Category Archives: Trip 2014

Stories, comments and galleries from my 2014 Coast to Coast MC Trip

Final Photo Gallery from the Trip.

Its been a couple of months since I got home.  I have been meaning to finish the trip posts and add a couple more over the past few weeks.  But, life sometimes gets in the way of plans.

Here it is a couple of days before Thanksgiving.  I have some spare time and I wanted to post the final batch of photos.  These have all been on the facebook page and the Reddit page.  But, I needed to get them on the blog to just finish this thing.

I will be back with posts about other issues–mostly dealing with the hunt for a job and dealing with the Octos in our lives.

Enjoy the photos!  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Shiprock and Monument Valley

Perhaps the most exciting days of my entire trip were the two days spent in Northern Arizona.

Day 1 was June 27th.  I started the day driving to Shiprock, NM.  Shiprock is a monadnock formation that just pops up out of the desert.  It is over 1,500 feet tall.  You can see it for miles as you come into town.  Since it is in the Navaho Nation, it is not readily accessible.

Of course, it is sacred and holy ground.  Like every other square foot of the Navaho Nation.  I guess every square foot of the Nation except the few square feet behind the Giant Convenience store in the center of Shiprock.  Those few square feet were where the bums emptied their bladders.  After which one them came up to me and had a nice conversation.  Then he hit me up for “food money.”  We both had a good laugh at that.

I gave him $5.00

My approach was this:  It was early in the morning, so I drove through some neighborhoods where I didn’t belong to get an unobstructed view.  While the images you see in tourist books are amazing, the reality is there is a lot “clutter” from the normal viewpoints.  Things like telephone poles and power lines cut in front a lot of your views.

I pretty much trespassed my way through the dirt roads, ranches, and cattle paths to get to a place where the rising sun would be at my back.  It was about 7 AM so there was not much activity.  I kept the throttle down.  I saw no person and hardly any animals paid me any mind.  Except the cattle.  They did not appreciate sharing their field with my motorcycle.  There was one bull who simply stood in the road staring me down.  during this trip there were plenty of dogs I stared down.  I was not going to win against a ton of beef on the hoof.

I stopped and allowed his harem to walk through.  He gave me a last look and moved along with them.

It was a guy thing.  He won.

If I stayed around long, I was going to be his bitch.  I took my photos and moved on.  The way back to the road I cranked the motor.  It was almost 8:00 AM.  These people were farmers.  What the hell were they still doing in bed.  Time to wake up and be pissed off at the tourists.

The next stop that morning was Monument Valley.  Monument Valley was one of the places I had been looking forward to seeing.  I spent time researching this part of the country.  I pretty much knew what I wanted to do, and how long it was going to take.

I arrived about 9:00 AM.  The plan was to drive around the 18 mile road that wrapped around the valley, giving you the whole range of perspectives.  The Navaho Nation will not allow us to get off the main road or trails.  It is sacred and holy ground.  Certainly, driving off the main road on a motorcycle will get you tied to stakes with crows eating your eyes out.

Notice found on almost all of the marketing materials from Monument Valley.

Notice found on almost all of the marketing materials from Monument Valley.

Ok, I have to make this aside.  One of the things prominently displayed in all Navaho National park materials is that they do not want you to spread human remains inside the park.  Go to their web site…its right there on the front page.  I thought this was kind of an odd thing to post on every piece of marketing material.  I asked one of the rangers about it.  Once he got through the “its holy and sacred ground” speech, he said it was amazing that people who come there to dump grandpa’s ashes because it was a place he always loved.  Of course these people came from all over the world and had never set foot in the Valley.  They were not Navaho’s.  They just liked Western Movies.  Or worse, they were big John Wayne fans.

How weird is that?

[continued after the gallery]

 

 

The first stop was, of course the coffee shop and rest area.  Both were adequate and I did a turn at the gift shop too.  Lots of Native American souvenirs from China were available.  My stickers did not warrant enough money to qualify for a credit card transaction.  So, I had to buy a mug too.  At least that was my excuse.  Mary hates my mug collection.  But, for this trip, it was my single souvenir–as space was at a premium on the bike.

The Monument Valley Mug.

The Monument Valley Mug.

Coming back into the parking lot, I came across a guy driving a brand new KTM 1190.  This newer KTM was released around the same time as my BMW.  It was my “other choice” but for touring it was a little stiff.  For off road driving, it was supposed to be exceptional.  I was interested in checking it out.

This time, I was the curious stranger approaching the motorcycle guy.  He told me he had just gotten it and was driving to New Mexico for the weekend.  We exchanged stories and talked about why we made the choice of our rides.  We both agreed that there was some conspiracy out there preventing motorcycle companies from providing decent seats.

KTM Man also told me he tried to ride the road around the Valley.  He told me the road was OK.  You could probably make it around but that the sand was pretty deep at points.  He had gotten about 200 yards down the road and dropped his bike in the sand.  If the bikes were stripped of gear and paniers it would be easier.  Also, he pointed out that both of bikes had tires that were better suited for hard pack than sand.  He was thinking about taking one of the tours being hawked at the bottom of the parking lot hill.

We bid each other farewell and he went to the coffee shop and  bathroom.

I decided that life was too short to spend time dragging my ass through an 18 mile sand trap.  I also did not want to sit in an open deuce and a half with a bunch of strangers from Europe and China.  So, I decided to drive on and see what I could see.

I looked at my map.  I saw Page, AZ and Lake Powell. Something seemed “familiar” about that area.  I knew it was the gateway to Grand Canyon, but I also remembered reading something being near Lake Powell.  But I could not put my finger on it.

A trip up there would consume the time I was going to spend on going through the  valley.  So, I hit, “TAKE ME THERE” and off I went.

The next day and half were some of the most interesting that I had for the entire trip.

Its All About Me. (Or at least my bike.)

Now, those of you who know me, know that I have a healthy ego.  But I do not usually put myself in front of the camera.  As handsome as I am, it usually is difficult to get a good photo of me.  It probably stems from my childhood.  My dad, a photographer for almost the entire decade of the 1950’s evidently lost his camera between 1960 and 1964–because I challenge anyone to find a baby picture of me in a JoovyZoom360UltralightJogging stroller.  The first photo evidence of my life in from around 1964.

That being said, I found it interesting that when I returned that I had turned the camera on myself quite a bit during the trip out west.  And more interesting (at least to me) I included photos of the motorcycle in many pictures, I even think the Number plate came up in one of them.  I am not sure why I took so many of the bike.  During my trip in 2013, I took about six photos of the big red truck.

As I visit a lot of Adventure Bike web sites, there are tons of photos of riders with their bikes, their bikes, and their bikes in front of places.  I guess it is that we feel a bond with our bikes.  Perhaps its the fact that by the time we get to where we are taking pictures, we cannot feel anything between bikes and our rear end.

So, that being understood–I present a collection of bike and me photos from the cross country trip.

Riding with Dad

The road out of Las Cruces takes you past the White Sands Missile Range and the White Sands National Monument.  The road is one of the few non divided highways in the US where the speed limit is 75 MPH.  Coming out of the mountains and hitting the flat, straight road at that speed is a lot of fun.

White Sands National Monument

After visiting the National Monument (and getting my sticker!) 70 East takes you up into the mountains on the east side of Alamogordo.  The road rises more than 4,000 feet in just a few miles.  As you approach the summit of the first range, you can pull off the road just before you enter a tunnel.  The place is called the Tunnel Vista View, and it is worth the stop.  So I did.

The Tunnel Vista View seems like a weird place for a geological and history lesson, but the State of New Mexico, or the US Parks Service has done a pretty good job.  The vista site looks back over the valley and explains how the rocks right there, erode into the powder that makes up the White Sands Dunes–some 20 miles away.

Tunnel Vist View, Rt 70 East of Alamorgordo, NM

The site also explains how prehistoric Americans lived near the site, taking advantage of the forests and water available at that elevations.

The hike takes to you to the bottom of the ravine, where the site is explained and you can dip your toes into the ice cold mountain stream cutting through the rocks.  It is a nice relief from the valley heat.

I was taking pictures on the trail and working my way back to the parking lot.  I noticed a guy standing right next to my motorcycle.  Before the trip, this would have concerned me.  But I have gotten used to the “gawkers “and riders who are interested in the BMW, where I have been, and all of that.

As I approached the man said hello and we started into the conversation.  As we spoke, children approached, and more children, and his wife carrying a pregnant chihuahua (that was very Territorial–he growled at me when I took their picture!)

The man told me that he had a similar bike, but it was a couple of years earlier, and he had not seen the new model.  He nodded to his oldest son and told me that the boy drove a Harley.  And another of the younger boys had a dirt bike,

The conversation went on for nearly twenty minutes.  They were from Abilene, TX and they were on their way west for a couple of days.   He told me this was the closest place to see any mountains.  He actually lobbied for me to cancel my trip to Midland and go to Abilene instead.  His point was that there was nothing in Midland worth seeing–and there was more on the way to Roswell and Abilene.   [In hindsight, he was correct.  Aside from the oil fields near Artesia, NM there is nothing out there.]

I asked him if he wanted to sit on the bike.  Boy, he jumped up on that like a 12 year old kid.  He then told me that he and his son had talked about taking a long ride like this, but they hadn’t gotten around to planning it yet.  I told him that I had wanted a BMW since my dad had one when I was in high school.  I told him that my Dad had always wanted to go on a trip like this; it was something that was spoken about after a couple of drinks and when everyone was feeling like laying their dreams out on the table.

As the Dad from Abilene moved around the bike, like a wolf judging its prey–keeping his distance but assessing his line of attack.  His older son looking over the bike–trying to figure out if his Harley would be a better ride.  The younger children, a mixture of four or five younger girls and boys sat quietly and respectfully.  This was a wonderful family–they clearly worked well as a team.  In what world would a 17 year old son want to go on a vacation with the rest of his family without copping an attitude or complaint.

Abilene Dad said, “Boy, its a shame your Dad could not have made this trip with you.”

I responded quickly.  It was a shot from the hip without any thought of its target.

“Well, I hope he is.  I am stopping in all of the places he wanted to go”

Abilene stopped dead in his tracks.  I don’t think his kids noticed the look on his face, because it was only there for a second.  But I noticed.  It was one of those times in life like the movies.  The entire world around us stopped and it was just he and I, connected.

“I am sure he is,” he answered.

His head now bowed a little in my direction.

As I mounted up, this wonderful family man told me that he would pray for a safe journey home for me.  I thanked him and wished he and his family (and his momma dog) well.

We shook hands, and our eyes met.

Proverbs tells us that, “People can make all kinds of plans, but only the Lord’s plan will happen.”

A wise man will understand when they are getting direction.

Years from now that man will be able to tell his son, to the second, when the “long motorcycle trip with him” went from being a dream to becoming a plan.

The rising sun was a blinding torch as it rose to meet the tunnel’s exit.

My Dad and I rode into the light.

Dad and Me

Vegas to Oatman to Phoenix

Oatman AZ has charming burros walking up and down the streets every day.  On the Fourth of July they were part of the festivities that included an egg frying context on the street.

Oatman AZ has charming burros walking up and down the streets every day. On the Fourth of July they were part of the festivities that included an egg frying context on the street.

Leaving Las Vegas is easy.

Sitting in the resort and having to walk through the casino was just depressing.  The JW is not on the strip, so it draws a different crowd.  The resort itself is a golf and family resort.  I am assuming that the casino draws in locals.

The slots were filled with octos who looked sad.  The buffet was filled with people who just looked sad. Being the third of the month, this was the high point for most of these folks.  The checks are in and the living is easy.

The entire experience just looked sad.  Its not that I am against gambling.  Ask my wife and kids–I can drop $100 in the slots without feeling horrible or getting all worked up about how it is a sin, although the kids prefer to play video games with the use of sites where you can get your boost now for games as Overwatch.  The thought did cross my mind how people could sit here all day long.

Clearly it was not winning.  I heard the bells ringing and the lights flashing all the time.  People WERE winning.  But they just kept putting the winnings back into the machines.

For example, I sat at the “Wheel of Fortune” slot for ten minutes, or twenty dollars–however you measure these things.  At one point I hit for a “free spin.”  Evidently this was a big deal–for the others at the kiosk of four machines stopped to look at my spinner (which was located about eight feet above the floor.)  I won twenty credits ($5.)  The lights flashed, things spun around, Vanna’s voice came out of some speaker and the sound surrounded my head.

I laughed out loud.

I have ADD and this was even too much for me.  Scores of psychologists must have worked for weeks trying to figure out just the right combination of lights and noise to keep me at the wheel.

I blew through the $5 winnings.  And the $20 original dollars.  I must have looked sad sitting there.  Because it really wasn’t fun.  Why did I just keep hitting that button?

So, it was easy to leave Las Vegas.

I left the JW Marriott resort early in the morning on the Fourth of July.

The intent was to try to get ahead of the crowds leaving town for, well…where ever they go for fun around here.  It turns out they load their cars and boats and drive out to Lake Mead, but I guess that’s fine when you have onesureinsurance.co.uk/van-insurance.  It has been getting smaller and smaller each year, but I guess its still the place to go.

The road out of town leads down to Searchlight–which is a wonderful site coming from Vegas.  You cannot see the scummy little casino and McDonalds on the other side of the hill.  But the view is spectacular.  The road drops down into an ancient lake bed for as far as the eye can see.  At one point, that must have been one hell of an ocean.

When I was at the Area 51 gas station and brothel last week (before going into Death Valley) I struck up a conversation with a local.  He used to be a tour guide.  He told me about a couple of places I should go on my way back.

One was the Pearce Ferry Road which would take me to the West End of the Grand Canyon.  It was 52 miles one way on a dirt road.  No thanks.  My ass hurts enough.

The other place was Oatman, AZ.  It is right over the Nevada boarder near Bullhead City and Laughlin.  What I did not realize as I turned onto Silver Creek Road was that Oatman was 22 miles up a dirt road.  Oh well.  My ass was already sore…why not try to go the distance.

The road to the Oatman Highway was a nice little adventure up through the mountains.  Along the way the scenery was spectacular.  The canyons, and mountains looked like 3D paintings.   The area is a true mining area–with real operating gold mines right next to the road.  And those mines have big fences to Ensure You Get Your Moneys Worth With Glass Pool Fencing, live dogs, and skull and cross bones on the warning signs.  I did not even bother to slow down to photograph them. You may also need services from pool maintenance seattle wa providing the life of your pool’s external parts and interior pool finish.

This is a view of the terrain in the mining country of Northwest Arizona

This is a view of the terrain in the mining country of Northwest Arizona

The first people I saw on the way out to Oatman was a group of three pickup trucks, stopped ten feet off the road, and the group of about a dozen men and women were standing around a bunch of coolers, lawn chairs, and a couple of sun umbrellas.  These folks were taking turns shooting at targets out on the distance (thankfully away from the road.)  The variety of weapons being used was a different as the people using them.

Thankfully my license plate from Absolutereg.co.uk was too small for them to see, and I wasn’t about to slow down either.  But I imagine the juxtaposition of a Mass plate on a dirty Adventure Bike on an obscure back road in Arizona would probably give me enough time to get my “don’t tread on me” hat on my head and identify myself as a long lost brother from another mother.

A little further down the road is a roadside memorial.  I am sure that there are a dozen books about roadside memorials on the back roads of the US.  I have seen my share on this ride, but this was the first one that caused me to stop, take a picture, and give my respects.

On the road to the Oatman Highway, I came across this memorial to Thumper.

On the road to the Oatman Highway, I came across this memorial to Thumper.

I have no idea who or what Thumper was.  I did a quick Google search and there are a couple theories.  One is that Thumper was a man who worked one of the mines and died there.  Another is that he was a horse or loved mule who worked the mines.  Personally, I want to think of him as a motorcycle driver given the name because of his four cycle monster that just thumped up and down the roads.

(I think the skull and crossbones at the bottom of the cross pretty much take loved animal off the list of options.  I am going with motorcyclist who loved the road.)

So, after twenty miles of road which while unimproved was quite rideable, I came upon the Oatman Highway, which is actually part of the old Route 66.  I hadn’t driven this far west on it earlier before reaching Kingman and turning north to Las Vegas.

DCIM101GOPRO

The ride into Oatman took about five minutes from this point, of course It was fast due to dcision of taking my elektroroller unu scooter instead of the car.  The funny thing is the speed limit is 15 miles per hour.  I think its the only place in AZ where its less than 75 mph.  So I “thumpered” along.  And then discovered why the speed limit is so low.  There were burros everywhere.  And by everywhere, I mean they were wandering up and down the street, walking on the boardwalks up from the street–following little kids and foraging in the open windows of cars.

The story goes that burros were released by the miners years ago and these are descendents.  (Here is a link to someone who did far more research than I did:  http://www.desertusa.com/oatman/du_oatman.html)  In any event, they are charming for the short term visitor.  I imagine they, and the burro crap all over the place, can be tedious for the every day Oatman resident.

Just as interesting was that within minutes of my arrival and dismounting I was being interviewed by some “master of ceremonies” who was walking up and down the street with a portable Public Address system.  He talked to everyone as he strolled up and down the main (and only) thoroughfare in town.  He was asking me where I was from, had I come for the egg fry (he whispered for me to say yes, even if I hadn’t.)  I played along.  It was a delightful time.

Oatman Burros

Just as I was being done getting interviewed another BMW GS1200 drove up behind us and parked.  The MC lost interest in me, and started in on the new folks.  As it turns out the driver of the other bike was a retired BMW Motorcycle manager.  He and I struck up a great conversation on the new bike.  He asked where I bought it, and we had a wonderful conversation about how the dealers in New England range from well liked and respected to absolutely hated because of their sales tactics.  The dealer I bought from was on neither list.  I guess that is good.

After walking around for a bit and watching the little kids interact with the burros it was time to move on.  No stickers available for my bike.  Note to store owners in nice little towns–spend $100 and get some bike sized stickers made up.  Us old kids like to put stickers on our side boxes.  Yes, I know its silly.  But I bought one souvenir on this trip, and the rest was spent on stickers.  Yes Mary, I am bringing home a new coffee mug.

We like to put stickers on stuff, just like every little boy.  Every sticker is a story.

We like to put stickers on stuff, just like every little boy. Every sticker is a story.

Finally, I was off heading down the road to Phoenix..still several hours away.

 

The road out of Oatman was wonderful.  The old Route 66 into Kingman brought me down from the mountains and into the valley.

 

 

From that point out it was straight and flat–right down to Route 60 and into Phoenix.  The problem with setting your GPS to avoid highways is that in a city like Phoenix the trip will take you literally half an hour more–without traffic–due to the traffic lights every half a mile or so.  From now on, I will hit the highways going into the cities.

Sitting in the waiting room at Victory BMW in Chandler, AZ.  Getting the oil changed and getting the idiot lights fixed.  They were being idiotic because of the idiot who set up the bike.

Sitting in the waiting room at Victory BMW in Chandler, AZ. Getting the oil changed and getting the idiot lights fixed. They were being idiotic because of the idiot who set up the bike.

So, now I am in Phoenix.

This morning I had to get the bike serviced.  The oil and filter needed changing.  And the idiots lights had been flashing on and off for the past couple of days–telling me my lights were not working or the ABS system was down, or the Automatic Suspension Control system wasn’t working.  This was happening mostly while driving on rough road.

Evidently, the folks that prepped the bike did not insert a little piece of foam when installing the battery.  So the battery has been jumping around for 6,000 miles.  And the leads came loose.  And every time the lead to the battery became disconnected for a portion of a second, the on board computer would try to diagnose the problem.

It was like I was teasing the on board computer, and it went all HAL 9000 on me.  Had I gone on further I don’t think the pod bay doors would be opened for me.

But, an hour later and $95 donated to the local BMW dealership, I am good to go.  Tomorrow we start the long ride home.  I am already starting to put together the list of things that I have to do when I get there.  If I could figure out somewhere to go that I havent been to yet (and a way to fund it–and a way to get a new seat for the bike) I would extend it.

But that’s not going to happen.

Time to grow up and put my toys away.

The Area 51 Rest Stop/Gas Station/Kitchen and Brothel.

I got up early in the morning to go to Death Valley.  I figured it would be hot.  I was wrong.

The ride up to the Valley is actually a pretty straight shot.  Like every other road in the Western US, the speed limit seemed to be whatever makes you comfortable.  You can cruise along at 60, 75, 80.  I personally like to keep it down in the low 60s.  It is nice to think that a fall or accident at that speed would be different than one at 90 mph.  It is delusional thinking.

The drive takes you north.  You pass Creech Air Force Base, where if you are lucky you get to see a drone or jet take off or land.  You go by the Nevada Test Sites where they used to blow up Atom Bombs that made the sunsets in Vegas so beautiful throughout the 50’s.

Finally you come upon the Area 51 Rest Stop, Gas Station, Kitchen and Brothel.  That is my name for it.  I guess this is the closest rest area to the secret Air Force Base.  Its probably 50 miles away.  Relevant?  I guess its all in the presentation.

IMG_2383

If ever there were an award for the lamest tourist trap in the world, the Area 51 Rest Stop, Kitchen and Brothel would win the prize.  And in the year or so since last visiting, it has only gotten worse.  Rundown, rusted, sand blasted, and weathered wood describes the motif.

A big sign indicates that it is under new management.  It is not clear if they mean the rest stop, gas station, kitchen or brothel.  The last of which still boggles my mind a little bit.  I guess my east coast “up-tightness” is showing.  Although “Puritan” might be in my lineage, it is certainly not a term that has ever been used to describe me.  Anyway, I stayed clear of that end of the gas station.

Fueling up there is almost mandatory.  My bike uses premium gas–there really is not option for anything else.  It will not work right without it–fine German Engineering.  The Area 51 Rest Stop is the last “cheap” gas before you go into Death Valley National Park.  $4.00 gas at A51 becomes $6 a gallon gas inside the park.  Everything in the there more expensive.

After gassing up the bike I went inside for a cup of coffee and a piece of fruit.  Really.  No muffin today.

The interior of the Gas Station/Rest Stop/Kitchen is sparse and just as dusty as the outside.  You can get Alien shot glasses and tittie cups.  All sorts of tee shirts.  But not sunscreen.  Who would need sunscreen in the desert?

The attendants were equally weathered, wrinkled, and right out of a Stephen King Novel.  Women working at the Gas Station/Rest Stop/Brothel age fast in the heat and dry air of Death Valley.  I think the humidity does a number on the skin.  Yes, it must be the humidity.

After another conversation with the ladies about how hot I must be in my gear, how long I have been on the road, and I must be crraaa-zeeee to want to go to Death Valley in the summer I decided it would be best for all of us if I enjoyed my breakfast outside on the porch.

So I plopped my ass on the bench, took off the coat, and started to stare off into the distance.  I would have been happy just sitting there staring at the cars going by and the ravens picking through the trash.

At that point a guy appeared out of nowhere and asked if I had a lighter.  Reaching over the rail I plucked one out of my tank bag and let him use it to light his cigar.  I asked if he needed a cut, and he laughed and said something about smoking a piece of crap cigar that would not be improved with a cut.

He got a good chuckle put of my Cheech and Chong lighter.  We both sat there without speaking for a while.  I sipped and he puffed lightly.   I am not sure which door this guy was going into, or coming out of.  It seemed he could be at home in the Gas Station, the Kitchen or the Brothel.  I wasn’t asking.  I really did not want to think about that.

He was in his late 60’s.  His stocky body held up a square head reminiscent of Scotty from Star Trek.  His white polo shirt was half a size too small and was tucked into his half a size too small shorts.  It looked like all of his clothes were bought ten pounds ago.  He did have a full head of white hair that contrasted well against the weathered skin.

He knew everyone who drove by–meeting and greeting with wave or handshake.

After a few minutes he motioned his head to a sparkling black Jeep with a bike pulling out of the pumps.  He laughed and said something about how this clown had just spent hours wiping down his car–and now he was going to take his pretty Jeep and go into Death Valley and ride his bike.

“Fucking idiots….”

I just looked at him.

“Yeah, idiots”, I said.

Of course I was going to ride in Death Valley.

The guy looked at me and said, “Look, you have on dirty boots, your gloves are a mess, your bike is all dusty…and you haven’t shaved in three days.”

And he let that hang there.  As if he was a teenager saying, “Duh.”

I guess I wasn’t a poser.

I laughed.

I asked him where he was from.  He was from Vegas and he was meeting some people up here who “test cars.”

He started telling me that he had been a tour guide out of Vegas when he was a kid.  He told me to get something to take notes on.  And then he proceeded to tell me about a few places on the way out of Vegas that should take the time to see.  Places, he said, that were cool and were known, but were not on the main lists of tourist attractions.  There won’t be crowds.

That lead to a conversation about how foreign tourists were a pain in the ass.  I agreed wholeheartedly.

He told me how to get down to the Colorado River at the very start of the Grand Canyon…to a place where there won’t be anyone else.

“You could just strip down an take a dip.  No one is going to see you.  And no one is going to care.  Just go to Peachtree Springs and ask the Indians to give you a permit.  They will tell you where to go.”

Normally I would have avoided this guy like the plague.  He was a hustler, that much was clear.  This guy knew every thing, every body–he had been there and done that.  Except he hadn’t.  I knew that.  I’ve been around that too much in my life.

But, there seemed to be a sincerity and honesty about this stuff–and all of the other stuff we talked about: Places, the desert, and life in such a hostile place full of snakes and lizards.  I am pretty sure he was referencing the ones that slither and walk on four legs, but I am not entirely sure.  I did not want to interrupt to ask.

I wrote the the directions, the names, the places, the landmarks (“Its a big furnace repair services layton ut building.  Not a regular shop, a fucking huge turquoise warehouse–Who would paint a warehouse that color?”)

Then the cars pulled up.  Four different cars.  All white, all SUVs of different makes–obviously late models.

Maybe they did test cars in the desert.  I am not sure how they test them.

I shook his hand and thanked him for the information.  He told me that it was a lot of information for a light, but he was feeling good that day.

We both laughed.  I think he was serious.

He turned out to be right.  By the end of my visit I saw snakes.  I saw lizards.  And burros, free ranging the streets.

I even saw that guy in the black jeep, looking all upset because it got dirty.  The bike was still on the back. It had never been taken off the rack.

IMG_2384

It was too hot to ride in Death Valley.  Way too hot. He was an idiot to try.

But I could light a cigar.  And I was dirty.

 

 

 

Memphis to Dallas.

Entering Stuttgart

I got into Dallas last night.  It was a long day, driving through Arkansas and East Texas.

Arkansas was interesting.  The roads were a mess.  But the land was beautiful.  In the areas where there was no building or farms, the wild flowers were simply gorgeous.

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There were miles of rice and beans.  In New England, they really do not do a lot of education of what produce comes from what place.  I remember the first time I saw huge rice fields in the south I was surprised.  I thought all rice came from the far east.  I was an idiot.  It comes from here, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Going through Arkansas I had to stop where they were paving the road.  It was one of those construction areas on a back road filled with stacks of Elgiloy Hastelloy C-4 metal and unmarked wooden crates. THAT would not happen in New England.   I was alone at this particular side of the construction project.  I had a nice conversation with the flag guy.  He was blown away that I would take the time to get off the highway to see where he lived.  I was kind of surprised by his sincerity.  After talking for several minutes it was time to go.  Before he turned his sign from Stop to Slow, he walked over and shook my hand and wished me a safe journey.  So far, that has to be my favorite part of the trip.

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Roadside advertising has changed as I go west.  It is clearly larger, and more “American.”  What puzzled me about Arkansas was on some of the roads there were just store after store after store–just closed and falling apart.  In other parts of the country this is evident where the Interstate Highways had come in during the 50’s and 60’s.  Clearly the old US Route systems had lost traffic and businesses died.  Except here in Arkansas I was 50 miles from the nearest Interstate.  And there was nothing around.  Why would people open storefront after storefront when it was evident it was not going to be successful.  I appreciate the optimism.  I question the sanity of the banker who made the loan.

About 30 miles outside of Pine Bluff AR

About 30 miles outside of Pine Bluff AR

At another stop in the middle of nowhere about 20 miles outside of Pine Bluff I pulled into a little convenience store.  As I walked up to the counter, the owner–and older Indian/Pak gentleman asked my where I was from.  I asked him back, how did he know that I was not from around there.  He just laughed and said, “People who look like you don’t come in here unless they are out of gas or something is on fire.”  Welcome to Arkansas.

The drive into Dallas felt like I was a single blood cell being rushed to the heart.  As I got closer, the pace picked up.  The speed limit rose to 75 on the highway.  Everyone drives a pickup.  And they all drive fast.  Until we hit Dallas proper and then everything just stopped.  It was odd to find myself in a huge city traffic sprawl after driving almost unmolested through most of the day.

As I drove up and parked in the lot, the bell captain came walking towards me.  I thought he was going to tell me not to park where I was.  Instead, he starts telling me he has the 600 Serato(?) BMW.  Asking me all about the trip, the bike, and what I was doing.  Where was I going?  When I told him I was from Mass. and that I was headed west, it was if I was a rock star.  I probably spent another twenty minutes talking to his coworkers and him this morning.

Once again, I found it interesting how open people are when they see you on a motorcycle.  If they ride, they just come up and talk.    Folks that don’t ride will stand there and want to talk to you, but they seem a little “timid” about asking.  Once you are friendly to them the floodgates open and the questions and conversations just happen.  In all of my trips across country, I have never had this many conversations with just plain folk.  It is refreshing.  I understand how this can be an addictive way to travel.

I am spending two nights in Dallas.  Last night was a nightmare.  As soon as I lay down on the bed, the cramps started.  Both legs evidently got fed up with being on a motorcycle all day.  My calves starting cramping up and I would have to jump out of bed to stretch them.  In the middle of the night I had a hamstring cramp.  I never have hamstring cramps.  I am not LeBron James for God’s sake.

So, clearly I have to increase my stretching and water intake.  The heat is not so horrible when I am riding, but it is easily 95-100 degrees on the road itself.  I am stopping at least every hour to drink a bottle of water or Gatorade.   I will have to pay extra attention to that going forward.  It is only going to get warmer.

I went out to drive around a little today.  I discovered that I hate driving around a city like this.  Too much stop and go.  To many idiots on their phones.  And I did not want to put on ALL of the gear–it was just too hot.  So, after twenty minutes of exploring, I turned around and came back.

Tomorrow I enjoy the free breakfast buffet at the Dallas Marriott (being a Platinum member has some benefits.)  Then I am off to Lubbock.  For here on out I am trying to avoid the interstates and stick to the curvy back roads that drug dealers, human traffickers, and “unlawful aliens” use.

Here is a Roadtrippers link to my route over the next couple of days.  Of course, it is subject to change.  On a whim.

https://roadtrippers.com/trips/53a5ae8ec22b5990520024a7/share

This is the view of DFW from my room.  I think tonight I will see if I can shoot some airport landing photos.  You will see what I mean if I can get it to work correctly.

DFW North

 

 

Memphis gas station

I stopped at a gas station on the way out of Memphis. This gas station was in such a beat down part of town you just know that your credit card is going to be jacked.

I always carry a card with a low limit that I can live without for the two weeks it’s going to take to clear out the illegal purchases.

You see, it’s not a matter of deciding which card to use here. It is a matter of which card can you live without.

Laundry in Memphis

I started out the day enjoying the extra hour of sleep. Somewhere in Kentucky I crossed a time zone.

When I stop at night the first thing I’ve been doing is to wash out my riding armor and my underarmor shirt. That way it’s fresh to go in the morning. I know I am going to stink at some point, but keeping clean is important for your health and for your dining companions and reduce stress for everyone, of course you can also do this with the right supplements, so you can go online and find out where to buy kratom and more.

For the first time since the start of this trip (Day 4 today) the clothes were stil wet. I guess it is clear that there is humidity in the south.

So off I go to the Guest Laundry.

The dryer costs $1.50. And it only takes quarters. Evidently the modern digital age has not reached the Marriott Laundry service.

Next stop–the front desk. The overnight front desk guy who looked at me like I was crazy at 6am when I asked how to get coffee was equally befuddled when I asked for quarters. No quarters at the front desk. He even checked his pockets. Nothing.

Fortunately the woman in the “Bistro” was finally opening for business. And she had quarters.

All this time I am dripping water from my spandex underwear and shirt. Of course I was not wearing them at the time. But the three old guys talking football in the lobby were curious about my plight. Taking a look at my fancy under garments (which look like football gear) and I do not think they wanted to ask, because they did not want me to tell.

I was about to ask them for money, but I think they would have beaten me up. I could have taken two of them, but the third was a pretty big dude.

Having gotten my quarters I walked back down the hall towards to guest laundry. My sandals, with their rubber soles, were making squishy noises on the tile floors. The entire first floor knew I was going by.

If you ever get the chance to walk around a hotel early in the morning, the noises you hear are funny. I guess when you are within your own cocoon of daily life you never notice how disgusting you sound in the morning.

On a two hundred yard walk around the hotel I hear yawns, sneezes, coughs, pissing streams into the bowl, and kids watching TV. You could hears snippets of conversations, muffled good mornings and the singled sided telephone call.

I cannot help but wonder who these travelers are and what they went through last night to wake up in what sounds like horrible shape. Clearly, the sounds I heard were not from people getting up for a jog or a stint in the gym.

And since I sit here alone, they are not using the laundry facilities either. These people must stink.

Now my clothes have tumbled for 15 minutes. They are probably dry and hot. Since it’s going to be 95 today, I guess it’s good to get my skin used to it.

Time to get my pads on, repack my bags again, and hit the road.

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