Just call him Larry

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.”

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.”

Clip art compliments of Google.com

Will you be…

Leadership and courage presents itself in the most unusual ways and normally in the most stressful of times. Such was the case when a young man, before my very eyes, stepped out of the common crowd among his peers and placed himself directly in the lime light center stage as it were. I am proud to have been witness to it.

The day was a recent one in a local Intermediate School that I was functioning as a guest teacher or substitute for the day. I had chosen the class because of it description and age group. The class, Drama and Theatre, the age group, sixth and seventh grade. I have always loved drama and theatre because the people involved are normally very outgoing, intelligent, and eccentric. Yes, the exact type people I enjoy being with.

On this particular day as part of the teachers lesson plan was an activity called “Improv”. For those not familiar with drama and theatre, an Improv Activity involves students on stage acting out parts they are making up as they go. There is an identified control person who manages the activity to maintain order. Once the acting begins the control person periodically will yell, “ freeze”. At which time the actors all freeze in place and another actor takes their exact place on stage and then the acting continues with a “resume” command from the control. The actors themselves determine the plot and they do this without script. They just make it up as they go and it can be very funny because each actor’s thoughts, mood, and talent come out in the most unexpected ways.

On this particular day I had begun the activity with the acting queue of, “fishing”. The acting began and the action lagged for a while. The students not comfortable with fishing quickly turned to violence on stage. Yelling, mock assault, chasing one another, conflict of every kind occurred time and time again.

It seems that the challenges of maturity in these grades, the emergence of unfamiliar hormone’s both testosterone and estrogen, the difficulties of honestly interacting with each other, and the fact that our students are constantly bombarded with violence is represented with their comfort levels. They are comfortable with violence and can easily act it out. After several stop and restarts which I intended to steer toward a story line and away from senseless violence, but they, the actors, would continue to gravitate back toward it. That is until the unexpected happened.

The act on stage involved two young ladies and they were acting as if in a Knights Court. A King Arthur type setting where a good Knight was to be rewarded for gallantry in battle by the Queen. The good Knight was kneeling on one knee before the Queen who stood before the good Knight, sword drawn and about to bestow some Knighthood honor when the control yelled, “Freeze.”

At this the next actor in line was a young man who ambled on stage and assumed the kneeling position before his Queen. Now, with the change in gender came a change in the interaction and direction of the script if there had been one. The controller yelled, “Resume.” At which the Queen just stood there looking at this young man kneeling before her. I was expecting a return to violence with a scream by the Queen; “off with his head” or such. But what followed surprised all including me.

The young man placed his hands together like he was holding a small box in both hands while kneeling on one knee before his female counter part. He looked up to his Queen with pleading eyes and said in a clear voice before all to see and hear. “Will you be my Valentine?”
At this there was a dead silence in the class room as the audience of peers evaluated what they had just seen. A shocked expression appeared on the Queens’ face. Her continued attempt to be the cool and collected teen she had just been was challenged in those five words. After a brief moment the class erupted in laughter and cheering for our brave Knight and his gallant effort to secure his Valentine. I found myself laughing cheering and giving applause to the young Knight.

“Freeze”, the controller yelled again as the Queen took a tentative step backward. Was this acting? Was it real? What should she do now right before her peers? These thoughts raced across the Queen’s face in expression. Her facial details had betrayed her thoughts. Although no sound of voice escaped her, watching the shy smile spread across her face the answer was given; “Yes, Sir Knight!”

Well done my young friend, you have the courage of a thousand…

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

Fix it

There is an intrinsic reward in, “fixing it”. This is a simple Tale of a grill gone wrong but in the end all is made right. Broken things can be fixed and made right.

In our world of disposable everything the art of repair and the reward felt has been lost. As I watch our society continue to grapple with decline reflected in our collective sense of entitlement, demand of instant gratification, and “used won’t do” attitudes. I’m confident we can overcome financial frustration, foreign goods over dependence, supply chain delay, and a host of problems that go with it. How you might ask? Well in part by the simplest of techniques; don’t replace it, fix it!!!

I was raised by a man of immense talent. My father could do and/or fix anything. He came from that post Depression Greatest Generation Era where people made due and waste was unthinkable. In raising his family he passed on some of himself to his own. I’m proud to be one of those.

So as the Tale goes, my new little Bride told me recently that she had been gifted a new electric griddle some time earlier and after a single use she had accidentally thrown away the plug and temperature dial. Since then the griddle had sit unused.

Occasionally we have grandkids, friends, or relatives visit where a griddle would be of benefit. Now, here is where a choice was made. Reflecting my father I determined to put the griddle back into service and “Fix It.”

My first stop? You guessed it, wholesale parts on the internet. My frustration? I found I could buy new nearly every type of griddle known to mankind and have it shipped to the USA from nations of all points on Mother Earth. But to find a replacement control for an existing unit I owned; nearly impossible. Still, I pressed on continuing to evaluate my options and honestly total replacement was winning out in the available options listing. I just hadn’t pulled the trigger yet.

Then one day, I remembered a local thrift store. This is the type establishment that functions on public donation and specializes in training people for a needed workforce right here in our community. I thought to myself; “hadn’t I seen a whole section of donated used electric appliances there?” Surely if that be the case, they would have an extra control module available. I determined to check and stopped on my next trip past that store. What I found there was box after box of donated control modules for every type device built for the last fifty years. A short search rewarded me with a module I was confident would work based on appearance of the connection ends on the griddle itself. The price was a whopping three bucks!!! “Sold”, I thought to myself as I walked to the cashier.

Upon arriving home, I was actually excited and could hardly wait to see if I could fix the nonfunctional griddle with my three dollar purchase. It was a little like Christmas or the excitement of a new adventure. Ok, I admit it, I’m a bit quirky, but I could smell success and that had my attention.

I pulled the griddle out of deep storage and inserted the newly acquired control module which fit like a hand to glove. I plugged in the combination, turned the module to an “on” position and waited.

The result? The light came on immediately and held steady indicating power to the unit. For the next few moments I waited with a hand over cooking surface. Was it getting warm or was it my imagination? A minute later I knew for sure. Satisfaction was felt as the heat rose to the point where I needed to move my hand away, not long after that the control module clicked off when the desire temperature was achieved. Fixed and working like new!!!

With a great sense of accomplishment I said to my smiling little Bride. “What will it be Ma’am, Pancakes or Bacon and Eggs?”

“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!” Red Green

The Skunk and Sharp Shooter Smith

This is an epic tale of man vs. skunk. One pistol toting, the other with a bladder full of stink, it was the making of the ultimate faceoff.

We were visiting relatives recently and enjoying each other’s company when one of the dogs began to bark at the back door which is a full plate glass door. Ole’ Sharp Shooter spoke to his dog and said; “What’s the matter; is the Robin stealing your food again?” He then turned back to our conversation and explained that there was a Robin who would drive his dog nuts by swooping in and stealing his dog’s food then it would fly away before the dog could catch it. The dog continue to bark despite Ole’ Sharp’s telling him to hush several times. He was walking back and forth barking at the door and returning to stare at Ole’ Sharp with increasing concern building which was clearly visible in his eyes. Finally, Ole’ Sharp got up out of his easy chair and walked over to the glass door while saying; “Ok, you want to go get him, here you go.” However, as he reached for the door he stopped short and took a step back away from the door with a slight panic visible on his face.

I had recently read a news report which had informed of a couple young Mountain Lions that were seen wondering through town in broad daylight not a block from our relative’s home. I thought for just a moment that the Lions might be in the back yard. However, I soon discovered a far worse scenario would be the truth. Ole’ Sharp turned to me and said in a low voice almost a whisper. “There is a Skunk out there!!!” The dog barked one final time as if to say: “See, I told you it wasn’t the Robin!”

I got up and walked over by Ole’ Sharp and looked out. Sure enough there he was the most frightening wild animal on the face of Mother Earth. He was a beautiful skunk, pitch black hair with two wide white stripes running down his back to a bushy tail which held the power of his presence or should I say essence. He was standing there eating his lunch from the dog’s bowl of food. The little bugger was well aware of his prowess among men. It was mid-afternoon and he was blatantly eating his lunch. He defiantly looked up at us several times as if to say; “Yeah, I’m eating your dog’s food and what you gonna do about it?” I think I even saw a sinister little grin come upon his face. As I watched him I imagined he continued to say; “You know I’m a little skunk but I will spray the hell out of you if you even think about opening that door” He seemed to be taunting us like a little Skunk Dirty Harry; “Go ahead Punk, Make My Day!!!”

We clearly needed a plan to deal with this over confident little menace who had confidently strolled up onto the back porch only a foot or two from the door and began to help himself to a lunch which was not intended for him. Ole’ Sharp said out loud but mostly to himself; “What do we do?” For a short time I wished it were the Lion as I had first thought. In such case we could have just employed and old rancher technique to deal with protected predators. Commonly referred to as a; “shoot, shovel, and shut up.”

However, with this arrogant little problem standing not a foot away from the door that plan simply wouldn’t work because if not done exactly right the technique could go horribly wrong and become a shoot, oh damn, cover your eyes and plug your nose for the next two weeks. In addition Ole’ Sharp pointed out another obvious flaw with shooting our little menace where he stood. The bullet would hit the concrete porch and ricochet in any direction. This was not a good idea given the closeness of neighbors and the fact we were right in the middle of town. We determined a Plan B was needed.

I said; ”Ok, if we shoot him you have got to hit him in the head so as to kill him before he can spray!”

Now as a point of clairification here. You notice how I defaulted to, “if we shoot him, you have got to…” as the language of the plan? Oh yes, this is not my first rodeo on making impromptu plans such as this one. When making plans of this nature, one must always leave a route for escape if the plan fails. This way if the unthinkable were to happen, for years to come I could tell tales about the time Ole’ Sharp shot the skunk in his back yard and it ran around the house spraying everything in sight without having to admit my involvement in the planning process. But as the planning would go I continued with Ole’ Sharp listening intently.

“We have to get him away from the house but we don’t want him to run toward the neighbors or to get too spooked so that he would spray.” I said, “Here’s what we will do, you get your gun and watch him from here. I’ll go out side and around back of the house from the direction of the neighbors. I’ll make noise so that he will leave the porch in the direction we want which is away from the house and more importantly away from me. Once he is away from the porch and you have a clear shot, go ahead and take him down. But remember, you have to hit him in the head so he doesn’t spray.”

To my astonishment, Ole’ Sharp liked the plan and went to get his gun. While he was away I had time to look out the glass door at the little devil and think to myself; Oh dear, this had better go well. Ole’ Sharp retuned soon after with his gun in hand. I was surprised to hear the confidence in his voice. He could make the shot, he said. He knew this because he had recently shot a playing card in a motorcycle poker run, he had hit it dead center with his first shot. Not wanting to destroy needed confidence, I walked away without responding but I was there on that poker run and didn’t remember the card shot in exactly the same detail but I didn’t want to destroy the mojo he had going.

I walked around the house as planned and entered the back yard. I was talking out loud to myself which isn’t uncommon. But this time I was saying things like; “What in the heck are you doing out here when the skunk might be smarter than you thought and he’ll be waiting for you.” I wondered if Kathy would be opposed to sleeping with a skunk sprayed new husband? Still, I pressed forward.

I approached the back porch while banging on a can for noise and I saw our little nemesis with his tail raised and in fire position. He exited the porch and ran into a small shed just as we had planned for him to do. At this Ole’ Sharp opened the door we had been looking out of. The dog ran out of the house making a direct path for the shed. Both Ole’ Sharp and I yelled at the dog with a small degree of urgency. The dog sensed the tone of voice and stopped short of the shed. He actually came to me which has never happened before and I grabbed his collar holding tight. I think the dog knew what was about to happen and thought being with me at a distance was a great idea. I told Ole’ Sharp that I had the dog held tight and he was good to go.

Ole’ Sharp with his six shooter in hand, crept up on the shed door. From my position he looked a little like a man tiptoeing across an unmapped land mine field. At last he stopped, slowly raised the weapon, and took careful aim, “Crack” the weapon recoiled. Ole’ Sharp turned and took a couple quick steps back toward the house. The dog I was holding completely freaked out and began to spin and pull away. It was as if the dog was trying to say; “Oh my hell he has just shot that skunk in the guts, let me get the heck out of here.” For a few seconds I nearly panicked myself at the sight of the quick stepping sharp shooter retreating away from the shed at a far faster pace than he had used to approach and the dog spinning pulling and barking at me to run for our lives or at least for our sense of smell anyway. Through the confusion of the moment I watched as Ole’ Sharp stopped and turned back, he raised the weapon a second time, took careful aim and “Crack”.

Again the dog began to spin and pull obviously aware that a second shot was not a good sign given the necessity for a clean headshot the first time. But as it were Ole’ Sharp was good to his word, “He could make the shot” and the dogs panic was unwarranted. A clean headshot not once but twice just for good measure. I approached him as he confidently blew the gunpowder smoke out of the barrel and looked confidently into the shed at the not so confident menace. Mingling with the gun smoke there was the slight odor of skunk spray but nearly nothing. I concluded that the plan had worked perfectly and that the fine shooting of Ole’ Sharp had dusted the overconfident little luncheon guest before he could get off a single shot of his own. Perfect execution of the plan and complete success. Victory was found!!!

Since then it has occurred to me that there is only one problem with the plan and the degree success we found that day. I have found that now in addition to the perfect poker run card shoot we’ve heard so much about, we are also enduring tall tales of the great skunk head shot also. How far can these tales go? I can only imagine. Some might include tales of running headshots of the rabid skunk attacking children at play and at having done so while blind folded just to make it more sporting. Oh dear, the sky is the limit to the stories we’ll hear.

Oh well, great stories come from great risk. He took the shot and hit it dead center twice, bragging rights secure in the win. I guess that is why they call him Ole’ Sharp Shooter Smith.

At the counter

I know many who are reluctant to dine out at a restaurant alone. If you are one of them, this tale is for you.

Now, coming from a public safety background, a widower for a time, and now retired I have and do dine alone often and have found the following to be the best strategy. Sit at the counter!

This morning I felt like breakfast out. I determined to go to a locals spot famous for home style breakfast. Now, when I say locals spot, I’m speaking of that “Cheers” type business where; “Everybody knows your name”. Someday when you would like a treat to put a smile on your face; Google and listen to the words of the theme song for that amazing show.

By sitting at the counter you are no longer alone but among a new set of potential friends, the Staff and others who know the value of the counter. Going back to the Cheers setting; you notice Norm, Frazier, and Cliff never sat at an isolated corner table but always at the counter. In doing so they were an involved and integral part of the social interaction. The same is true in real life.

This morning at a little after 7 am I walked in and was greeted at the door. My first request, can I sit at the counter? A knowing host said; “sure, pick your spot”. I chose my spot among others; one a Native American man with long hair braided down his back, one a clear Republican with his “Let’s Go Brandon” hat proudly worn, another older man with a timid voice that one had to concentrate on to hear, and me with a plaid shirt and Harley Davidson hat among several others. All so different but yet the same, you know products of a melting pot, the Great American experiment. The conversation? Well, everything from the weather to the Supreme Court and cases being considered this session.

I saw co-workers arrive at work and give one another hello hugs that had real meaning. I witnessed, laughed at, and participated in bantering with each other. All good natured and fun. I heard time and again how much each staff member enjoyed and looked forward to coming to work regardless of their duty; from cook, to service, to washing dishes, because like me as I enjoyed my sausage and eggs, they enjoyed being with their peers. I have served in management positions of human resources at front line supervision in the past and would have done almost anything then to create a work environment like the one I witnessed this morning.

I watched in amazement at the quickening of pace as additional customers filed in. I watched a fine tuned system kick in and those same friends now a part of a very effective service team rose to the demands of the day. The smiles didn’t fade and the polite teamwork didn’t change.

Others finished their meal or drink and left. I heard salutations like; “Have a good day Bear!” To which my Native American associate said in return; “You too!” I finished my breakfast, wished my new friends of this morning a pleasant day and walked out knowing I would have one too.

We all travel this life alone but the degree is completely up to us. Be surrounded by loved ones, have a great day, and I will see you at The Counter some day soon!!!

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.

All the way through

Adventure often calls for us to exercise a bit of courage and to step into the unknown. Actually, that kind of adventure is my absolute favorite because it removes the comfort zone and often pushes boundaries and challenges skill. This was not the extreme adventures that I value so much, but it was a challenge and sometimes that’s enough.

The day began with the question which went something like: “Hum, what should we do today?” The answer soon came and it was let’s explore the desert on our ATV but then the ultimate detail was, “Where?” That’s where a dear relative comes into this tale. We were advised of a beautiful area with red rock, stream crossings, quiet meadows, and wildlife. I had heard of this area previously and it was on my bucket list to see and determine if I could get from here to there yet once again. The clincher this day was that we were told; “You can go all the way through!”

So, off we went with this description in mind. The trail along La Verkin Creek starts off of SR 9 East of the small town of La Verkin near a gun range. It travels through an area of desert where dirt bike riders love to play on the desert terrain making loops up and over mounds and hillsides. The main trail weaves it’s way through and we passed numerous dirt bikes and riders.

At the far end of this area there is a steep down slope which covers a couple hundred yards and is covered in rock, sand and loose material of every kind. Well, if you have ever felt the times on an OHV when weight, gravitational pull and steepness of grade combine then add in the disengagement of tires with terra-firm and you will know why the thought, “Oh, sh17” ran through my mind.

It was at about this time the rear wheels began to slide which for some reason always allows them to travel faster than the front. If left unchecked the back of the OHV will pass the front on one side or the other and the rider can feel this occurring as the vehicle begins to tilt and rotate. If left unchecked the riders will soon find themselves sliding down hill sideways or backward. This usually precedes the worst case scenario where spectators might report seeing an anomaly well described and follows of the theme of; “Well we saw, the shiny side and then the wheels and then the shiny side again in an alternating fashion until it came to a bloody rest down there!”

Fortunately, there is a technique to employ which will correct this motion if applied soon enough. Against every human instinct the required action is to release brake and accelerate while turning ever slightly into the direction that the rear tires are traveling. This acceleration is often called “goosing it” so to speak. I employed this technique which worked perfectly.

So picture in your mind if you can Kevin (My Dog) in front ears flapping in the wind and a big panting grin on his face, me in the middle, and Kathy behind hanging on with surprising strength and eyes closed. The ATV itself rocketing down a loose material covered steep roadway at break neck speed seemingly like a blue meteor and me with a hand full of throttle accelerating.

Ok, I must admit at being a bit of an adrenaline junkie and as we exited the slope near the bottom and began to slow, the force of gravity no longer being applied. I thought; “Well then, that was exciting” and with that my junkie fix for the day has been achieved. As I looked back up the slope which seemed to be the only way back to the truck, I had the clear thought; “We are committed now!!!”

With the back door seemingly closed the ATV odyssey of La Verkin Creek to Toquerville Falls began. For the next few hours we encountered obstacle, challenges, and difficulties that required strategy and pathfinding which made for an adventure in every possible way. Countless stream crossings, opportunities to skin up creek in water over the footboards with steep rock walls on both sides, over and around downed timbers, slight delays where other 4×4 units had chickened out but were now stuck blocking path and needing 9000 pound winches on a buddies jeep for extraction, bumps, boulders, sand washes, stair step flat rock, deep cut solid rock ravines.

Eventually, the canyon walls widened and the spaces between water and rock expanded. The trail that was almost unidentifiable in places became once again a road. We did in fact see red rock, beautiful meadows, multiple stream crossing and wildlife. As we went the 4 wheel drive was changed to 2 wheel and our speed increased.

We encountered others on side by side OHV’s along the way who stopped to chat. I began to hear a now common theme. I asked if others had gone or were going, “All the way through?” I have been told time and again now; “No way, we always turn around.”

With a smile of accomplishment on display we pressed on. The cool wind blew on our faces as we rounded a curve in road holding tight to the mountainside when suddenly it appeared before us; Toquerville Falls. I exclaimed to my beautiful, although now completely stressed out little bride, “Well look there, you can go all the way through!!!” I continued; “Should we stop for a picture?”

Ignoring my question, Kathy asked with a little shake of concern in her voice: “Do we have to go back through that to get to the truck?” I replied; “Naw, there is another way.”

But that my friends is another tale involving two Sheriffs, an OHV on a State Road, and a stolen car.

Life, you just gotta live it!!!

Calm and be still

Calm attracts friends of all kinds

In these days of information overload, propaganda, panic and fear there are lesson from our wild friends for which we can learn.

Last summer I was able to visit several national parks in these United States by motorcycle and enjoy the peace and comfort afforded from amazing scenery, the sound and sight of waters, and comfort that dense forests can offer. These are especially true when experienced on two wheels with open air. However, one of the best experiences I had involved a couple of our feathered friends who taught of trust.

The morning of a motorcycle’s adventure involves a seaming set ritual of early rise and cleaning of motorcycle in anticipation for the day’s journey and the experiences to be had. One particular day, those experiences started first thing and continued through the day.

I was shining chrome and polishing windshield as the sun rose gently in the eastern sky. While doing this and feeling the warmth penetrate to my soul, I realized, I was not alone. A small feathered friend had risen early as well and was busy scrounging the parking lot for breakfast. As I continued the cleaning task my new friend came closer and closer until he was no more than a few feet away. I watched in fascination as he judged my presence and his related safety. Being in close proximity to the lure of Harley Davidson I could see the temptation mounting in his behavior. Finally unable to resist longer, he hopped up on a friend’s bike that was parked nearby. I imagined I could see the joy in his eyes and hear the excitement in his chirp as he fanaticized a feather fluttering ride and the wind on his beak. You know suddenly I could relate to this little guy and I think we understood each other if only for a moment.

As the ritual goes the cleaning comes to an end, the bikes are loaded, kick stands come up and motor roars to life, clutch is pulled, and gears are kicked in. However, on this same day another feathered friend and I would meet.

After riding for a time the group stopped for a short nature hike and a wander for a time to enjoy the area we visited. As is the case the group scatters at first and follows their own interest. Sometimes alone and some in groups but in the end the bikes attract a return and all gather there when it’s time to move on. While this gathering was taking place a friend who was eating crackers discovered an amazing thing. If he placed a cracker in his hand and held it there very still, the local population of feathered friends would land and eat right from his hand. This was an incredible example of trust but it did required two things patience and calm.

After watching this occur with fascination at their trust, my friends and I, we decided to press and see how trusting these feathered friends could be if patience and calmness were applied. A friend placed a cracker on the bill of my hat and instructed me to hold still and wait. He then stepped back and watched and told me what was happening as I anxiously waited. Sure enough after several testing passes one of our new friends landed on my head and ate his lunch from the bill of my hat. It was amazing to feel him there and know of his trust extended for only a meal.

Now I know what you’re thinking, did he leave a present on the hat too? No, he did not because you see I wore a Harley Davidson hat and even wild birds of our vast American forests have respect for that brand.

Since I have thought much about the trust the little fellows had given and the reward I felt at being trusted because I was still and calm with no intent to do harm. Now that is an experience that I believe we all could learn from. Intend no harm, remain calm and still, I trust that we all can certainly benefit from that.

The watermelon run

I was invited to ride in a watermelon run. What’s a watermelon run you ask? Well, it’s a two day motorcycle ride with friends to a small off the path town that holds an annual festival to celebrate the year’s successful harvest. What do you do there might be your next. Well, I could tell you adventure but that wouldn’t be enough. It isn’t always what you do on adventure but more what you see. So throw your leg over, climb on with me and we’ll ride the adventure where you will see.

Old friends and new meet and greet with friendly handshakes or pats on the shoulder. There is a common interest of two wheels and adventure we seek. The route is revealed and a ride order established. Now hold to me tightly because kick stands are up and off we do throttle to adventures new calling.

I feel a chill in the air as we climb ever so higher. A struggle is evident; Autumn is coming as Summer holds on. But at higher elevation like that of a mountain pass give clue to the wise that seasons are changing.

The road it does wind, it curves, and it bends. The motor shows power when the throttle is twisted. Momentum it’s said is a definite friend when the bike lays to inside, eyes look through the curve, and the bike follows the appropriate path. Now accelerate the exit and anticipate the next.

The pace is a good one that isn’t too fast. Allows time to look at the things that we pass. Utah is amazing the diversity seen. From mountain passes of 9000 feet or higher, to the low desert valley with red rock, dry washes, and more.

Dark clouds that are traveling by with gaps in between allows radiant sunshine remain. The light show it gives is an amazing sight. Like a giant flood or spot light, it’s highlighting of huge mountains in distance, a wanderlust dream. Light travels quickly the fastest we know, but the eye is amazing and can certainly see the life giving energy streaming down from above.

Rainbows are made from refracted sunlight. It’s colorful arch points toward a distant mountain range, the peaks creating in minds eye a picture frame sight. Gold there may be at the end of that bow but our path on this day is to a watermelon show.

The desert is vast in between these small towns and the road can be a long one, even today. But back in the day when car stops were needed, a station was built where the Price crosses under. Woodside it’s called and its heyday well past. The skeleton building all boarded up tight is all that remains of a once bustling highway oasis. Now day’s off-griders inhabit this place in trailer and camper selling jerky at roadside stands. Stop we should and sample their fare, but watermelon is calling from further ahead.

A parade route is ready when we arrive; the streets are all lined with spectators waiting to see. We ride straight through town along the parades eventual route, waiving and smiling at the anticipating crowd. Thinking to self; “good thing we practiced our parade winning waive.” This proved to be true later that day at a station some 100 miles away. A man walked to me and said sure as a fact; “You were in the parade; I remember your dog.” Ok, so maybe it wasn’t my waive but rather my furry side kick that memories made. Choose your friends wisely and remember they will.

I see kids are prepared to gather up candy as fire trucks, Politicians, Princesses, business floats pass. Kids all take a lesson from one little feller who mastered a duck waddle to move him along. Gathering piece after piece he was able to do tucking into his shirt like a kangaroo’s pouch. Then scurry to his parent where his main horde was growing with each dumping of his ad hoc kangaroo pouch. If you’re caught in a pinch for Halloween night this young man could hook you up right.

Now to the park we walked straight after, with thoughts of an old song that went something like this:

I wasn’t in a hurry, so I slowed down, took a two lane road to a one horse town. There was a party goin’ on when I got there, I heard a welcome speech from a home town mayor. He said we’ve got a hundred gallons of sweet red wine, made from the biggest watermelon on the vine. Help yourself to some but obey the law if you drink don’t drive, do the watermelon crawl…Tracy Bird

As I made my way, looking for the watermelon queen to show us how, I saw vendors a plenty and friends to be made including a mother and daughters in proper dress for this watermelon fest. The vendor neck massage received was amazing to be had. But of all that I saw, the best was of three booths by grower families that had truckloads of melon. Samples were cut fresh by Machetes and waiting for the taking. I soon discovered there is no polite way to eat a juicy watermelon. Although not by the queen, I soon learned how. You just let it run down your chin and lean forward a bit like your gonna spit and try not let it drip on your shoes.

After hours of eattin’ it was time to go so we fired up the bikes and rode outta town. With a full melon just for home in my pack, I took a moment a quick look back; it was apparent to me, the watermelon crowd partied on. The lyric’s return as I rolled throttle and rode away.

“We got a hundred gallons of…”