Witness of change

The morning was bright and the air clear
Blue skies above and few clouds seen
Cool is the temps but not to a frost
The motor it rumbles an idling song
The loping rhythm of cylinder fire
Unmistakable sound of Milwaukee V Twin

Layers under leather, helmet and gloves
Throw a leg over, firm hand on the grip
Twist of the wrist and the rumble it changes
A roar of the pipes, a signal of power

Out to the roadway, the game has begun
Right turn, roll throttle, then smooth pavement I feel
Thrust is apparent as I kick her to three

The wind it is cool, a definite difference
The light of today, softer in some way
A tint of yellow, you could almost say gold
Fills the crisp air and comforts the soul
The grass still green and the streams are a flow’in
But something is different on this beautiful morn’in

Making my way I straddle my girl
The big motors heat rising up warming my legs
My senses alive because, well, I’m not in a cage

I consider the changes I’ve been talking about
I realize the signs and now know the reason
Summer has ended and autumn arrived
With the tree leaves a changing, I feel a new season

Not yet the brilliant color on display
but of this I am certain, that’s not far away
So thankful I am to be riding this day
A knowing witness to mother earth’s aura

Others may wonder, and not clearly know
Just why it is, that I love to ride motors

A New Road

Few things will attract the attention of a motorcycle enthusiast quicker than a statement of, “there is a new road” or some reference to a ride not taken in the past. I found myself in this exact circumstance recently.

Earlier in the summer my wife and I took a wonderful day ride on our motorcycle and we traveled around a loop that we had done previously but it was a special day because we stopped in a new to us small town and enjoyed a spectacular lunch in a local establishment. I like to think of the town as swanky with a recovered 1950 flare. As we rode the loop I noticed a two lane mountain road that cut off at about mid-range on our intended return path. I was kind of drawn to it in some way and I remember thinking clearly: I wonder where that road goes?

Upon our return I was describing our day ride to some friends and fellow bikers. They listened intently as I described the route we had taken and then in an act of ultimate enlightenment they asked; “Did you try the new road?” To this I responded with full attention; “A new road?”

The enlightenment continued and I was advised of a new path that was recently paved as a part of the State of Utah’s Scenic-by-Way effort. The road I had passed, at the time wondering where that goes. Well, that intersection is the southern exit point of the new route. I was informed that the Scenic-By-Way, if I had I taken it, would have taken me through amazing scenery, over a mountain pass abounding with curves, switch backs, ups and downs, all on new pavement with fresh striping and not a lot of traffic.

Needless to say my swanky town story ended at this point and a seed of desire was planted that continued to grow until last Sunday afternoon. I planned that this would be the day we would return and complete the ride as it should have been had I known about the new road.

We arrived at the northern intersection which would begin a 31.5 mile biker odyssey I can scarcely describe but I will try.  The route starts as a well-established road that has been in use for many years. Sections of this road have been improved with new pavement which is smooth as a baby’s backside. These sections were to be only a teaser as it soon returned to older pavement. Still, we continued on until the actual new road began following an abrupt right hand turn through a seasonal closure gate.

The new pavement was a delight to ride on. We climbed up and up and the powerful Milwaukee Eight rose to the occasion. While climbing up we rounded curves to the right, curves to the left, switch backs, over gulch’s until at last we arrived at the summit. The curves we encountered are of such tightness that towed trailers frequently leave the roadway. This results in loose gravel from the shoulder being dragged out into the travel lane. Just another obstacle to be aware of and a challenge that demands rider attention.

The summit offers a view of what seems like 50 miles or more of canyon mixed vegetation, Oak, Aspen, and Pine trees a scene capped by a florescent blue sky and a spattering of distant white clouds. This scene seems to have been broken only once by man as a high voltage power line can be seen crossing the breadth. Still, I found myself lost in the expanse for a time.

It is said that what goes up must come down. I suppose that is truth so we must discuss the southern descent of the summit. I found myself traversing a ridge-line where the route seemed to sway from left to right following a path created by our good Lord and maintained by Mother Nature. As I made my way, I looked to the right down into a canyon wilderness only to see the route weaving and switch backing through the forest continuing on a magical descent. There is no exaggeration when I describe my turning to my wife seated behind me as the bike leaned to and fro and yelling with a huge smile on my face; “I LIKE IT!!!” While looking back in the mirror for her reaction I saw my dog seated behind her. Kevin was leaning out from his own custom seat into the wind; eyes in squint, ears flapping, and a huge smile of his own spread across his muzzle. Apparently he agreed with my assessment.

Soon the new pavement gave way to older well-traveled sections which continued to descend. Although the road in this section was well established it did not fail to present challenges and intrigue of its own. The 31.5 miles passed quickly and I soon found myself at the intersection I had seen before. Only this time there was no wonder where the route goes. Rather my thoughts were filled with; should I turn around and do it again?

Oh, but the joys of new routes and first times. Do you know what I mean?

Storm Dodger

Traveling by motorcycle places the rider directly into the elements. It is for this reason that motorcycles are so attractive to those who have inclination for sun on the back, wind in the face, smells in the air, and freedom. What also comes is risk and the needs for awareness and preparedness is a great idea. Much like life in many ways.

On a past weekend I found myself joyful in my travel south with the weekend promises of sun, motorcycle, a pretty woman, swimming pools, and the love of family. As I traveled toward my goals, dark clouds, thunder storms, and falling rain gathered and affected the area. The prevailing wind carried the storms on a north, north east direction crossing my path diagonally. I soon found myself shooting gaps in the storms. Speed increases to pass before some or slowing with pauses to pass behind others. I was actually having fun dancing with Mother Nature and maybe was getting a bit too cocky at my success.

About 100 miles out I saw it. Directly ahead a dark and dismal storm sat in the canyon that was to be my passage. I watched the dark falling moisture as I approached closer and closer. An indication of direction is what I sought. Seeing nothing I soon determined, the storm and I were on a direct collision course. It was refusing yield and kept coming on. Thoughts changed to shelter and a race soon began. Do I stop here in this town the safe bet, or do I chance making that rest area 20 miles out? Confident was I at my success of this day.

The rest area it would be, I would challenge the storm and get there first. It’s a hard task to judge the speed of a storm which is coming head on and I soon found myself riding into the first of its moisture. Light at first but building in strength the storm moved right up and over my path. It soon consumed me. 5, 4, 3, 2 miles more and the storm raged on.

Cars and semi trucks on roadside shoulder, a couple down the embankment, they were hydroplane victims. The cost of not slowing despite Mother Nature’s power. Thought’s now pass in my mind; “this race I’ve lost, and I’m going to get wet, soaked to the bone.” My furry companion snuggled up close to my back whining at the sting of rain drops and hail. I should have stopped in the safety of town but that option has passed. There is no option now but to carry on in the rain; 1 more mile, then a ½, I was so close now but the storm in its laughter poured on the rain.

Off of the interstate the danger had passed. Into the lot and quickly I parked shutting the big motor down with a flick of the thumb. I dismounted my girl, untethered my buddy and into the shelter we walked together. A gutter chock full of water and BB sized hail stones on the walkway explained the sting my little buddy had felt. As I lifted my helmet and Kev shook off the water, three others I saw all smiling at me. With Harley hats, Sturgis shirts, leather and helmets of their own. I looked outside in the parking lot opposite of mine. There were three bikes parked in a row, it seems they were quicker than I this day. They had made it to shelter and waited all dry.

“Well Howdy”; my greeting was given with an acknowledgement of, “That’s one hell of a storm. I thought I could beat it but it came up on me quick”

By the grins on display I knew they understood clearly my own soggy wet smile.
Surely they thought of rides in their past and of their own chances taken and races they lost. There is some strange satisfaction at pressing my luck, taking a chance, and even in loosing this race.

They call it a rally, but it’s more…

Sturgis 2022 a summary…

The sunrise, a beautiful orange mixed with red.
Just a slice before the panniers were full.
As the morning rushed on, it was high in it’s rise.
Brilliance occurred as the sky turned turquoise.

Soon all were ready and motors were fired.
Loud pipes sounding the motors willingness to run.
Up the on-ramp, speeds increasing, a natural formation was soon achieved.
Two by two the adventures rode, chasing what the new day will hold.

Wind on the face, the first sense awaken.
The power we held in a twist of the wrist.
Across rolling hills of gold that only this land holds.
The natural beauty, broken only by a faded dark path.
Concrete, asphalt, and fresh painted lines winding a way.
Silhouette of riders out in front, carving the pathway over horizon.

Deep canyon landscape, endless prairies, moist mountain air.
Farms, fields, open range ranches, and sprinklers too.
Antelope, Geese, Wild Turkeys, Bison, the Eagle and so many more.
But the one that stands out, is the hawk that flew overhead, with a snake in its talon.

It’s a harsh beautiful land in evidence to be seen.
Drift fence a plenty and trees on permanent bend.
Dark and deep canyons, which feel of recent rain moist.
Where shadow stays long and cool is the air.
Cascading water fall tumbles to gravity pull, and they call it a Bridal Veil fall.

Peace is found in a motors straddle, and freedom like an Eagle’s graceful soar.
Four indispensable leaders of their time, enshrined with faces of stone.
America the beautiful is how song goes.
I wonder the author, must ride motors too.

A sign which reads a message of pride.
Great Place, Great People referring to all, who call this wonderful country home.
I will have to agree, because we ride the heart land today.
America’s heart land is to what I refer.

The best way to see her is bestride a motor.
Where senses are aware of just how blessed we are.

Look, a Gaggle of Geese

There is a river in the Nez Perce National Forest of Idaho that is called the Clearwater. The river itself is appropriately named as the water cascading through that drainage is some of the most transparent I have seen.

Peering into the water from above you can easily see to the river’s rocky bottom which in the summer months has a rusted, copper, or dark tan color from algae growth under the water’s surface. Over millennia the river has cut passage through hard rock and now clears the way for Route 13 to flank its path winding and turning in a north or south direction through an amazing forested area.

If you are thinking that sounds like an excellent route for a motorcycle ride you would not be mistaken and in fact I have travelled that way with friends not long ago.

As I rode along enjoying the turns, the curves, wind on my face, the coolness of the air and the majesty surrounding us I caught movement off to my right. As I turned to look I saw a gaggle of seven Geese flying along that magnificent river. At first they were slightly below my position but they were traveling in the same direction as I and were gaining elevation. They had formed into that well known flying V formation and were traveling at the same speed.

Have I mentioned how hard it is to keep one’s eye on the road when absolute perfection is occurring right next to you? Well that was my dilemma and I did my very best to safely take in the scene. Imagine if you can seven graceful birds of brown, white, green, and tan each painted the same beautiful pattern flying in perfect formation with a back drop of a clear river cascading over rocks of copper and forested rocky hillside behind. Absolutely splendid!!!

I would hope that moments like this last forever in my memory even if for a short minute or two in reality. I watched in amazement at the grace as the gaggle paced me along my path until at last they began to descend and eventually splash down in that cool water creating a splash of white water droplets that flew outward away from their bodies as wings tucked into their sides.

I continued on along Route 13 anxiously waiting for the next miraculous sight from a straddle my motor. But somehow I think this one will stay with me for a while.

Life, you just have to live it!!!

Drive Away

This morning I saw a local advertisement that asked simply; “Do you want to know the secret of a great drive?”

Now the game of golf has always been difficult for me. That darn ball never went where I was intending. This way, or that, or sometimes not at all. I tried, I really did, but in the end, despite advice and instructions, I always left the course more frustrated and angry than when I arrived.

I know I’m not alone in the frustration when I see or hear of golfers throwing into lakes, or slamming into the ground, clubs that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Recreation? I think not, at least for me, and my hat is certainly off to those who persevere.

Still this morning, when I read the advertisement enquiring about the great drive, I must admit I was confused by the photo of the golfer teeing off. I guess my perspective was a bit different than the advertisement intended.

You see I know the secret to a great drive and need no further instruction. Want to know too? Well ok, here goes.

I sit a straddle of her, move the kick stand up, fire the engine, kick her down once, twist throttle, and roll ponies away from that damn course.

“Ah,” now that is my idea of Recreation.

Coral Canyon and Pine Valley Mountain

Mount Up and Ride

The weeks ending day has finally arrived. The fifth day was saved for a much needed ride. Of motor, of leather, of warm air and sun, all were part of the original plan. When a rider awakens and looks out to see dark clouds and moisture to threaten the plan. A check of the weather and what from the man but a forecast so low it includes certain snow with high wind to boot. Oh I don’t give a hoot, this simply won’t do, it’s just not a part of the adventurers plan.

What should be done when nature throws out a curve? Why lean inside and roll throttle regardless the steepness of turn. Add a new layer under the leather and zip it up tight cause adventure is awaiting for those who don’t weaken. So a man, a motor, and a furry side kick open the garage door and a kick stand comes up. Into the desert the swashbucklers ride.

Quail Creek it seems is a prevailing wind tunnel. Into its main jet stream the motor and her riders do roll. Like a Deep Purple lyric from days long ago, instead of the smoke, I see a red sandy cloud on the water below. Carried across on winds from the north, never once touching the surface below. Over the white caps it steadily moved looking like a daylight shadow certainly would.

A wind that moves snow storms away to the east releasing the sun to shine down on us all can cause storms of their very own making. Hidden inside the veil of a spinning red devil the Tumbleweeds roll pacing the motor on winds from behind. Yes, it’s a race for the centerline; who arrives first determines the pass, the quick to the left and slower the right. Sometimes the motor and others the Tumble but we didn’t cross paths which was really a wonder.

A motor runs well when temperatures are colder. A twist of the wrist when the next up kick is made, the goal is of merging at a high rate of speed. The pipes do scream as ponies release to thrust the bike forward and push rider back. The surge of adrenal and a smile that shines on the rider who chose to brave out the storm.

Where Eagles Soar and the story continues

You may recall a recent posting called “Where Eagles Soar”. In that posting I described a majestic sight of two Bald Eagles I had seen during a motorcycle ride near Wolf Lodge Bay on Lake Coeur D’Alene Idaho. Such a wonderful sight that I’ll not soon forget it. Since seeing it, I have, and continue to share that experience both in written word and storytelling. It was on one such occasion that Folklore pushed this experience to a new level, an angle I hadn’t considered before.

Folklore is an interesting word which includes two parts. “Folk” or regional people and “Lore” or stories. Folklore is the tales of regional or local people to an area. Now this Lore can be true, a fabrication, an embellishment, or a combination; it’s all fair game. I didn’t know at days start but I was to meet a regional person that very day.

I was performing the duties of a substitute teacher in a local high school. It is my practice to introduce myself so the students know who is sharing their class of the day and then as time allows I make effort to interact with the students. It is my experience that learning occurs in many ways by doing this and I often find myself learning from the students as well. On the day of this occurrence there was a young person in class that was among his peers yet he was separate in some way I hadn’t clearly understood. While speaking with him I determined he was new to the school and had recently moved to the community. Therefore it made sense that he was among his peers but a little different at the same time; the new kid in school. He told me that he had previously lived near Coeur D’Alene Idaho.

At this I found an opportunity to share my Bald Eagle observation yet once again. Since the days subject was a little dry and the students were struggling, I did this not only to the young man but the entire class. While I retold the experience the young man sat, listened intently to my tale, all the while he was smiling in a knowing way. I assumed he was thinking of home and being reminded of his time there.

When I finished the tale he asked me if I would like to know the rest of the story. His classmates had listened carefully to my tale and was now very interested and focused squarely on their new classmate from Idaho. I thought what a wonderful way for him to become better acquainted with his new class mates in a new community and share a bit of himself through story.

I gave him the floor and he soon began a tale of his own. He told of the fame of the Eagles I had seen. He said the Eagles do fly together just as I had described and they seem to always be there. He furthered his tale by baiting us with; “and there is a real good reason why”; then he continued.

As his Tale went, and I paraphrase, he described a few years earlier there had been a terrible accident on the lake. A young couple had gone out in a small boat to the open water fishing for the day. On this fateful day a sudden storm approached the area catching the couple unprepared and ill equipped. The boat they were using was capsized by high winds and the loving couple had perished in the cold water as a result. Then he described the lore as told that the couple each had a love of Bald Eagles in the area and each had at one time or another tattooed images the majestic bird on their bodies. Following the tragic loss of the couple the local Folk noticed the same birds I had seen. They hunt, fly, and are always together in the area. Legend holds according to the tale that the birds are the spirits of the ill-fated couple who have returned to continue fishing the cool waters of Wolf Lodge Bay.

At the conclusion of his tale, fellow classmates smiled each thinking and evaluating the tale he had told. I have found that this is what learning looks like on the face of a person with a curious mind. I saw in their eyes a new appreciation for their new peer. Now Folklore is a tremendously powerful form of storytelling. Many listen and reject the lore as local superstition, while others wholeheartedly believe and accept the tale as truth.

As for me the addition of Folklore to my own observations has made the experience all the better. In my mind’s eye now I can hear the pitch of a powerful motor change as I slowed, I feel the cool wind on my face as I looked upward, I smell the dense Pine forested landscape, and see the two Bald Eagles circling in a cloudless blue sky. One following the other not knowing which does lead nor which does follow. A representation of the doomed couple that day?

One thing is for certain they are beautiful and majestic birds, they were fishing, and they were together. Coincidence one might ask? Tell you what; I’ll leave you at this Tales ending to decide for yourself and I hope that you wear a curious smile as well.

Photo by Frank Cone, iStockphoto

Where Eagles Soar

There is a road called Route 97 that passes on the East side of Lake Coeur D’Alene in Northern Idaho, USA. It’s a beautiful route and it’s all the better when two wheels do travel on adventures path. It was on this route I saw a most amazing sight as I rode along. Two Bald Eagles had taken flight and soared in circles in the morning sky light.

A night before there was a choice to make on which route was best for me to take. The choice was one of straight and quick, the other was longer of curves and scenic view. The second route held out as best for me because of the length and ride time it offered. Simply stated I was there for the ride and so it would be.

Not far into this glorious route; the morning was clear and cool was the air. There was little wind except that produced by the motor and movement as we made our way along the East Shore. The water itself was calm with hardly a ripple and appeared like a mirror with a slight wavy surface. A mist was seen on the waters smooth edge and vapor turns to cloud as it began to rise. There is a forest here of dense pine so healthy and green that it cover’s the landscape down to the waters beginning. In it that familiar dark green; it’s almost a shadow. This is particularly apparent when contrast is made with a near cloudless blue sky that has the first of morning sunshine streaking across.

Motion I notice in the sky just above and silhouetted against that beautiful landscape. As I looked to the sky and away from the road I saw one, no two, Eagles it seemed. Bald were their heads and circular their flight. Not 100 feet off the water they effortlessly circled. One following the other but impossible to tell which of them did lead or which did follow. It mattered not as I slowed my speed to watch them in flight around and around. Apparent to me the Eagles were hunting fish in the water. I’m certain it wouldn’t be long, a dive they would make, and breakfast to be taken.

Slow as I had to enjoy the scene, old Route 97 demanded attentions return as it wound, curved, and continued away. There were other sights ahead so wondrous to see, but I’ll always remember the Eagles near Wolf Lodge Bay.

Take a ride on The Old Lincoln Hwy

Few things go together better than motorcycles and old roads. It’s like sugar and spice or cake and ice cream or Harley and Davidson, they just go together. So when I found myself with a free afternoon I thought to myself, “I should go and take a ride on the Old Lincoln Highway.”

The Lincoln Hwy is identified as the first transcontinental hard surface road in America. It’s route traveled from New York City, NY to San Francisco, CA crossing the entirety of this great land at an initial length of 3389 miles completed and recorded in 1913. To put things into focus that is merely 10 years after Harley Davidson was founded as a motor company. It also just happens that about 25 miles of that 3389 are still in existence right here in Eastern Summit County, Utah.

Kevin and I jumped on the motor and headed into town to pick up our wing man for this ride. It wasn’t long until two bikes were headed down the Weber on a ride into history. We joined up with the Old Lincoln in the town of Wanship Utah and then we headed North East on that trusty old route. We traveled the towns of Hoytsville and Coalville finally arriving near the small town of Echo.

Although we had been riding the Old Lincoln for some miles this was the starting point of this day’s adventure. I had envisioned the ride up Echo Canyon from the small town of Echo to the Ghost Town of Emory. I stopped in the now nearly deserted roadway and the wingman pulled up alongside me.

I asked one question; “Are you ready?” The Wingman replied yes; let’s do it. Then added a cautionary; “just watch for deep pot holes”. I replied; “Ok, will do,” and we were off. A Harley Davidson Road Glide and a Honda Goldwing traveling East on a roadway first recorded 108 years ago in the year 1913 and has been in use ever since. I think a very good match for this day’s adventure.

The 11 miles of pot hole free patchwork asphalt and crack seal went by quickly even though our traveling speed was slow. Some areas smooth and others rougher but through history we rode and saw places and things of times gone past. An old sedan which once traveled this way but now lays in a ditch bank covered with earth and is far into decay. An ancient bridge railing of concrete and pipe can clearly be seen still on the job protecting travelers from a nasty fall.

There are places where Militia and Army once met in an ill-conceived conflict that didn’t exist. Long before that, Ancient Native American people, Fremont’s and others, used this very same path years before Europe even knew of this land. Once it was discovered; Mountain Men, Explorers, Pioneers and Settlers all passed on the very same route. Following dreams of freedom they sought, or riches in gold and land for the taking. All this before The Old Lincoln even existed.

Today the route winds along and follows the tracks of a railway main line. The modern interstate is off in the distance with vehicles traveling at high rates of speed, drivers giving hardly a glance at the history we ride.

Telegraph lines no longer in use now drooping and fallen in great twisted loop’s. Copper they are made of and a recyclers dream but to take it a crime just might be claimed.

Now there are only trees and bushes that appear out of place along with foundations of homes and buildings long since past. The water stop ghost town of Emory, it’s heyday long past, now a place that nature has reclaimed and nothing remains except the sound of the trains.

Rocky bluffs so close to the roadway that in places the cliffs angle out over most of this road and we ride under.

Rock climbers galore can be found on the cliffs and more than a few challenge themselves here. The traffic we did see when riding the route was mostly from those climbers scrambling for more.

Features with names such as Hanging rock which is really an arch. The Breastworks, Castle, Monument, Death’s, Rolling Rock’s can all be seen here and that names just a few. The pitted and towering red rock routes are more than a climber will power to resist.

Soon our path was complete and we found ourselves sitting on the overpass structure where the historic old road and the modern highway meet. After talking a while of the things we had seen, we decided our path taking us home would be back through the history of The Lincoln Hwy.

Yes, old roads and motorcycles, a definite match!!! Summers going fast, best mount up and ride, the warmth and the sunshine is here at last.