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
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?
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.
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.
Perspective is a beautiful thing but once in a while it really kind of slaps us. This was the case for me recently while I was reading a short story on social media. The author drew a conclusion which caused me to reflect and like a slap in the face, for just a moment the conclusion really had my attention.
The author stated in writing that the graduating class of 1982 had been graduates for forty years. Forty years, I thought and quickly did the math mentally. Holy crap people, that is correct. Forty years. Forty years. The impact was stunning like a Will Smith slap across the face and like Chris Rock I just stood there for a moment thinking. I even said to my lovely bride can you believe that this year I will have been a graduate for forty years? She looked at me with a, “Duh” expression clearly displayed on her face. You see she is my junior by a few and hasn’t gotten that forty year slap yet. I know there are some of you that are 50, 60, and maybe even 70 years slap recipients and you are likely thinking; “punk kid” right now. But please hear me out on this one, I think you may enjoy.
I thought about it for a few minutes remembering the last few days of school with many of my class mates and friends with whom I had endured 12 years of instruction drudgery. Ours was a small school and we knew everyone very well and were comfortable together. In the drudgery, the bond was forged and is strong to this day.
Like all graduates, we felt we had the world by the tail. I remember a teacher who was our class advisor telling us at the taking of our graduating class picture that this would be the last time that we would all be together at the same time for the remainder of our lives and that we should look around and remember that moment. I did so but at the time, as many of my classmates did, I remember thinking how full of crap that statement sounded. However; I get it now, the advisor like most of the time in those days was correct. Soon we found out that a couple would move on and leave this world just a year or two after that prophetic statement was made. Some others have moved on through the years and I try to make a mental note and think of each at that time.
Still, many of us tarry on and I associate with some still after all the years. This despite the fact that our little class of graduates has spread across the world now. When I see one of my old classmates we will normally greet and smile at our common beginnings. It has been a grand adventure for me and continues to be each and every day. Time goes fast and I must say what a wonderful journey it has been.
I recovered quickly following the forty year slap and returned focus onto tomorrow and what will be. It is good to remember and stay connected with where we are from but the excitement of life remains as it was forty years ago. It is in tomorrow, and the next, and the next after that. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you again as our paths may cross and we will laugh and catch up on goings on in our lives.
I know now just as surely as those young kids of 1982 marching proudly out the front door with wonder in our eyes, we still have the world by the tail. I hope to find you hanging on tight and running at a full speed forward just as fast as you can. Go Wildcats!!!
To that graduating class of 2022, get ready folks. Lace up your Vans, 2062 sounds far off, but it will be here quicker than you may think. My hope for you is that your adventure will be as grand as ours. It may seem like a stretch to you now but we are more alike than you know. Because you see, way back in the day, we wore Van’s too.
Every once in a while, if we listen, it becomes apparent that we do not travel alone. I have an angel very near who protects in the most unexpected ways. This is a tale of such a day when I and many around me were protected in just such a way. I needed only to listen.
The day was a beautiful one and I was intending to travel. I had been asked to tow a recreational vehicle with me for a little over three hundred miles as my journey took me. I agreed and on that beautiful morning responded to the area where the trailer and unit was parked. I backed up to the trailer and hooked on with my pick up which was to be my transport for the trip.
Now, for those not familiar with a towing hitch please allow me to describe the mechanical function. Mounted on the truck or towing vehicle is a ball hitch. It resembles a clinched fist at the end of a wrist, the top of the ball is wider than the shaft leading up. The hitch is on the trailer side and resembles an upside down cup which is a partial hour glass shape with the rim being more narrow than the inside of the cup. The rim has a section about one third the diameter of the rest of the rim. That section is flexible and moves out to allow the wider ball to slide into the cup as the trailer hitch is lowered. The flexible section can then slide forward once the ball is seated into the cup. The flexible section has a lock mechanism that allows the flexible section to lock into place forming a closed rim which secures around the shaft. This section allows the hitch and ball to form a secure attachment which will rotate as needed for the trailer to follow the towing vehicle.
So when I hooked onto the trailer that morning, I opened the flexible section and lowered the trailer hitch over the ball. Once seated, I moved the locking section forward into place and engaged the lock. I again raised the trailer to test the connection. The truck began to rise with the trailer indicating the connection was secure. I then lowered the trailer again, rotated the jack into the travel position, hooked up safety chains, the electrical lights cable, and tested them with the emergency and turn signal. Once completed I started on my way.
I pulled the trailer out onto the public street and began my journey. As I traveled along a secondary roadway not far from my start, I had a very real impression that I should check the hitch connection again. I call it an impression because it was a thought but I hadn’t thought it. I felt it, like I was being told that I should. In my mind, my own thoughts were resisting; “I just checked it when I hooked on and the truck raised with the trailer jack. The connection is good.” I thought and I ignored the impression and continued on my way. The impression did not go away but remained as a nagging feeling. I traveled about 5 miles to an intersection where I intended to enter an interstate freeway. This interstate freeway is a two and three lane high speed cross country route with speed limits set at 80 miles per hour. As I approached the intersection and entry ramp, again I had another impression, this one stronger and more urgent. It came as a matter of fact and not a suggestion. I felt; “You need to check that hitch again before you get onto the interstate!” So intense was this feeling that I simply could not reason it away. In my mind, or you know what, I might have even muttered aloud and I answered; “Ok; fine, I’ll check it!”
I pulled into a small dirt parking area just prior to the interstate interchange. I exited the vehicle walked to the space between truck and trailer, got down on my knees and looked up under the cup of the hitch. By this time I already knew there was a problem with the hitch connection simply because the prompting told me so. I just needed to figure out what the issue was. As I looked up under the hitch I saw that the flexible section was not in the correct position but was on the top of the ball. The hitch connection was open which would allow for the hitch to separate at any time the front of the trailer would have risen. Without doubt the connection would have separated at some point on my journey.
At seeing this I understood the urgency; there was an obvious problem that needed to be corrected. I again lifted the trailer hitch with the jack and moved the flexible section back so that the ball could pass through to the seated position. Once there, I reengaged the lock and, from my knees, I looked closely to insure the lock section was in the proper position and that the connection was secure and locked. As I stood, brushed dirt from my knees, and returned to the driver’s seat the nagging feeling left me and I was filled with warm confidence the danger was past. It felt like; “Good job buddy, now you’re good to go!”
I traveled the journey with no issues what so ever. How thankful I am for that warning from my companion who travels with me constantly. I shudder at the thought of what might have been without the assist.
Listening to my companion can be a challenge for me at times, I can do better and know that I should listen when spoken to. He is with me to protect!!!
Living by the 5W’s of analysis; who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how. This is a tale of “Who” was that and “How” did you know? If not for clarity this instance, they were good for a laugh.
Last summer I was driving around the community exploring new areas with snow birding relatives. Snow birds are people who travel south for warmth during the winter seasons. We entered an area where there are some remote residences on the edge of a scenic national forest. As we made our way enjoying the sights and visiting, we observed a man and woman couple doing yard work near their fence which bordered the public roadway. The Conversationalist who was our driver on this day pulled up alongside the couple and stopped, he rolled down his driver’s side window and engaged the man in conversation which he initiated.
“Hi Larry”, he said, “What are you doing today?’ Larry looked up and responded, “Oh Just cleaning up some lawn items. What are you doing? ” “We are just doing some exploring. Do you live up here?” “Why yes we have been here for over ten years now, are you thinking of buying up here?” “No, we’re just looking around the beautiful area and spending some time this afternoon and I saw you here.” “Yes, it’s a nice area we love it. Well, enjoy your day.” “Ok, will do, see you later.” “Bye”
As our driver rolled up his window I asked, “Who is that?” To this he responded, “I have no idea.” Confused now I said, “But you started the conversation?” “I thought it was Larry but it wasn’t so I just went with it. I guess his name is Larry too.” To this all in the car burst out laughing. It was so hard not to yell, “Hey Larry, have a nice day.” as we drove past the couple again on our exit. Since then it has been a running joke and a favorite story to tell.
Now fast forward about one year and our snow birding relatives ventured south again. We decided to once again go for a drive and stopped at a favorite local diner for lunch. It is a busy place and we needed to wait for about fifteen minutes until a table opened up. As we waited standing outside, I was hugging my wife from behind enjoying her closeness and the sunshine on my back, when two women exited the cafe.
My actions drew their attention to us and they smiled saying; “We have left a table for you. They’ll be out to get you soon.” Seeing that one held a book in her hands, the Conversationalist said; “Well thank you. Did you finish your book?” To this the woman replied; why yes, I have just finished. It was quite a project but I have just finished writing it. Thank you for asking. “No problem”, and a smile appeared on his face. “Do you mind if I share a small part of it? A prayer really.” “No, not at all. Go ahead.” To this the woman recited from memory about two minutes of narrative from her writing which ended with her giving each of us her blessing.
I determined that apparently the woman has a close relationship with God and wrote a book about it. I thought it very nice that she felt her closeness with God and was willing to share with us a blessing from her heart. But a question was forming in my mind. Soon we bade her farewell and she was on her way.
After she had left, seeking understanding, I asked; “How did you know she was writing a book?” “I had no idea.” With knitted brow I just looked at him for an explanation. He had noticed the book in her hand. When he asked, “Did you finish your book?”, he had meant did you finish reading the book in her hand.
Again, we all burst out in laughter but we were grateful for the blessing given. Someone wondered out loud, “Who was that woman?” The Conversationalist responded; “She must be Larry’s Sister.”
The sun settled itself into the western horizon and I flipped down the visor to better see, I thought to myself, why am I always driving into the sunset with it’s blinding glare?
Being unable to see traffic around me, pedestrians, or the control lights of intersections that day, the thought was an irritable one as I squint into the glare. That is until I took more time to think about what that blinding glare meant for me.
Whenever possible I try to make an adventure of each and every day. I’m well aware that time is short and it seems to be fleeting fast. We so often allow ourselves to forget this fact or simply think, there is a guarantee in tomorrow, I’ll do adventure then. What foolishness this thought can be, because there is no guarantee.
What does adventure have to do with a blinding sunset glare you may ask. Well, I’d be happy to explain, for me it means I’m out there still at adventures ending track. To be driving home at sunset, tells me that I have made the most of that given day and the adventure that was allowed.
My thought today is simply this, driving home into a sunset glare is a blessing that I’m thankful for. If it continues to be my fortune, I’ll have so many more. On each to come as the sun sinks low, I’ll slow the scrambling pace a bit and flip the visor down. I’ll throw on some shades and move my helmet down, or maybe simply shade my eyes with a hand raised out and high. If I stare just long enough into the brightening glare, the sun itself will surely dip below horizons of the west. When that time arrives I may just see, the best of color yet.
If someday on your homeward bound, and from adventure would be my wish, you see me slowing down a bit and staring into the sunset glare, anticipation on my face. Smile with me as it just might be, that now you’ll understand.
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.
As I gazed upward this morning at an incredible sight, I was reminded of the phrase; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong, 1969) he along with Aldrin and Collins, the epitome of bravery.
I think to myself, step out there today and do something special with this gift of a new day!!!