Headed East

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2021 by Pat Regan

I knew that I would have to adjust my focus once I crossed the Rockies. I pulled off to get gas at Pine Bluffs, WY. This would be the last town in Wyoming for me, and the last place with any type of rock formations for quite some time to come. In Pine Bluff, I switched to a local road to head east. It was time to make the switch from spectacular natural beauty to focus on the interesting ways the United States was settled with its history scattered about the countryside. Just before crossing into Nebraska, was a mural that summed up my adventure this summer. It depicted locations spanning the nation from west to east.

As I jumped on Route 30, I was smacked with this gathering of old gas pumps and other such collectibles at Pete’s Service Station.

Down the street from Pete’s is the NEB / WYO borderline once represented by this old crossing site.

Between long stretches of farm and grazing land, I would come upon a lonely town from time to time.

Each town of any substance will have a water tower with the town’s name emboldened on it. Welcome to FUNK, NB.

I saw Funk on my big Rand McNally map that I carry with me. I had also seen ‘Harold Warp Pioneer Village’ written as a site in nearby Minden, NB. Reading the name on the map I thought perhaps it was one of those wild west reenactment things. You know, with gun-blazing shootouts and a fall from the balcony. That’s not what it was at all. Beyond this building’s facade is something remarkable.

Pioneer Village is a treasure trove of American History artifacts. This overwhelming collection comprises everything from a small piece of American china to an entire building. Many of them are historic buildings. Other buildings are large warehouses that contain more huge collections of Americana. It begins with vehicles from carriages to airplanes. You will receive a map upon entry and there are arrows everywhere to guide you along.

There were numerous old carriages. Some were practical like this vessel and the hearse to its left. Others were the carriages for charlatans and snake oil salesmen.

This first enormous room leads you to another football-field sized room filled with trains, fire engines, and more planes.

I stepped out the back door of this gigantic room filled with technological history and really began to see how vast this collection is. It looks like you have entered a small town. There is no evidence of this mass acreage when you first approach Pioneer Village from the highway. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It looked like I was going to have to cover quite a bit of ground by foot before I put the round rubber back down to the pavement.

As I faced the church it felt like I was standing in an old town square, but each building in its circumference was unique to a different time and place. What I was looking at was the greatest private collection of Americana anywhere! Harold Warp’s vision is described well on Roadside America’s website. I am amazed that I did confer with this site as a reference before visiting. Everything was a wonderful surprise.

The Elm Creek Fort. This was the first log cabin in Webster County Nebraska, both as a dwelling and as a community fort against Indian attack. Built in 1869, the interior is authentically furnished. An original Pony Express mailbox is on the wall.

The People’s store is a replica of everything the people may have needed during the migration west.

Below is a testimony to memorialize the fortitude of Americas’s pioneers. It goes on to explain the personal reasons for Harold Warp’s endeavors.

The firehouse had all the contents intact that a fireman of the time would need.

To the right of a Petticoat Junction type water tower was a large steam engine. From 1872 to 1882, during homesteading days, this was the western terminus of the B & M Railroad.

Beyond the imposing locomotive was a cute little steam engine. It’s the one that could.

Inside the station office, everything looks tip-top.

There was an authentic rural school building of the late 19th and early 20th century, furnished with original desks, books, stove, water pail, dinner pails, etc. Even Harold Warp’s Perfect Attendance Certificates hung on the wall.

An authentic replica of the home where Harold Warp was born.

Built in 1884 the first church in Minden, has the original pews, pulpit, and organ.

This authentic log building was moved to Pioneer Village from Bridgeport, Nebraska, where it originally served as the Pumpkinseed Creek relay station to the Black Hills for the Pony Express. Wild Bill Hickok himself may have stopped by here for a fresh horse.

The oldest steam-powered merry-go-round in the United States. Rides were only a nickel.

This typical pioneer barn was moved to this location from the Warp homestead 9 miles south of Minden. (Harold Warp’s parents were good Christians, so the hayloft boards were laid rough side up, so young folks couldn’t have barn dances.)

Inside each of these massive old buildings was a thematic collection of some sort.

Outside too, there were old steam-powered vehicles lying about.

Just one of many buildings housing old cars was 22,400 sq. ft., two stories, featuring antique Buicks, Cadillacs, Dodges, Chryslers, Oldsmobiles, and of course Edsels. 100 cars placed in their order of development. There was another building for Chevrolets and motorcycles and other buildings for everything imaginable.

When I was making my purchase to enter the museum, the lady behind the counter said, “You may be interested in the motorcycle collection above the cars in this building”, as she pointed to the map that she was handing me. Yes! I am absolutely fascinated with everything here!

In yet another massive building there are twenty rooms of the past, showing kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms of each generation since 1830. It’s amazing! There is also a music shop, doctor’s office, lawyer’s office, print shop, drug store, barbershop, and many others.

There were so many rooms! Many of them had wonderfully tacky mannequins portraying happy families of days gone by.

I am sure this was a local lawyer whose entire office was displaced here.

You would think we were looking at another life-size diorama at Pioneer Village. But no, this is not a bedroom circa 1953, this is the Graduate Hotel in Lincoln, NB.

I stayed at a Graduate Hotel once before in Richmond, VA. There are only and few of them and they are awesome. The decor is a mind-blowing time warp and the staff is excellent. Besides that, it is reasonably priced. It ranked with the less expensive hotels in Lincoln. I give it two straight cylinders! (That’s a Triumph joke.)

When you are on the road for extended periods of time, sometimes you have to wash your clothes by hand. Fortunately, my overpacked bags leave a lot of surface area for my socks and undies to dry in the wind and sun. Gold toes baby!

I happen to be posting this on the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. I rolled through the town square of Leon, Iowa just to take it in and have a drink break. (I used to carry a Camelback and was able to drink while I ride. The new bike configuration didn’t allow for that this trip.) Anyway, in front of the old courthouse was a miniature Statue of Liberty honoring the souls lost in NYC on September 11, 2001.

The saviors of many old and otherwise neglected buildings throughout the United States are the artists and artisans who recognize their beauty and repurpose them or re-utilize them bringing them back to life.

The second melancholy milestone that I mentioned in the last post was upon me. I was crossing the Mississippi River. It’s exhilarating going in the other direction. The excitement and anticipation of a great adventure await you! Going east it is quite the opposite. It feels more like the door closing behind you. The beginning of the end.

Towns along the Mississippi have many elements of yesteryear. I feel like I crossed that bridge from Fort Madison, Iowa across the Mississippi before, but the town on the eastern riverfront was unfamiliar. This was Dallas City, Illinois.

This looked like it may have been an old service station in La Harpe.

I shacked up in Canton for the night. There was a large sidewalk area outside my window so I parked Bonnie there for the night. I wasn’t even looking for camping spots anymore. I was heading home.

I was heading home, but that doesn’t mean there is not more to see. In fact, I missed about 40 or 50 miles of Route 66 when I was heading west. Somehow I missed a turn in Dwight, Illinois. I kept riding south when I should have turned to the right. I found my way back to Route 66 when I got to Pontiac, so that was my destination. Strangely I found more things I hadn’t seen on my way to Pontiac, and I am sure there is more than this.

Route 66 may have multiple routes in any given town. It moved around from decade to decade, so there could be one part representing the 30’s and 40’s and another road that existed during the 50s and 60s. I stopped to have a look at this church because the steeple reminded me of the Art Deco church I visited in Tulsa, OK.

Now I was back on track. Here is Old Route 66. This part of the highway in Towanda was called Dead Man’s Curve.

This small part of the old highway is called ‘Memory Lane’ in Lexington, Illinois. It is a bumpy mess but wonderfully nostalgic.

And finally, I had returned to Pontiac, where I thought I had originally found my way. This was actually my third visit to Pontiac and there was more I hadn’t seen.

This painted sign on the side of the bridge is the last of its kind in Illinois. It shows that this section of Route 66 was originally Route 4.

Here is another Old Route 66 establishment. The Old Log Cabin.

The Old Log Cabin actually resides where there is a split in Route 66 like I spoke about previously.

When I first pulled up to the Old Log Cabin there was a big SUV next to my bike. I went to take a photo across the street of the above signs. When I returned, I am thinking, OK great! The SUV left. Now I can get a good photo of just the bike and the Old Log Cabin. It’s just me. I am tired, hot, hungry, and thirsty. I go inside to remedy these factors. As I walk in. a lady welcomes me in, then walks around me and locks the door. Hmmm.

So here I am, alone and the door locks behind me. I am reminded of one of my favorite movie scenes in A Bronx Tale, when Chaz Palminteri locks the door behind a group of unruly bikers and says, “Now you’s can’t leave.”

My experience fortunately was a lot more pleasant. This lady was there with her daddy the cook and they closed at 2 o’clock. That’s why she locked the door. She told me to take my time but she didn’t want any more folks coming in after me.

Moving north to Odell, I found an old service station that I had marked on my map but missed it when I got lost the first time.

Finally, back in Dwight, I completed my Route 66 journey at this old Texaco station.

This was the last site I had marked to visit from my original Route 66 plan.

This story ends like many before…abruptly. Once I get closer home, I get more aggressive. I take more risks. It’s a classic tale. As you get closer to home, you lose focus.

I took on another storm as I said I would never do again. I thought I would get to the other side and everything would be alright. I would cross this storm. I had a plan. I was zipping across making eastern miles on my way home. I didn’t factor in the equation that the storm had the exact same plan as me. It was swirling eastward as if it wanted to tuck itself in bed with me for the night.

And to cap it off, when there are low black clouds overhead…remember to duck…no wait, remember the duck.

I rode through that terrible storm for most of the day as I took Route 30 east. The rain let up periodically as it did when I passed through a small town in Ohio. A duck flew right by my head. It could have easily hit me. It must have been 3 or 4 feet in front of my face. It pretty much blinded my vision. Fortunately, it missed me as it flew from right to left crossing into the next lane of traffic and promptly smashing into the windshield of the car passing me in the other direction. SMACK! I watched that duck go toppling limply into the air and landing with a loud thud across the street. Ducks are like flying footballs filled with water. Could have easily been me catching a duck upside the head. Not my time.

The rain only got worse. Because of the rain, I hadn’t consulted my maps. I didn’t realize that Route 30 went directly into Pittsburgh. UGH! And guess who had the same travel plan? That horrific storm. Traffic became impassible and streets quickly became rivers. It was horrific. My hand is a small piece of evidence for this trying day.

Just after I took this photo, I walked into the convenience store at the gas station. The girl behind the counter looked at me and said, “Are you OK?” I was so beaten down. I just asked her if she knew where I could find a hotel, then I warmed up my hands on a cup of coffee.

The following day I rode all the way back to NYC. Exactly 10 weeks to the day since I left, I made it safely home.

Though the end was tough. I can now reflect on another epic journey. I had an amazing adventure. I met so many interesting people and was able to reconnect with others I have met on other journeys. I saw great friends from my past as well. It’s a wonderful life…and it’s even better on a motorcycle.

I end the final post of my journey across this great country with a moment to remember the innocent souls who lost their lives 20 years ago today on September 11, 2001.

Wyoming

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2021 by Pat Regan

Go West? This was not my normal routine following Sturgis. This would normally be time to head back east. Time to slip back into routines. There are no more routines. This time I was headed to Yellowstone National Park. I decided to take a scenic route, riding numerous roads I had never ridden. That may mean going out of my way, but I was in no hurry. I rode north and then west to visit Devil’s Tower as I made my way toward Yellowstone. On the way, I passed this old coal mine. The Aladdin Coal Tipple is one of the last structures of its kind in the American West, constructed to store coal coming out of the mine and sort the resource as it moved down the chutes.

Passing slowly through Hulett, WY I rode by the Rogues Gallery. Hulett was one of those towns where I suspected a cop might be waiting to make sure one respects the local speed limit. I was correct. I had already slowed down to have look around because Hulett is actually an interesting looking town, but there was that Barney Fife awaiting the next unsuspecting passerby.

Then I went to have a look at Devil’s Tower. I had been here a couple times before. The smoke and sun weren’t ideal to photograph the tower in its glory. That was something I had to get used to. The fires from the west were obscuring a lot of the color that one would normally see in these landscapes.

I rode all the way to the parking lot at the base of Devil’s Tower, but I did not hike around. I’ve done it before and to be honest, I was tired after Sturgis.

I had been lugging around a big old Canon camera and hardly used it at all this summer. These prairie dogs seemed like a good opportunity to take out the big guns.

I wisely decided to reserve a campsite between Sturgis and Yellowstone. That would be my destination for this night.

In between some lonely stretches of highway, I would come across some signs of life, though nothing was moving that the wind didn’t blow.

Traveling through Clearmont I saw a sign that said Historic Site. It directed me to a two room jail. There were some turkeys wandering around outside in a park next to the jail. I grabbed a couple stray feathers to add to my handlebars.

The Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, WY goes back to the wild west days with former guests like Butch Cassidy and Calamity Jane.

From Buffalo, the road leads into the cool air of the Rocky Mountains. That is where I would be camping tonight. After a week of endless party, I had a nice peaceful site overlooking a rolling stream that would whisper me to sleep.

Within hiking distance to the campsite was a camp resort, with cabins and a restaurant where I grabbed a meal.

My instincts told me that a lot of hunters and trappers would stay here.

Others, like myself, were here to rest.

This rock was at the base of a tree by my tent. I thought it was a mushroom at first. So it actually made me laugh without the instructions.

In the morning I stopped by that resort for a cup of coffee, then rode off toward Yellowstone. Well, I was going indirectly to Yellowstone actually. I wanted to enter from a way I had never gone. As I rode along I saw a sign for a scenic view. I pulled off.

When I got to the top of the vista, I saw another biker. I quickly rode up alongside him and hopped off my bike. I yelled, “PAUL!” I saw his whole body jump just before I snapped this photo. It was Paul who I said goodbye to 250 miles ago and a day before at Sturgis.

It was funny as hell to bump into Paul like this. Long term, he was a little uncertain about which direction he was going. The one place he did know he was going was a brewery in Ten Sleep, WY. That was on my way too, so we rode through the smoky passes of the Rockies down to Ten Sleep.

We had a beer and talked about the next steps for travel. I recommended that Paul go south to Colorado. South enough to get around the I-70 mess. I figured that would be the best way to see the Rockies without all the smoke. I kind of envied the idea myself, but I had reservations in Yellowstone.

Back in Buffalo, WY (the day before), I had stopped at Subway to get a sandwich. The kid behind the counter was real chatty and he thought he was funny. When someone would ask for lettuce and tomato. He would hold up just one slice of tomato. Then he would say “Tomato or tomatoes?” I heard him use this line numerous times as I ate. I also heard him talking to a family from Lithuania. He told them that there was a town on the way to Yellowstone with giant hot springs and buffalo. I later asked him about that town. It was the town of Thermopolis.

As I looked over the edge of this pull off area I was amazed to see this geological formation. It looked a lot like Mammoth Springs in Yellowstone. Written on the side of the butte in large white rocks it says, Worlds Largest Mineral Hot Spring.

Mammoth Springs in Yellowstone is strictly off limits in terms of exploring the waters. Here you can jump right in!

There was also this strange structure. I believe it started out as a fountain and then began to grow as mineral deposits continued to form over time.

Riding toward Cody the skies were a mix of overcast and heavy smoke.

This strange building silhouetted on a peak west of Cody, WY is the Smith Mansion. It was never finished and has been sitting for over 20 years. The ride between Cody and the park is normally beautiful with giant brown rocky cliffs, but you can see just beyond the mansion how smoky it is.

When I got to the gates of Yellowstone, I was asked to remove my feathers. The ranger said it may be perceived as something I took from the park. GRRR! I liked my feathers.

I didn’t get assigned an actual campsite before arrival. They assign you at check in. When I arrived I realized that I has stayed at the Bridge Bay campsite years before and didn’t like it. I was in a large open field surrounded by RVs and generators. When the parks service person was helping me I questioned the area with all the RVs that she was pointing out as my site. She could see the horror in my face and said, “Wait, let’s see…It’s just you with a tent and a motorcycle? I think we can put you over here.” I was given this lovely site for tents only with plenty of trees, a picnic table, and my own bear box.

It did not take long to experience the Yellowstone wildlife. This young elk strolled right into the campsite. He hopped and jumped at the ground in this one particular area. At first, it seemed like erratic insane behavior as he attacked the turf. Then it became obvious that as he stomped he was creating a mud pool which he then jumped into and gave himself a mud bath. It was rather ingenious. But I still think there was something off about this guy.

During the elk visit I was talking to a neighboring camper. He was telling me about a place where I might see a grizzly, and another spot where there may be wolves. He inspired to me to get up early. In the morning I asked him to point these spots out on a map for me. I took off for the grizzly location first. On the way I noticed a herd of buffalo crossing the river.

I continued along and found more buffalo. It does seem that they are rather active in the morning.

I arrived at the grizzly lookout. The guy back at camp told me to look for a guy with a spyglass. Sure enough he was right there at a pull off as marked on my map. The man with the spyglass was very generous with people wanting to have a peek. He noted that not only was there a grizzy bear munching on a carcass, but there was a bald eagle waiting for a moment to get a scrap for himself. I noted both species with red arrows. Grizzly on the left, eagle on the right.

I rode on to another spot far north in the park. It is interesting how word of mouth travels quickly in the park. By this time I had heard more people speak of the potential spot for seeing wolves. Slough Creek is apparently a spot where the park rangers will drag a large animal that has been killed in the park. The wolves will then come down from the mountains there and feast on the dead animal. On the way to Slough Creek I passed a huge herd of buffalo.

Everything seemed peaceful until it wasn’t!

These two big bulls started going at it. It was fast, violent, and loud!

You were really able to see the speed, agility, and strength of these great creatures as they rammed their bulbous heads together.

And then they were done. Like nothing ever happened. But that is not always the case.

This came up on my news feed. Two bulls going at it. It could even be the same ones. But this time, there will be more food for the wolves.

Below you can see the area by Slough Creek, where the rangers bring the kill. I was not able to see any wolves during my visit. I saw a very healthy looking coyote, but he was gone by the time I got my camera out.

I did see a bald eagle in the distance.

Because of the smoke from the wildfires and general bad weather I didn’t focus my camera much on the landscape of Yellowstone.

As I was riding along the river toward West Yellowstone, I saw another bald eagle flying overhead. I turned around to find two eagles on the edge of the river. Then they took off separately.

More elk back at camp.

Here you can see Mammoth Hot Springs. See the similarity to the hot spring in Thermopolis. I have actually seen Mammoth Hot Springs drying up in my lifetime, (perhaps it’s seasonal). When I was here in the 90s there was much more water. It also smelled a lot worse from the sulfur.

On my way back to camp, it began raining again. Only this time it never really stopped. It let up to a light drizzle at one point. The problem is, I have no idea what to expect. There is no phone signal or electricity. I have no up to date news of any kind. That includes weather. There was this one couple a few sites away who (unlike most visitors), looked like they knew what they were doing. They had a nice set up with lots of wood that they had brought with them. They were sitting by their large fire when I approached them. I asked them if they had an idea of what to expect from mother nature. They did. They said to expect more rain and it’s going to drop about 20 degrees from what it was today. They said it would get down into the 30s at night. They were not wrong. Fortunately after my fall road trip in Vermont, I wisely got a better sleeping bag. I slept comfortably enough, but the sound of the rain was continuous. When I finally awoke in the morning, it hadn’t stopped. Neighbors, (who didn’t know what they were doing), had their sleeping bags hanging from trees next to a collapsed tent, as they slept in the car. Weather was bad and expected to get worse. It just didn’t make sense to stay and fight it. Getting supplies in Yellowstone is difficult on a good day. When you add bad weather and moronic drivers to it, resupplying would be a nightmare! The weather may never let up. It seemed wise, to just pack it up. I rolled my wet tent up and stuffed it in a air tight bag. It would have to dry out elsewhere.

In my mind I would ride far out of the great Yellowstone and end up somewhere sunny and wonderful. Reality can be so different.

It was in the 40s and I was on a motorcycle in the rain riding behind bad drivers with twitchy foot brakes on a small twisty road. The mist under my mask got so bad bad from the car tires ahead that I had to lift my visor and expose my face to see. My rain suit leaked. I was now wet beneath my suit and the cold quickly followed. By the time I got to the exit gates at West Yellowstone I was a different person than the guy who packed it up an hour ago. Dreams of sunshine and blue skies had been brushed aside for the bare necessities of food and warmth. I grabbed a coffee and looked for rooms. I could go no further.

I draped my wet filthy tent and tarps across the bathroom. Fortunately the motel room had a heater in the bathroom. Other wet things were laying all over the rest of the room. I put on some dry clothes, went to a local restaurant and ate a buffalo steak that they called the Tomahawk Prime Rib. It was expensive and just OK, but it gave me some normalcy to sit down and have a meal. You have to realize, not only did I just have this days experience with bad weather, I have not slept in a bed in two weeks! I’ve been sleeping on the ground everyday since I left Colorado before Sturgis. I was frazzled! I chewed that buffalo down, and then told the lady at the motel to add on a second night. It was going to take my equipment a while to dry out and I needed a recharge myself.

Coming out of the high elevations of Yellowstone was a welcome relief, weather wise. I knew that the relief came with mixed blessings. It was time to make my way east. I was still west of the Yellowstone mountain range, so I had to go south and around it. But a heavy heart and a worn down body knew that the open-ended part of the adventure was winding down.

The ride itself was nice, winding through farmlands and small Wyoming towns.

It was getting damp and chilly again as I got back into the mountains overlooking Jackson. Jackson Hole is a cool place, but I wouldn’t be visiting this time. I had to escape this weather.

Now on to the high plains! I stopped for gas and some grub at Daniel Junction.

Inside the dining area, people display their many kills.

I stopped in the town of Rawlins for the night, where you can find this old Texaco station.

In the morning I visited the Wyoming State Penitentiary.

While looking it up the night before I read a review on Google:

The tour felt rushed. The guide spoke quickly, and was difficult to understand (maybe because he wore a mask?) The prison was interesting, but we were still a bit disappointed.

Well what are the odds that I get the same tour guide…100%!

Right away I knew my tour guide was the one the lady in the review was talking about. She didn’t mention that he is an annoying little shit as well. He tells jokes that he thinks are over your head, because you don’t laugh. He even said once, “It’s a Pink Floyd reference, you probably don’t get it.” I get it! Your jokes are rushed and not funny. Do I look like I am laughing?

You got to love the Hopalong Cassidy blanket in a prison. Now that’s funny.

At one point during the tour, the guide stopped to ask me what I thought so far. I said, “It’s OK. I’ve visited many prisons around the United States.” He said, “Oh really? What did you like best about them?” I said, “They were self-guided.”

Up the stairs and through the yellow door is death row.

Here’s a look inside is the gas chamber. When you pull the lever on the left it drops a cyanide pill into another compound inside the chamber to gas the condemned man strapped to the chair.

After doing my time in prison, I rode forth to have my final look at the Rocky Mountains before crossing the lonely flat plains. I was concerned because from this point of view the mountains lie nearly obscured in a smoky pool.

Once I got up into the mountains things looked much clearer.

This is Medicine Bow Peak, 12,000 feet high!

A plane crashed here in 1955 killing 66 passengers. The plaque below commemorates them.

Coming down from the mountain I passed through the small town of Centennial. Here they have a museum consisting of old buildings and equipment from the period of the towns founding.

Inside the train depot there was a very nice lady hosting from behind a desk with a donation jar. There are also a few rooms made up with various antiques like the one with the bathtub below.

Other buildings included old farming and mining equipment.

There was an old school.

It was neat to go inside of a caboose.

I would have thought this space inside would have been better utilized. You see it on pretty much all cabooses. Why is the upper level there? If it is to see the rest of the train, why is it so inconvenient to get to the windows? I have questions!

This is the interior of a skid shack. It is explained below.

I have seen these giant metal structures before. I never really understood their purpose. I asked the lady in the station house and she told me they were for burning all the scraps from a lumber yard. They are giant furnaces.

While I was about to leave the outdoor museum, a man pulled alongside my bike. He was cleaning his windshield. He was a retired school teacher as well. He said he rides a motorcycle and told me some story about riding into a swarm of bees. He also told me about a road. He said it was a dirt road with wonderful rock formations. I said it may be close to where I am going. I was taking a paved road. I saw the dirt road the man spoke of as I passed some of the rock formations. They were large pink and gray granite protrusions in the landscape. Maybe it was the smoky haze, but they almost looked painted into the rolling hills. A questionable apparition to remind you of what you are leaving behind as you return to the east.

Nature’s landscapes would be replaced by man-made structures creating new metallic textured landscapes or more often than not, nothing at all.

Things become flat. Mile after mile of farmland. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll run out of gas before I see another town. The Emerald City can be seen off in the distance towering above the horizon, or so it seems until you come upon it and recognize the giant grain elevators. These monuments of America’s heartland let you know civilization is at hand every once in a while.

Before leaving Wyoming it seemed appropriate that would bump into this small herd of longhorns to bid farewell.

It’s now time for that long ride home.

Sturgis 2021

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2021 by Pat Regan

Welcome to the 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. “What a relaxing and restful week and a half”, said nobody ever! Sturgis is the greatest party on Earth. It’s a fun-filled mix of motorcycles, music, mayhem, and merriment.

I rode the lonely Route 85 north from Cheyenne, WY, and headed for the Black Hills. On the other side of the Black Hill Mountains in South Dakota, would be Sturgis. I was headed straight for the Buffalo Chip, the place where I would be living for the next week and a half.

I set up in an area where I have never pitched my tent before. This is one of the few shady spots at the Buffalo Chip. When I was last here in 2016, I met some great folks over in this area.

Frank (who I visited in California), his friends, and his family were already here when I arrived as were many others! Everyone was commenting on how crowded it was, and the actual rally hadn’t even begun yet!

In my post about California, I referred to this little fella below as ‘Trigger’. Nope. His name is ‘Tripper’! I also mentioned that he now answers to another name. Since Frank has gotten hold of him, he answers to ‘Killer’.

We wasted no time going for a nice ride. The thought was, if it is this crowded now, let’s enjoy the roads before it really gets crowded. So we got up early and hit the Black Hills. In the mirror below is Charlie, (on the chopper), Jeff and Mary, and Rayce and Tanya. Frank is in the lead position with Nancy and Killer. Frank is always in the lead position.

We checked out Mount Rushmore.

Jeff and Mary in the center, live near Frank in California. I met Jeff when I visited last month. Charlie is on the left. He and Jeff have been friends since the 7th grade. He now lives in Tennessee. And that is Rayce front and center. He is Frank’s grandson. And of course, me on the right.

Iron Mountain Road twists around in the mountains overlooking Mount Rushmore. In one of the caves, you can see Mt. Rushmore as you ride through.

These stacked jagged rocks come upon you quickly while riding the Needles Highway. They are beautifully distracting while riding up here with so many bikes.

Like I said, it was crowded and the rally hadn’t officially begun yet.

After a nice ride, we all stopped at the grocery store and headed back to camp at the Buffalo Chip. The Buffalo Chip is where the best concerts are. Every night there will be a headlining band. I have seen amazing concerts here over the years. I’ve seen Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Bob Dylan, The Guess Who, John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Greg Allman, Alice Cooper, Slash, Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks, George Thorogood, Cheap Trick, Kid Rock, and more. This year Kid Rock returns. Stone Temple Pilots and ZZ Top will also be here. Only weeks ago ZZ Top lost their bass player Dusty Hill. I thought ZZ Top may cancel, but Bill Gibbons said the show must go on!

The first night Puddle of Mudd was the headliner. It was fun!

Generally, after a show is the Miss Buffalo Chip contest. These contests go on throughout the week. You can often hear the announcer all the way back at the campground.

Between the outdoor arena and the campsite is Bikini Beach. Bands play Bikini Beach every night after the main concert in the arena. During the day folks party and swim in this pond. It’s kind of nasty, but I have swung on the rope swing in years past.

There was a bike show at the Iron Horse Saloon. Darren McKeag made the poster for it.

I recognized this flathead. It belongs to a guy named Mad Stork who I follow on Instagram. He takes great photos of motorcycle events all over the place. In fact, I would meet him later in the week at Sasha’s Cycles.

There were a number of sweet bikes at the Iron Horse.

Darren McKeag’s bike.

Buckcherry was this night’s entertainment.

Rayce is generally eager to ham it up!

I stopped by Sasha’s Cycles to have a look at some of their vintage machines.

While checking out these antiques, I noticed Darren McKeag riding by. He then pulled up and we talked a bit.

Back at the Chip, some things were different than in years past. There were fewer stages for the smaller bands. And there weren’t as many smaller bands. That’s too bad. I have seen some great original bands on these smaller stages. Now it seems to be a couple rotating cover bands.

There was also a section with a tent city that was set up ahead of time for folks to rent out. Weird.

But the most profound difference since the last time I was here, was the golf carts. Golf carts are everywhere. After the concerts, they line up side by side, awaiting people to entertain them with burnouts. Which they do. My friend Randy, who I visited in Amarillo, Texas said the overwhelming number of golf carts and RVs was the reason he wasn’t coming to Sturgis this year.

Each night the burnouts take place outside the pond area.

It gets hot out here. You must remember to hydrate!

Deadwood, South Dakota is located a little over 20 miles from Sturgis. Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down at Saloon Number 10 while playing poker. He held the now-famous Aces and Eights hand, AKA: The Dead Mans Hand.

David Uhl, the great motorcycle and Americana artist was in Deadwood. If you follow the blog you may remember that he was also in Lakeland, Florida for the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo.

This is ‘Six Pack’ in the blue Slingshot below. He switched to this 3 wheeled machine after a bad accident on two wheels. I think I am able to relate to many folks here in the biker world because it turns out that the New York salute and the biker salute are one and the same. Nice to see you too Six Pack.

Kid Rock fired up the Buffalo Chip. It’s the third time I have seen him here and he never disappoints. Unlike other times I have seen him here, this time it was packed. More crowded than I have ever seen it.

At 6’4″, there is not a bad seat in the house for Frank.

The nearby gas station is a hub for all passersby. I generally go here daily for ice and basic needs, like beer.

This is Kyle. He is from Kansas. When I pulled up this year, Kyle called out, “My hero!” A few years ago I returned from a concert to find Kyle standing upright, but still on his bike. His buddy Brian was laughing hysterically and not about to help poor Kyle. They were both plastered after riding their bikes back from the show and now Kyle couldn’t find his kickstand. He just stood there helpless until I came along and dropped his stand for him. He’s forever grateful.

Rayce’s belt seemed to be rubbing the tire a little. Dr. Frankenstein to the rescue.

Motorcycles as Art. Each year the Buffalo Chip has a gallery show of bikes with photographs by Michael Lichter. It’s always a well-thought-out show with a beautiful selection of motorcycles.

This Indian Big Chief with a Vincent Black Shadow engine was a standout for me.

I had seen this beauty below at a motorcycle show in NYC.

I stopped when I saw this big green truck. It belongs to Horny Mike from the TV Show Counting Cars.

Tonight would be the Stone Temple Pilots. I saw them at their peak in the early 90s. It was a bit weird without Scott Weiland. These guys are a great band but they now have a singer who kind of sounds and behaves like Scott Weiland. Like a mimic. It’s strange and a little uncomfortable.

But they blasted through their hits and it rocked! This dude slept through it. Seriously he slept through the whole show.

Main Street is lined with endless bikes parked side by side, block after block during the rally.

A couple of B-1 Bombers did a fly-by over Main Street.

I walked into the Hells Angels store. There were different tables and areas for various chapters throughout the United States. I was looking to see if NY had a section. They didn’t.

I said something to a member behind the Arizona table. Ya see, 81 is a Hells Angels thing. 8=H 1=A. And since it’s the 81st Sturgis, I said. “81. This is your year!” He looked at me coldly and said, “Every year is our year!” I nodded and slowly crept out the door onto Main Street as a dog would do with its tail between its legs after a good scolding.

Rayce, Tanya, and I checked out the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.

At the museum, I was able to get a copy of last year’s Sturgis Magazine. I am pleased and honored to have one of my photos published in last year’s magazine. The photo is part of a featured article about the great tattoo and motorcycle artist Darren McKeag. I took this photo of Darren and his wife Missy in 2015 at the 75th annual Sturgis Rally.

I really liked this clean, bobbed-out Triumph Bonneville.

There was a time that I once said, “Gee, I didn’t know Sears made motorcycles?”
Now, you might hear someone say, “What is Sears?”

Tonight ZZ Top takes the stage. With the recent passing of their bass player Dusty Hill, there was some uncertainty that they would be performing. Fortunately, ZZ would be there. And they were great!

And like clockwork, the burnouts began at Bikini Beach.

On this night Horny Mike came out to see what all the noise was about at Bikini Beach.

The Full Throttle Saloon and Campground is about 7 miles from the Buffalo Chip. It used to be right across the highway from the local gas station, but it burnt to the ground and relocated.

It is decorated with a steampunk vibe with lots of iron sculptures and vehicles mixed about.

Many people don’t know that the Full Throttle also has a giant pool that is open to the public. I remember the pool from a time before it was the Full Throttle. This was the former location of the Broken Spoke Saloon. This was their pool first.

Riding past Bear Butte.

The memorial flags are always a centerpiece as one enters the Buffalo Chip. In the background behind the flags is a recreation of the Vietnam Memorial from Washington DC.

In the top parking lot of the Buffalo Chip, they had a Wall of Death with the Ives Brothers. These guys ripped around those walls. Below he is grabbing 20s in one pass and then returning with a T-shirt.

This remarkable Shovelhead chopper rolled through the campsite. The entire bike bounced as he rolled along.

My friend Cliff invited me to join him on the Veterans Honor Ride with @redrummc for a good cause. I had never ridden with a police escort before.

Cliff said some words and introduced some people.

The chief blessed riders with some prayers using an eagle feather and burning sage.

There was a ceremonial song before the ride as well.

Cliff goes over some final logistics with the authorities and we were on our way.

We rode through the Badlands with a police escort to Rapid City. It was great to be able to ride without stopping. We were able to run every red light and pass every intersection all the way there.

At the end of the ride, food was served and there was another ceremony.

Jason Mamoa, (one of REDRUMs recent members) donated Mananalu Water for today’s ride. When we took off from the Indian dealer in Sturgis this morning Cliff mentioned that Jason could not be part of this event because he is sponsored by Harley Davidson.

Folks would start to leave Sturgis over the next couple of days. Frank and the California gang split. Frank was going east to visit family in Ohio. Rayce and Tanya were heading back to Cali, as were Jeff and Mary. Charlie went back to Tennessee. On the last night, I sat up and talked with Paul. Paul is from Oregon. He was staying in the cabin you see behind him. Paul had already ridden from Oregon to Key West, Florida before arriving at Sturgis. He was super friendly and left his door open so that folks could charge up electronics inside. Thanks Paul.

Jacob was another new Sturgis buddy who resides in South Dakota. Jacob has business schemes constantly swimming in his head. He is trying to corner the market on some big domain names.

I met a large group of folks from Alaska this year as well. Here are the last three to leave. Actually Cole, in the center, is stationed at a military base in Maryland and lives in Laurel. Bill and Carrie let me have a lumbar pillow which saved my ass…literally. My Airhawk seat cushion had deflated. That pillow helped a lot. Thanks! There was another family from Alaska there as well (Brad, Andrea, Bonnie, and Gary). They showed me photos of some of their moose kills. WIld! When they are ready to fly back to Alaska, they will put their bikes in storage and go. When they return to the lower 48 they just fly back to wherever they left the bikes. How cool is that?

And that was it. I was the last one left. Every time I have been here I am one of the last to leave. It’s tough. I love this place. Each year I meet more great new people. It is always hard to say goodbye. This visit will be different than any previous visits for me in that I will be heading west from here. Normally I would be rushing back east to go to work. Not anymore. I am retired and I am headed for Yellowstone.

Colorado

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2021 by Pat Regan

My Colorado plans had to change do to an act of Mother Nature. A mud and rock slide closed Interstate 70.

I-70 is the major artery for traffic traversing the state from west to east. Because of the closure, traffic would be diverted to the north and to the south. I would have liked to have taken a more scenic route across Colorado, but because of the diverted traffic I avoided it altogether. Trucks were more likely to go north at Rifle because the route to the south through Aspen is twisty and mountainous. Cars would be more likely to take that southern route. Word was that there would be at least 2 hour back ups either way. I chose to head north after crossing the border and rode toward Dinosaur, Colorado to avoid the traffic altogether. I may have avoided a traffic jam, but the one thing I couldn’t avoid was more rain. So after taking the photo below in Loma, I had to pack up the camera for a bit.

I was headed to Boulder. My friend James told me to get in touch with his friend Christine. I did just that and she invited me to stay with her and her husband Roman for a couple nights. After 4 days in a tent without a shower in Moab, that sounded great! 

The rain let up here and there on my way to Dinosaur. I stopped when I saw these natural caves off to the right of the highway.

I took a shot of this pickle store in Dinosaur. Notice the T-Rex on the porch. The town is named after the many fossils discovered in the area. Dinosaur National Monument is located here, but it is a long road in and out of the monument, so I did not visit. As I filled up the tank at the local gas station, thunder was blasting from the storm to the east. Naturally that was the direction I was going. I would try to make it to Steamboat Springs. A decade ago I camped in the mountains just east of Steamboat Springs. This time due to the harsh weather, I got a motel room.

Steamboat Springs is a big skiing town. Below you can see the grassy ski slopes.

Not too shabby.

The next morning the weather was much kinder as I climbed the mountain. It was up here that I had camped years before and saw some of the best night skies of that trip. I was sorely missing the celestial wonders during this trip. Clouds have obscured that pleasure every night.

Some of the truck traffic from I-70 had now merged with the two lane highway I was on, but it wasn’t that bad. I rode along through Kremmling where I turned to the east leaving that truck traffic heading south back to I-70. 

My plan was to take a short portion of I-70 then head back into the mountains and get to Boulder via Nederland, Colorado. I exited at Idaho Springs and took the Central City Parkway back into the mountains. You have to understand that the Rocky Mountains make certain places impossible to build roads. One may have to travel scores of miles out of the way to get to a particular destination. So to get to Boulder I had to travel far south to get around the mountains and then travel back north before continuing east. Make sense?

As I traveled back north I went through the old mining town of Central City. It’s a charming town mixed with casinos.

I stopped to take this photo by a river. As I was getting back on my bike I heard a motorcycle approaching. I waved, he waved back. As he passed I saw that he was a member of Hells Angels. I ended up riding behind him toward Nederland.

It was a strange thrill to be riding with a Hells Angels member. I’ve respectfully erased his license plate. We twisted through the mountains and then separated when we arrived at Nederland. After Nederland it is a beautiful ride to Boulder. I had taken this road years ago in the opposite direction. At that time I headed north from Nederland, so it was nice to have ridden the road to the south.

Finally I arrived at Christine’s place. She has a really nice home within walking distance to the main pedestrian area in Boulder. Christine and I went out to dinner on Pine Street. On our walk over we bumped into Christine’s daughter and her boyfriend. I met Christine and her daughter in New York over 15 years ago. Her daughter was 4 years old. She’s all grown up now.

We passed the Boulder Theater where Christine has seen many great bands. She is a big time deadhead and had a few Bob Weir stories from shows at this theater. At one show they saw Wavy Gravy and Christine’s young daughter invited him to come over and try out their hot tub. Remarkably he took them up on the offer. I should have taken a picture of the photo of Gravy in the tub.

We had a nice meal and talked about all sorts of things. We have a number of mutual friends. In fact, we took this photo for our friend James.

I stayed in a small house in the backyard. Christine uses this as an office. She is a hard working therapist. From morning into the evening she has clients. Most of them are on the phone, but occasionally I would have to vacate my dwelling to allow for an in-person session.

With Sturgis coming up, this would be my last bed for a while.

Roman and Christine were both very kind to me. Roman even took care of some laundry for me. He also makes a mean smoothie.

They have a lot of great artwork throughout the house. I was particularly attracted to this Dead poster. It reminded me of some work I was doing before leaving for this trip. I may get some inspiration from it.

Here is an example of the artwork I was doing before leaving home on June 15.

We walked around the hood a bit. Boulder has a nice community garden that many citizens take part in.

Also in the neighborhood is one of the original Boulder homes.

Christine and Roman have a really sweet dog. Here is the problem with gretting behind in my writing. I forgot the dog’s name. Shit. This happened in California too. It turns out that I called a dog Trigger back in California. I found out his name is Tripper. We will see him again in my next post where he now answers to another name. But here is Christine’s adorable pup. (I texted Christine. Meet Rosie).

While we were sitting in the backyard we saw a squirrel running along the fence and then he did a flip. We looked at each other with bewildered looks. “Did you see that?” It was unbelievable. Since then, Christine sent me a NY Times article about acrobatic squirrels. It’s a thing!

I needed a new rear tire. It wasn’t easy finding one. In Denver I was able to find a place that sold my tire and then I was going to have another guy a few miles away install it. On the way south to Denver I saw a couple monster trucks at a gas station.

When I bought the tire from Let It Ride, they recommended that instead of riding miles away I ask the guy next door at One Four Motorcycle Service if he could squeeze me in. Fortunately he did. I was lucky too because as I was waiting, another guy came in for a tire change and was told he would have to return in two days.

It is always strange seeing someone else on my Bonnie.

With a fresh tire I could confidently ride on to my next destination, Sturgis. As I was leaving, Christine snapped a couple shots of me preparing for my ride. Thank you so much Christine for an excellent stay. I really appreciate it.

It’s Sturgis time.

Utah

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2021 by Pat Regan

After leaving Lloyd and Sarah’s in Page, Arizona, it is just a short ride to the Utah border. In fact, some of what I posted on my 4×4 journeys with Lloyd and Sarah were technically Utah, but I was coming out of Arizona. Now I was on the bike again and headed north. There was a place Sarah had talked about visiting but we decided it would have been too crowded to enjoy on a Saturday. Now it was Monday, so when I noticed that the parking area for the Toadstools Hoodoos was empty I stopped and did some hiking.

Toadstools are spire-like rock formations with a boulder on the top of the pedestal rock creating a mushroom shaped feature.

It’s about a mile walk up a dirt and sand path to get to the toadstools from the main road. It was hot out, but well worth the hike. And as it turns out, if I hadn’t stopped at the toadstools this day would have been a bust.

The reason the rest of the day was a bust has been all too common on this trip, rain. As I approached Bryce Canyon it started coming down heavy. So heavy that I skipped Bryce altogether. I was thinking I could double back the following day and check it out, because I made a two day reservation to camp at the state park in Escalante. I put on my rain gear across the street from Mugwumps. Mugwumps is now closed. It was a junky old thrift store. I was there once years ago when the lady who owned it asked me out of the blue, “Are you from New Orleans?” The question kind of freaked me out. Because I am. I was born there. I don’t think I sound like it, but she knew. It was spooky.

I plowed through the rain. The roads were being worked on. I have to say it was not a pleasant ride. Then, when I got to the state park in Escalante I checked my campsite and noticed it was reserved under the name Aviles. For the record, that is not my name. I pulled out my phone to confirm my reservation and sure enough, I reserved the wrong days. I have no idea how that happened. I think the app I used automatically set it up for the next available date. I don’t know, but I ended up having to get a motel. The town of Escalante never really thrilled me. There are some cool old houses and a couple llamas, but I never found the people particularly friendly here.

Since I was only staying one night there would be no returning to Bryce on this trip. I would take Route 12 north to Capital Reef and see what things were like there. The ride up 12 was nice.

I had good weather for the first part of the day, but once again as I was approaching Capital Reef, more rain. From the mountain view in the picture below you should be able to see the vivid colors of Capital Reef below. Not today.

I was a little upset because I really like Capital Reef. It is beautiful when the light is shining down on it. On this day it was dark and gloomy.

These rains are not a total bust. Sometimes the rains bring other sights to see. As I was riding along I saw that there was a chocolate looking waterfall coming off the side of the cliffs. I climbed up to check it out.

As I continued my ride toward Hanksville I saw a huge washout. This one was impressive. I had seen that this area was a designated free campground. Not anymore. Can you imagine having a tent pitched when this river of mud comes at you? You really have to be aware of the potential for these monstrous washouts after a good rain.

I also stopped for some photos of this old cement truck that has been rusting away during my many passings over the years.

I stopped for gas at the Hollow Mountain in Hanksville. I often stop here while passing through. I checked Goblins State Park for possible camping and was surprised to find that they were filled up during the week, so I decided I would ride all the way to Moab where one of my favorite primitive campsites is located right along the Colorado River. 

At night a tour boat goes down the Colorado as a huge truck with giant spotlights illuminates the cliffs while a tour guide tells silly tales about the rock formations.

Moab is a great hub to see many cool places. I putted around town a bit and did some writing. Afterwards I went to Arches National Park. It was late in the day and I was looking forward to taking some photographs with that low glowing sun illuminating everything. Unfortunately there was no sun.

As I looked at the mountain in the distance I changed my mind about Arches. It just didn’t look right. Often times a storm will hover over the mountain all day leaving the rest of the area sunny and beautiful. But this big black cloud formation looked like it was getting closer. Getting stuck up in Arches in a storm is not a place you want to be on a motorcycle. This storm looked particularly ominous. I hopped on the bike and split. 

Just as I got back to the campground the winds kicked up and it began to rain. It was getting dark because of the cloud cover, but it was also becoming night. Then the lighting and thunder started blasting and it began to rain hard. The wind pulled one of my stakes from the ground. It was scary resetting the poles because of the lighting. Then as I was sitting in my tent looking out, a bolt of lightning struck moving horizontally along the Colorado traveling down the canyon toward me. It was so bright and so loud that I actually screamed out loud. It just came out. I unconsciously screamed and I will bet no one heard it over the echoing of the the thunder that the monster bolt made. It was impressive and frightening. This storm would be the talk of the town for days. One of my neighboring campers stayed in town for the storm. They said parts of town lost electricity. It was a wild one!

The next morning I decided to visit a section of Canyonland with one of the largest petroglyphs called Newspaper Rock.

There was some construction going on in the park. When I stopped to wait for the one lane traffic, the lady at the construction stop said, “The old timers are saying that was the worst storm we’ve had in years.” This has been a common story this summer everywhere I go. California should pay me to live there. I seem to bring the rain.

They had a small cliff dwelling ruin in this section of the park.

The next day started out good. I got up early. I made coffee from my friends at Jordan Coffee Roasters for the first time in a while. I got a tea infuser to replace my broken French press. I made oatmeal as well.

I rode along the Colorado River on the other side of the highway to check out what some campsites look like over there. A couple of them were closed. Even if they had been open, they looked like they got wiped out by the storm.

They are building some fancy cliff dwelling style bathrooms for the campsite. There are no facilities inside, but it smells like it’s been used quite a bit already.

Today I would return to Arches. When I pulled up to the gate the Ranger said, “I remember you, are you OK?” He was referring to the storm. We talked a bit when I came in the day before and he knew I was camping by the river. He to said, there hasn’t been a storm like that in years. So I heard.

When I got back from Arches, I decided I would check out a swimming hole this lady Christine told me about. On the way I decided to fill my water bottle from the natural spring coming out of the side of the cliff. In a rush I left my helmet on. When I bent down to fill the bottle I scraped my face shield on the rocks. I scraped it bad. GRRRRR!

Then I went for a swim. I got a little lost but ended up high over Moab which was kind of cool. Then I found my way to the waterfall. It’s about a mile walk from a parking area.

The swimming hole and waterfall were great. I hadn’t showered in days. When I was hiking back, I saw a cave on the side of a cliff. I went over there. In the cave I decided to put my pants back on. I started putting my boots on too, not recognizing that I had just crossed a creek barefoot to get to the cave. Duh!

I went to the store for some more Gatorade, watermelon, and ice.

When I got back to camp, I filled the cooler. I left the cold water and added the new ice. When I put the styrofoam cooler back in the tent, it cracked open. All that ice and cold water filled my tent. GRRRR! I had to completely empty the tent and put everything on the picnic table because there is a serious ant issue here. Fuck! I untied the tent and let it dry out. After emptying everything, I decided to make dinner. I began to cut the chicken up for a salad, and bees showed up. They were relentless. I had to stop. The only way to make dinner would be in the tent and it was still wet. GRRRR!

So I decided I would cut open that watermelon. I reached for my knife from my blue jeans. That’s where I keep it. No knife. GRRRR! I lost my knife! I really like that knife. Did I lose it when I was changing into my swim trunks? Did I lose it in the cave when I was changing back into my jeans? I don’t know. GRRRR! 

The following day I would check out another part of Canyonland. This part of the park is high up and allows you to look down into the canyons.

I got wet on my way back to camp from Canyonland and there was another storm coming.

Another flash flood poured through the canyon. I sat and read a book under my tarp until the rain became so hard that mud started bouncing far off the ground. Only a tarp with walls would remedy this situation, so I hopped in my tent. The greatest thing for me about this storm was that it silenced the generators on either side of me. That shit was really starting to bug me. Anyway, I laid down and listened to the passing storm. No lightning and thunder this time just heavy rain. Then it slowed down. I was anticipating the generators starting up again. I was even considering a battle if they did start up again. Then I heard a humming sound in the background. I saw my neighbors staring at the cliff in the distance. Flash floods can be frightening out in the plains when the high waters are traveling horizontally, but hear in Moab the flash floods are vertical and spectacular. A huge waterfall was pouring over the side of the canyon walls all the way from the top. It went over one plateau then to another and another. I grabbed the cameras and ran over there. I hiked up the side of the cliff to the narrows where the water was flowing. I saw others already there who had pulled their cars over and climbed up. They were standing around admiring from afar. I passed them by and went to the source of the splashing sound. The spot where the waterfall hits the ground. Incredible! I was able to walk completely under this steam of water that must have started 1000 feet above me. What a feeling! And then it will be gone. Waterfalls here are like rainbows. They follow the rain. They are beautiful. Then they are gone. As I was leaving I spoke to two guys who were just arriving. They said they are camping 3 miles away and didn’t have a drop of rain. Western skies.

Then Moab had one last gift. I packed up my camp and as I was looking around the perimeter before I left, I saw something half buried under a bush. It was my knife. I guess I flung my pants when my tent flooded from the cooler and it went flying into the bushes then got partially buried by the heavy rain. Thanks Moab.

Arizona 2

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2021 by Pat Regan

After a great a visit to California, I crossed the Colorado River and returned to Arizona.

In my mind I was done with Route 66, but the old highway let me know otherwise. I hopped on Route 66 in Arizona for a few miles, just because I had ridden north to Vegas and knew I had at least missed a few miles. The only thing of note was this old rusty tanker with a 66 painted on it’s side.

From there I jumped on Interstate 40. I was headed to Flagstaff. I stopped for a bite and to soak my cooling vest. There I saw this tank with water for sale and this great motel sign.

I continued east, but I had to stop and put on rain gear. It looked stormy. I didn’t have enough gas to make it all the way to Flagstaff, so I had to jump back on Route 66 in Seligman to get gasoline.

On my way east out of town, I was surprised to discover that there was a nice chunk of 66 that I had missed. Not only that, it may have helped me divert some rain. If you look at the photo below you can see how 66 runs diagonally to the right of the interstate. That is where I came from. You can also see the storm to the left that I may have hit had 66 not been there.

I saw a sign for Route 66 again at an exit off of Interstate 40. I hopped off only to find that I had been through this town before. However the highway splits in this town. One way west, one way east. Therefore I missed a couple cool old signs that I would not have seen going west.

I was hungry and I knew they made a damn good club sandwich in Williams so I returned there as well. I stopped at a souvenir shop hoping to find a camouflage Route 66 hat. I saw an old timer with one, but no dice. I did however spot Elvis in a car out in front of the store.

And here is Elvis again telling fortunes inside.

They had just turned the lights on at Rod’s Steakhouse as I was riding toward it. Since I didn’t photograph this vintage Route 66 steakhouse last time, I did this time.

I also took a full photo of the Canyon Club since there was a car parked in front of it when I last passed going west.

From Williams it was on to Flagstaff. I booked a motel online. I didn’t realize that it was this particular motel on Route 66 until I arrived. I had actually pulled over going west to take a photo of this sign in daylight. At night it is one of the few illuminated signs in Flagstaff. This one is great because it is animated. The legs of the horses appear to move as they blink interchangeably and ‘motel’ blinks as well.

I only chose Flagstaff as a viable alternative to Las Vegas. I was on my way to visit friends in Page, Arizona. I had to get around the Grand Canyon either to the left (Vegas) or the right (Flagstaff). I chose Flag, (as it is called locally).

On my way out of Flag, I pulled into Mike’s Bike’s to take a photo. These guys helped me replace a chain a few years back.

While I was here, a group of riders pulled in that I had passed on the road. The older woman on the trike was striking with a poodle happily riding along in a basket. I spoke to the gentleman in back for a bit. He was actually hard to understand. I asked if they were headed to Sturgis. He said, “Nope! California!” I understood that! And I did make out a question he asked as I was leaving. “Need any crystal?” he asked. Really? Maybe this explained his unusual speech. I was just thinking that these folks are pretty fucking old to be smoking crystal meth.

The next day I made my way north toward Page. I decided to cut through Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument. These two monuments though combined by a single road are two completely different monuments. One is a dead volcano and the other is a series of well preserved native ruins.

You can see the landscape of lava from the volcano in the background. You can also see my wet jacket from yet more rain! Enough already!

After miles of lava fields I entered Wupatki. These ruins are made of the red stone found in the cliffs here.

Some of the ruins here at Wupatki stand boldly and tall, obvious from a great distance when silhouetted on a western sky.

Others blend into the landscape or are tucked away in small canyons, out of sight until you are directly upon them.

The largest of them is an impressive multi leveled complex with an adjacent kiva and some type of playing field. The natives here developed a system for using the cool air from nearby caverns to draw into their Pueblo, pre-dating air conditioning by a thousand years.

Another ruin is atop a hill. They call it the citadel. I suppose this was more of a defensive post as you can see all around for miles from this point.

Riding north back on highway 89, I passed an abandoned hotel that had been completely decorated with artwork.

And then more rain. This time it got heavy. This storm darkened the sky and winds were kicking me in multiple directions. I could anticipate the gusts as I would pass an opening between hills. It was like taking a big wind punch. It was a little scary, but I was determined to get to Page and see my friends Lloyd and Sarah.

Normally I would be snapping away with my camera on the way to Page. It is extremely scenic and photogenic, but not on this day. It was so stormy that I hadn’t even realized I was on the final approach until the road turned toward a steep incline. The last time I had visited Page, this road was closed because it fell off the side of the cliff. Seriously!

After a brutal battle with the rain, wind, trucks and RVs, I made it to the home of Lloyd and Sarah. I knew the street and general location. I slowed down a couple times thinking I was near, then I saw Lloyd. He just happened to come outside as I was arriving. It was great to see him. I parked the bike under the large overhang in front of the house. There, Bonnie would rest under a huge set of elk antlers (actually it’s more than antlers, and there is a particular name that I forget for this type of mount with the skull cap).

Lloyd and Sarah are spectacular hosts. They don’t drink much beer, but they have a stocked fridge for guests. They even have a happy hour every Friday. It’s a tradition that began during the Covid craziness. It began as a socially distanced event outside, but has now moved indoors. So, on Friday a couple of their friends came over and we had happy hour!

If you follow the blog, you may already know Lloyd and Sarah. I met them over a decade ago at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They were hosting a family from France at the time. I seemed to keep bumping into them at each viewpoint. Then after the canyon I bumped into them again. I had no idea where I would be spending the night and since it would be getting dark soon, Lloyd was concerned I may ride off a cliff. So, they invited me to stay with them. Well, actually since the other family was occupying the house, I stayed in the French Family’s RV for the night. Since that time we have kept in touch and I have visited when I am in the area. And if you know that, then you know they also have one of the most spectacular views of any home I know.

Because there is a golf course and putting green behind their house, they never have to worry about anyone building there. However, Page is growing. Since my last visit there must be at least four new hotels on the main highway.

Lloyd and Sarah have a little 4×4 Jeep Cherokee that they use to explore the area around Page. During this visit they would take me out on some off road adventures. How exciting!

We made a right turn off Route 89 where Cottonwood Canyon begins. This is a long dirt road that begins just north of Page in Utah and it runs through the canyon all the way to Kodachrome State Park. Taking this dirt road can get you to Kodachrome in about 40 miles. By regular paved highway it is 140 miles. Instead of following Cottonwood Canyon, Lloyd made a right turn down an even rougher dirt road. Up and down, bumpity bump, we came to a gate that had to be opened and closed. This first one was a rather civilized metal gate and easy to maneuver.

We came to another gate. This gate was made cowboy style with barbed wire wrapped tight around old wooden posts then looped at the end. The loose gate would have to be pulled tight and the wire loop had to be hooked over a dry weathered post. This gate was a task.

After that we approached a lonely canyon. It’s amazing how you don’t see canyons until you are on top of them.

This canyon was white and had hoodoos capped with reddish brown tops. You need a 4 wheel drive and some knowledge of the landscape to visit this place. Fortunately Lloyd had both. It was so cool to have this entire canyon to ourselves. As if the view from the back of Lloyd and Sarah’s house isn’t grand enough, this is practically their playground. Lloyd and I walked down into the canyon. It’s great to be able to walk up to these hoodoos to really appreciate the scale.

I was trying to put Lloyd in the palm of my hand. You can see Sarah way up on the ridge of the canyon.

Here is a much better view of the both of them.

This photo Lloyd took really shows the scale of the canyon compared to my tiny self.

We got back to the top and then Lloyd asked if I would like to drive. Hell yes!

Not only that, Lloyd and Sarah decided that we had time to drive up Cottonwood Canyon and see Grosvenor Arch. The only way to see this arch from where we are is down this dirt road about 30 miles away. How fun! I drove along. I had read about Cottonwood Canyon road before and it was described as treacherous. It wasn’t that bad. Much of the road follows the Pariah River. With recent rains the river was flowing with the churned up light brown mud from the canyon.

We pulled over at a spot they knew at a turn off for Hackberry Canyon. They were surprised that no one was there. The sky looked a bit sketchy at times this day. Perhaps it kept people away. But as it turned out, the rain stayed away. Hooray! Anyway, Sarah packed some things to eat and we had some lunch under a Juniper tree.

There was a sign perched in the Juniper tree that described the location of a natural spring. We didn’t see it.

The road changes colors as we traveled through the different types of eroded mountainside. After lunch, I hopped behind the wheel again and we went to see the arch.

I am really appreciating the reach a 4×4 gives you. After checking out the arch I drove the 30 miles of dirt road back to the highway and then to back to Page. What a great day!

The next day we headed out again! This time we were sticking to the pavement. I have visited Lloyd and Sarah a few times over the years, but there is so much in the surrounding area of Page that I still haven’t seen. Page is an extremely appealing location for outdoor adventure.

We rode over to Lee’s Ferry. On the way we stopped at a vista (above) that I would have passed on my way to Page during a storm. That evening I saw nothing but a dark abyss, now it was a beautiful panorama of endless red cliffs. Actually these are the Vermillion Cliffs.

We stopped at Navajo Bridge. Sometimes you can see condors flying below the bridge and perching on the cliffs along the Colorado River.

Notice the color of the river. We would soon be going upstream to see the source of that color.

We rode on to Lee’s Ferry, an old settlement from the late 1800s where John Lee ran a ferry service across the Colorado.

Lee’s Ferry is also a spot where canyon tours depart for white water trips down the Grand Canyon.

The Pariah River that we saw in Cottonwood Canyon yesterday mixes with the Colorado River that runs fresh from the dam holding back Lake Powell. The blueish green waters of the Colorado mix with the pale brown waters of the Pariah to make a milk chocolate colored more powerful Colorado River that flows into the Grand Canyon like we saw from Navajo Bridge.

After Lee’s Ferry, Lloyd took me to see some strange rock formations and unusual ruins. I don’t believe these are ancient ruins but some structures that may have been part of an old Trading Post.

The next day I was fiddling with my bike when Jim rolled up. Jim zips around on this 1800cc Honda. He was at the happy hour on Friday. He’s a good guy who did a lot of the work on Lloyd and Sarah’s home. Jim and I talked a bit. He recommended a road up north that goes around Fish Lake. He said it’s a nice loop. When I checked the weather the next day I saw storms at Fish Lake, so I took a different route.

In the morning I headed north and into Utah. The hardest part about seeing friends is saying goodbye. Thank you Lloyd and Sarah for really wonderful time. That was a lot of fun!

I stopped at the last vista before Utah to have a look at Lake Powell that is suffering from a lack of water like Lake Meade in Nevada. Utah here I come!

California and Route 66

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2021 by Pat Regan

I have changed things up. I went to Vegas, leaving Route 66 well to the south. I abandoned Route 66 to visit my friend Frank in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Now, I finally have to cross the desert. With the advise of Kevin at the Grand Canyon and help from the guys at Cycle Gear, I was prepared with my new cooling vest. Ladies and gentlemen, if you find yourself riding through extreme heat this vest is a must! I was able to ride for hours across the desert with temperatures possibly above 114 degrees. I say 114 because that is what the thermometer in Baker, California said. It could have been even hotter in parts of the Mohave. I was more focused on giving my vest a dunk in water and hydrating than taking a photo of the temperature. In hindsight I wish I had. But the vest has to be soaked in water every hour or so depending on the heat. Then the water absorbed by the vest slowly evaporates leaving your body cool. It’s simple yet remarkable.

There was a little relief from the heat as I rode through Tehachapi, but as you descend toward Bakersfield it heats up again. I was supposed to meet Frank at the VA hospital where he had an appointment. Frank is a Vietnam Vet. He had a recent health scare, so he was getting checked on. But Frank is tough as nails. Besides being a vet, Frank is a hardcore mechanic, former outlaw biker, and now a cancer survivor. I suppose he is the mad scientist of motorcycle mechanics as he goes by the name Dr. Frankenstein.

I was running a little late and missed Frank at the VA, so I met him at a local watering hole, the Skyline Club.

After a couple beers, Frank took me for the scenic route on the way to his place in the mountains.

When I say scenic route, I mean rough and twisty. As we got closer to his home there was a roadblock. Well, roadblock for some. Frank hopped of his bike, moved one of those barricades, and we proceeded through.

We winded our way through the mountain of burnt forest and up to his place.

Sadly Frank was hit by last years forest fire. He lost his home. Amazingly however, he did not lose his bike shop. I say amazingly because his bike shop is merely across the driveway from where his home was. Below is the lot where his home once stood.

Right across the driveway is Frank’s bike shop. His vehicles (on the other side of the driveway from his house), and a rental property were untouched. The bike shop is called Resurrection Cycles.

The shop is packed with bikes. Most of them are Frank’s. That Harley out front belongs to Frank’s grandson Rayce who is staying in another trailer on the property. Rayce rode that thing here from Ohio.

Frank kept a pile of sawdust next to the shop for oil spills. That sawdust ignited but only singed the shop a bit. It’s hard to say someone who has lost his home is lucky, but it is remarkable that the fire didn’t jump the driveway and burn everything.

Inside the shop are all the “heads”. Frank has a great old Knucklehead, a Panhead, and his Shovelhead that has won many kickstart competitions. He is especially proud of his many kickstart awards for the most one kick start-ups.

I have milk crates at home. Most of mine are filled books and papers. Frank’s milk crate contains Shovelhead engine parts.

A couple other survivors of the fire were this 1954 GMC pick up and Frank’s Lamborghini. Yes Lamborghini. I wasn’t aware, but apparently Lamborghini is to Italy what Caterpillar is here in the USA. They made heavy trucks and construction vehicles well before luxury automobiles.

Below are couple other casualties of the fire. Sadly Frank had a 1908 Marx Metz in the house that didn’t survive.

Frank has a new trailer now that is bigger than my apartment in NYC. He also has a new girlfriend Nancy staying with him.

The three of us went for a ride up to see some of the lakes up the mountain. Shaver Lake is the big lake. It is a popular spot on the weekends. It is fed by a smaller lake further up the mountain.

On the way up the mountain is an old power station that they started building in 1911. By 1913 it was supplying electricity to Los Angeles.

It was crazy just getting here by motorcycle on paved roads. I can’t imagine the labor involved in building this in such a remote place. Next to the pipes you can see the tracks once used to haul things up the side of the mountain.

You see that black bag on the back of Frank’s motorcycle. In it was another companion on this ride. Nancy’s dog was along for the ride. I don’t usually like little dogs but this one was a smart fella. I forgot the dog’s name, Trigger? Maybe? I will see him again at Sturgis.

It was remarkable to see the catastrophic damage done by the fires last year. Entire mountains, once lush with pine now look like giant porcupines with burnt quills.

We were all headed out of town in the morning. Frank and Nancy were going to Lake Tahoe then east to an antique motorcycle swap meet. I would be going west to the ocean to get some reprieve from the heat. We will all meet up again at Sturgis. First we went out for breakfast.

After saying goodbye, I tried to take the most scenic route toward Monterey. I took 198 to 25.

I passed the Richfield Gas Station in Coalinga.

I wanted to stop at Pinnacles, America’s newest National Park. Once I got there, the Park Ranger at the booth explained that this park basically has to be hiked to be appreciated. At temperatures well over 100, hiking did not seem like such a good idea, so I just got a cold water and doused my cooling vest in the bathroom sink.

From there I headed toward Hollister where I could notice a dramatic change in temperature.

When I got gas in Hollister, I saw this old Scout being towed. I forget the guys name, but he bought this Scout as a parts car. He has two others back home and he also rides a Triumph Bonneville.

I stopped at J&S’s Eagle Iron and Leather Shop. Here they have two giant motorcycle sculptures. The last time I visited, they had 3.

I began to ride down the coast to Monterey where I stayed for the night.

In the morning I saw a few sites in Monterey. I saw the old jail, built in 1854 that was used until 1956. Next to the old jail is Colton Hall where California’s first constitution was drafted in 1849.

In the park in front of Colton Hall and the old jail is a particularly interesting sequoia tree. It may look like any other redwood tree, but this tree grew from seeds that were taken to outer space on Apollo 14 in 1971. The seed was nurtured for a few years then planted here in 1976.

As I was leaving Monterey, I was surprised to see this deer roaming around in a residential neighborhood without a worry in the world.

Before getting to the Pacific Coast Highway, I rode into the lot of this old service station not realizing they were doing a photo shoot there. Oops!

And finally the Pacific Ocean. I figured this would be the best route to return me to Route 66, then I would backtrack east after I visited a few more friends.

I stopped for lunch where Stellar Jays stalked the restaurant waiting for folks to depart before pillaging their left overs.

This guy didn’t have to wait for me to leave. Knowing the bold nature of these birds, I dropped some soup crackers on the table expecting that one would visit.

As I continued down the coast, I spotted this great old 1964 Dune Buggy.

When I first looked, I thought it redundant for a big van to be pulling a camper.

Nicholas the dune buggy’s owner showed me that it was actually just the shell of a camper that he had converted into a trailer for the buggy. How cool is that?

I continued on down the Pacific Coast Highway until it turns inland. I reserved a room in the town of Lompoc. I got a little lost on the way but discovered the home of the USA’s new Space Force.