found on Craigslist with only 3600 miles and they were joking that it even still had the original air in the original tires. As I looked around I didn’t see any 63 pan? “Oh it is in this other garage over here.” PeeWee opened the other garage and holy shit more bikes!

low mile panlow mile pan1

It was now dark and time to leave. “Bruce, does PeeWee have a last name?” Bruce thought about it for a few minutes. “You know, I have known PeeWee probably about 25 years and I don’t think he has a last name. Follow me.” Off we went only this time it wasn’t the same way we came in. Bruce was taking me to a bar with a grill so I could eat and the road was curvy, hilly and forested, damn please don’t let there be any deer. We were less than 20 miles from Washington DC and it was the deepest darkest forest I have ever been in. It was bike night at the bar and we rolled right up front and parked, Bruce walked in like he owned the place.  “Hey Bruce when you guys all ride together do they ever let you lead?”

Bruce had told me that he never out rode his brakes and I already had learned that he spends a lot of time hand fitting his brake shoes with his drums so he had excellent brakes for such old iron that he rode. He took it a little slower going back to the house, I think on my account. I slept like a log amongst the motorcycle engines, frames and tins in the room with me. The smell of cosmoline, motor oil and high test regular gasoline filled my dreams.

“I just got a call from my friend, the birthday run is off. My friend had a friend that got killed o a motorcycle last night and she is destroyed so the run is off.” I let that sink in while Bruce started making phone calls to others letting them know. Since he let his phone get wet the day before it would not come off speaker now so I got to hear all the phone calls. On the last call they were discussing what they were going to do now instead of the birthday run when his friend said he was thinking about going to the antique motorcycle auction in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. That caught my ear and was something I was interested in. “Hey Bruce, how far is Harrisburg?” Bruce thought about it for a bit, looked at his watch and said 90 miles, if we leave now we could get there before the first bike rolled across the block in an hour. I did some quick math in my head….. Bruce pushed in the 58 panhead police bike and pulled out a push button bike. Hey Bruce, I know that is a 58 but why do you have 59-60 tanks? “Cuz I hate the cheap plastic 57 and 58 tank emblems and I like the metal 59-60 emblems better.” I thought about how much money I recently spent on the cheap plastic 58 emblems for my 58 pan.

58 with 59 tanks‘Hey Bruce, didn’t you say it was about 90 miles to Harrisburg and the auction starts in an hour?”

“Yeah, follow me”  Off we went and in nothing flat we were at the Pennsylvania state line where Bruce pulled over.

‘You see them hills over there awhile back where the 3 helicopters were flying? That was Camp David.”

“Is that why we stopped?”

“No we stopped to take these dam helmets off, Pennsylvania is a helmet free state, lets go I know a back way into the auction where we won’t have to pay parking, we just have to ride on the sidewalk for a bit. Follow me.”

I noticed Bruce slowed down since we hit Pennsylvania. We were 10 minutes late and the first two bikes had already rolled across the block. A good thing I had no plan to be here or I would have pre arranged a bidders number, stuff was going cheap!

auction

The best bike there was this 1956 original paint panhead, it wasn’t so cheap but still a good deal for what it was. I later meet the guy who bought it in Davenport.

56 0p panHow about a 1885 daimler motorcycle. It was an exact replica, not sure if the real thing even exists.

1885 daimler

There were so many 50’s and 60’s panheads there it seemed like the money ran out and the later ones went for really fair dollars. Why didn’t I get a bidders number, damn. There was a speciality car auction the day before and the cars that didn’t sell at that auction were still on the floor. I found my favorite, a 1961 Chevrolet Impala, 409 with a four speed. Think “shes so fine my 409”

61 409 61 bubble 61 interior

We stayed until the last bike rolled across the block and had a great time. I had the best time over the last two days and learned so much about the area and motorcycles and gained a life long friend.

“Hey Bruce, did you slow down in Pennsylvania because of me? I noticed we were only going 10 mph over the limit once we hit the state line.”

“Oh I thought I told you? My little brother is head of the Eastern half of Maryland Highway patrol, I kind of have a get out of jail free card in Maryland. He always told me the reason he  became a cop was to keep assholes like me off the highways.”

With that I went east and Bruce went west, both smiling and riding hard.

Never what you think

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Just like work, the blog is soooo far behind and the longer I procrastinate the harder it will be to catch up. Just like work the only way to get ahead is buckle down and get with it. So much has happened since the last post and I want to write about the stuff that is fresh on my mind but the blog doesn’t flow right so I will try to mix the old with the new and catch up quickly.

I am sitting beside the Mississippi river in a roadside park writing this now and paging back through the daily diary and picture folders to write the past when I come across one of my favorite quotes by William Least Heat Moon from the book Blue Highways.

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do-especially in other peoples minds. When your travelling, you are what you are there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”

It is what I love the most about the trip, everyday is a new day and my eyes are opened. Meeting new people everyday who do not know me and I do not know them, no expectations from either side. Sometimes (more often than not) a friendship is struck that will last for years and sometimes I can’t wait to get away from them. My preconceived perceptions of what this world is and what is out there gets blown away everyday. What you see on TV, read in books and hear on the radio is not the real world. The real world has to be touched and felt with all your senses and then you may still never understand it so you must go back again and again. Nothing is ever what you think on the road. Never believe what you hear, half of what you read and believe what you see, touch and feel while understanding there is what you know and what you believe and the two can be totally different.

Another Barn quilt, I still hope this catches on across the west side of the Mississippi, they all catch my eye.

barnquilt

When I left Kentucky I followed the Ohio River and the roads and the small river towns equaled anything I had ridden on the Mississippi. I was aware of a bike rally  called Mountain Fest going on in Morgantown West Virginia so it was kind of my destination. Next thing I know I am crossing a bridge and in West Virginia. Cool another state I have never been to.

west va bridge

As soon as I hit the Morgantown are I felt right at home amongst all the oil field traffic. I knew there was a boom going on here but wasn’t expecting it to be this bad (or good depending on which side of the business you are in) and quickly learned not to follow any trucks which were carrying gravel. It was like it came out of nowhere, one minute a leisure filled ride along the river roads and rolling hills and the next minute shit all over the road, trucks on my ass, trucks in front and trucks coming off the side roads at 90 mph entering the main road without slowing down. I pulled over into the first gas stop to get my bearings and for a minute I thought I was back at work in North Dakota or something.

oil field trashSaw more road alligators in this area than any other state or place I have been in so far. Road alligators are the pieces of tires that lay in a roadway after somebody had a blowout. They are one of a motorcyclists worst nightmares. It is obvious DOT is lax here and I couldn’t wait to get out of the area.

Between the oil boom and the motorcycle rally Morgantown was jammed and I just followed motorcycles until I ended up at Triple S Harley Davidson where a band was playing and lots of rumble from the bikes.

triple s party

A pretty girl was sing country rock on stage and hawking her CD’s in between songs but I did not buy. I was there to see a certain antique bike that I knew was on display inside the store. When I was trying to learn how to pedal start a hundred year old Harley I found a utube video of a 1914 Harley being pedal started and it was on display at Triple S Harley in Morgantown West Virginia. Much to my dismay it was displayed on a ledge about 20 foot in the air so even getting a good picture was a challenge.

d wasserman hd

Out in the parking lot though there was this couple zipping around on a 1959 Harley Panhead which was pretty cool. Since I am building a 1959 Harley now it would have been nice to take some more pictures of it but they zoomed out the lot and never came back. Nice to see those old panheads being ridden.

old pan

I know Harleys are tough and big and mean and built to carry a lot of weight but I felt sorry for this sportster. At first I thought it was a mini bike but no it was a full size motorcycle. I will give the gal riding it credit because she could ride.

poor sportster

I found out that most of the action was at some fairgrounds and Ted Nugent was playing so I went to check it out. The ride was through some pretty good rolling hills and back roads to get there and since my room was a long way from there I decided I would have to forego seeing Ted and then trying to find my motel in the dark. Next time I camp!

The next morning I was ready to get out of the city traffic and also away from the oilfield trash so I took the first backroad I could find leaving town. Great back road and somehow I was in Pennsylvania and then back in West Virginia crossing the Mason Dixon Line twice.

penn historicl signwest va historical sign

A lot of American History in these two old markers. I wanted to get out this way to experience some 1700 American history and wasn’t expecting 1600 American history. So am I in Mason or Dixon now or south of or north of? Love these old historical markers. My mother said I called them hysterical markers when I was little.

mason dixon line sign

I was cruising this neat little town in Pennsylvania called Port Marion when I saw all of these old cars thru a window. Thinking it was a museum I went around the block, parked and tried to get in but the door was locked. The sign said Jordan Auto parts

jordan cars

I am a motorhead and I had never heard of a car called a Jordan. this place had at least 10 of them I could see through the windows. A quick google search said they were made in Cleveland from 1916 until 1931. They were made with an assortment of components from other manufactures and never really caught on. This building was obviously part museum and part supply house for others who restore Jordans.

building full of cars

I was headed for Maryland expecting the whole state to look like Baltimore I guess and was blown away by the views the woods and the hills. This was the view from the first roadside stop.

maryland

And this was the view from the second roadside stop. Not what I was expecting but certainly happy about the discovery.

maryland gap

I fell in love with the towns and riding the main streets through them. The old buildings, little ma and pa storefronts and friendly people at the stops made Maryland one of my favorite places so far.

cool old townscool old towns1

The only drawback was the cost of everything as there was obvious a high tax on things like gas, cigarettes and liquor. Those are the things I bought so I assume the rest of goods are higher also. I am sure it has a lot to do with being right next to DC and the tax tax tax attitude of Washington rubs off on the states closest to it. I had to get more money and could tell I was being watched, maybe it was NSA?

always being watched

The Letter

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

So I wrote a letter to a really good friend of mine last night. It wasn’t really a letter but an email, I just like the sound and feel of “I wrote a letter.” In the letter I told him that I wish time would slow down. While I am having a great time, I feel like I may run out of time and not make all 48 states before it snows or my promised date to go back to work. I may have bitten off more than I can chew and starting to feel like I am not enjoying the journey like I should because I am started to plan out the routes, making decisions on dates of where I need to be when and it is all starting to stress me out.

My friend wrote back. In his response, he said I was reminding him of his dad. A farmer who plans his whole day around dinner which he eats at the same time every evening. He will not start a new task if it may interfere with his dinner time. He will not go somewhere if the travel back will put him past his dinner time and all along he really could eat dinner anytime he wanted but his routine and comfort level has not let him realize it anymore. He told me to quit worrying about it, I had time.

My friends response stung! Me; Mr, Free planning the trip around a schedule, riding hard every day to make a planned stop for the day and missing the journey. Thanks friend, you are right, I have the time.

“Do you know why I stopped you?”

“Uhh no.” I knew I wasn’t speeding, hell I saw him in the medium from the top of the hill and made double damn sure I didn’t speed. I had just hit the main highway after leaving the “the tail of the dragon” and I could tell he was checking me out pretty good when I went by. My feelings were right, he pulled in behind me and then passed me and waved me over.

“I stopped you because it appears you are riding without a helmet and North Carolina requires a proper helmet for all motorcycle riders”

” Uhh, this is a helmet sir and I was wearing it.”

He grabbed my helmet, examined it and said ” it is a novelty helmet and not a proper helmet. Colorado requires helmets, do they let you get by with this?”

“No sir Colorado is not a helmet state.”

He took my license, registration and told me to stand in the ditch away from my bike. At least 50 motorcycles went by with over half wearing novelty helmets. Novelty helmets are light weight, mostly plastic non DOT approved that a lot of bikers wear when in a helmet required state. The popular belief is that you wont be stopped or ticketed for them as long as you are not breaking any other laws.

The officer came back and handed me a ticket for not wearing a helmet. He seemed pissed when he said ” You were right Colorado doesn’t require a helmet, I googled it.  The ticket cost me $161 bucks and I have a feeling if he had been right and I had been wrong he might have just give me a warning but at least he let me ride off and didn’t take my bike. I promise this will be the last helmet story. I rode to Asheville Harley Davidson the next day and bought me a real helmet so between the ticket and the new helmet I am out about $350 bucks. It was hard to let the old one go, after all it was customized with flat black paint and cool stickers, but I left it at the Harley shop in the rain.

At least I had entertainment while I was at the Harley shop. Meet “Tank” the skateboarding bull dog

tank the skateboard dogGoogle the skateboard bulldog and you will find Tank gliding along on the skateboard like a pro and when he is done he grabs it on the side and takes it back up the hill. Note the chewed up sides of his board. According to the owner, Tank doesn’t like skateboarding in the rain so they loaded up and left. I tried to get a good pic of Tank riding in his special built carrier on the back of the Harley but Tank had his ass to me.

tank headed out

Riding downtown Louisville Kentucky in the middle of a workday, don’t know what the hell I was thinking but seemed like a good idea at the time. Was really drawn to the old buildings and I knew it would start raining any minute. At least in town there would be plenty of places to shelter if the rain got really bad instead of out in the country looking for horse ranches where I really wanted to be.

row houses louisville Lots of red brick row houses line the way to the middle of town. Lots of people and cars line the way once you are downtown, but it is one cool downtown.

downtown louisvilleThis hot dog motorcycle I am riding overheats in stop and go city traffic so I looked for a road that I could move on and cool the air cooled motor off. The road I found actually took me to a bridge which crossed the Ohio river and landed in Jeffersonville Indiana which was a pleasant surprise of a town and the view of downtown Louisville looked even better from this side of the river.

louisville from indiana

The old bridge across the river is really neat.

bridge across ohio

I realize now that I am really on a sabbatical as I checked my on line banking today and see my vacation has ran out and they quit paying me at work. Ouch!  I was kind of hoping they would forget and keep paying me, then we could argue about it later on whether I had to give it all back or not.

“Wow, they should see you coming easy enough!”

I am getting that a lot about the bright orange color I recently painted my motorcycle.

“Well that isn’t all bad, it not like I am robbing banks or something.”

The guy laughed and said, no you wouldn’t  want to use that for a getaway vehicle after robbing a bank.

Little does he know I have my eye on the Northfield bank in Minnesota, hell them blockheads up north want even notice will they Bob and Jim.

Kentucky! Horse Ranches! That is what you think of when you think Kentucky isn’t it?

horses in ranch

And Kentucky had some mighty fine ones with huge majestic barns and fences.

horse ranch 2

I especially love the stone fences that go with a lot of them around Lexington.

stone fences

Came across this really old church with a graveyard out back that blew me away. Lots of markers from the 1700’s. The church appeared abandoned and run down as was the cemetery itself. Let the pictures tell the story.

church and old tombstones

bell in church

inside church

I took the picture of the inside through a broken window. See the ghost playing the piano? Outside more gravestones tuned over and broken.

old cemetary

While some of you are still looking for the ghost in the picture would the rest of you look at this car pic and tell me what kind of car it is?

what kind of car

Rolling to West Virginia. “almost heaven” C’mon, you know you singing it!

How did I get here

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Jump ahead; I am writing this blog from Sturgis South Dakota during the 74th annual Sturgis Bike Rally. The blog is still geographically in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. Seems like the first day I have slept in and woke up wondering how the hell did I get here?  I have been gone now for 50 days and have made it through 33 of the 48 states I plan to do this ride. Already the hot summer days of Texas and Louisiana seems like a distant memory as I ride the cool rainy weather I am in now. All I know is I got here mostly by back roads and each one was very different and I wished I had more time to do the ones I regretfully rode past.

back road

WHEELS THROUGH TIME MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM

The last time I was here it was not near as crowded and I was only able to spend a half day. This time, lots of people which is partially due to the popularity of antique motorcycles which is growing thanks to shows like American Pickers and American Iron Magazine. Even Wheels thru Time has their own show on the Velocity channel called “Whats in the Barn”  I spent the night in Maggie Valley and scheduled so I could spend a whole day here this time.

in front of wtt

Getting ready to write this blog I went back and looked at all the pictures and I must have taken 300 or so of antique motorcycles and the details of the bikes. Very hard to just pick a few for this blog or to pick a favorite. Guess we start with this one, a 1930 Harley VL because I have one.

30 v

While I really like the colors on this one, mine is a different shade of blue and I have always wondered how close it was to the original color. Based on this next pic, I would say mine is pretty close because this one is spot on to the color of mine.

my color

My next favorite bike is an unrestored 1958 Panhead. I probably took 50 pics of the details on this bike alone. I have a 58 panhead which at one time was pretty correct and original when I got it. I was younger and a hot rodder so I dolled it up, painted it the color I wanted, added more chrome, ground welds and smoothed the frame. I probably screwed up as far as value, but at same time it has placed in 9 of the 10 shows it has been in and I can ride it when I want to. The current trend is to leave them alone and keep them crusty and rusty like this one.

58 pan

I am not sure how many bikes are in this museum but they all run. The caretakers Dale and Matt Walksler are whizzes and taking a bike that hasn’t seen daylight in 50 years and making it run while leaving all the originality on them. Much of their TV show is about just that, finding a bike hidden for years in a barn and in a few hours making it run again. Unfortunately, and I should have known this they were in Wauseon Ohio at the Antique Motorcycle races and swap meet while I was there so I did not get to visit with them. They were racing antique bikes and turns out Matt did very well. Oh well, see them in Vegas.

I left North Carolina in the rain, did a bit of South Carolina and then headed north still in the rain. Not wanting to ruin my new camera I left it in the saddlebag for the next two days keeping it dry. Gives me a reason to come back just to take pictures since I know I missed some great ones. There were places it was so foggy and raining so hard all I saw was the white lines on the road and then they disappeared. Oh crap road construction, no white lines, seems like I am just going up and up and up and have no clue where the hell I am. Eventually I was at the top, pulled into a closed gas station to dry out and took the camera out to take this pic. No wonder I am chilled.

58 degrees

This house was for sale and I wanted it.

for sale bristol

Probably a little to expensive and fancy for my taste. I could maybe afford this one and it is more my style, just needs a garage to make it complete.

maybe afford this one

According to the sign, Daniel Boone made a road through here in 1775 and in 2014 Cole used this road to get to Kentucky. How cool is that! Thank you Daniel Boone!

monument corner

Okay, so I am on another forested backroad, imagine that.

backroads

I often stop and go hiking in the woods. I don’t know what I am looking for, just like the feel of it and maybe will stumble across a bear, a deer, some old marker. Mostly I just find poison ivy, chiggers and ticks. I wasn’t expecting orange mushrooms!

orange mushrooms

Maybe they were the reason I woke up this morning wondering how the hell I got here, what a strange trip it has been. God Bless America!

flag bike

Smokin the Smokies

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Don’t like the influences from the north corrupting your youth, then build your own college. In this case the southern 10 dioceses’ did just that. History of the school called them dioceses but in reality it was 10 southern states; Al, Ark, Fl, Ga, La, Ms NC, SC, Tn and Tx. The called it University of the South now normally just called Sewanee. It sits on the Cumberland Plateau and is one of the most beautiful college campus’s in the United States. Me being a Westerner I did not have a clue what I stumbled on when I pulled off the main road and entered the campus. I didn’t know if it was a school, a town or a seminary. Turns out it is all three. Oh by the way, during the Civil War the North influenced their young again by blowing up a lot of the newly constructed college.

sewanee

The best places are those found by accident and just like the University of the South was found by just following an interesting looking road, so was the road deep into a canyon where I found a moonshine still. A really large moonshine still operating legally  today. I have never tasted Dickel, but after discovering this beautiful place at the end of the road in Cascade Canyon, a bottle is in my future.

gorge dickel

All of the workers were smiling too, even the gate guard, must be a great place to work. I am sure they wouldn’t be smiling if they still had to work these old mechanical smashers.

smasher

dickel brewery

I am riding through the Cumberland Mountains and now in Georgia and start noticing all these marble buildings. Turns our this area is known for it’s very desirable rose colored marble. The Tate house now used for weddings and other functions was built with this beautiful marble.

marble house

university of south church

Seems like all the old rail road depots have been restored or converted into something else. This one still exists without restoration. You just know it has some stories.

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university of south church Almost forgot, if you want to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo, take money! I fought my way downtown Chattanooga just to see the train and take a pic. Downtown was really cool but the train is hidden from any street views and after checking out a few public parking spots, I could not find one I trusted with all my gear packed on so I gave up. Disgusted, I went to the park on the river instead and changed the name of the Delta Queen to the Chattanooga chug chug paddle boat. Somebody write a song about it.

delta queen

The Rockies are not the only mountains in the United States, yes they are the biggest but you have the same feel down here except instead of pine, aspen and trout you have 100 different kinds of trees and fish.  Event though the highest point in Georgia is less than the elevation where I live in the flatlands, this view feels like on top of the world to me.

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Again the tail of the dragon calls my name. 318 curves in 11 miles and often called the best motorcycle road in America. Somehow I made it to Deals Gap without a map (I just followed all the motorcycles), the official unofficial start point.

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Doesn’t hurt to take a pass by the tree of shame to see all the broken parts gathered from wrecks on the dragon, should keep me slowed down some.

tree of shame

I have friends who should never attempt this road since they can’t stand to be passed. I was passed by many a crotch rockets and I thought I was zipping along pretty good for a bagger! I did test the abs brakes more than once. Once you make it to the end, the reward is this view.

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I was in this area a couple of years ago and so impressed with the Smokies  I just had to come back. It is pretty easy to see where the name came from. This is my home for the next 3-4 days.

smokies smokingAlmost all of the tenants in this motel are on motorcycles. It is just a beautiful area to ride and hang out. If you need me, I will be in this place for the rest of the day and probably tomorrow!

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Nashville Revisited

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Had it not been for a few wrong turns, getting lost I might not have visited downtown Nashville. A few years ago I did not give Nashville very high marks due to the traffic and the heat. The traffic and heat is still prevalent (worst traffic so far other than Austin) but I was able to find shade on Music road otherwise known as Broadway. I give Nashville a high rating this trip.

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I was actually looking for the Harley shop and missed my turn so I took the next exit which happened to be Broadway, pulled into a gas station and took a look down the street. I couldn’t resist this old building which at first I assumed to be a church. No, it was Union Station, a magnificent building first commissioned as the grand rail station in 1900. Through the years and especially during WW II it served as one of the busiest rail stations in the nation. When the trains slowed and were replaced with other forms of transportation it fell into a sad state and at one time was all but abandoned. It is now an upscale hotel.

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Before I knew it I was on Music Row with all the other tourists and wanna be musicians who someday hope their music gets sold here.

earnest tubb records

And in their slow time they can be found playing here which is where I found my shade, Ice Tea and awesome hot wings along with awesome company.

tin roof

Seemed like every other store was a boot store. I did not realize that is where you went to buy boots and after looking at a few, it is not where I would go to buy boots unless you like fancy dancy $1000 dollar handmade boots assembled in Mexico.

1000 dollar boots

I really came to this area again not to go downtown Nashville but to do a little of the Natchez Trace Parkway which did not disappoint. If I had not actually been on this road I would not have believed this picture or a road this smooth and curvy.

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All of the brochures and advertisements for the Natchez Trace Parkway show pictures of a massive double arch bridge so I went in search of it. What a structure and work of art, I have to admit this picture is much better than the picture in the brochures.

dbl arch bridge After riding across it (twice) I had to find the bottom and see what it looked like from there.

dbl arch from under

The parkway is so nice and smooth it just begs you to twist the throttle and weave thru the curves, but you better watch out because it is the south and Buford Justice might just be waiting around the corner. He already has the Dukes pulled over.gen lee and cop car

Pull off the parkway into the towns along the way and experience history. There wasn’t even a building in Colorado when this one was built.

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This next building is actually on the Trace Parkway and was built in 1818 and 1819 and was owned by the ferry operator in the area. It is called the Gordon House.

gordon house

A local biker said Jackson Falls was a must see so I went looking for it. The steep hike down the hill to it had anticipation high but unfortunately Jackson Falls was just a trickle over rocks this time of year. It was still worth the hike though.

jackson falls

Walking back up the trail from the falls this tree jumped out at me. If it had been moon lit dark night and I saw this tree I would have nightmares for weeks. Two arms and a face waiting to grab you.

monster tree

I called it the monster tree. A little further up the trail was another tree that jumped out at me. I called it the naked lovers tree.

lovers tree

Is it any wonder I get lost? I had 5 seconds to read this sign (s) and decide which way to go.

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No problem, I like getting lost especially on this road.

more trace road

Extended Sunday Morning Post

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Mississippi Delta; heard of it, but never really put it together and never expected so much of it to cover Arkansas. A few years ago I crossed the Mississippi during flood stage in Saint Louis Missouri. It was roaring muddy water carrying with it everything in it’s path. Trees rolling down the river that could sink a boat. A few years later I went to the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota so I could say I walked across the Mississippi and I have ridden both sides of the river road from Minnesota to Memphis. This year I crossed the Mississippi the first time where it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans, I only crossed it  and didn’t ride the river road north. My perception of the Mississippi river and the surrounding area was of the upper half and it never crossed my mind how much that would change south of Memphis. A few days ago, I crossed it again in Helena Mississippi on my way to NW Arkansas. I was not prepared for the vast expanse of the Mississippi Delta.

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The Mississippi Delta

Instead of bluffs overlooking the river  and roads right next to the river that I had been on, this area was one gigantic flood plain. Fields of cotton and what looked like rice? There was no river road even close and the demographics were totally different. The recent flooding from the north around Minneapolis I have been hearing about on the radio must have finally made it’s way down river because most all the crops were under water and farmers were pumping their fields off using tractors and portable pumps.

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flooded

When I hear the words Mississippi Delta now, it will have a whole different meaning and I am singing about “when those cotton balls get a rotten, you can’t pick very much cotton” I even stopped and looked over some cotton gins, one of the first biographies I have read was about Eli Whitney and I wanted to be an inventor after reading it.

cotton fields

‘Hey, isn’t that how they mark shell casings after a shooting?”

markers

I thought about telling these two guys to slow the hell down! Tennessee patrolman still ride Harleys and I swear their exhaust was modified and louder than mine.

patrol on hogs

At one time the front half of this train car was a radio station, but is now a library. The back half is still in the same condition it was left in 1948.

train car

While I was going through the inside there were some girls in the old radio room taking voice lessons. The acoustics were pretty incredible. They sounded like angels as I walked through the library portion of the train.

Enter 1948 and travel by train. I can’t imagine sitting there or perhaps eating dinner at the table while someone was using the commode. Surely there was a curtain or something.

 

inside train car

I bet Casey Jones had his own private commode.

casey jones

Damn I love old trains but don’t think I can fit one in my garage, but look at the art in the whistle, bell and stack on this beauty ol 382 of Casey Jones fame.

train bell

And speaking of art, it is almost like the drips on this graffiti was placed strategically on purpose. Got a new camera and this was a test photo after I charged it up. I was gong to delete it but after looking at again, I like it enough to post it. Hopefully the blog pics are a lot better starting with todays post. The old camera was letting me down and I was so pissed yesterday when none of the 4th of July pics turned out.

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While the graffiti art is kinda cool, I really enjoy art like this old repurposed lamp. Yeah I learned that word from American Pickers.

old light

So much history in the south east part of the United States. I took a wrong turn and ended up in the parking lot of this Civil War Park. I was the only one there and even though it was hot hot, and I only intended to take a couple of pics of the cannon and leave, I was drawn by a magnet and walked the whole mile long walking tour.

parkers crossroadsThe place was called Parkers Crossroads and it was a battle the Confederates won. Worth the walk and just fuels the fire to read and learn more about the Civil war and it’s battlefields. I read the brochure while sitting on this stump stool. Going to have to make a few of these!

stump stool

 

While sitting there reading I kept hearing this bird sing an incredible song so I went looking for it. Thank you new camera because he really wasn’t that close. We don’t have these where I am from so quite a thrill for me. (and I am sure my friends from Missouri are shaking their heads.)

cardinal

Next to a cabin at the civil war site was this rose bush. A sign informed me that it was a Living Civil War -era relic. Many a soldier would plant a rose or take a cutting from their mothers rose bush to remind them of home and their mother. It is  cabbage rose and a was grown from  cutting off the original bush planted during the civil war. Old roses do not have the qualities of modern roses like shape, color or long blooming flowers but they do have a sweet perfume. I know the pic is not that great but the story is good.

rose bush

I’m lost and tired of the 4 lane so I get off on the next exit to figure out where I am and find a new road. There is an exotic sex store on the left with people in the parking lot and a dozen semi trucks parked. On the right is an abandoned gas station with an unmarked  Tahoe and a cop dressed in a swat uniform standing beside it. Guess which side I pull into?

The cop is standing on the passenger side of the Tahoe, I can’t really see him very well as I pull in on  the drivers side. I shut the bike off and dig in the saddle bag for my phone and a map. I expected him to walk around and check me out but as I look up I don’t see him at all. Oh well, maybe he is on the phone or something, it did look like he had something sitting on a concrete block, maybe a laptop or surveillance equipment checking out the action across the street. The windows on the Tahoe are tinted but my eyes focus and I can now see him and I also see him slowly pull the strap back on his holster, oh shit!

“Hey, I m just sharing your shade and looking at my map” I show my hands. That is when I heard the unmistakable whine of a puppy dog.

borador

The cop raised Boradors, half Border Collie and half Labrador and was meeting the new owner there to take this 7 week old cutie. For a minute, I was figuring out how to unload some stuff and make room for him on my bike, it was a long minute. He wanted to go with me too, I could tell!! I looked up the breed later and talk about a handful!

So we have  a geography lesson, trains, civil war history, antiques, birds, flowers and puppy dogs, is it any wonder I don’t make good time. You might not even know I was on a motorcycle ride reading this. Have no doubt, I am and I’m smiling!

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The people you meet on the road, not Elvis.

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

“Where you headed?”

“Just going, no where in particular, on sabbatical.”

In a motel parking lot in Alabama, the guy was loading up a mini van with the kids stuff. I didn’t pay much attention at first while I was loading my bike but after he asked the question I noticed the Arkansas tag on his mini van said “Persian Gulf Veteran” and then his wife chimed in.

“Yeah he did that once for a year.”

Now I was interested and the conversation began. Gary returned from the gulf wars, went through a divorce, cashed it all in, bought a new Harley and took off for a year. He was really in tune with what I was doing. Later in life he ended up in Oak Grove Arkansas and became a business man.

“I never grew up wanting to be a trash man, but that’s what I am.”

Gary owns a trash business that services Eureka Springs Arkansas a very lucrative market. We laughed about the trash man comment, but I think he appreciated that I understood it was a big deal and he was really a business man. Then he springs on me that he also owns a bar.

“It’s not really a bar, people just come there and drink, we have vet night often and you can’t miss it. It is at the 4 way stop in Oak Grove. If I am not there my wife usually is.” So if any of you happen to go through Oak Grove, tell Gary hi for me and I am sure you will be treated right. Oh yeah, he was on his way to Florida for a wedding but promised the wife and kids a short vacation with it since he will be taking off on his motorcycle later for a little trip up north. See you in Sturgis Gary!

Mushrooms in a tree stump, never saw this before!

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“You been to the museum yet?”

“Naw, I was going to go and then got turned around the other direction so didn’t go, maybe I go back. Is it crowded, I saw a lot of people go that direction.”

“Well. it can be crowded, but not usually, they got some really nice cars in there.”

“Yeah I imagine a few Cadillac’s huh, any old motorcycles?”

‘Might be some motorcycles, but mostly old cars.”

“Oh okay, I wouldn’t mind seeing Elvis’s panhead motorcycle..”

“Oh hell no, I’m not talking about Elvis house, I am talking about the car museum. I don’t promote Elvis cuz I don’t promote drug use and Elvis was a junkie!”

I was at Starbucks in Tupelo Mississippi, I thought I was hidden well enough behind by the dumpsters and under a shade tree, but here comes this old man driving up in a beat up truck. He was driving real slow and then once he spied me he stopped, blocking me off from getting out. At first I thought maybe he was a cop checking me out, hell maybe an undercover cop driving that old beater truck. Turns out he was just a lonely old man that used to ride motorcycles,  saw me and my packed up motorcycle and decided to stop and visit while being my personal tour guide. After he turned me away from going to Elvis birthplace he tried to get me to go see where Daniel Boone kept his horses. It is a parking lot now and there are no signs or anything but “By God I know for a fact that is where Daniel Boones horse corral was!”

So, how the hell did I end up back in Mississippi? Headed to Arkansas again, my favorite state to ride in and I need some cooler Ozark weather for awhile. This place is just begging for a picture!

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This abandoned gas station at Leslie Arkansas had no parking signs all over it but I didn’t see anyone around so I trespassed!

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I though that was just the neatest damn place to take a picture yet and then I came across this gas station!

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Those gas pumps are actually paintings.

I found my cooler weather for sure in Arkansas and I found a spot marked on the map with the highest elevation in Arkansas. Mt Magazine.

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I also found some stuff in Arkansas I would have rather not seen, but this is what trees look like after a tornado!

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And then an RV park

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This is the second trip to Arkansas where I cam across tornado damage right next to the road and I never viewed Arkansas as being in tornado alley.

Eventually I reach a destination in Arkansas where I know some people and decide to spend a few days with them on Beaver Lake. While there I insisted I name the hill that is on the land they recently acquired. It is a beautiful place and hills down here are called knobs.

“Chuck, does that knob show up with a name on any government maps or anything?”

“No, I don’t think so, I looked.”

“Well good then! I hereby declare the name of that thar hill, I mean knob and damnit the word knob is important here; Reverse Cowgirl Knob!”

And with a high five, a clash of the bottles it was done!

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So with a glass of fine whiskey, a fine cigar and sitting on his fine boat dock in Hoot Owl Holler, my best friend contemplates the naming of his knob.

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All is well in the world tonight with or without Elvis.

 

The Difference between Mississippi and Alabama

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

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” Hey Mister, this is a helmet state, just saying.”

Did that dog just talk to me?

Second time I have done this in last 3 days. I am wiped out by the sun, the heat and humidity by the time I am ready to quit for the day. Way to hot for camping out so I check in motel, unload the bike, throw everything on the bed, strip down and stand naked in front of the air conditioner. Eventually I cool off enough to realize I am hungry, throw the same stinky dirty clothes on, hop on the bike and head out in search for some local culinary sample. I have been riding Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana; all free states, no helmet required so I don’t wear it. Now I am in a part of the country that is almost all helmet required states, but I keep forgetting. This time, I was only a couple of blocks before the dog pulled up beside me and warned me. Yesterday I made it about 6 miles and had to sneak back to the motel to get it. I rode by 2 cops that either didn’t notice or were late for donuts because they both ignored me.

Forgot to mention yesterday about all the stuff on the road in Louisiana. At first I thought it was pieces of rubber tires until I saw them moving. I think they are cicadas and I killed a bunch which after I stopped to take this picture I learned they eat the dead ones.

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I have never been to an all Confederate Cemetery before so I follow the signs that lead me to one. When you live in the West as I have all my life you don’t really have any reminders of the Civil War like you do in the east and especially the south. I see something related to the Civil War now about every 30 or so miles and if I stop at all of them it will take 2 years to do 48 states.

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The difference between Louisiana and Mississippi is Mississippi has places to pull over and rest stops but not near as many as Texas. In Louisiana it doesn’t seem there is any state land and few city parks open to the public. Seems that every dry spot in Louisiana is private. The difference between Mississippi and Alabama; none that I notice from the road.

“Looks like you all packed up to go somewhere.”

I had heard him coming down the road, the clippity clop of horse hooves was unmistakable.

“Yep I am travelling.”

“Where to mister.”

“Everywhere.”

“Why.”

“Well that is a good question, and I reckon the answer is because I can and I want to see what is out there.”

“Out where?”

“America, you know the USA, I want to see all the states. You ever ride a motorcycle?”

“No sir, but I been riding horses since I was two. You ever ride a horse mister?”

“Hey ride that horse over here so I can take a picture.”

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Pretty sure this kid hadn’t been out of the county but in his own way, he really had his stuff together. He made a point to tell me he was going to the lake tomorrow! Today though he was Grand Marshall guarding the covered bridge hat just happened to be around corner from his home.

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I could see them eyeing me as I stood under the shade at a place called Peach Park. There were four of them and they all stood in front of the stone peach monument which must have been the center piece for the park. I was thinking how good some peaches would taste that were being sold in the parking lot, but I knew what the four lasses wanted when one of them finally got the courage to walk towards me.

“You want me to take your picture in front of the peach?”

“Would you please mister?”

“Why sure I would.”

Each one handed me their phone and promptly took pose in front of the peach statue. The first phone was like mine so I knew how to use it. The second was an I phone so I needed instruction which she gladly showed me all up personal and stuff. The third was another I phone and was already set up. They all smiled and chatted up like little school girls as I told them to say cheese, I mean peach. I took the first three and then picked up the fourth phone and to my surprise it had a picture of me on it!

” Hey I am not sure how to use this phone, it’s taking pictures of me!” I fumbled with it and there were a lot of pictures of me. “Hey there are a lot of pictures of me on here, I don’t know what is going on with it.”

“They all giggled some more and Mabel finally told the others she was taking pictures of me while I was taking pictures of them. “He’s cute she told the others.”

She straightened the camera out, I took the last pic and they started to leave.

“Oh no you don’t, not yet. Somebody has to use my camera now so I can get a pic of me with the Alabama Peaches!”

They fought a little about who would be in the pic and who had to take the pic, but guaranteed Mable was going to be in the pic.

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Gulf Ride

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

I should have studied more before I ended up here. I have only heard the names of some of these places along the gulf but never really knew anything about them. Maybe it is better this way, I am not prepared for the burning sun, the humidity and combined theory of the wet bulb or what they call the “real feel” on accuweather. I am not prepared for the geography or the demographics either, TV does not tell all.

I’ve heard of Port Arthur, seems like I know some people who said they worked around here in the gulf cost refineries but don’t remember them saying anything about a dying city. It all happened because some how I ended up on  US highway 287 which happens to also go by my house in Colorado so I thought it would be cool to see where it ends. I merged with US Highway 69 another highway I am fond of and both end in the Gulf of Mexico at Port Arthur Texas. I took a right and thought I had just entered a war zone. You could tell it was once a great city, but what the hell happened? Hurricanes, fires, explosions what? I rode down what was the main street in town and I was the only one there. Massive empty buildings with windows blown out, crumbling brick lots of barricades, very reminiscent of Cairo Illinois a few years back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater that night I had to research and see what the hell happened. I found out the Hotel Sabine in this next picture has looked like this for 30 years and even the now mayor can’t really say why.

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It was once a great seaport city and rebuilt after early hurricanes so that wasn’t the cause of it demise. It has two of the largest refineries in the US on it’s back door and even with all the money being spent and made at the refineries none flows into the city. The once prosperous Port Arthur Savings building with its massive stone entrance is now locked. Notice the busted out and rusted windows above the entrance.

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The refineries and the people with the good paying jobs who work at them moved away to the suburbs. Why breath the fumes from the refineries everyday and then at night too. Why worry about the explosions and plant upsets that send toxic dust over Port Arthur, just move to the burbs, let the damn city die. For whatever reason there is still a mostly black small population that still calls Port Arthur home. Most don’t work at the refineries, in fact most don’t work at all. They bitch about the refineries, but apathy has set in and it ends there. The refineries make a half assed attempt at good will but my take is they really just wish people would move away so they didn’t have to worry about them.

It is what it is, but I was glad I stumbled into this in the middle of the day and not late evening because I would stay around here at night. Only one way to go now and I cross the causeway into Louisiana and head for Baton Rouge. I made Baton Rouge but like normal it wasn’t a direct route. It appears there are roads closer to the gulf than the interstate route to Baton Rouge so guess which one I take?

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Miles along the gulf sometimes almost next to the water where sand often covered the road, everything here is built on stilts, schools, public buildings and homes. White beaches for the most part and very little in the way of life moving including humans. A small town appeared and even the convenience store and bank was elevated with an offshore platform being built across the street.

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Wonder if it is for BP. Forgot to get gas in that little town and soon there was swamps on both sides of the road. Now and then there would be a break in the road and I would see a water way; the roads for the swamps. Getting a little worried now about gas and wondered if I should turn around, it sure doesn’t look like anything ahead that looks like civilization. I kept going.

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I stood out, I was the only one who wasn’t wearing shorts, muddy shoes, a camo hat with a fish hook in it. I did have the matching sleeveless sweaty dirty shirt.

” Man dat a pretty sickle, I see one just like dat in Baton Rouge, same color. Man I gonna get me a Dodge Challenger dat same color.”  I had to get out my coon ass interpreter I keep hidden in my pack that I use for work.

” Why don’t you get that sickle, it a hell of a lot more fun than a Dodge Challenger.”

” O man, I don’t know how to ride not sickle.”

” I am sure they would teach you at that Harley dealer”

“O man, I would kill myself, I can’t even drive ma boat, I flipped it the other day and damn near killed myself.” Everybody in the room laughed as if they knew the story.  “What you doing down here?”

“Just riding around, I am from Colorado.”

“O man, dat sound cool, how you like it?”

“I like it just fine.”

“No man, I said how you like it.?”

I suddenly realized they could understand me no better than I could understand them. It was also the first time on this trip I used a gas pump with no card reader, a sign these days you are in the woods; or swamps in this case.

Somehow the road ended up back to the elevated highways that are used down here. Everything is water so the roads are elevated for miles and miles. The only shade or pull off is usually just a small road that leads to a boat ramp under the highways and I take advantage when one comes along. It was at one of these that I saw my first gator in the wild. I was as excited about this as the first time I saw a bear in the wild. Eventually there were two and both seemed curious about me but never did get close enough for me to get a really good pic.

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Louisiana needs to work on their road signs, maybe it is on purpose so people do get lost but the only way I know where I am at is to follow the hurricane evacuation route signs which I assume to be going all north.  I go north and then hang a right, how the hell did I end up here in New Orleans!

I am a Bohemian and Carson Classic Motors

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

My parent, especially my mom often referred to me as a Bohemian. Being young and impressionable I learned to like it even though I had no idea at the time what it meant, all I knew was when used on me, there was a certain tone in their voice that told me it was good. Now I am in the Czech populated part of Texas and my grandmother would always say” I am a Bohemian from Czechoslovakia.” “I like to dance and sing”  and that was usually followed with a polka dance while she sang “In heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink it here.” Loved those trips to grandmas house in Temple Texas so I return once again for those memories.

grandmas

Bohemian: Czech people and Czech language before the word “Czech” became prevalent. \

Okay that makes sense now, I am getting it. Grandma used to speak Bohemian all the time, especially when me and little brother were in trouble, but why did they refer to me as Bohemian?

Bohemian; may also denote “a socially unconventional  person, a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.”

How did they know at such an early age? My boss (s) will certainly confirm the second definition. I found a Mockingbird feather on the porch of what was once Grandma’s house to confirm.

Here is a 48Biker approved tip when travelling. Car washes make excellent shelter when raining!

car wash shelter

Have been lucky so far this trip and haven’t had to use them much. Wanted to ride the hill country of Texas and have been dreading the Austin Texas traffic. It didn’t disappoint and thought my motorcycle was going to burn up with the stop and go traffic mixed with intense heat. Hell, I thought I might burn up with the stop and go traffic and intense heat, drank the last of my water 5 miles back and there is no good way to exit until I get through some of this. Finally can exit and this is my reward!

Slurp

Of course I fight off the dreadful “Head Freeze” although very unsuccessfully. After riding some of the Hill Country and fighting the traffic and high cost of everything related to Austin my mind keeps wandering back to last year when I never quite made the Texas coast. This time I am determined, heat or no heat and find out quickly that ground central for the Texas Oil Boom in the Eagleford Shale is Victoria. It reminds me of North Dakota Bakken and while I am comfortable in this environment, I am trying to get away from it. No doubt if I stop, odds are I will see somebody I know so I push on.

finally the gulfFinally the gulf and feel that salty gulf breeze. Even though it is nearing 100 degrees, I would never know it here.

feel thzt gulf breezeNot exactly the prettiest place of Texas coast but will do for now and I enjoy the fishing village at Port Lavaca and stay the night.

“Hey Cole, I am back from Brazil, come on up.” That was the message from the senior person of the duo known as Carson Classic Motors in Livingston Texas. Mike and Buck Carson who I met in Vegas last year and stay in touch with on line own a private motorcycle museum better known as CCM. I missed going there last year and thought I would miss again this year. I had contacted Buck last week and he said his dad Mike was in Brazil and he was up in New England picking up another antique motorcycle, but now Mike was letting me know he was back early. Mike would have nothing of me bypassing again this year and opened his door with Texas Hospitality like we were brothers.

The museum contains approximately 80 motorcycles, I think Mike and Buck have even lost count of the exact number. A great mix of European and American motorcycles of all years and types. Most all run (more on that later) and most are ridden. Did I mention ridden, they ride the hell out of these old things! It all started with Mike’s service to the country and being stationed on bases in England where motorcycles were passed between servicemen as they rotated in and out of the country. Eventually Mike ended up with an old Shovelhead but always wanted some of those British bikes he remembered riding in the service. Next came and old Triumph and then a BSA and before you know it 80 plus bikes and a museum.

Two of my favorites, a 1916 BSA with 1911 Triumph behind it.

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If you saw last issue of Easyriders then you would have seen this cool bobber in it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpeaking of magazines, keep looking at American Iron Magazine, I have a spy who indicates more CCM bikes in upcoming issues. Speaking of running, there is one bike not currently running and here is a spy photo of it. Rumor has it this bike will soon be attempting the 2014 Cannonball Endurance Race from Daytona Beach Florida to Tacoma Washington in September. First Buck needs to get it running.

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Have no doubt he will though, Buck competed in the 2010 and 2012 Cannonball as the youngest rider in both events and looks like at 25 he will be the youngest in the 2014 event.  Here is a photo of his 1927 BSA ridden in the 2012 Cannonball.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore I left (which was hard to do), Mike had to make some noise with something so he fired up the bikes with push button start.  We were waiting on Buck to start all the kick start bikes but he never showed.

Thank Mike for the Texas Hospitality and see you again on the road soon!

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Dallas from a DC9 at night

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

“Have you ever seen Dallas from a DC9 at night. Well Dallas is a jewel oh Dallas is a beautiful sight.”

Every time I go to Dallas that song by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the Flatlanders plays in my head.

I needed to go see my  web master, who also happens to be my sound board for ideas and also my best friend. I visit him and his lovely wife enough that I even have my own room, know the combination to get in the garage, and have my own spot at the table to set up my portable office.  I set up on one end of the table and Mrchuckles (my friend) sets up on the other end and we commence to work on the web site and blog page set up. The conversation centers around the trip, but drifts off into the old days growing up as farmers, politics ( we argue about politics and I usually lose), cars, motorcycles, porn, sex, drinking, boating, motorhomes, and work. Mrchuckles was amazed I didn’t have much to say about my work this trip, I admitted to him I was struggling a bit with not working and it has only been a week. Somehow, even with all the conversation distractions the web site was finished and the blog ready for me to use. Mrchuckles is such a nerd and a whiz at this stuff. We did bet big on whether the auto maker Tesla survives, I say no and he says yes. We had to put a date on it and I think we ended up with 2 years Tesla is either surviving or broke and I think we bet a million dollars, but by this time I had exceeded my alcohol quota so memory is a little fuzzy.

This trip, my schedule ( wtf, I have no schedule) allowed for meeting with more than just Chuckles while in Dallas so we lined up dinner with another friend from our hometown in Kansas who also happens to now live near Dallas. We will just call her Blue Moon and we had a great time together at dinner.

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This trip  also had time to see another old friend who I used to work with 25 years ago and hadn’t seen in 23 years even though we have stayed in touch via facebook. Jeffro Van Halen hasn’t changed much in all those years. He did cut all his long straight hair off but is still the crazy fun Jeffro he was back then. He has quite the house painting business going so had to schedule lunch between coats of paint. After lunch (Whataburger) he took me up the road to his place where his wife runs the “BIG DOG HOUSE” full service kennel equipped with AC/ Heat and even it’s own swimming pool!

THE BIG DOG HOUSE

THE BIG DOG HOUSE

Jeffro rides a new gold wing and his hobby is getting on Harley foruns and facebook pages so he can post something about what a POS Harleys are. I just sit back and smile when I see him do that knowing he is laughing his ass off at all the RUB’S (Rich Urban Bikers) taking him serious. It is rather entertaining to see the comments fly back at him and some even threaten him which only makes Jeffro throw another zinger into the fire.

Creating Chaos isn’t is only hobby though, he also has been restoring this premo 82 Corvette and I have been following his progress on Facebook so it was good to see it in person.

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Did I mention he is also a huge Van Halen fan. I remember going to Salt Lake to see VH and Jeffro damn near killed the steering wheel using it as his air guitar all the way home.

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Another required stop while in Dallas and I had to pee and this is painted on the men’s bathroom wall.

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I had dreams of interviewing Rick Fairless as one of the bikers for my 48Bikers book but he was not there so he loses. I just always liked the TV show when it was on and have always respected him after reading his bio and learning of his work ethic. I think his bike builds are a little over the top, but he does ride the damn blingy things even though they are more works of art that practical motorcycles.

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It was to early in the day for going into Ma’s bar and besides, the last time I was in there she hit on me.

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Dallas is a beautiful sight!

Tulsa Time in Texas

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

US Highway 160 east, not a bad way to go with very little traffic and goes through some cool Kansas towns. I thought I might head to Tulsa and meet up with some people I met on the road last year but then again I was thinking Dallas to meet up with my best friend who is also the person that keeps this blog and website going which needed some help. Eventually I had to make a decision but for now I could screw off and just go east and south alternating until I had to either go one or the other.

The smell of fresh clover is so good I almost feel clover drunk and mixed with fresh cut alfalfa and occasional sagebrush my senses are on high alert. While all of this makes the ride great, it also means deer and every river bottom I roll through shows signs of them. It is okay as long as they stay there and don’t get spooked and run across the road. They seem to hardly notice me when I ride by so I honk the horn just to make sure they are real.

My first choice rest stop in the Gypsum Hill country of Kansas to check emails. Sounds like my brother Bob is racing NHRA in Tulsa so I text back and forth and tell him to keep me updated on the race car, that might make me decide to go to Tulsa first. The a few text with my friends in Tulsa and find out they decided to ride to Texas for no reason other than to have a drink and a ride.  Maybe I can intercept them someplace.

“Where you guys going?”

” Paris Texas and Loose Wheels was the response”

“Where is that?”

” It is near Denison Texas and behind the hospital”

I look at the map on my phone and decide I could intercept then someplace in Oklahoma before they hit the Texas line if I can make Oklahoma City tonight so I roll the throttle on and hit I 35 South. Yuk, interstate. I do make OKC late worn out from the interstate ride. The next morning, up early and headed out when I am buzzed by this monster low flying aircraft.

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What the hell! Over the next rise and traffic is coming to a stop and jammed up and then I see the sign. “Air Show parking next exit.” Now I couldn’t pass up an air show! The air show was at Tinker Air Force Base and the closer I got the more people and traffic, somehow instinct took me to a side road and next thing I know I am at a hill where other people are setting up in lawn chairs so I pull over for my “Free air show” parking.

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Doesn’t look like I will intercept the Lee’s in Oklahoma now but I couldn’t pass up an air show and ended up spending 4 hours there. Would have liked to stayed for the Blue Angels but the road called and I finally left to hopefully meet up with them in Paris Texas. Here I go crossing the Red River again!

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According to that pic, I must still be in Oklahoma.

“Hey Bob, where you guys at, I am in Paris?”

” We are at Loose Wheels, it behind the hospital in Denison.”

“Are you staying there?”

” No, we aren’t staying at the hospital hopefully.”

“No shit, I hope not. Are you staying in Denison?”

“Oh, yeah. I will text you directions.”

A quick check of the map and the clock. “Hey, I will see you in the morning for coffee.”

I didn’t want to tell the that I went through  Denison to get to Paris and then got turned around and damn near ended up back in Oklahoma.

“Damn it is good to see you guys again!”

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Bob and Tracy Lee from Tulsa Oklahoma. I first met them on the road outside of Pueblo Colorado last year, I was just starting my trip and they were on the down side of theirs. We had both pulled into an abandoned gas station  we thought was open for business and hit it off immediately. I wrote about their wild adventure in Denver in last years blog and we have stayed in touch ever since. They ride every weekend and almost every day. I have received text from Bob like this; “Hey, 40 degrees here, rode to work”

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There is so much more to tell about them but saving that for my 48 biker website in the near future. Bob was pretty proud of his new electronic deer whistle and I thought about the Gypsum Hills in Kansas where I had seen all the deer.

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We went to breakfast at the Gourmet Waffle House in Denison where the waitress was top notch and the food matched. Good company with Heather Lynn who was a real hottie and Rick Skyberg who had one of the baddest ass Street Glides I’ve ever seen.

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I then made them take me to Loose Wheels for an after breakfast cocktail so I could get a pic on that bike out front that is all over the internet.

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Time spent with them was all too short, they still had to ride back to Tulsa and I promised my bud in Dallas I would be there later in the afternoon so we shook, hugged and went our way.

Hey Chuck, hope you don’t mind, but I parked on your door step.

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The Road Goes On Forever

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

Like many other trips in the past I started this trip with a visit to my folks in Kansas. I had to visit them this time at the cemetery but it was good to see them and tell them what I was about to do. My Mom couldn’t believe it and my Dad just smiled. After our visit I went to the last place I remember taking my mom on a ride. The trees are getting bigger and the lake is looking good even with all the recent droughts and dust bowl day reminder winds earlier in the month.

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I can be happy on any road and always find stuff to look at and enjoy. The simple stuff is often the best.

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I am not sure where I will be going or the routes I will take but I always will remember I am from Kansas. Even though I plan to stay on pavement, occasionally I will somehow get off on a dirt road and I find my first one in Kansas. It all started with seeing a bunch of rusted iron and falling down barn and I wanted to get closer.

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Turns out it wasn’t abandoned after all but some cowboy was living his dream there. I remember when I was about 17 all I wanted out life was a pickup, a horse, a double wide trailer and a satellite. Not sure where that all changed but could have been when I found out about robbing banks. Okay, I didn’t really rob banks but I was named after Cole Younger and the guys that lived here robbed banks and they were from Kansas. The Dalton Brothers hideout in Meade Kansas, check out my friends website www. Legendsofamerica.com for the real story on Kansas outlaws including the Dalton Gang.

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My view of the world starts here for the next few months.

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And from my view the road goes on forever and I must see where that is.

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A True Sabbatical

Written by admin. Posted in 2014 A True Sabbatical

 

Webster defines as: Sabbatical,; A period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research etc.

They left off; must be able to exist without regular income and piss a whole lot of people off for being gone.

My goal; travel all 48 states, get lost and get healthy. I purposely have no other goals which only get in the way of the first three. I do have this idea that I will meet an interesting biker from all 48 states and write a book about them so I started another website called www.48bikers.com and will occasionally post interesting stuff on there. I have been gone almost 4 weeks already and after 9 states I can already tell finding 48 bikers to write about will be a challenge and may take longer than I thought. Nobody seems to be riding where I have been unless it is near a rally or on the weekends so we will see. So how long you ask (everybody does), I can’t say, I don’t know, as long as it takes I guess.

So you think you can have an idea today and then take off tomorrow? Good luck with that. The more I thought about it the more I realized I wasn’t ready. Oh, I know what I need on the bike and what I need to take but I don’t even have my own phone and email, I have been using my work stuff for the last 15 years. I pay my bills by hard checks and am afraid of on line banking stuff, I rely on monthly statements for accounting. Looks like I have the idea but it is going to take awhile to get all my personal life stuff in order. One of the things I needed to do was teach the son in law how to run the tractor and mow the pasture to keep the fire danger down come July and August and might as well teach the grandkid how to mow.

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It is not all work and no play though, the kid gets to go for a ride, son in law; well its a big damn pasture so he needs to stay after it. Me and D will be back later.

reward for mowing

Same motorcycle as I took on the 2013 trip only a repaint was in order. I always wanted an orange and black motorcycle.

“It’s a special edition Harley, only 1000 made, see here is the serial number 269 0f 1000′

That was a friend of mine telling me about his then, special edition Screaming Eagle Harley with special paint. My friends and I were impressed. He paid a lot of money for that Harley because it was rare and nothing worse than spending all that money and having 10 just like it pull up beside you on the first day so the extra money was rationalized and seemed worth it.

Fast forward same year only in Sturgis. It may have been 1 of a 100 made but I am sure we saw all other 999 in Sturgis that year. My friend was pissed. So I painted my special edition bike my own special colors and added old style trim. It a hell of a lot of orange so had my adopted son Derek add some stripes.

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Finally got all the little details worked out and am only days away now from leaving. Once I figured out how to check my credit cards on line I found out if you don’t use your rewards points they start expiring (bastards) so I decided to use some and see if it would come in time and it did. I have a go pro but it isn’t all that user friendly when riding so decided to try a new video camera. It is a Garmin and I wanted it mainly because of the edit features which I didn’t have with the Go Pro.

new toy garmin

I plan to do all of the lower 48 States but looking at the map I am thinking some of Canada too. I haven’t had a passport since I lost mine in 1975. Did you know you can actually get one in less than 10 days if you want to pay for it. I paid for it and it also came the day before I left. Only thing left to do now is pack and man does a packed up bike look good to me. “Look Mom, no bungee cords!” At least none yet.

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Damn that looks like a lot of shit on there! I have seen worse, or is that better? I have seen bikes with trash bags, suit cases all held together with bungee cords and duct tape, its great!

Okay we’re ready , we won’t talk about the brakes and what it took to fix them because it really was not the brakes and was self inflicted fork leak. I guess the only thing left to do is go!

WE ARE OFF!

and we are off

 

 

Damsel in Distress

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

“I am a Hilton Gold card member, I demand an upgrade!” I stopped at the Hampton Inn to get a room for the night. The couple I had been following for the last 50 or so miles pulled in, so I followed. They were riding a new CVO loaded down Glide and I thought they might be nice people, him wearing a new Harley leather jacket with Harley 110 Anniversary logo so I knew we had been the same place and thought maybe we would strike up a conversation, but after listening to the rant with the desk clerk and figuring out he was a dickhead I didn’t even try. Please don’t ever let me get like that I thought to myself. Left Milwaukee early taking mostly back roads out to avoid the toll roads and major traffic. Since I did not stop on my way in I had to stop and get the required new state on motorcycle picture. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Oh yeah I almost forgot and can’t seem to get away from Elkhorn wherever I go, but it isn’t so bad. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   I eventually have to hit the interstate for awhile since I only have a couple of days before I promised Elkhorn I would be back at work and Milwaukee is a long way from Denver on a bike. The crosswinds and semi- trucks had me doing the biker boog-a-loo where you get into a comfortable lean into the wind with the bike going straight, then a semi passes and the bike over compensates for the lean and you wobble, grab the handlebars tighter and suck your ass to the seat. Sometimes quite unnerving especially when compounded by two semis or another road side wind blocker like a bridge, tree row or overpass. You never get used to it. I had enough and decided if I am late getting back to work then so be it, I am taking back roads again until the wind stops. Had I not got off the interstate and back on the back roads then I would never had found out that Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois and raised in Dixon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also wouldn’t have learned that John Wayne was born in Winterset Iowa.

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Nor would I have had the chance to see all the covered bridges in Madison County. Why would anyone ride the interstate and by now it is pretty obvious I will not be back to work on time as promised. Since I know I will be late now I have time to stop at American Pickers. I have stopped here twice before and there was nobody else here, now the place is crowded and quite the tourist attraction and again no Danielle damn it.

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Across the road from Pickers is the Mississippi River and a park bench. One more time to view and enjoy the river, but I will be back.

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Good old Nebraska and have to put on my fairly new helmet, hotter than hell and very uncomfortable. You know I haven’t seen any cops on this road, hmm I wonder if I could get by with it?  I pull off and seriously think about removing helmet when two highway cops pull up and ask me how I am doing.

Nebraska and I 80, hot, dry not much to see but corn. I see a car up ahead on the shoulder, looks little; looks foreign, I slow down. I went by and caught a glimpse of a hot girl looking like a pin up doll who jumped out of the car at last second  holding a cardboard sign with lip stick written “out of gas” My first thought was this hot Nebraska sun is getting to me and I just saw a mirage, my second thought was something isn’t right; where is my wallet and my last thought was that was a mini cooper and out of gas my ass, I bet it is electrical problems. Frigging Nebraska hot sun. I couldn’t not stop, I always stop, sometimes causes me problems but have been the one on the side of the road before although I never had lipstick to make a sign. The nearest exit is probably another 20 miles so across the medium like a motocross rider I go, back to where she was and again across the medium. Sure enough a mini Cooper and sure enough she had the pin up doll look going on with tats covering her neck and I could tell they went further down her ample chest.

“Really you are out of gas?” Thinking to myself this is one hell of a mirage or heat stroke, but hell this isn’t bad.

“Yes, I wasn’t paying attention and don’t know where the hell I am at and I left my cell phone in Milwaukee”

“Milwaukee, I just left Milwaukee, Harley 110 Anniversary party” I said.

“Yes I was there, I had a booth, well not really my own booth but a friend let me sell stuff from their booth, here let me show you.”

She opened the hatch and you couldn’t have fit another thing in that car, it was packed to the roof with leather goods, bracelets, necklaces and make up. She showed me a hand made engraved leather purse with an Emblem from an Oldsmobile Cutlass automobile with seat belt latch and straps. It was cool as hell.

“You made this?”

“Yes, let me show you this.”

“Hold on, what is your name and don’t you think I should get you some gas first”

“My name is Heyltje Rose”

“What?” After a day of riding my already bad hearing gets worse. I caught the Rose part but had no idea what she said her first name was.

“H-E-Y-L-T-J-E, she went on to explain her parents naming of her, but for me it was just Hey and she seemed good with it.

I returned from the gas station with a 2 gallon gas can full of gas still suspecting that maybe the problem was more than out of gas, but after dispensing it started right up. I followed her to the gas station where she tried to pay me. She was headed to home in Arizona so I made her take the gas can just in case but we had to really push and shove to make room in her little car.

Check out her website at www.heyltjerose.com and tell her Cole sent you. What a interesting and great person she turned out to be and I had to laugh when she said ” I knew a biker would stop and save me”

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Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

“Please take cover, there is severe thunderstorms, large hail and lighting in the area, please take cover!”

Oh great, I just got here. Where is here you ask?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMilwaukee and the Harley Davidson Museum. I have waited a long time to come here and now I better leave because it doesn’t look like any place here to take cover so back to the underpass I just left an hour ago. The underpass is where all the action is right now anyway with the rain, but not before I grab a pic of this amazing multi motored cycle. Has an engine from each generation of Harley Davidson motors and does run.

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And of course molly the motorcycle riding German Shepard is there too. ( too bad not a Harley though)

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Only Harley Davidson could pull a party like this off, name one other corporation in America that could get this many people here from all over the world sporting their brand, take over a city and put smiles on everyone’s faces. Only Harley Davidson could do this! Most have come from all over the world to participate in the parade which is invitation only and consist of celebrities and HOG (Harley Owners Group) members. HOG has chapters all over the world and most if not all are here for this parade.

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Brazil wins in my opinion for having the most fun during the parade.

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The parade lasted for hours and the rumble on the city streets echoing off the buildings was incredible with both the riders and the crowd all feeling they were a part of. I sat next to a couple from Texas and he provided commentary for the whole parade. He knew every flag and country and all the celebrities of which I knew none. I shook my head up and down as if I understood every word he said but I could hear nothing but the rumble of Harleys.

Probably one of the most photographed parade bikes.

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After the parade was over I wanted to ride too so off to see some of Milwaukee which feels like a small town in a big city.

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Lots of old churches, old buildings and history with Harleys everywhere you looked.

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Lots of people riding along the beaches of Lake Michigan and lots of people on the beaches. There was some kind of party on every corner but the best ones were at one of the local Harley Davidson dealers surrounding Milwaukee and everything was free at the dealers so off I went.  Found the worlds largest beer bong, great music and plenty of scenery.

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Riding in between the dealers would give me a feel for the streets of Milwaukee and the surrounding area. These girls were doing a bang up business with their stand and of course I couldn’t pass them without stopping.

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At night there were multiple neighborhood parties where the streets were closed off and they would have beer vendors, food vendors and live music. It seems the whole town was in support of the Harley Davidson 110 anniversary party and everywhere you turned people were friendly.

The next day more of the same and back to the dealer parties. Since I missed out on the beer bong and did not find any lemonade stands today I had to settle for a beverage from these fine lasses.

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Thank You Mark Twain

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

“Have you been here before?” I was sitting on a park bench in Hannibal Missouri when this elderly gentleman sat down beside me and asked me that question.

“Yes, a couple of times now.”

“Why?” I am thinking to myself what the hell kind of question is that?

“Well, because I like this place, I am a Mark Twain fan, I love the Mississippi River and when I look across the street over there and see those buildings it reminds of the stories in Mark Twain’s books, and that makes me feel good.”

“Me too.”

I couldn’t figure this guy out, he was nice enough but the way he asked the blunt questions and his blunt responses was making me a little uncomfortable. I didn’t quite know how to continue the conversation or even if I should continue. I wasn’t sure why he chose this bench when there was others available with the same view he could have by himself. I assumed he wanted to talk but he sure as hell wasn’t mister personality.

“I used to ride.”

Ah ha, there it was, he must have seen me park the bike. I figured I would try his style. “Why did you quit.”

Long silence as he stared across the street. No response and I thought maybe I stepped over the line or maybe the guy was just weird and then with a deep sigh he finally responded. “I don’t know.”

The response was powerful, short words but I immediately knew where he was mentally now. We both just sat there and when he got up to leave we shook hands, it was a warm genuine hand shake; a biker handshake.

Give me a new book, one about travel or history and you will find me hid out somewhere sneaking in a chapter at every opportunity. I like the feel of the book in my hands, the smell of the paper and print. Electronic reading is just not the same for me, yet here I am writing a stories on a computer and hoping you read them the only way you can which is electronic. Some day you will get to hold that book.

I don’t remember being forced to read in school but the books were always short and easy to read until one day I picked up a really thick book called the “Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” I couldn’t put it down, I read it twice and then kept going back and reading my favorite chapters. Then it was Huck Finn books, a whole series of them. I remember feeling really special holding those books in my hands and being proud; look how thick they are; I read the whole thing and I liked it! All I can say is “Thank you Mark Twain!

 

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Thanks to Mark Twain and those books I developed an obsession with the Mississippi River and paddle wheel boats. The big muddy, the river of all rivers the dividing line between east and west and the river that can’t be tamed. Someday I will ride this paddle wheel boat “Queen of the Mississippi” to New Orleans!

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Queen of the Mississippi

 

I can see myself sitting on the one of these balconies drinking my coffee and waving at the people on the shore.

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Another view that shows the size of this canoe with a paddle wheel.

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Finally starting to see other bikes as I head north towards Milwaukee. It is not quite like the road to Sturgis this far south and most are in groups obviously members of various HOG (Harley Owners Group) chapters headed to the Harley 110 anniversary. This group was from Japan and having  blast, they all waved as they went by me.

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Mostly interstate for the last northern half of Illinois, once I started seeing a lot of bikes I became anxious to get to Milwaukee myself so the race was on and before I knew it I was almost there.

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I didn’t have reservations for a room in Milwaukee for another night yet so decided I better try and find a room after crossing the Wisconsin state line and would have a short ride tomorrow. Of course I stayed in the town of Elkhorn, it seemed like the right thing to do. These bikes were in the parking lot of the motel. Zoom up on the windshield of the camo painted street glide.

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A sportster with a sidecar, don’t see that very often.

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Was starting to get my motorcycle fix, they were in the motel parking lot, I could hear them out on the highway and they were everywhere I went now. Little did I know what I was about to be in for tomorrow.

I am going to miss that helmet

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

Leaving Arkansas; I will be back, but need to get up early and make the ferry. Getting up early means no time to find coffee and I must make my own. You know you’re addicted to coffee when one of your first major back pack purchases is a light weight drip coffee maker system. This system consist of a little jet stove to heat the bottled water, a stainless steel pan to hold the water and then a rubber drip funnel with paper filters and my favorite Starbucks Sumatra ground coffee.

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I am pretty much in the middle of nowhere this morning on the edge of the Ozarks, everything is covered with real Mountain Dew and I hear a rooster crowing as I sip the first of my special brew java, “man this is awesome”  I say out loud to myself. Looking up the road, I wonder how long it will be for the fog to lift and decide I am not waiting for it.

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As I ride into the low spots the fog is so heavy my windshield covers with water, up over the butterfly hills and the sun is shining on top. Maybe a few less trees than yesterday but these roads are still great for riding.

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Today the plan is take the ferry across Bull Shoals lake and cross into Missouri. I have been on the road over a week now in what I call “free states” of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas meaning no helmet required laws. That all changes today after I cross into Missouri and have to wear a helmet, but first I need to find the ferry landing. It was easy enough to find and I was the first one there so I wandered around the shore line while waiting. In the distance I could hear another Harley roaring through the hills and valleys and thought cool, I will have some company on the ferry. When I made it back to my bike there was a young couple with a new Harley parked next to mine waiting for the ferry. They were both sunburned bad and neither looked to be enjoying themselves. They were in their early 20’s and this was their first bike and their first overnight trip. They were from Kansas City and had ridden down here to go to Branson, they got bored (I think he got bored) and decided to ride south into Arkansas. Somehow they lost track of time, it got dark and they got lost and ended up sleeping on the bike and on the ground at a gas station. Their biggest complaint was sunburn and no windshield allowing the bugs to smash their faces. I told them they would later laugh at their adventure and be ready to do it all again soon. They didn’t believe me and just wanted to get back to Branson and all he could talk about was a windshield, I gave them a tube of sunscreen.  Later, an older fella pulled up on a beat up Honda Goldwing and I had to listen to the whole story all over again as they found a new set of ears with him. He just winked and smiled at me while listening. He also told me to follow him when we exited the ferry.

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I followed my new found Honda riding friend off the ferry wondering if he was going to stop so we could put on our helmets since we were now in helmet state of Missouri. Up the ferry ramp, through the campground, around the corner and into the gravel driveway of a bar.  Ended up with a free map of Missouri, smoked brisket and a cold ice tea for me. My new friend was a Viet Nam vet now retired from being a union ironworker who lived in Arkansas but rode to this place  for the brisket and to visit with old friends. After an hour or so I donned my hardhat (helmet) and away I went thinking about finding the Mississippi river again as my destination.  It doesn’t take long before I find a familiar road.

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Good “ol”  Route 66 again. I get on at Cuba and head for Saint Louis. Along the route I stop for a water break, take my helmet off, set it on the pack and water down my hair and shirt. It is an awesome home made swamp cooler once I take off again and very refreshing. I pull through the gravel rutted road out of the abandoned gas station shade to get back to the main road. KARUUMP! damn that was a deep rut and I thought I heard the bike bottom out. Ouch, that hurt, hope I didn’t break anything. Bike feels normal and okay, but why are these people pointing at me and tapping their head? Strange biker wave or something maybe, weird. I only made it about 30 miles in the heat before I was ready to take another water douche and needed gas anyway. I pulled into the gas pumps and there was a couple of guys on choppers . Afte I stopped one of them walked around to the back of my bike and I could tell he was looking to see what my plate was. “Colorado huh, you do know Missouri has a helmet law don’t you?”  Oh crap, that is what the sound was when I hit that rut, it was my helmet bopping off the ground, shit “do you know where I can get a helmet, I obviously forgot and lost it about 30 miles back.” They were no help and I loved that helmet, it was only a novelty but didn’t hurt my head and fit good so what the hell, I already made it this far so I will just go back and get it. As I rode back the direction of the lost helmet I felt like an outlaw and every oncoming car looked like a cop. Longest 30 miles I have ever ridden. When I got back to the spot, the helmet was gone, damn I am going to miss that helmet.

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Now what, no helmet and I didn’t pass a place that looked like they might have one. Guess I could always go to Walmart and get a football helmet ala Jack Nicholson and Easy Rider style. I stopped at a tractor store because I saw 4 wheelers and they had helmets but only the Darth Vader looking style and very expensive, but they did tell me about a custom cycle shop nearby. I found a cheap helmet there and the owner really enjoyed the story. The only thing they had that fit  was a Nazi style chrome helmet, I felt stupid wearing it, but it would have to do. On to the Mississippi river, but think I will bypass Saint Louis and hit the Illinois side.

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I have mentioned this before, but I hope barn quilts catch on in the West, I think they are cool and could be a new business venture for me. Hmmm

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I follow the river road north and land across from one of my favorite Mississippi River towns of Hannibal Missouri.

 

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Time to set up camp and call it a day. Damn, I miss that helmet.

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A Perfect Day for Riding

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

This idea of riding the gulf coast from Texas to Florida with the heat and hurricane threats just isn’t working out. Surfing the internet and rethinking the route; boom!; there it is!  Harley Davidsons 110 Anniversary party Milwaukee Wisconsin, a quick look at the map, oh cool get to ride thru Arkansas and I have never been to Milwaukee and best of all I can make it easily by next weekend and screw off in between. Arkansas has always been my favorite state to ride in and somehow over the last 10 years I have found my way to ride part of it half of those years but first must cross the Red River and leave Texas.   

Always hard to leave Texas, but Arkansas calls and those Arkansas roads will grab your heart quickly. I have never been on this road before, cool weather in the low 80’s, weekday, very little traffic, a “PERFECT DAY FOR RIDING” Just let the next few pictures take you away for a bit.

 

 

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Not only are the roads awesome today, but what appears to be a major theme of this years trip is the rest stops with the awesome views

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The funny stuff I see and think about while I am riding in Arkansas. A mini mall, mostly run down with a liquor store across the street from one of the hundreds of ministries. A rehab center across the street from a sex toy store. Hundreds of abandoned convenience store gas stations in what appears to be failed retirement business ventures for those who relocate here from urban areas seeking a simpler life.  The plan sounded good for them while they were still working and living in the city; move to the country, open a little store and sell ammo, bait and beer. What they didn’t consider was the only ones with money to spend out here already had their own little ammo, bait and beer stores and the rest decided to open a church or a sex shop. Mix then all together and therefore the need for all the rehab centers.

Another abandoned convenience store from the 30’s or 40’s

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A marker locating the mine where the stone from Arkansas came from that went to the Washington Monument in DC

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Wow, that looks like an abandoned amusement park I just went by. I turn around and see eerie ferris wheels and roller coasters and have no idea where I am or what I am looking at. All of the buildings were boarded up, gates chained off and all of the pull offs from the road were blocked with stones. it was obvious whoever owned this did not want people wandering around or even stopping to take pictures. Later at the motel I googled and found out it was Dogpatch USA amusement park now abandoned and claimed to be very haunted. Again the best stuff to be found on the net about it was found in www.legendsofamerica.com website

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A little further up the road I came across this place and later found out it was once the major motel for Dogpatch but is now a motorcycle resort. It was to early to stop for me but I will be back.

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Lost in Texas

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

With today’s technology, we may likely be the last generation to ever get lost; I intend to be the last of the last.

Most people will hurry even faster the closer they get to their destination, I tend to go slower. What the hell is the hurry to end the journey?

A map spread out over a roadside park bench is a beautiful thing, I love looking at maps and am always looking for the “Blue Highways” One of my very favorite books written by William Least Heat Moon is titled “Blue Highways” about the back roads colored in blue on the highway map. Not only are we likely the last generation to ever get lost, but we may also be the last generation who takes a dirty calloused finger and traces the lines on a map silently counting the miles and hours between two points looking for the green and blue colors and choosing a route based on the now pre calculated information in the brain and not on a handheld computer. The information now computed in my head, put the map away and ride, if I take a wrong turn or miss a highway number then just go, with any good luck I might actually get lost and I can always pull the map out later and start over.

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When I can afford to, back roads are my choice, it’s the best wine on the menu. The joke at work is never ask Cole how long it takes to get from point A to Point B because he doesn’t have a clue, I like that. When I can’t afford to though, knowing how to read a map, knowing the back roads pays big dividends. I subscribe to the Sonny Barger theory at work, “Early is on time, on time is late and late is a lack of respect.” I am not at work today, have purposely avoided schedule and destinations that would require me to be on time. For all my Texas friends who have now figured out I damn near toured the whole state of Texas and never contacted them, please forgive me but I was avoiding having to be on time and trying to be a bum. Someday; I will have time to stop but don’t expect me to be on time just open the door when I knock and answer the phone when I call and say ” I am just down the road at the gas station a couple of miles from your house”.

 Having given up on New Orleans and  solving the mystery of why Pancho Villa sent me there to find the origin of the iron horse, I pointed my iron horse northeast seeking cooler weather, rivers, great riding back roads and seeking adventure. I know a lot of readers think the whole Kit Carson, Pancho Villa doesn’t belong in a biker blog and don’t get it. Bet you didn’t know Pancho was a biker. A Mexican riding an Indian, there has to be a joke in there somewhere.

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The map showed a lot of green and blue if I headed towards Livingston, I wasn’t disappointed. It is still hot but I am moving, traffic is lighter and the asphalt doesn’t generate as much heat upward when I stop. The road I am on takes me through town and not around town, another reason it always takes me longer to get somewhere. I stop at a stoplight and on my right is an irresistible site. Strange to some I am sure, but the old wrought iron fence is the first draw so I turn right and pull into the church parking lot.

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Having recently read two books about the Civil War, I am now more interested after I see markers of confederate soldiers.

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Like most, I thought the Civil War was only about slavery, but I doubt this Army Private owned any slaves. While slavery was a major issue between the North and South the real friction was the issue of State vs. Federal rights which reminds me that I need to catch up on the news and current events. I haven’t watched anything on TV but the weather channel for over a week now and the only newspapers is what little of headlines I can see through the window in the news stand machines at gas stations.

Next stop near Lake Livingston where I have one of the best meals of this whole trip at a Valero gas station. The deep fried catfish has Allsups burritos beat by a mile! While eating I pick up a newspaper and turn to the sports page.

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And if the sad state of pro sports wasn’t enough, I read about bombing Syria and a new term called “Demohawks” in the breaking news section. Makes me want to go to the bathroom. Texas has the best damn gas station bathrooms!

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So many country songs talk about crossing the Red River, only most are about going the other direction from the one I am going. When I was little (about 10 years ago) I thought the Red River was red, looks like a damn fine greenish blue river to me. It is time I leave Texas, a state I truly love and I will be back not soon enough!

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Instinct

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

How hot is it? I’m dying out here, a trip to the south not one of my better ideas. I’m in the middle of Texas and still headed south, my mind made up that I need to put my feet in the Gulf of Mexico and then follow the coast to New Orleans where the secrets of the “Metal Horses” lie. On a quest now, nothing can stop me from watching the sunset on the beach, Jimmy Buffet here I come. Leaving Temple Texas I seek the most direct route I can find, scan the map and Houston get ready. The construction workers say “Get on State Highway 36 and don’t get off, it will end in water” I now have a plan, a route, a destination, a goal, a quest, nothing can stop me.

Nothing can stop me, but a lot can slow me down.

” Are you waiting for Bob”

“No ma’am, I am just taking advantage of this shade tree and quiet spot so I can do a conference call, is that okay?”

” Oh sure, I just thought you were waiting for Bob and I was going to get him for you, we are closing and I saw you parked by his truck and he is still inside.”

I am parked in a bank parking lot under the only quiet shade spot I could find after circling town for a half hour looking for the perfect spot. As soon as I pulled in and shut off, all of the ladies in the bank were walking out and getting in their cars. I only had a couple of minutes left before I had to be on the conference call and knew I was getting stares, but hoped nobody would ask or care. I knew better: think about it, a town of maybe 2000, strange guy on a motorcycle has been riding up and down the streets for a half hour and then parks beside the truck of the most important man in town at the most important place in town (except for sundays), shuts off and pours himself a cup of coffee when it is a 100 degrees outside, digs into his pack, pulls out a laptop, notebook and then pours a bottle of water on his head. A few minutes later the president of the bank, Bob walks out and asks if I am waiting on him. I go mute, explain to Bob what I am doing and he invites me to go inside. I thank him and explain I am fine and almost done, five minutes later he comes back out and gives me an ice cold water. This is America!

A few minutes later, two ladies pull up in a Tahoe.

“Have you seen a cat running around?”

Slowly, “no?”

” I think my cat hitched a ride to the bank with us earlier and we are looking for it”

“Oh, I get it now, no but I will be here awhile and will keep an eye out for it.”

“Good, my daughter said I should ask you if you seen my pussy, here is my phone number if you do”

Mom and daughter drove away giggling like little school girls. I put the paper with the number in my shirt pocket and just shook my head. thinking to myself, “this is Texas, damn I love Texas”

Conference call over, no cat,  it is now evening and seeing the sun set over the gulf isn’t going to happen today. New plan, stop for night, I am close enough now, get up early, hit the gulf and start on my journey to New Orleans along the coast. Slowed down, but not out, plan still in effect, just a minor delay that’s all. As I fly down the highway something white flitters in front of my face and then falls behind me and blows down the highway. Oh yeah, never put anything in your shirt pocket and expect it to stay when riding, it was the phone number. “Hey highway clean up crew, call that number if you find a pussy.”

I haven’t washed the bike since this trip started and except for the rain storms all the road had to offer is still on the bike. The bike is plastered with road tar, mud, bug guts, and caterpillar juice gives it a lot of character. I enjoy a great nights rest in probably the best “Best Western” ever in Brenham Texas, up early and loaded and ready to go around Houston and the traffic to a spot I picked out on the map called Crystal Beach. I originally was thinking Galveston, but that would mean right through the middle of Houston during the morning commute and having been there, done that I found Crystal Beach on the internet last night and decided it would work. I fire up and go through the pre ride checks. What the hell, there are ants everywhere crawling out of my dash, on my seat and as I look down, all over me and the motorcycle.  I bail like a madman shaking and dancing trying to shake them off. Closer inspection reveals I parked near an ant hill and with my kick stand at ground zero the ants were crawling up the kick stand grabbing bug guts off the bike and running back down with their new loot. It was a constant trail up and down the bike with at least a million ants.

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I now have ants on the pants and in my mind ants in my pants, they are on the fairing, the gas tank, all over the motor and crawling all the way to the end of the exhaust. For some reason I think that if I start the bike maybe it will scare them away and if nothing else the engine heat will start cooking them and they will run down the kickstand and go back home. It only served to piss them off and make them more active; maybe if I ride real fast they will be cooked from the heat and the rest will be blown off. I took off and the faster I went the more they came out of the cracks in the fairing so now I am riding, brushing ants off the tank, the dash and me. This isn’t working so I stop, the heat from the engine doesn’t seem to bother them and I am still riding a mobile ant farm. I spend the next 15 min knocking them off with a rag and now have 3 big welts on my belly from ant bites.

I’m off to finally put my feet in the gulf, ants can’t stop me rain can’t stop me, nothing can stop me. I get close to the George Bush International airport and things are familiar, now if I can only skate across the north side heading east, miss the traffic and wind my away around most of Houston and to the Gulf. It didn’t take long to get hot and muggy, my early start delayed by the ants has me entering the traffic apparently the same time as everybody in Houston. Surely they don’t know my secret route, we all seem to be going the same way?

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Stop and go traffic, the engine is getting really hot, I am sure all the ants are cooked by now. I get off the highway and decide to trust my sense of direction, all I have to do is go east and then south or just generally trend southeast, what could go wrong.

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Hot damn, it is hot. I am sweating like crazy, I have to swab the inside of my glasses to see but only when my hands are free which is seldom with the stop and go traffic and the terrible stoplight timing. I know some nerd kid is watching me with a controller in their hand hitting the stop button and making the stoplights go red just as I am about to start moving again. I don’t know where I am now, every block has a stop light and the heat from the pavement only compounds with the engine heat each time I stop. This fancy dancy bike I have comes with a computer that shuts down the rear cylinder when the engine gets hot. The first time it happened I thought I  burned the motor up, it goes from the cool sounding cadence of a v twin motor to that of a Johnny pop tractor.  Smooth’s right out as soon as you touch the throttle but still unnerving nonetheless and it’s doing it every stop light now, this can’t be good. I decide to pull over and let the motor cool off, figure out where I am , wipe the sweat from my face and take a cold water bottle shower. The first thing I see when I pull over is a sign of how hot it is in Texas.

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And he isn’t moving over to share!

The map doesn’t work, I dig out the GPS but it doesn’t show me where I think I am, there is no way I am where it shows, no way so I bury it back in the saddlebag. The road over there is going south east, doesn’t look like much traffic so I take it. Dead end, no outlet, damn I hate those signs and I see them too often. I backtrack and after two  hours I am now at the same gas station with the dog in the ice only this time I made him move and laid on my back looking up at the hot Texas sun and telling the Lord to take me now. Okay maybe I am a little disillusioned from the heat and am pretty sure I just stood in the shade of the building and dreamed of naked vixens pouring ice water on me while rubbing my feet and feeding me grapes. The hot sun does strange things to the mind, not all of them bad.

Something doesn’t feel right. I hate this, I can feel it coming, I know when it is about to happen and fight it off with everything I have but it’s winning this time I can tell. I fight it harder, come on man don’t do it, don’t do it. Toughen up you pussy,  too late, it happened, my instinct took over and it said you don’t wanna die: I gave up on trying to find the coast, at least anywhere near Houston.

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A table for time and my guardian angel

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

” Excuse me sir, are you busy, do you have a knife?”

I am half way into a 2 hour conference call in my field office at the roadside park when a guy walks up behind me and asks me for a knife.

“Oh, I am sorry you look busy, I just need a knife to cut up my credit cards.”

I am a little startled, I have no idea who he is or where he came from and of course I am not happy about how he snuck into my space, he didn’t even knock before he entered my office. He is standing there holding two brand new credit cards of some sort and wants a knife to cut them up. When I am on the road I often spend time in places most people wouldn’t and I am used to people asking for money, trying to sell me something or involving me in some sort of scam, but this was a new one.

“Look, I am on the phone, I don’t have a knife,  I can blow holes in them with my gun, but I might miss and it makes a lot of noise!”

I don’t travel with a gun, ( I have a guardian angel) but it was enough for him to back away, say I am sorry to bother you and disappear almost as silently as he appeared. I am still wondering what the scam was?

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I am still on route 66, a road I love to not only ride but to also read about. You can go to Washington DC to see all kinds of monuments but route 66 is America’s largest monument and is also known around the world.  Much of it has been overlaid by newer highways, it has been abandoned and re-routed in other parts but a lot of it is still there if you look for it. Sometimes looking for it is the most fun.  It still has a few motels where you don’t need a sleeping bag to sleep in  and mom and pop restaurants without the branded and generic menus but if you are in a hurry, forget it. If you want a true Americana adventure, route 66 still kicks! You will need a mirror to look at this next picture or you can take your notebook/laptop and hold it to a mirror.

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Did you really just use a mirror, I did, it works. Seriously did you really just use a mirror?

I have previously ridden route 66 from Amarillo to Chicago and someday intend to do a blog just on that trip. This trip though allowed me to do a little more of it from Santa Rosa NM to Amarillo.  The first time I rode route 66 I did the internet thing and googled “route 66” I then studied as much as I could about the road. My search kept going to the same web page over and over and the name of the person was the same as somebody I knew from high school.  Somehow it came up in a conversation with my mom and she confirmed it was the same person. If you love history, ghost towns, Americana like I do then you need to go to WWW.Legendsofamerica.com Find them on facebook too and do a “like”, you won’t regret it. I have since reconnected with Kathy and someday she will sell my books, she just doesn’t know it yet. I once tried to date her in high school but her sister who knew me quite well (and still does) shut that idea off like a light switch. Whenever I am about to do a road trip and have an idea where I am going I will do a search of her site and get some ideas. This trip though, I don’t really have a clue where I’m headed so I go to her site after the fact, only to find what the hell it was  that I missed earlier in the day. You will be surprised at what there is about your own locale or backyard that never knew about. Let her know I sent ya!

I messed around all day, finding the old route 66 highway, the museum in Santa Rosa and even US 84 which was the route 66 prior to 1937. I need tires, have needed them since I left almost a week ago now (see pic of my guardian angel again)  and I need to find a Harley shop with new tires. Amarillo and Tripps Harley Davidson were my destination and should be easy enough to get there before closing time but I had to bypass a lot of places I would have liked to stop, like Montoyo NM. There is nothing there now but rusty iron, crumbling rock and stone buildings – a real modern day ghost town. I always stop at those places and it probably even had an abandoned gas station to park at!  I am really bummed I did not stop, especially after doing a search on Legends of America after the fact! I needed tires, had to reach Amarillo before closing time. I didn’t make it.

Are any Stuckey’s still in business? This was the second one I stopped at that has been abandoned. I didn’t need anything but it made a good place to stop and wait out the rain storm. I ride in rain, no problem, but this was a hard frog strangling rain that washes stuff off the highway including motorcycles. I saw the Stuckey’s sign from a mile away and knew I needed to get off the interstate and wait this rain out.  It looked like it would pass quickly and I could still make Amarillo and the HD shop before closing time. I pulled in and immediately could tell it was abandoned; that was okay with me I just needed the awning to park under out of the rain. I shut the motor off, got off the bike and stripped out of my rain gear. KABOOM! Lightening strikes the radio tower on the other side of the interstate. Kaboom again, I see the dust fly from the ground as lightening strikes the hill in front of me. I look around and then up, I am standing under a metal awning which appears to be the second highest landmark besides the radio tower. The hell with this, I will take my chances riding in the hard rain! I swear the hair on my arms was standing erect when that last flash hit and no time to put the rain gear back on, I gotta go! See pic of my guardian angel again.

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You are still reading this so that means I didn’t get struck by lightening; I didn’t make Amarillo HD by closing time either and I did get wet, really wet! ” Isn’t this fun”, I keep telling myself. Hell yes it is! I made the Harley shop just as they were closing up and put myself on the list for early the next morning. I found a room close by and rode around Amarillo for awhile mostly lost which is the way I like it. Eventually I came to the Amarillo Civic Center and pulled over.  I sat in the grass, smoked a cigarette and smiled, just like I did in the same spot  38 years ago, the night before I joined the Army across the street. There was a little ol band from Texas playing inside and I was too broke to afford a ticket so I hung out in the grass outside with other broke people who were so broke they were all sharing the same cigarette, they even shared it with me. Back then I won a free extra night in Amarillo on Uncle Sam because I had to go back twice to pass the piss test, I don’t think they even tested for THC back then so it must have been the alcohol.  I doubt they give second chances anymore. Yep that is the same guy.

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Tripps Harley Davidson did a fine job installing two new tires for me the next morning. While waiting, I used their waiting room to catch up on emails and do yet another work conference call and of course, visit with the locals hanging out in the dealership. Seemed to be a lot of locals hanging out doing nothing and finally one of them told me they were all waiting for the truck to arrive with the new 2014 Harley’s.

“Yeah, they are supposed to be here today. They were supposed to be here yesterday but the truck broke down or something so only one showed up and it was on a Walmart truck. It’s in the back, wanna see it?”

Of course I wanted to see it so my new Texas friend snuck me into the back room where I am sure neither of us was supposed to be. There it sat, a new 2014 unassembled Tri Glide which is a Harley 3 wheeler. Looked like an Electra Glide with an extra wheel but what the hell is this thing? Oh my, it is a radiator, no can’t be true! Yes the new Harley’s are water cooled, no wonder it came in on a Walmart Truck.

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No wonder Harley started adding lowers  to all the Harleys since 2010, they were setting us up because they knew they were going to hide a radiator in there eventually. Harley’s have been air cooled since 1903 except for an experiment a few years ago where they produced a water cooled model called the V Rod. Not sure this is going to fly with hard core Harley enthusiasts. The new models also have a touch screen for GPS, radio, xm, ipod, and computer. I think it is a motorcycle although my new friend said it was a Cadillac with three wheels. He also said there isn’t one accessory from previous years that fit the new ones.  Harley knows no one leaves the dealership with a new bike that doesn’t include some individual stylized accessories.

(For my non Harley friends, lowers are plastic fairing pieces that mount to the lower crash bars, meant to provide an additional wind break and rain protection for the feet and lower leg area. I have ridden bikes with them and all they do for me is add heat and limit places to put my feet.)

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Wondering where to go next with my new tires, hotter than hell out there on the road so I asked this fella for some directions and guidance. He wasn’t much help and I think he wanted to run me over, little does he know I once was a rodeo clown. See pic of my guardian angel again.

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Another roadside park to ponder my next move, yep need to go see if “the table” is still there. It was the last time I was there so I need to see if it still is.

I call this pondering and it really is the same guy that was a soldier in the earlier pic.

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The table, oh that wonderful stone picnic table that Grandpa built. Whenever I think of Grandpa and Grandma in Temple Texas I think of that table where we laughed, climbed, learn to play cards, crack pecans, and listen to the old folks talk. Grandpa was a mason; he built that table to last and even though the house has been torn down for 20 years, the porch, sidewalks and that wonderful table were still there the last time I went to check on it 10 years ago.

Grandpa and the table.

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Will it still be there, I wonder as the miles float away under my new tires. The guy in Abilene told me to be careful around the river bottoms, “watch out for the hogs he said”. my hands tighten on the grips as my eyes constantly scan the barrow ditches and edge of the road for wild hogs.

” They are really bad this year and will take down a motorcycle.  We’ve had a lot of motorcycle wrecks running into wild hogs this year already. Really unpredictable too, the bastards. About the time you think they are going to cross they will turn around and be right in your wheel.” See pic of guardian angel.

I am disappointed when I get through all the river bottoms and never see a wild hog.  I ride through Gatesville where I was told I would end up someday if I didn’t change my ways. None of the prisoners are outside today, pussies.  It’s too hot for them and the ACLU probably has a  safe maximum outside temperature range the state now has to abide by. Ft Hood, where my mom and dad met during WWII; Belton reservoir where my Uncle Jimmy and my Dad used to take my grandma to dine and dance.  The airport where we picked up my Uncle Jimmy,  a Colonel in the Air Force who had just flown in on a fighter jet.  Gonna be a good time around the old stone picnic table tonight.  I was back in 1966 in my mind as I rode by all these memorable places. I can’t believe I rode right to the front step without getting lost, the closer I got the more it all came back to me and just like that I was in front of Grandpa and Grandma’s house. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The house is torn down, but the sidewalks and that huge old porch are still there covered with trees but much smaller than I remembered, like everything is from our childhood, but what about the table? Man I hope nobody stole it, they better have a big ass piece of equipment to unearth that thing. It was made to last, made by my grandpa, built with stone and concrete, it had colors and inlays, a true artistic monument and built with my Grandpa’s own two hands. My grandpa; a mason.

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Burnt taters, pure Americana

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

“Pancho, where can I get something to eat, you know some good Mexican food”

“Allsups”

“Allsups, what is that Spanish for, is it a sit down restaurant or what?”

“You can sit down if you want, but it is a gas station you stupid gringo.”

“Gas station, you mean an old gas station converted to a Mexican restaurant?”

“No man, like 7-11, mini mart, kum n go, convenience store!”

So Pancho Villa sends me to a place called Allsups for good Mexican food and you know what, he was right! There should be a law against it, the first deep fried beef and bean burrito was so damn good I had to go get another. It is a good thing they don’t have Allsups close to where I work and I later find out people line up at lunch time for Allsups burritos all throughout Texas. Oh yeah, I am headed to Texas now and trying to figure out the directions Pancho gave me.

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Not in Texas yet though, still having a good time in New Mexico and road 518 out of Taos south is magical and puts me in a great mood along with a full belly. Eventually I find my way to Las Vegas and a crazy man collecting cans at of all places, Allsups. He stands behind cars and screams at them as they try to back up, eventually the manager comes out and screams at him to move, the car backs out and leaves and then the routine starts all over again. I watch with amazement as this scene repeats itself 3 or 4 times and wonder what kind of scam or game this is. He never asks for money, he just screams in some language that isn’t Spanish but some kind of “grunting scream talk”. I decide this is getting weird and starting to hear Alfred Hitchcock in my ear so I try to leave and he is behind me screaming at me. I shut the bike down, get off and decide to go inside and ask the manager to make him move and the man runs off down the street screaming. This land of enchantment is starting to make sense to me now because I am sure there is peyote in the beef and bean burrito’s Allsups sells.

Conference call meeting time. I have said it before but if I don’t do some work during these trips then there is no way I can be gone this long without guilt so I try to cover the important stuff while on the road and often have the best seat and view of anyone on the calls. I am lucky to have a job where I can still  work from about anyplace and sometimes anyplace is subject only to my creativity and current location. Today it is Tucamcari New Mexico at a road side table area.

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Those who know me at work, have seen this before, but when I think, I scribble. The more scribbles the harder I am thinking and the better the meeting. This meeting wasn’t too bad.

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Someday, most likely in enchanted New Mexico a 1000 years from now somebody will find these notes and claim they have some alien meaning and are really ancient hieroglyphics.

Tucamcari, love saying that word. On Route 66 and this office could have been used by travelers since 1937. Right next to the radio station KQAY that was also crackling on automobile tube radios.

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Road side stops, road side rest area, road side tables, is pure Americana. Who hasn’t stopped at one and if like me growing up traveling to grandma’s house in the back seat of a 4 door Ford then you have stopped at a lot of them. I remember the ones in Texas the most because that was the road to Grandma’s house from Kansas. My favorite; Cross Plains Texas where there was a rope hung in a tree where me and little brother would swing over the creek while dad opened the trunk, grabbed a cold Coors from the metal ice chest, wrapped it in a red mechanics rag (pre koozie days) and holler at us two brothers to get off the rope. We always had a trunk full of Coors on our trips to grandma’s house in Texas, partially because Grandma loved Coors and my Dad was boot leggin’ before Coors was sold in Texas. I think it paid for our trips. While dad was taking a beer break, Mom was making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. See what I mean, pure Americana. I texted my older brother that I was in Cross Plains Texas and thinking I needed a Coors wrapped in a red rag. He responded with ” you brought back a pleasant and nostalgic old memory he hadn’t thought of in a long time”  and thanked me.

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If you have memories at stops like these, then please comment, its easy and harmless and the comments keep me going.

Route 66, love it and try and do the original road as much as I can. You have to get off the interstates and see real America before it disappears. Soon old houses like this will be gone. Was it a banker, a lawyer, a boot legger or a cattle baron’s mansion at one time?

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I am going with cattle baron because damn it, my story and it is what I want to believe, besides he moved out of town and back to his ranch,

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Gotta love the Texas sense of humor. He is in deep shit because his pastures turned to cactus and the yuppies haven’t figured out a way to market them yet.

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“Hey pard, I don’t know where you headed but you gonna be a burnt tater when you get there!”

I am getting gas and these two construction workers start talking to me asking where I am headed. They catch me doing the water dance,  where I pour ice cold water over my head and let it run down my face, down my shirt and eventually down my pants cooling off my balls therefore making me do the jig. I call it the water dance but after the dance a ride down the road and home made swamp cooler is in effect.  Later in the day I had a picture taken in front of Allsups and after looking at it I can see where the burnt tater comment came from. And oh yeah guys, I am headed for the gulf! They said I wasn’t on the right road, but what the hell did they know, they were construction workers.

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Kit, Pancho and Willie

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

He was asleep on the old wooden bench in front of Kit Carson’s house, sombrero pulled down over his face and a navajo blanket covering the rest of him.

“Hey Senor, wake up, wake up old man, do you speak English?”

The old mexican slowly raised his sombrero to reveal his face, wearing a long moustache and looked at me in the eyes without saying a word.

” Senor, isn’t this Kit Carson’s house, do you speak english, isn’t that his iron horse parked there?”

texas longhorn on fairing

 

“The wooden indian in Manitou sent me here to find Kit, said he would guide me to the origin of the steel horses. What is your name anyway?”

Finally the old mexican spoke.

“I know who you are, you are Two Feathers.”

“How do you know that old man, where is Kit?”

“My name is Pancho: Pancho Villa, and you are too late, Kit is gone.”

“What do you mean gone, he was supposed to be here.”

“Oh he is here, just gone. Go take a look around back.”

kitcarsongrave

“Oh wow, I am late, but hey I got slowed down by those caterpillars and all those roads leading me here kept calling my name so I had to take them and then there was the rain I had to wait out sitting in the car wash.”

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“It is okay, he left me a map and directions, I lost the map but here is the directions.”

Find Willie, big water, lots of water, lots of places with French names, many people dancing in the streets, lots of beer, lots of cheer, big celebration, but first you must cross the big plain.

“What the hell kind of directions are those!”

“Hey, I am only the messenger, you can figure it out, take your time and oh yeah, get some new tires.”

Land of Enchantment is taking on a new meaning. Before I got to Taos I stopped at Angel Fire and the Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial.

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I had been here before in the 80’s and it has been expanded with museum and a library. It is worth the visit and a very powerful place. How does a soldier write home from a war zone?

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Getting here I rode through Cimmaron Canyon with it’s fresh paved road and very little traffic, the first of many roads like this I hope to ride on this trip, I have always been curious about the roadside memorials so I often stop,

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This one had a plaque indicating the person was a veteran of a foreign war and this was the curve before the memorial that I am guessing was missed causing the fatal wreck, (note to self, slow down)

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It was time to leave NM and figure out the directions or riddle that Pancho gave me. I am guessing Willie could be Willie Nelson, but I am leaning toward Willie Robertson with Duck Dynasty since he is in Louisiana and the rest of the riddle has New Orleans written all over it. First I must cross the big plain Pancho told me about.

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Wow, looks hot and a big plain to cross but hey!

middle of nowhere

Why did the caterpillar cross the road

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

The wooden indian pointed me south to find the man called Kit who would show me the way to the origin of the iron horses, but first I had to stop at the office and do some work.

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A good place to study the map and figure out where I might find Kit and use the internet. I read where Starbucks is going to put time limits on how long you may use their wireless, it seems more people are using them for an office instead of buying coffee.

While in my office I found a couple of more pictures from the Cripple Creek rally that didn’t make the earlier blog, but deserves some air time. The first is an Indian Motorcycle painted in Olive Drab and has a military motif.

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While walking back to my scooter parked up the street I noticed a Honda trying to breed a Harley and somebody is going to be pissed. Lesson, don’t park on a hill with the kick stand on the uphill side. It is a wonder it didn’t domino a few more.

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I reluctantly left Colorado Springs one of my favorite Colorado towns and headed south towards Pueblo.

“Can you fix my air conditioner?”

“I’m sorry ma’am, I am only taking a break, I don’t work here.”

” Is there anyone here who can fix my air conditioner, it won’t blow, can I add water to it to make it colder?”

“Ma’am, this place is closed and boarded up, I am only parked here for the shade.”

I had pulled off the highway at what use to be a regular stop between C Springs and Pueblo only to find the place boarded up and closed. I was parked under the awning over the gas pumps taking advantage of the shade when this lady pulled up asking me to take care of her air conditioner problem. I sent her towards Pueblo and told her to stop at Auto Zone and sweet talk the guys behind the counter. A few more people pulled in, realized the place was closed, looked at me like I was crazy and then sped off.

“Well damn, this place is closed isn’t it?”

A couple on a motorcycle had just pulled up to the gas pump, stopped the motor, removed the gas cap and then noticed the place was dead.

“Yes it is, I am only here taking advantage of the shade.”

“Well hell, we thought it was open but we will share your shade, Hi I’m Bob Lee”

Bob and Tracy Bob Lee from Broken Arrow Oklahoma, on the downhill side of a vacation that took them through Canada and both with smiles as big as Texas. Turns out Bob is an electrical designer for an engineering company that designs projects my company has worked on. It is a small world in my business and even when you meet new people, there is always someone you both know.

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Bob started telling me about their previous day’s adventure. They were on I 25 in Denver when the rear tire went flat and they were in the fast lane with no where to go. When a Harley tire goes flat, it goes fast and you pretty much stop where you are at. In this case a three lane highway somehow turned into four lanes and traffic that makes LA and Houston look tame. Add to it the record heat Denver is having and rush hour starting. They pulled over against the concrete barrier as close as they could, no way to cross the highway either direction with the never ending traffic and to make matters worse they were on a curve and the traffic coming around the corner would be aimed right for them only to swerve at the last few seconds to miss them. They tried the cell phone to find a wrecker to pick them up but the traffic was so loud using the cell phone was useless. Eventually a cop stopped, kept the traffic from trying to run over them and Tracy was able to sit in the car and use the cell phone. Two hours later, they are finally on the way to Rocky Mtn Harley to get it repaired. Love people like Bob and Tracy with the glass not only half full but overflowing, they made great new friends at Rocky Mountain and were now laughing about the whole adventure as I found myself staring at my own tires with the fading tread.

Land of enchantment and Raton pass, wish I had more time to spend in this area with all of the history and great scenery but I found out Kit only passed through here and didn’t stop.

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Kersplat! KERSPLAT! What the hell! Splat again. I know you think the bugs are splatting all over me and the bike but no, I am running over all these things about 4 inches long and migrating across the highway! I was cruising along south of Raton just enjoying the scenery and no traffic,

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when all of a sudden, thousands of creepy crawlers were crossing the highway!

I had to stop to get a better look, kind of freaky because they were now crawling around my feet but they weren’t interested in me, they were interested in whatever was on the other side of the road.

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A semi came by while I was pulled over and at least a 100 of the little critters lost their life. This migration lasted for about 5 miles and everybody I asked or told the story  thinks I am crazy so it must be one of those enchanted things in New Mexico. I won’t even talk about the low flying drone.

Hey girl take my picture!

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And she did.

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Time to pull over again and rest, decide if what I saw today was fantasy or real and figure out the riddle to the iron horse origin.

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Disclaimer, lawyers guns and money

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

lawyers guns and money

On the advice of my attorney it is with great sadness that I must add this disclaimer.

LEGAL NOTICE

From the Law Offices of Hunter, Thompson, Kwak, Guyasuta and RunswithBeer (all esq.) LLC

USA Steel Tower

Suite Basement

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Notice to all readers of Colesclassic annual trip blog:

You have hereby been notified that you the reader and user of my website and blog have questionable behaviors and I will not be held liable in any way shape or fashion for such behaviors as a result of reading my website and blog. Logging on to Colesclassic does not create or form a professional-client relationship of any kind, or in any manner does it offer advice that you should pay attention to or make decisions based upon such ridiculous content. The sole responibility is placed on you the reader if you make any legal, financial or other decisions based on the information obtained from my website and blog.

If a legal claim or lawsuit arises from decisions based on content obtained from this blog, the court will discern if  professional relationship was formed, or if the content was intended to present (offer) professional advice. Since I know the judge, you are wasting your time with any such argument.

All the events herein described in this blog are from the deepest darkest area of my sick mind. Any resemblence to real people is purely a coincidence and if you think you are one of the people described in the blog then you have a sordid imagination and should consider seeking professional help. If there is an image portraying anyone you know in the pictures contained in this blog then please have them send me ten dollars for the publicity shot. (except for the hot chicks, have them send me an email)

There is no such person as colesclassic, member of the the gang known as “two bums and three zeros”, there is no such person known as two feathers, warrior for the Fucarwe tribe, both he himself is a work of fiction. There is no such thing as iron horses and if there was wouldn’t that be wild! Okay maybe there is iron horses but I digress

Unless you are named “Arnold P. Fasnock” you may read ony the “odd numbered words” (every other word beginning with the first) of the disclaimer notice above.If you violated that, then you hereby owe this blog 10 cents for each even numbered word you have read.

Hit here for Spanish version of disclaimer notice.  SPANISH

Please consider the environment before printing anything on this blog

Thank you, COLESCLASSIC.COM

dumb ass

 

Seeking Iron Horses

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

“Go see the medicine man in Manitou, he will help you”

“But how do I find him?”

“Follow the sunrise through the rocky path”

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“Ride to the top until the trees stop growing and the air is thin. Look out over the valley.”

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“Park on the side of the road and walk down to the edge, follow the animal trail”

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“Find the edge of the mountain they call Pikes Peak and look for the trail they call Ute pass. It is there you will see the way to the medicine man tepee”

Ute Pass;  for 10,000 years it has been the way down the mountains to the plains for buffalo hunting and the way back into the mountains in later years for thousands of gold miners.

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It has been over 30 years since I have been on Pikes Peak and that was before the road was paved all the way to the top so it was time to ride it. I have been by the entrance a lot of times, but my mind works like most others and the thought was that I can always do it later since it’s close. Like most others I never found the time because it was too close. This time though an old miner in the ghost town section of Cripple Creek told me if I wanted to find the source of the “Iron Horses” I had to start at the top of Pikes Peak and find the pass to the medicine man who would show me the way.

Can you go too slow when on the road to the top? Hell yes! I was following a couple on another motorcycle who obviously were enjoying the scenery and taking their time. The older Harley was overloaded and I could see the tires squished and when they turned the bike would weave a little bit. I am not sure if it was the handling that kept them going so slow, if they were just enjoying the scenery or scared to death of going over the edge. Going up a steep incline and then negotiating a hairpin switchback curve I thought they and myself might just fall over from going so slow. I consider my riding skills above average, but I was starting to get concerned that we were going so slow I might stall, roll backwards or just flat fall over and I was getting concerned about it all. I finally found a level place to pull over and wait it out. I could hear them slowly making their way to the top; putt putt putt putt. I started off again only to catch them and starting the whole routine over with no place to pass. I stopped again after scaring the hell out of myself going so slow up a steep inline I was wobbling from the slow speed, how they made it to the top without killing the motor I will never know. I also found myself getting light headed from the lack of oxygen at this altitude which was something I have never expirienced before. Once at the top I could see Kansas and the plains and the rocky snow capped range to the west. I wanted to beat the old couple down the mountain so I didn’t have to do the slow race going downhill  so I did not stay on top very long. The old couple just sat there on their bike and never got off, I should have talked to them but decided it might end in a debate over riding too slow so I left.

Once I was at the bottom I turned right and headed to Manitou Springs to find the medicine man. He was easy to find, I don’t think he has moved in a few years.

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“Go south and find the pueblos, find a man they call “Kit”, he is married to my sister and he knows the frontier, the plains and the rivers, he will know the way to the origin of the Iron Horses”

Hmmm, Kit huh, should be easy enough, I’m gone.

A Proud Day To Be An American

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

“And when I came out, my bike was the only one left in the parking lot!”

The rest of us roared with laughter as Brannon told the story of how he almost missed the ride last year. We are parked at the high school parking lot in Woodland Park Colorado lining up and waiting for the ride to Cripple Creek during  the Salute to American Veterans Rally. This year is special because Colorado Highway 67 has just been dedicated as the Colorado POW/MIA Memorial Highway and we are waiting to be part of the inaugural parade ride. Looking around I am guessing 1000 motorcycles. They have us packed in tight and more keep coming, maybe more than a 1000, maybe 2000.

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I am usually just now getting back from Sturgis and while I always wanted to attend the Cripple Creek Salute to Americans Veterans Rally, this is my first time and the Rally has been going for 21 years. Once I knew Sturgis was out this year I made plans to attend this rally even before I decided to make it my trip starting point. I am not sure what to expect and don’t really like riding in groups so I am getting the ride briefing from Brannon and others who are lined up around me.  We have been there lined up for almost 2 hours now and more bikes keep coming in, I need to pee and spy the Port o Johns across the street out of the parking lot. I mention that I am almost afraid to leave because I am not sure I could find my bike again and that is when Brannon started telling his story.

“Yeah last year, I got here early and it was just like this, but man I had to go to the bathroom bad so I used my GPS and made my bike a waypoint and weaved my way to the port o johns. While I was in there, all of a sudden I heard the bikes starting up but I couldnt stop what I was doing and figured I had plenty of time. I could tell the bikes were starting to leave, the ground and the port o john was shaking and I still thought I had time to finish and then it got quiet. When I came out my bike was the only one left in the parking lot, I didn’t need the GPS to find it after all.”

After hearing Brannon’s story, I decided I would wait to pee and then the orders came “all riders to bikes” They really have this thing down, no sooner than orders to mount up, the bikes were fired up and field marshalls were flagging the rows of bikes to leave. Just like that we were roaring through Woodland park and it wasn’t parade speed,, it was a double time forced march! The streets were lined with people cheering, the men were either saluting or had  hands over their hearts, the women were waving and blowing kisses and the little kids were doing all of the above with many waving flags. “Us” bikers were doing our best to wave back, honk horns, revving engines all while staying in order that almost made us look like we practiced this stuff.

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There is something very patriotic about a bunch of bikers with the thundering roar of what I later found out was 3500 motorcycles, flags flying, and people waving. We rode into Cripple Creek and the crowd was at least 20 deep from the street edge to the sidewalks. We come over the hill to ride under the largest American Flag I have ever seen which was held up by two cranes with booms fully extended.

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I even caught a picture of what I believe was a P51 Mustang doing fly overs and buzzing the town

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I mentioned earlier the ride was the inaugural ride of the new POW/ MIA memorial highway and the ribbon cutting for it was done by three former POW’s

3 pows cut ribbon

One of the neatest things for me to witness was a man from America’s Greatest Generation and  Grand Marshall for the parade (which happened to be lead by the Patriot Guard from the Great State of Kansas!!), WWII US Army Ranger Lowell G. Freeman. He is pictured here with the promotor of the event and also a great American Jim Wear.

lowell freeman and jim wear

It was a great day to be an American and I felt honored to be a part of it.

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Next? Well there is this little mountain they call Pikes Peak that has a paved road all the way to the top that I haven’t been on for 40 years and never been on it riding a motorcycle.

A year without Sturgis

Written by admin. Posted in 2013 Stories From The Road

You at Sturgis?
“Oh man, why did you have to bring that up, hell no I couldn’t find enough days off in a row to make it worthwhile.”
“Are you gonna take a trip this year, are you going to do the blog?”
“Oh yeah, I am going to take a trip, just don’t know when or where yet, not sure on the blog, seems kind of lame without Sturgis in it.

I had this same conversation with about 20 people during the week of Sturgis and the hobby I call a job was just too busy this year to take an extended motorcycle trip around the Sturgis timeframe. The weeks leading up to it and especially during Sturgis week I was in a funk, short tempered, depressed and generally “all around”; an asshole. I spent my nights looking at Sturgis webcams, reading Sturgis news, being pissed off and even thought  about quitting my job, or rationalizing how I could do my job from the road. There were days, instead of being pissed off I would dive into work so hard I may have been double productive just to keep my mind off it. I spent the weekends getting up early, loading the dog in the truck and heading down to the interstate frontage road which is on a main route to Sturgis and watch all the bikers headed to Sturgis. In the afternoon I would ride  one of my two antique bikes (a 1958 panhead and a 1930 V) up and down the frontage road watching the bikes headed to Sturgis.

my 1930 v

 58 pan

While riding the old bikes I dreamed of actually loading one up with my pack and taking off to Sturgis, the 1930 tops out  about 58 mph and that is downhill with a tail wind so I knew that idea was out and while the 58 pan cruises just fine at 75 mph it was just too far for a 2 day weekend.

In the afternoons I would ride the newer 2010 street glide back and forth on the frontage road from Loveland to Denver watching all my brethren headed for biker mecca. It got me through the weekend but my attitude about not going was still sour comeMonday morning at work again.  Sturgis came and went without me, 13 years in a row, but 14 is going to be a missing year.

Back at work: ” when the hell am I going to be able to put together enough days in a row to take a trip?” Late October! Hell no, that is 12 weeks away and what if something happens and makes that not work, plus it is too damn cold then! Maybe I can trailer to our office in Ft Worth and then ride the coast, yeah thats it, thats a plan. Meantime at night, I am still reading about the Sturgis I missed, reading about motorcycles old and new, dreaming of a road trip when I get this:

too busy to make a lifeAnd then that is followed by this:

find yourselfAnd they just kept coming:

only live once

never regret

I was starting to get the message and that message was:

dangerous risk

That last one hit home like a punch in the face and I realized I was :

 

born to ride forced to work

I can’t wait until late october to take a trip, I looked at mid September but really was not a good time with what is going on at work and plus the weather forecast showed monsoon season in most places I was thinking about going not to mention hurricane season in some of the others. What the hell to do?

I can rationalize anything soooooooooooo:

if you need me

Tree of Shame

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Maggie Valley North Carolina should be named Magic Valley, what a wonderful place to be on a motorcycle. I could have have stayed here for a week, right here in this little motel

I met people here who spent their summers here just riding everyday and they gave me plenty of advice on where to go, what to see and best roads to ride. I didn’t listen to any of them, I wanted to fidn it all on my own. First stop though was the wheels through time motorcycle museum which is a living museum. They constantly restore, add new stuff and is also called the museum that runs since almost all of the old motorcycles actually run. I found the place and parked in front under the shade, but first I had work to do and a few conference calls to get on.

I am sure I had the best views and the best office of anyone on the call

I almost hated to leave my new office but once inside I was in hog heaven and indian heaven and every american made motorcycle ever made heaven. One of my favorite things was the old motorcycle shop scenes where it looked like they had relocated an old shop from the 30’s and transplanted it right in the middle of the museum


After hours inside it was time to say goodbye and hit the road for the famous “Tail of the Dragon” road. I have a previous post that describes the road and a u tube video link. There was really no place to stop once you got on it so not many pictures of the road. I did say in the previous post that it was 312 curves in 11 miles, I was wrong, it is 318. Not sure what fool actually counted them all and maybe I just straighetened a few of them out. At the end of the road is what is called the “Tree of Shame” and none of my motorcycle ended up on the tree

I jump ahead to the present and have Sturgis on my mind now and only a few days left. I will be going on defcon 4 alert whcih means total radio silence, no blackberry, no phone and no computer. I will catch up this blog when I get back to home base so check back but I need the last few days to myself.

Unega, the Great Smoky Mountains

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

I’m in Denver Colorado, the map spread out on the floor, it is too big to fit on the desk. I slowly start tracing a rough route with my eyes to the right and down dreaming of riding my motorcycle to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. It is such a long way on the map, further than I have went before but I have been thinking about this for a long time, let’s do this thing.
Unega, Cherokee for “White”, “Misty”, “Smoky”. The abundant rainfall, high humidity and always misty covers the mountains with a purple or blue haze that gives them thier name, the Smoky Mountains. I have never been, it was time, not to mention some of the top motorcycle roads in the United States.

These mountains are not high by Colorado standards with a high elevation of 5500 feet, barely higher than where I live, but when you start at 500 feet the feel is the same.

I had Tellico Plains Tennessee as a target on my map and that is where I started up the first road on my list the Cherohala Skyway. 21 miles in Tennessee, cross the state line in to North Carolina and end in Robbensvile 15 miles later. The most expensive highway construction project in history at $100,000,000.00 dollars bit at least they spread it out over 34 years because that is how long it took to complete. The road is made for sports cars and motorcycles and what a road it is.

Even the rivers have a smoky foggy steam emitting from them.

What a great ride that was, I stopped often to take in the views, do a little exploring and reflect on the ride so far. After Robbinsville, I took a road that followed a river full of rafters and lots of quaint little towns.

Can’t leave out trains!

I ended up in Maggie Valley which was also another major target on my map that is host to the Wheels through time motorcycle museum. Hey Jason is this your motorcycle, it has your name on it?

Nascar, the beginning.

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Looks like a forest fire up ahead, I am not surprised since it is so dry around here although not near as dry as it was in most of Arkansas. I climb a grade and when I get to the top it no longer looks like smoke but more like a steam cloud, maybe a saw mill or something.  Still can’t quite make it out with all the trees and hills in the way. Finally trees and hills and curves, have been waiting for these roads. I coast down the hill, round the curve and damn, wasn’t expecting this. The free map at the tourist center didn’t say this was here, it did say Watts bar but sure looks like a lake on the map. I don’t think I could ever get use to this view in my back yard.

Not sure what it is that scares me so bad about nuke power plants, maybe it was my army training and I had a lot of it on nuclear warfare, maybe I know too much. I just don’t think this is the future, there really is no safe way to dispose of spent fuel. It never goes away, it is always there waiting. I want to keep going now and get as far away as I can but I stop to look at the dam anyway. I’m walking around reading the signs, looking over the edge at the water and the dam, watching the boats when I stumble across this sign.

 Hmmm,, testing of the sirens the first wednesday of every month at noon huh. Wait a damn minute that is today, I quickly look at my blackberry to see what time it is and it shows 10:30 am but wait a minute, I still have it set on mountain time, I determine it is 11:30am and sure enough those sirens are located directly above me. Adios, I am out of here, I don’t need to hear those things go off. I need to get as far away and as fast as I can from this place. I escape what in my mind is danger only to find a new danger.


Log trucks and lots of them dropping crap all of the road for me to dodge. I don’t know how they do it, I thought I was carving these curves pretty good and going pretty damn fast but a beat up semi pulling logs catches me going down every hill riding my ass. All I can see in my mirror is a no tooth grin and a big ass grille about 10 foot of my butt. I don’t think Nascar started with moon shine drivers like the local folklore wants you to believe, I am sure it all started with log truck drivers!

I escape the logging area and I am pretty sure I didn’t get ran over. Not sure though because this is my view tonight, did i really get ran over, is this heaven?

Hermitage

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Hermitage? I had always referenced it as Andrew Jackson’s home in Tennessee but I never knew what a Hemitage was or why his home was called that. I looked it up; a hermits dwelling place; a place of relaxing retreat. After the heat and crazy of Nashville that definition sounded appealing and a good place for me to hang out for awhile. I walked right up and knocked on the front door.

 

.They let me in and offered to let me sit in Andrews chair. Hey this furniture looks just like the stuff in the picture behind it.

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Of course Andy wasn’t there, you see he died a few years back.

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.And they buried him here beside his wife in the Hermitage Gardens.

.I also toured the museum and the grounds, it was a wonderful place. Andrew Jackson positions and policies as president were controversial then and still are now but has always been an interesting person to me as well as I have always thought him to be a great leader. 

It was time to get to some backroads

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Vietnashville

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Almost Nashville and plan on stopping and hitting 16th street, I have a couple of songs to sell them, get rich and famous and make my mark on the country music scene. Damn. its hot and I really hate to get off the main road and have to do the stoplight traffic right now, but hell, Nashville can’t be that big, afterall it is just a little country music town in Tennessee. All these thoughts running through my head as I pull of I 40 at one of the first Nashville exits and head into the unknown. Must not be any drivers education in Tennessee and what brilliant highway engineer timed these stop lights, I hit red on everyone, they gotta have sensors for motorcycles? I can’t take this no more, have to find a place with shade to pull over and quick! Here, turn here, wow look at that!

 I was just looking for shade but this is what caught my eye from the road.

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I invited myself in to John Harding’s horse trainers cabin but nobody was home.

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I was in the back yard or the back 40 of the Belle Meade Plantation which was established in 1807 and became the heart of Tennessee Thouroughbred horse training, breeding and racing. As early as 1816 there were advertisements in the Nashville paper for stud service at the Belle Meade Plantation. Somehow during the civil war, now General John Harding’s horses were never commisioned for the war effort like all the other horses in the area.  I had my shade, water and tour so it was time to get back on it and head for town center. This place is crazy, there is no way to get in the right lane before it is too late and I am forced off the main road time and time again. Between keeping my traffic space amongst the crazies, the heat, the stoplights and the street and road signs covered by trees I was finally lost. This place was like a war, viet nam, viet fucking nashville.  Lost in Nashville. how the hell does that happen? Okay, follow the traffic and I did and it took me back to interstate where I gave up my idea of selling my songs and being a country music star besides the bum under the bridge told me that I needed to write songs for cash and not for the soul.

Think I will go see Andy

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Tail of the Dragon

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Go east a little north, more east, I picked a road through Arkansas that at first glance looked like a good one to carry me into Tennessee. I really wasn’t paying attention to the map, the road signs and the gps died early in the morning so it was kind of a no map day. I go through a little town with a lot of civil war history and was about to pull over when I crossed a small bridge and Holy Crap; Missouri? How the heck did that happen and oh yeah I better pull over and don the brain bucket. I pull over and look at the map, I am sure this was a show on “how the states were made” but wasn’t expecting this peninsula  dangling down in Missouri and I wasn’t thinking I was this far north. My first view of the great river happened in New Madrid.

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It wasn’t long before I was in Tennessee;

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The locals all came out to meet me!

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Now it is time to hit some good old backroads and head for the Smoky Mountains.

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About a week before I really knew I was going to be able to take this trip, I read an article about the 10 best motorcycle roads in the USA.  A road called the “Tail of the Dragon” in the Smoky Mountains that is in both Tennessee and North Carolina was number one. I knew then I had a destination. The blog is all about the journey but lets skip ahead a bit and ride the Dragon!!  http://www.youtube.com/embed/O41K-mtIt8U” Yep the camera was strapped to my head, this video was only the first few minutes of the road known as the Dragon. 311 curves in 11 miles and I did it twice so 622 curves in a couple of hours. Going to sleep good tonight!

I am going to enjoy the next couple of days enjoying the area so the blog will be spotty and I will pick it up again in a few days when the scooter does an about face and heads for the black hills of south dakota

Enjoy

The Arkansas Traveller

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

The blog is a couple of days behind by design and even though in blog world I am in Arkansas today; in the real world I am many miles away and it is late and I am tired so this post will be short and mostly just random pics and thoughts.

Every tuesday morning the greatest construction company in the world has a safety conference call with all the key managers, superintendents and foreman involved. It consists of the previous weeks incidents to learn from, a couple of key announcements, and a weekly safety related topic. This morning, the topic was dehydration causes and prevention. How timely since I am riding in 100 degree plus heat with indexs well above that. I learned the hard way a few years ago not to mess with it and even though I want a coke and more coffee, I drink water and more water. I drink a bottle and wear a bottle almost every 50 miles when it is this hot. During the call this morning I sent my boss this pic. I hope he enjoyed the hard hat sticker on my helmet.

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Hopefully everybody reading this blog understands you can click on the pics to expand them. I know it is a hassle but I have been warned by the webmaster that downloading the blog with larger pics is a bigger hassle.

I am in the south, how do I know? I said it last year and again I try not to stereotype, but there is some close breeding going on around here, dueling banjos and all. Everybody smokes or at least it seems that way. Baptist churches outnumber the cows. Deer, what deer, they shot them all?  Every other mini van has a fat woman driving and a skinny guy riding, I am guessing the skinny guy lost his license a long time ago. The other mini vans are driven by younger fat girls texting.

The line at the chick-fil-a was longer than the line at starbucks this morning and I didn’t even know chick-fil-a served breakfast? Yep I am in the south. The  Chick- Fil-a CEO beliefs and comments might have backfired in the Denver market but down here it looks like he was a marketing genius.

I get a kick out of the political signs. I never knew you had to be elected to be a road supervisor or recorder of deeds? Tammi Warner wants to be elected as recorder of deeds and she must have a lot of money and be in a tightly contested race since her signs are bigger  than Gene Adams who wants to be sheriff.  Tammi also has more signs than all the others. One guy  has to go by the same name his mother probably calls him, “Johnny” Edwards for House of Representives.

I went searching for James McMurty’s second cousins Ruth Ann and Lynn in Baxter Springs Kansas, I never did find them though. (check out lyricks to Choctaw Bingo for the punchline)

I need to take up fishing.

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 I have now been to Eureka Springs Arkansas on the motorcycle more than I have been to Waumsetter Wyoming on the motorcycle.

Best line I have heard so far on this trip. I was sitting outside a Pilot Truck stop store  and an old black man was sweeping up the trash in the parking lot . I spoke first. “How ya doing?”  “Oh, I am doing fine sir and how is it going for you?” I replied ” Hey I am doing great but I am not working as hard as you are today either.” His reply was one that will stick with me forever, “Oh I can tell you work, I don’t know anybody who has fun that doesn’t work somewhere.”  I might be in the south but those are words of wisdom you won’t find in a school book.

Did I mention I love rivers, especially the great Mississippi! The lowest level in the last 152 years, I have now witnessed something Mark Twain never did.

Gorillas and Trains

Written by admin. Posted in 2012 Stories from the Road

Okay so the statue wasn’t my brother Bob after all.

It is really Gus. For 30 some years I have known my brother Bob graduated from Pittsburg State University but I had no idea the mascot of the college was a gorilla! I was riding around the town of Pittsburg Kansas looking for a place to eat and these Gorilla statues were everyplace, Crimson and Red Gorillas guarding the bars, liquor stores and pawn shops and even a few in front of the places I wanted to eat. This demanded research on my part, I mean a gorilla for a mascot, who would have thunk it. Turns out there is only one university in the US with a Gorilla for a mascot, I think there should be more! It also turns out that Pitt State as it is called, has quite the football tradition with a recent NCAA division II national championship in 2011. They have the most wins of any NCAA Div II university in history. The school founded in 1903 started their football team in 1908 and they have been successful without any molesters as coaches. Other than my Brother Bob assistant chief of the Kansas Deleware Tribe, famous alumni’s include Gary Busey and H. Lee Scott former Ceo of Wal-Mart.

I have been the Route 66 Hiway from Amarillo to Chicago but there was a small piece of this eastern route missing from my travels. In the past when I got to Tulsa I decided to head straight east to Eureka Springs Arkansas and then went back north to catch 66 again out side of Springfield Missouri. This meant I missed the Kansas part of Route 66. It was time to make amends.

I did it right this time and parked on the most photographed spot of Route 66 in Kansas, the rainbow bridge. I had the place to myself and road back and forth across the bridge many times singing the “Asleep at the Wheel” version of Route 66 song which was also blaring on my ipod. When I got to the verse “Joplin Missouri” I headed north.

It is so dry in this part of the country. I remember it so lush and green but this year’s drought has everything burned yellow. I over hear farmers and ranchers in the cafe’s and gas stops complaining about the price of hay and where it is headed. It also lowered the humidity which is a bad thing when you are riding and it takes away the swamp cooler effect that I enjoy in humid areas. I also ended up in a part of Joplin that had been destroyed by the tornados with abandoned buildings and twisted tree tops that killed the trees. I was crusing down one of the main streets in Joplin praying I didn’t hit anymore red lights that was killing me when I stopped from the heat of the motor, pavement and beating sun on my neck when I started noticing cops parked at almost every intersection and parking lot. This went on for about 6 blocks and I started wondering if there was a sting about to happen and if I was in it? Maybe the president was coming to town? I was about to run a orange light so I didnt have to stop when sirens went off and two cop cars shot in front of me blocking the intersection. “You got the wrong guy! I am just passing through, really I didn’t mean to flip off that truck that cut me off officer!” What the hell, will you look at that!

Hundreds of motorcycles heading for me, its a parade of some sorts or they are just coming to greet me. Nope it was a parade and it had police escort. I still don’t know what it was for, but it lasted 15 minutes as I sat there in the heat waving.

I love trains, even when I have to stop and die again in the heat for them to pass. I have no clue what kind of train this is, does anyone?

I do know what kind of train this is and I also know that the Missouri Pacific Rail line was one of the first lines west of the Mississippi River, 1852 and also the first line in Kansas City, 1865.

Hmmm Mississippi River? Gotta Roll