Archive for July, 2010

Vegas to Cali

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 by Pat Regan

Vegas. What can I say about Vegas. I have been here enough that the novelty has worn off. Vegas is an old hag who has had a few too many plastic surgeries. At first she seems attractive and seductive. Then one day you wake up and she her for the ugly bitch she is! I’m not putting her down. I’m just keeping it real. I mean, at $29 a night, she is one cheap comforting whore.

I checked out the entertainment on the strip. I had seen the Treasure Island show in 2002. It was a good pirate battle as I recall. Now they have jazzed it up with showgirls and a script filled with sexual innuendo. 

Hey, I have no problem checking out hot babes. But really, the show was stupid.

I really stayed in Vegas for some necessary R&R. 

So I decided it was a good idea to get out of Vegas. I looked at the map. Weekend rates in LA were twice the price so I had a reservation for Sunday and Monday at the Safari Inn. I had two nights to waste. Barstow was a town on the map between Vegas and LA with a significantly large font. So I hit up Travelocity and made a reservation for 2 nights in Barstow. WOW! I had no idea Barstow was such a dead town. In retrospect, I found out LA people know. Mention Barstow to a person from La and the first thing you will hear out of their mouth is “meth”. Apparently Barstow is considered the town most likely for you neighbor to be a Crystal Meth dealer. What did I know? Not only that, one of the other reasons I chose Barstow is because, while looking at the map, I saw there was a ghost town nearby.

Calico was an old silver mining town. After checking out a hole in the cliff, I rode into town. 

 Right away I realized this was no ghost town, this was a fabrication. The Brady Bunch had been here (or something like it). I am pretty sure I saw photos of the Smiths here. (The Smiths were the family I was most envious of as a child. They went on lots of road trips, and took photos. My family…not so much.) 

 

Seeing this building confirmed to me that the town was bogus. It’s a copy of a house in a real ghost town in Nevada.

 

I asked the girl in the “saloon” what he deal was. She said only 4 of the buldings in the town were original. Well, it ain’t all fake. The real ghost town was in the surrounding area.

The next day I awoke wondering, “What am I gong to do? I’m in Barstow!” I decided I should go for a day trip to LA. I rode up Hollywood Blvd. I road down the Sunset strip. On Mullhalland Drive I think Bonnie fell in love.

I took a quick trip to the Ocean, then it was back to Barstow.

Finally I was ready to check into to LA. Being a huge fan of the movie ‘True Romance’ I was psyched to stay at the Safari Inn. If you don’t know what am talking about, see the movie!

 

That same day I had plans to meet up with an old college buddy. Before meeting JB, I did some laundry and hung out by the pool.

I had to work on my raccoon. What I mean by that is my facial tan. I am sporting the best pair of goggles I have ever owned (and I rip through goggles). However, this pair leaves you with a large untanned patch around the eyes. I worked ’em a bit in Vegas but the job was unfinished. I met up with Jeff in Santa Monica. We had dinner at some corner joint and I learned what an Arnold Palmer was. I thought Jeff was having some fancy drink. Turns out an Arnold Palmer is Lemonade and Iced Tea. Who knew? Apparently, everyone but me.

 

The next day I was meeting up with more friends. First Diana.

 

I went to meet Diana where she lives with her boyfriend Tim. They are in the Valley, or, “Over the Hill” (another new term for me). I left Bonnie at their place and we drove to Venice Beach. Well, Diana drove and Tim rode his bike cause he had to split to play multi-player war games later.

 I like Venice Beach. Maybe growing up in the Village during the 70’s helps. I am comfortable with the freaks of the world.

I had never looked around the canal area of Venice. I have seen it in movies. It is actually much nicer than any movie ever made it to be.

Then we went to see another old college buddy. The difference being, this guy is a Denton8tor! We lived on the same floor of a high rise dorm that, well, let’s say it had a well deserved hardcore reputation. This is me and Matt.

I thought for sure Matt would become a Sports Commentator. Surprise! Matt is a working actor in Los Angeles!

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to LA. I really enjoyed my stay but I had to move on. It can be difficult meeting friends when you are on these types of road trips. Firstly, because it takes time, and secondly because it throws you off. I like hanging with my friends a lot. I could hang out endlessly, but there are miles to cover.

I rode north on the Pacific Coast Highway. I was going to visit the Hearst Castle, but there was not enough time and I didn’t feel comfortable abandoning all my gear for that period of time.

So I continued up the coast. It’s a nice ride. It seems however that the coast is having a bit of a cold front. The high was in the low 50’s. I stopped to check out the elephant seals where this little fat guy was begging for my last piece of chicken.

The those elephant seals. I have a feeling George Lucas had a good look at these guys before creating his aliens for the bar scene in Star Wars.

This guy was moaning and groaning, begging for someone to come out and play in the water. He was getting no takers.

The sun ripped through a sliver between two sets of clouds before retiring. It was quite a site.

Campsites were filled up the coast so I stayed at a shit hole motel in Monterey. But at $35 a night for a California State Park camp site, hotels are a bargain. It is funny how you meet people on the road. I was riding through Monterey when I hear, “Hey Pat!” It was bikers from Maryland I had met the day before.

Up the coast there was this fine looking lighthouse. Pigeon Cove or something like that.

Then into San Francisco. It was definitely Frisco. A I road along the Bay I saw 6 men walking down the street totally naked. I decided not to take a picture.

I planned on just riding through, but decided to give my good old friend Nicky B a call. After riding around the city a bit I met up with Nick. Nick offered me a place to stay for the night. His wife and kids were at the ball game and I didn’t want to impose so I booked a room further north. Then the wife and kids came home. They were delightful. A real nice family. I probably should have stayed, especially as I watched her prepare a delicious home cooked meal. But the deal was done and I had a reservation to keep.

Now I am headed up the coast to the magnificent redwoods. Love those trees!

Notes from the Road

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 by Pat Regan

While traveling down the interstate away from Vegas I saw 3 deaf people in a car. I could see the guy in the back seat gesturing wildly as he spoke to the others in the in the front seat, but they were facing forward. Now how does that work?

I think people who text while driving should have their fingers severed. Afterward if they feel a loss I will gladly raise a finger in their honor.

Have you ever stared up at the stars on a clear night. Did you know that you can see satellites flying by? Lots of ’em! They are like tiny stars that travel in a straight line across the sky. Check it out!

I saw a group of Mongols at a gas station. They were all sporting their colors. I thought this was unusual because of an ongoing battle with the Federal government. To mess with the Mongols, the Feds bought the trademark to the Mongol patch making it illegal to wear. (I looked it up, the battle is still pending). I wanted to take their picture but those guys are pretty scary.

I had a bottle of juice from Boathouse Farms. It was half fruit and half vegetable with a strong berry flavor. It may be one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.

Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 by Pat Regan

So when I posted last I was in Delta, CO. It is not at all where I wanted to be. To tell you the truth I wasn’t sure where I would end up, but I thought I’d be camping. It was Saturday and everything was filled up. Even the primitive sites in the National Forests were full. What pisses me off in retrospect is that I was so consumed with looking for a place to stay, I took very few photos. The clouds were blocking the sun when I got to some fine looking spots, but I thought I’d be able to backtrack once I plopped down for the evening. No such luck. It was all the way to Delta. I first pulled into a KFC. I asked the girl behind the counter if she knew of a motel in town. She gave be a dumb grin with her sparkly braces beaming and looked at me as if she wasn’t sure what a motel was. The she let out an “Ohhhhh, yeah, I think there is one down that road.” Then she turned to the dude at the drive through window and sad, “right?” He said, “Yeah, I think so.” After strapping my chicken down with a bungee, I looked up. Just behind the KFC was a Comfort Inn. Ohhhhh, yeah!

So I thought I may be done with the Rockies, but no. As I traveled south I saw a huge mountain range getting closer. I pulled off to the side of the road where a couple was just getting into their car. I stopped them and asked if they would take my picture.

They lit up when they heard I was from New York. They were from New Hampshire and had moved to Montrose Colorado when the man retired. He said I should visit Telluride. He told me Tom Cruise had a home there. He also mentioned that beyond the fence behind me was Ralph Lauren’s property. I can picture him telling his friends that he moved out to Colorado near Tom Cruise and Ralph Lauren’s place. Anyway, I took his advice and road in to Telluride.

Telluride is an old gold mining town. Now it is a quaint community filled with tourists. There is a nice old town just before I got to the spot above, but too touristy for my taste. I figured if Tom Cruise had a home here it may be this one up on the mountain top next to the waterfall.

Interestingly enough, just before I left NYC I was getting my camera cleaned on 13th street. There were a bunch of photographers standing outside the building next door. I asked the guy in the camera shop what gives? He told me Tom Cruise lives there. 

The road out of town wound through a canyon then up to flat farmland. Soon came these big red cliffs. I was getting close to Utah as I passed this last town in Colorado called Bedrock, twist, twist. And rock is gonna roll with all it’s might in…

Now that I entered Utah I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There is a place I camped out right along side the Colorado River in 2008. It is 2 miles south of Arches National Park. When I arrived I got the last spot on the river side. Yay!

I had skipped Arches when I was here in 08. I had bad memories from the last time I was there. My lady at the time had a meltdown there. Literally, I think it was the heat. Whatever, it was time to return.

There is a lot more to Arches than the arches. All sorts of interesting rock formations line the path that takes you through the park.

Of course there are arches as well.

As my Bonnie nears 20,000 miles on the odometer I must say how pleased I am with this fine machine. That starter glitch in Memphis passed somewhere in Arkansas. All I can figure is she is an Elvis fan and was enjoying the music blaring through the parking lot at Graceland. I’ll have to take her back there for an extended stay.

Me and Bonnie road off into the sunset. It was time for some supplies to wind down the night. I had another steak to burn.

A good thing about camping around Moab, Utah is the supplies. They have a large grocery store that stays open until midnight 7 days a week. So you can enjoy a good sunset and still have time to get your grub. Food can be an issue when traveling on a bike. You have no cooler. Even if you did there is no safe place to keep your food. There are hungry critters out there. You have to get it, eat it, and toss it. 

In the morning I bathed (with my biodegradable soap) in the Colorado River. It’s a great way to start the day.

I took one last look at this calm section of the Colorado and was on my way.

Onward to Capital Reef. I rode by there last year but it was one of those Saturdays and the campsite was full so I continued on. With that on my mind I got there early. I could have taken my time as the campsite never did fill, but it was good to be set up early and have a look around.

Capital Reef is another place for beautiful rock formations.

There are also petroglyphs on the sides of some of the cliffs here. Some are clearly marked with paths and fences for viewing. Some are obscure with no fences though it does take a little climbing to get to them.

When I went to get food in the nearest town the weather started looking gloomy. There were periodic thunder storms around, but amazingly I had still not been rained on for weeks. I noticed an open patch in the clouds where the sun was. And when you shine the light through the misty skies the result is always a colorful arch in the heavens above.

The next morning I wasn’t looking forward to the long haul along Interstate 15 to Vegas. But fortunately I stumbled upon some sites along the way. I passed more forgotten towns but at this point I was hoping someone remembered a gas station. Here is one that was only going to fuel my camera.

I stepped inside. It was creepy. What was once a fine looking gas station with a two car garage was now a giant bird cage. Having said that, you can guess what all those white specks are scattered along the walls.

And on the floor proof that it was once a full service station.

Across the street was another abandoned building of sorts. I am not sure what it’s purpose was. A place to store hay? Perhaps a shelter for farm animals?

Then I rode south toward Bryce Canyon. I saw this old GMC truck.

And more decaying farms of yesteryear along Route 89.

Now came the part I wasn’t looking forward to. I had ridden on Route 89 south of Bryce Canyon before. I don’t particularly want to travel the same roads. But something strange happened. As I rode along I saw a sign on the side of the road. It read “You are not on Route 89”. Excellent! I had somehow landed on a small road going up into the mountains toward a place called Cedar Breaks National Monument. I thought I was done with the big mountains for a while, but here I was at 10,000 feet again.

And there were stunning views similar to Bryce. You can still see snow down below.

From there the road followed a small river which steeply declined down the mountain. At one point the river flowed through a cave. I assume it’s man made.

The cool mountain road opened up and spilled into the desert as I had to get on Interstate 15. Imagine going into a bathroom with a blazing hot hand dryer. You know the kind that blows so hard you can see how your skin is just elastic wrapping around the bones and tendons. Now picture sticking your face in that for 2 1/12 hours. Plus there is no shade from the bathroom ceiling. You are exposed to the desert sun with cross winds whipping you around making you look as if you are having and epileptic seizure at 75 miles and hour. That’s Interstate 15 between Utah and Vegas. It also forced me to enter Arizona. I decided I would not set foot in Arizona this trip. Poor Bonnie had to roll through a bit, but my feet never touched the ground. It’s my own little protest for the recent laws there. This state although beautiful, has always rubbed me politically. They were the last state to begrudgingly accept to honor Dr. Martin Luther King with a holiday and now the immigration laws target Mexicans. Once it was the Italians, then the Irish, and so on. You may as well accept and enjoy the potpourri of a multicultural United States because that’s what this county is, was, and will be. I did meet some great people in Arizona last year and would have liked to pay them a visit. But it didn’t fit into this years plan. So I battled the harsh elements to Vegas.

Ah, Las Vegas. I have visited here during all my cross country adventures. It was time for some very necessary rest and relaxation.

Albuquerque to the Rocky Mountains

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 by Pat Regan

Hi Folks. I am having one of those rough Saturdays. It is the worst day of the week for the spontaneous traveler. Campsites fill up quickly or are completely reserved ahead of time and hotels cost more. Plus the tangent to Rocky Mountain National Park was a whole lot of extra miles. If you see what I did on a map, it’s down right silly. But let’s see it in photos. 

On the outskirts of Albuquerque is Petroglyph National Monument. It consists of miles of volcanic rock that the Natives decorated with symbols. No one is exactly sure why they did it or what they mean. 

This is Coronado State Monument. All that remains are the foundation bricks from the original pueblo.

This the first picture I have taken of a hummingbird that wasn’t sucking on one of those plastic feeders. They are so fast. Very difficult to catch in a photo.

The Spanish entered the Jemez Nation in 1598 and built this church amongst the other pueblo structures.  This is taken from the entrance looking in. American history is a funny thing. An Italian sailing for Spain gets all the credit for the discovery of this nation, but the Spanish explorers were considered foreign as the colonies in New England were British. Then we became a nation built by immigrants. And now immigrants are outcasts. Rodney King might be dumb as a post but the man had something to say. Can’t we?

In the end of course it ended badly for the Natives. War and disease decimated the population.

The church from afar.

Soda Dam. Soda Dam was built by calcium deposits over thousand of years from the water that travels here. It is a bizarre and beautiful site.

I am having a seat under the cavernous veil.

Back to the woods with my invaluable tomahawk.

I pulled over for some typical scenery in New Mexico. 

Last year I went on my adventure with a theme in mind. I was looking for Native American ruins. This year an unplanned theme seems to have occurred as I keep running into abandoned churches. This one is along Route 17 in Colorado. For the record I didn’t know the Jemez Pueblo consisted of the ruin of a Spanish church until I got there.

A lone house in an open field. In the background you can see the Great Sand Dunes and the Rocky Mountains.

A closer look at the Great Sand Dunes. The size of the dunes is magnificent. How Lawrence of Arabia survived in the desert is beyond me. I started up one of these dunes and was wiped out when I got to the top of one of the baby hills you see at the bottom. The motorcycle boots didn’t help.

Notice the small wild fire to the right of the mountain range.

This little buggar was fairing better then me across the dunes.

That night the whistling winds ripped through the valley. The sound of sand beating on the tent was intense. When I woke up I discovered I had a leak in my air mattress. This will make camping less pleasant.

Another abandoned church in Villa Grove, CO.

Here we have the ruins of an old mine in Leadville, CO. Leadville was a huge mining community where millions of dollars of precious metals were unearthed in the 1800’s. It was also the location of Doc Holliday’s final shoot out.

Besides old churches one comes across the occasional one room schoolhouse.

Above the tree line in the Rockies. I had to stop to put on my jacket.

And finally Rocky Mountain National Park. In this park I rode on the highest paved road in the United States that doesn’t dead end. Over 12,000 feet high.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a fine refuge for the Elk and Moose, but I don’t consider it the most scenic section of this vast mountain range. But I am glad I came.

As the sun set and I headed back for camp the temperature dropped dramatically. I had to continuously reach down and warm my hands on the engine to keep the blood flowing. Below is a herd of elk grazing and chilling in the sun before it drops behind the western mountains.

CLICK HERE to see the route.

Amarillo to Albuquerque

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 by Pat Regan

I decided to stay in Amarillo. I arrived moments before some heavy rains. By the time I got my gear off the bike and into my room, it started pouring. From the local hotels, a place called The Big Texan Steak Ranch will pick you up in a limo, bring you to their restaurant and return you to the hotel.

This restaurant is famous for their 72 ounce steak deal. If you can eat the steak within an hour it’s free. Many try; very few succeed. 

The limo driver told me Joey Chestnut (the Nathan’s hot dog eating champion) finished a steak in  10 minutes.

If you choose to take on the challenge, they seat you on a stage with a time clock on the wall. The man on the far right is the only one that did not pay $72 for his meal. He finished!

I spoke to my dad that morning and he told me about a canyon near Amarillo. At dinner the guy at the next table talked about the canyon as well. Being tired from the crazy night of camping at the wildlife preserve I decided I would stay in Amarillo for an extra night. This would allow me to go see Palo Duro Canyon the next day and get some necessary rest. 

Below is Palo Duro Canyon. You are able to ride down into the canyon. Unfortunately I could only go part of the was on one of the roads as yesterdays rain had washed the out leaving silt on the crossings. Silt is a thin layer of wet clay that will take down any motorcycle. It is a super slick substance. But there is another road that was clear so I got a good look at the place.

I spotted this lizard chillin’ in some shade.

I saw this road runner sprint  across the road and hop up in the tree.

I climbed up into this small cave. It was wet inside and very slippery like the silt.

I had to return to Cadillac Ranch. I visited this place last year, but figured I could get some dramatic shots as the sun was going down. So I went back again. Glad I did.

The picture says it all.

Interstate 40 is the main artery between Amarillo and Albuquerque. However, dispersed between many of the exits are bits of the old Route 66. I hopped off the Interstate where I could to have a look at the magical road that once connected Chicago to Los Angeles.

A few of the motels of yesteryear still exist. Seeing this makes me dislike the Interstates even more. I realize many of the lonely, desolate towns I have passed through are a direct result of Interstates. These large roads robbed the towns of the traffic that once supported the local businesses.

I stopped by a car museum and said to the lady collecting the 5 bucks that I was hoping they had some motorcycles. She directed me to this wicker bike.

I veered Southwest on Route 54. Those few dead towns along the way also robbed me of vital fuel. I passed two closed gas stations and was getting desperate. 

I finally found an open station to fuel up in the town of Mountanaire. When you are out west, even if you have only gone 30 miles…if you see a gas station, top the tank off. It could really save your ass!

This is Quarai. Quarai is an interesting ruin and part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions. The natives had Pueblos here since the 1300’s. In the late 1500’s Franciscan Priests from Spain moved in with the native people and built churches in the pueblo style. This is what’s left of the church.

I had originally stopped at the ranger station in Mountanaire to ask about these sites. It was 5 o’clock and the sites closed at 6. The ranger told me I would have time to see only one. But when I spoke to Billy, the ranger at Quarai, he told be there were no gates at Abo 16 miles West. So I should feel free to check it out.

Here is Abo. I was very happy the sun held out. It disappeared behind some dark clouds a few minutes after these photos were taken.

I saw this little guy as I was leaving.

Illinois to Texas

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2010 by Pat Regan

It’s been a lot of miles since my last post. So, when I left off I had just crossed the Ohio River and gotten lost. I ended the night at a cheap motel in Harrisburg Illinios. Seems like ages ago. When I woke up that next morning, I wiped the bugs off my goggles, got some gas and was on my way. Before I turned to leave town I saw this old baby doing time on the side of the road.

Then it was back to my original path, South along the Ohio River. There is a place in Illinois called Garden of the Gods. What type amazing plants must grow there? I was curious. Many places I Google ahead of time. This place I had not researched. It’s one of those places you find marked on your map with a little red dot. And what plant did I find worthy of such a title. No plant at all. Buried within the forest is this magical range of rock formations. 

I road along steamy roads as I seemed to be just missing a passing storm. Along the Ohio River I went to a place called Cave-in-Rock. Appropriately named. It is just that. If you have ever seen ‘How the West Was Won’, then you know the cave. It’s just like that! In it’s history too. I read that Louis and Clark passed the cave without investigating because of it’s reputation as a hide out for robbers, thieves and gangs. Here is how is looks from the river.

And on this inside. Very Cool. Remember the East Coast heat wave? It was literally, very cool in there. Some needed relief.

And from the inside out. Imagine seeing Louis and Clark floating by.

I saw this guy sucking on the sand. He did not look like any of the butterfly brethren I have seen on the East Coast.

Before the railroad it was the waterways that transported commerce so rivers are lined with many old towns.

This beauty sat outside a general store in one of those old towns.

There were a few sites I was going to visit which I had traveled to before, then I decided against it. One of them was Portsmouth, Ohio. I went there last April with my brother. There are some great murals that line the river there. I wanted to see them again, but it was out of the way so I decided to move on. But much to my pleasant surprise, when I crossed into Paducah, Kentucky from Illinois the same muralist had created a similar wall of paintings depicting the history of the area.


Just beside the murals was this big locomotive.

I continued South on a road which goes through an area called Land Between the Lakes. I was hoping to ride through a preserve they have for elk and buffalo, but a sign at the entrance said “NO MOTORCYCLES”. I did see this old furnace. I see signs for furnaces throughout my travels, but this is the first one I’ve actually seen.

I rode through Paris, Kentucky where they have a mini Eifel Tower.

Then I rolled on down to Memphis. There was a huge storm headed toward Memphis coming from the West. It was remnants of the hurricane which hit the Gulf. I wasn’t sure if I would have time to see anything as I was determined to alter my course to avoid the impending storm. Fortunately the storm held off long enough for me to pass by a few sites.

My emotions got the best of me at the next place I stopped.

The Lorraine Motel was the place where Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. When I looked up at that balcony I got real choked up. I had seen it so many times in that iconic photograph of Dr. King laying there as his entourage points to the location of the shots fired. Seeing the location in person was powerful. The motel has since been converted to the Civil Rights Museum.

Then to Graceland. It was killing me that I did not have the time to go inside. I was told it would take at least 3 hours to complete the tour. That storm would have been all over me by then. So I just had my picture taken by a family of ‘little people’ (just stating a fact) and returned to my Bonnie.

Bonnie must have been upset about Graceland too as she would not start. UGH! I mean nothing. I turned the key and the console lit up, but when I push the starter…nothing. Not a sound. After about 10 or 15 tries she turned over, but this really stressed me out. When I stopped for gas the same thing happened. I figure it was a loose wire, but I just wasn’t sure. And being 102 degrees out I surely did not want to be stranded. Each time I stopped for gas was unsettling. But she would eventually start. I shot down into Mississippi to avoid the storm. The parts I rode through were poor and desolate. I saw many abandoned homes even a couple old churches decaying away.

I was surprised to see the piano still inside.

You know, I am not sure if I had ever been to Arkansas before. I know I’ve never seen Oklahoma and North Dakota. Maybe by the end of this trip I will have seen all the lower 48. So I crossed into Arkansas once I figured I was far enough South to stay dry.

Arkansas stated out looking much like Mississippi. Lonely towns with very few people.

As I moved West the flora became more lush and the population grew. When I passed this factory or mill it reminded me of a Sheeler painting.

There is a bayou country in these parts of Arkansas. I got a delicious catfish po-boy before seeking a place to camp. I decided to go to Lake Ouachita State Park. It occurred to me however that it was a Friday night. A campsite on a lake may be full. I pressed on just the same. When I arrived, sure enough it looked packed. I approached the area for tents and a nice guy named Sam came up and told me the people across from him bailed out fearing more rain. So I lucked out big time! A good site with good neighbors. Sam and his family even gave me pancakes and bacon in the morning before I left. They were good company and it was great to have some breakfast to start the day. Thanks again y’all!

When I went to the park office to pay for the site, I asked the girl if they ever see live armadillos because the only ones I see are dead on the side of the road. The man behind me in line interjected, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To show the armadillo how it’s done!” Nice!

It’s good when people appreciate the beauty of the past and preserve it for the future as someone did with this fine old Esso station in Mena, Arkansas.

At the end of main street in Mena begins a beautiful road through the mountains. I would compare it to Skyline Drive but more swooping hills and turns. In the photo below you can see how the road continues in the background.

And suddenly this road turned from Route 88 in Arkansas to Route 1 in Oklahoma. Really beautiful. I stopped at a vista where a bunch of members from the local Harley club were taking a rest.

I rode through small spurts of rain but the only thing that really got wet was my legs from drenched roads.

That beautiful mountain road ended so I stopped to check my maps. I don’t know what is says about me that I am so attracted to decaying old structures. But I sure do like em.

Look at this old bank from the early 1900’s in Roff, OK. 

Last year I covered a lot of miles in Texas and was surprised that I didn’t see any Longhorns. But here in Oklahoma I did! Aren’t they impressive?

I was feeling tired and thought of finding a motel in Lawton, OK. Lawton however didn’t have much going on and I noticed a place called the Witchita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. They had a campsite there so I headed there. I needed gas a food before stopping for the night. I found this treasure on the way.

A 90 year old woman greeted me at the door. I  asked if there was somewhere nearby where I could get food. She said I could get food right there. I knew there was a sign for a restaurant, but it sure looked like an abandoned establishment. But nope. The lady told me they could could me dinner or breakfast anytime of the day and the had home made pies they baked daily. I ordered a chicken fried steak with three sides for $4.99. On the other side of the restaurant was the Indian Store. It smelled funny and had a dog in there that looked as old as the woman. There was also a sign outside for camping, but that was definitely a thing of the past.

From there it was on to the wildlife preserve. I pitched tent just before dark. I sat down and ate my meal. The only thing I had not eaten was the bread. Then I started a fire. While trying to get the fire started, I thought I heard someone sneaking up on me. I turned around but didn’t see anything. I figured I was just being paranoid. Then I heard it again. It was dark now so I flipped on the flashlight to see a huge raccoon opening the styrofoam container and making of with that slice of bread. I went to throw the rest of scraps away. When I returned the big raccoon came back. He jumped up on the picnic table saw the food was gone and left. I cozied up near the fire and began checking out some of the photos I had taken. Then I heard that damn coon again. This time he was in front of me but because of the computer screen I was blinded to the dark. So again I grabbed the flashlight to shine it on him, but it was no raccoon. Before me stood a huge bull. 15 feet away he just stared at me completely unfazed. This freaked me out! This thing was enormous! That night I didn’t sleep all that well. Besides being hot a sticky the sounds were incredible. The bugs were screaming, the coyotes were howling and the buffalo and cattle were moaning and grunting. But it was exciting!

The next morning I was talking to Donnie at another campsite. He told me some interesting facts. Facts about how the Wichita Mountains were formed, where the buffalo like to roam, and how to kill a man with I knife. He says he practices the move on his heavy bag at home.

The campsite was just across from this pond.

And here is some of the wildlife.

I kept creeping up closer on this guy. Eventually he let out a grunt to let me know that the next step I take could be my last.

And here is a longhorn hefer crossing the road.

I saw some cute prarie dogs too.

Their faces look like bunnies without ears.

I thought only humans were this creative.

I went to the top of one of the mountains and saw many vultures.

And more buffalo.

Now I’ve heard about those mushrooms that grow from the cow dung. Or buffalo dung for that matter.

My last stop in Oklahoma was this old house. 

From there it was a straight shot to Texas.

And so I was off…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2010 by Pat Regan

I was pretty sure I was ready. The bike was fully loaded. I was itching to roll. Before I took off, I asked a passerby to snap a picture of me. It was at that moment that I realized I was wearing running shoes and my waterproof riding boots were still in my apartment. Oops. 

So then I was off. I wasn’t really sure how far I was going to go. I called my friend Dave in Frederick MD before I left. That was my first stop last year. How could I resist. We caught the crest of the fireworks in Frederick as his kids were getting ready for bed.

Dave and his wife Joi have a new addition to the family since my last visit. Say hello to Sam.

He’s a tiny little bugger and seems to wear a smile like it was a part of his skin. And then there is my favorite little biker girl Noa. A year older. 

She is darling. She made me feel good too. After dinner she sang a Pat song she made up, and before I left she did a Pat cheer! She kept telling me, “Pat, I like you!” I like you too kiddo!

The next morning it was time to venture to new lands. In Virginia I passed a house once owned by George Washington.

Then I road through the rolling hills of West Virginia. West Virginia Mountain Mamas served up some good riding through twisty foot peg scraping roads. It always freaks me out when those pegs scrape the ground, especially when I am fully loaded. Big Thrills! And lots of good old Americana along the way.

I went to Blackwater Falls. I had been here once before, many years ago. I remember a lot about that trip, but don’t remember the actual falls, so I had to check em out.

On tis journey I have seen a number of abandoned schools. I am assuming that’s because they built new schools. But after meeting some locals one has to wonder.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling a little queezy. Could be the heat. It’s been over 100 degrees in the daytime. Sometimes I am a little over eager to check things out without concern for thing like eating and drinking. I got up and want to investigate when I saw this sign.

Cool, right. So without breakfast I headed up this path. It was a steep uphill climb. With each turn of the switchback there were interesting facts to wet your appetite for what was to come.

And so I continued that climb. Upward to the fort I ignored my yearning for the basic needs like water. The forested path opened up as I reach the top. Tall brush prevented me from seeing the fort. I still needed to round one more turn. And then…this.

A canon and a porta a potty is all that marks this landmark where apparently a fort once stood. Not a great way to start the day.

So I rolled along. I got a hardy breakfast at a Waffle House and chugged a lot of iced tea. I had one of those good ol’ Southern stye waitresses who overflowed with “darlins” and “babys”. “OK darlin, can I get ya some more tea baby!” 

There were lots of signs in Kentucky to visit the many bourbon distilleries. I road by just one that wasn’t open for tours.

It is inevitable that some local at a pitsop will ask me the same question once we get to talking and they find out I am traveling and camping out alone. “Are you packing?” It seems everyone is but me. I told this guy Earl that I cross too many state lines to be packing. He said he doesn’t go anywhere without his 38 under the seat. I asked Earl about some road as I had gotten lost after a truck jack knifed on my desired route. He suggested 93 South. He said he has taken it when he enters the Bass fishing tournaments down there. So what is the great appeal with the guns. Maybe I should find out.

When I stepped inside the gun range I immediately heard the guy behind the counter talking to this old dude sitting on a chair. “All I know is I feel sorry for the poor bastard that enters my house unwelcome.” Beside him was a box of posters of Obama they use for target practice and on the fence outside a political poster for Rand Paul. Every time I hear that Rand Paul I expect him to be selling chickens. So I thought about renting a gun to fire off a few rounds, but I don’t really know what I’m doing and these fellers didn’t seem like they were the type for teaching me. So I just grabbed a cold drink and some jerky and moved on.

I road along the Ohio River as I headed west. It’s a beautiful ride.

I had planned on camping out once I crossed into Illinois, but I got lost again. I ended up on a road that turned to dirt as the sun was going down. Bugs were everywhere. The dirt road eventually lead to a paved road which dead ended at the river. But there was this grand old bank at the river side.

The sun dropped and I was still lost. I rode like a mad man to Harrisburg to get a room. I must have killed a thousand bugs with my face on the way there. But I got a cheap room and had a good night’s sleep. Tonight I should be in Memphis.