Click on the photo below to view this years journey, all summed up in chronological order.
Archive for August, 2011
The sunset photo at the end of the Sturgis post was a little premature. It was placed for dramatic effect. Between that long lonely highway and the sunset was the Missouri River.
The river crept in and out of view. Lewis and Clark were hoping the Missouri was going to be the one to take them all the way west. Not quite. Just before Pierre, SD there is a sign that says this area was used to film Dances with Wolves. The river in Pierre was flooded. You can see the playground below is well beyond the shoreline in the water.
And now for the appropriately placed sunset.
I spent the night in Mitchell, home of the Corn Palace. They have been changing these murals made of corn annually with new designs since 1948.
I checked out the Prehistoric Indian Village while in Mitchell as well. I’d have to say it’s not worth the price of 6 bucks. The one thing I did find interesting was the buffalo skeleton. I didn’t know the hump on it’s back was shaped by vertical bone.
I stopped by Baltic, South Dakota. I had been here for the first time when I was 11 years old. Back in NYC my friend Michael and his mom Donna would often take me to the movies. To this day I probably have seen more movies with them than anyone. Then one summer they took me with them to Baltic, South Dakota.
I believe the population at the time was 80. I even remember the movie we saw when we came to South Dakota. It was The White Buffalo with Charles Bronson. And I remember meeting Conrad Bain at the Minneapolis St.Paul Airport where we had to transfer to a small propeller plane. Anyway, Facebook got me back in touch with my friend, but I found out his mom had passed a few years ago. As I was leaving Sturgis, it occurred to me that she had probably returned to Baltic. Donna was very kind to me growing up, so I went to pay my respects. In Baltic if you need to know something you can just go to the general store, generally everybody knows everything about everybody. I asked the cashier if she knew Donna. She said she was new to Baltic but we could go ask Mr. Slanzky at the American Legion (to the left below). She left the store with me, brought me to the Legion and introduced me to Mr. Slanzky. Mr. Slanzky directed me to the spot in the cemetery and I had a visit.
When we were kids this was our fishing spot. We caught 35 catfish one day.
I was moving along fine through Iowa as the 65 mph highways turn to 55 mph. I had just passed through the town of Estherville. In a line of traffic headed east out of town, a police car jumped ahead of some other cars and got right behind me. He followed me tight, staying right on my ass, uncomfortably close for about 6 miles before he pulled me over. I was wondering what his justification would be. He told me he pulled me over because he couldn’t read my tags. I said, “that’s funny because that is the only part of my bike I cleaned just this morning so it could be seen.” These guys know Sturgis just ended. I wasn’t doing anything to warrant being pulled over. It was straight up harassment. He was hoping to find some dirt when he ran the drivers license. Bullshit!
Just the fact that they think they don’t need a reason to pull me over is pissing me off as I continue and it’s taking the fun out of my ride.
I felt better after a night of camping in some cool shade at Pilot Knob State Park.
The landscape gets hilly again and the roads get more interesting right until it opens up to the Mississippi River. The plan was to head south along the Iowa side.
If You Build It, They Will Come
I saw on my map that it said Field of Dreams in little red letters. Field of Dreams? Really? Wow! I got the biggest grin on my face as I made my approach to this place. It was exactly as it was in the movie. They do such a good job making this place magical in the movie that it feels really special being there. They call me Shoeless Pat.
Ray loves Annie.
I am told on Sundays real old timers come out and play ball here. They built it, and they do come! How about that?
I continued south toward Clinton.
My reason for going to Clinton, Iowa was to get some Flavor Flav’s Chicken. I read about it a while back and I decided as well as I’m headed in that direction I was going to try some. I got to Clinton and asked a girl in the store where I could find Flavor Flav’s. She told me it was closed. Apparently Flavor Flav’s staff wasn’t getting paid and the place closed down already. Disappointed I crossed the mighty Mississippi River into Illinois and settled for a chicken sandwich from Hardees. I stayed in Morrison Rockwood SP. The log below burned the entire night and into the morning. it was about four feet long and burned from one end to the other like a cigarette. It you ever stop here bring your bug spray. I left my feet exposed and got chewed up bad!
It was time to make some miles. I hopped on the Interstate and flew. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio…blew right through ’em. In Pennsylvania I decided to get off the interstate and back into the mountains. I took Route 66. No relation to the old road out west.
This old bus house is in considerably worse shape than when I saw it 4 years ago.
On the way down Route 6 an old barn caught my eye. But there was more than just a barn at this location.
Looking up into the old barn silo.
The truck traffic on Route 6 became so bad I started yearning for the interstate. The truck traffic is due to natural gas drilling going on all over this part of Pennsylvania. Water tankers make up the greater syndicate of trucks. Apparently natural gas drilling involves lots of water! I was talking to this guy Steve who drives one of those trucks. He says the locals hate it but if it’s not him it’ll be someone else cause it pays real good! As a result of all the truck traffic there is lots of construction and flagmen stopping traffic for one lane roads. The ride started sucking. So I headed back toward the interstate. After a couple delays caused by a fully loaded truck going up hill and an Amish dude on a buggy I was back on the super highway on my way home.
And now I am back in NYC with many mixed feelings. Good to be home? I am not quite sure. Certainly, home or not, the adventure must continue.
And then there was Sturgis! I went last year and had a blast. I was psyched to get there again. So where the Rocky Mountains ended, the fast road to Sturgis began. The only thing that caught my interest on the way was a sign in Wyoming that said Oregon Trail Ruts. I thought, that sounds cool, so I altered my route slightly. On the road to the ruts I saw this truck.
And here are the ruts left from the Oregon Trail deeply grooved in the sandstone from heavy usage between the years 1841-1869.
From there it was straight to the Buffalo Chip Campground. When I say straight it really means, side to side, up and down, and all around. Through hot and cold, passed young and old. From open stretch to quite compressed then on to the Buffalo Chip.
My first night there Lynyrd Skynyrd was supposed to open for Greg Allman but they didn’t show up. Greg did though. Having just gotten there, I was running around like an excited kid but Lukas Nelson (son of Willie Nelson), played before Greg and caught my attention. He sounded really good. Gonna have to keep an ear on him.
I knew from the previous year that shade was important. That sun gets hot first thing in the morning. After the inevitable late night at the Chip you want as much morning shade as you can get. So I got Bonnie to help me out.
My neighbor Brian however is the shade king. He has three shade tents. One for morning, one for evening and one for the tent. And he happily shares his shade with all.
I visited a couple places near the Buffalo Chip. First the Full Throttle Saloon. It’s a labyrinth of bars and activities.
Outside they had a round arena where a guy performs the wall of death. The whole thing rattles as he whips around on the wooden slats just beneath you.
I also went to the Broken Spoke Saloon. This guy Randy from Texas had shown me this place last year. There is a big pool there and they have a bar that you can drive your bike into on the way to the parking area.
Randy said he might stay at the Broken Spoke this year and I was hoping to bump into him. He’s a funny dude.
Unfortunately there was no sign of Randy, but poolside still looked good.
Jeff Bridges and then Stevie Nicks opened for John Fogerty on my second night there. I got caught up hanging with people at the campsite and missed Jeff Bridges.
I got there for Stevie, but she only played a few songs. The wind was blowing hard and there were storms in the background. It made for a nice effect. In fact it was like a Stevie Nicks video. But as a result they pulled her early.
Here…see what I mean for yourself.
This girl from the Miss Buffalo Chip Contest was posing for some photos. Then she asked does anyone want to pose with me? Nobody stepped up! She asked, “Nobody wants to pose with me?” I was as shocked as she was. So I quickly hopped up there.
The guy taking the pictures called out, “I’m not sure that worked!”
“So take another one!” I said. Duh?
The raging storm passed and John Fogerty played a great show!
And now it was time for me to ride the zip line. They have wires running from tower to tower over the entire concert area. During the storm it was closed, so as soon as I saw it reopen I jumped in line.
Here is a video of the zip line and John Fogerty.
You can get 2 photos printed from your ride for 20 bucks. When I got back down on the ground I bought them, then I had someone take this picture below. To look cool I took the white envelope with my printed photo of me on the zip line and stuck it under my jacket.
I went back to watch the concert over where Tim and Jean were. Tim and Jean are a nice couple I met from Phoenix who are also my camping neighbors. And Jeff Bridges came out and joined Fogerty for a tune.
As I am grooving to the show, I realized the white envelope with the zip line photos is gone. Noooooo! I decide I am going to find them. Amongst this giant maniacal party I was going to retrace my steps and find my photo. I walked all over the place until I got to the area where I had taken that photo with those girls. And then I saw it. A white envelope. I did a little happy dance, ran over, picked it up…looked inside… It was me!!! Then, when I stood up, there he was. Standing right in front of me was that big, 6 foot 5 five inch, Texan truck driver. It was Randy who I had been looking for earlier that day. How crazy is that? Right there standing over the envelope. Amazing!
The next day I was going into town to get a new rear tire. I am talking about the bike, not the photo above. All my center tread was gone. (As you can see, the center tread is firmly in place in the photo above.) I wasn’t risking riding all the way home on a bald tire and this was as good a place as any to find a motorcycle tire to fit my bike.
After getting the tire I had a look around Downtown Sturgis. Even the cops have bad ass bikes!
I do believe Custer is standing once again! Check out the details on this guys bike.
Then it was back to the Chip.
I stayed a third night. Puddle of Mudd opened for Tesla. It was cold this night and the crowd was not raging like the nights before. Back at the campsite we sat around and laughed a lot. A new guy had pitched tent there too. Jim. He was from nearby and very happy his boss gave him a few days off and told him to go to Sturgis. And later in the night Brian and this guy Die Hard showed up with some hilarious stories of their nights adventures. Sure, there is a lot of fun and exciting things to do at Sturgis but it’s really the people that make it great.
The next day I did some laundry and said my goodbyes. Die Hard rolled by just before I left and almost had me convinced to stay for George Thorogood, but I felt it was time to go.
So as nearly everyone makes that left turn on 34 out of the Buffalo Chip to seek more Sturgis entertainment, or to board that Interstate in their desired direction, I made a right turn and headed east down a long lonely highway.
And off into the sunset with the cows.
As I mentioned in my last post…having the choice of 3 states (as I was leaving Arizona), I crossed diagonally into Colorado. The scenery changes quickly from the hot arid desert of reds and ochre to mountain tops of grey and white with lush green below. Welcome to the Rocky Mountains!
I don’t know if this guy was writing or sketching. All I know is he was digging this scene as much as I was. Speaking of digging…they call this the million dollar highway because of all the gold that must be buried underneath it.
You can see Silverton in the valley below. Silverton is an old mining town, but it is still very much alive and vibrant.
I stopped and got some BBQ and a local brew.
There was still evidence from the old mining days hanging rocky mountain high.
Just outside of Silverton was a nice primitive campsite. It was free, which is always nice.
A guy I met at the campsite showed me where all the firewood was. See, the river comes from the melted snow. So In the Spring it is high and washes down wood and debris from up stream. As the water recedes in the Summer, the wood is left on the banks to dry out. Perfect! This guy who showed me where the wood was, was from Upper Louisiana. He was there with his girlfriend. Very nice people. In the morning he told me he checked a thermometer in the middle of the night. It was 37 degrees. It gets cold in Colorado.
Laying in the hammock is great in these areas with very little light. The only bad thing is you have to hang it between two trees which blocks some of the heavenly glory. (“heavenly glory” should always be said in the voice of Bruce Lee. If you don’t know what I mean CLICK HERE.)
Heading north. It is an awesome place to ride.
There is continuous evidence of the old mining days throughout the Rockies.
You can see how the road is cut along side the rock. There are no guard rails. If you screw up, it’s for good!
There are many different mountain ranges. You are not always 10,000 feet in the mountains. Sometimes you come in to valleys and plateaus where you can warm up until the next range.
Some people I met at the Four Corners told me about this place called Royal Gorge. There is a suspension bridge there 1250 feet over this deep gorge. The floor is made of wood planks and the whole thing rocks in the wind. So of course I had to ride over it.
They also have a tram. They run the whole thing is run like an amusement park. I got there late in the day so I got a discount.
Now, I didn’t take the photo below. I just threw it in there to give you an idea of how high that bridge is.
It was actually scarier walking across than riding because you really feel the rocking. On the bike you don’t feel it as much though it is still pretty freaky!
This is an amazing place and like Salvation Mountain it was build by one man, Jim Bishop. The big difference being that Salvation Nation will more than likely fall apart in our lifetime. Bishop Castle will be around for generations to enjoy.
Twice I met people on the road who told me Jim Bishop was nuts. When I arrived at the castle I saw hand painted signs. The first one said to make sure and read all the other signs. It also said you must sign in. I walked onto the porch of the house next to the castle. There sat this man. He said “Hey!” I asked him if he knew where I was supposed to sign in. He said, “I don’t believe anyone should sign anything they don’t want to sign, but it’s in there if you feel like writing your name.” Then he said, “I’m Jim, the castle builder.” I said, “Hey, I’m Pat” as I shook his powerful gnarly hand. The hand of a castle builder.
People are free to climb all over Jim’s creation. From the palatial interior to the many ramps, spiral staircases and balconies and that surround the massive structure.
You can barely see my bike in the top left corner from the highest tower.
Here is the castle from behind.
As I was leaving I could see Jim Bishop was back to work. I said “Thanks Jim.” He turned and said “You bet, come back again!” I will. And I don’t think this man is nuts at all. I envy his drive and commitment to something wonderful that he shares with anyone willing to visit.
If you would like a worthy tax write off, throw some money Jim’s way.
I passed the largest rocking chair in the world in front of a store that was closed and gated off.
I figured I would save some time as I was eager to go to Sturgis. Instead of continuing north through the mountains, I would hop on the interstate between Colorado Springs and Denver. It wasn’t until I was deep in in back to back vehicles that I realized I put myself in rush hour traffic around an enormous city. After some painful riding I made it back into the mountains of Northern Colorado.
I found another primitive campground 4 miles down a dirt road. This one was off a lake.
The St.Malo Chapel would be my last photo in Colorado before descending down from the majestic mountains and into a completely different reality. I was headed for Sturgis, South Dakota.
It was on this day August 16 in 1977 that Elvis died.
It was that same 119 degree day when I crossed the Colorado River taking me from California to Arizona. The river is a peculiar shade of blue here. I say peculiar because I have bathed in it upstream and it is muddy brown.
London Bridge is falling down. No, it fell a long time ago. It now resides in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled. No shit!
When I stopped for gas in Lake Havasu I asked the girl behind the counter if she knew of any cheap motels near Kingston, AZ. She asked why I would want to go to Kingston. Why not Vegas? I told her I was headed toward the Grand Canyon. So she said why not try Oatman up old Route 66? It’s an old mining town. Hmmmmmm, Oatman. Sounds great! So I headed up Old Route 66.
This part of Route 66 is rough. Not a lot of maintenance taking place here anymore. The sun was getting low as I headed for the mountain range before me.
I saw this structure as I approached the town. It looked like a cement pueblo. I found out later it was the entrance to an old mine.
Here’s the other thing about Oatman. The miners who once lived here left behind some of their donkeys. These donkeys have been reproducing ever since and their defendants roam the town freely. The baby donkeys have stickers on their heads. I got closer to have a look only to find out the say, “kick me.” Just kidding. They say “Stop please don’t feed me”. See, the baby donkeys don’t have back teeth. That won’t stop them from eating what’s in your hand. But then they choke on it and die. Hence the sticker.
I rode into town and asked the first people I saw if there was a hotel available. They said, NO! The only hotel is closed this time of year because the owner goes to Sturgis. OH NO! I was far from anything. It was getting dark, and the only road in either direction was the rough twisty 66. However…they said, you can go to Judy’s Saloon and ask for Jimmy. Jimmy may have a room he can rent you for the night. So I was off to Judy’s Saloon.
I was told Jimmy is usually there on one side of the bar or the other. He is one of the bartenders. But when I arrived, no Jimmy. The bartender on duty made a call and Jimmy came on down. He came through the back door and sat at the end of the bar. He was checking me out before introducing himself. He came over and then his girlfriend Geri joined us too. We all got along just fine. We had a couple beers and then headed up the dirt hill to their place.
First we went to the place I would be staying. It was an extended trailer and very comfortable. It was cooled, not by an air conditioner but by something called a swamp bucket. It cools water and blows the air into the trailer. It worked great! The town was pretty much shut down for the night. There was no food and I hadn’t had dinner. I had some soup in my bag, but Geri made me some delicious coconut curry meatballs with rice. It was really good. After that we went over to their place. We sat around and partied for hours. Jimmy writes some really nice tunes and he and Geri performed them and jammed out as I watch the stars drop and tapped my feet.
In the photo below is the place where I stayed for the night. I highly recommend staying there if you ever roll through Oatman. Just go to the saloon and ask for Jimmy and Geri!
After having some coffee with Geri in the morning, I roamed around town a bit.
I figured I’d let my big ‘ol forehead get some sun.
You can see why I wouldn’t want to ride this road at night. Very twisty indeed.
Route 66 isn’t continuous. There are only bits and pieces left. On the way to the Grand Canyon I joined another part of the iconic old highway.
This old dog was at one of the stores along the highway.
Many tankers these days have that red and white striped sticker running the length of the tank so you can’t see yourself. I was quite pleased when I discovered that this on was placed much lower.
Just after I went through the gates to the Grand Canyon National Park I saw this doe standing on a rock ledge. There were others, but the ran when they heard to motorcycle.
I went to the campsite, pitched my tent and had a quick look at the canyon before the sun dropped.
In the morning I returned to the canyon. I like taking pictures of places and things. The majesty of Grand Canyon however can not be captured in a photograph. It is immense and has to be experienced with the naked eye.
From the Grand Canyon I rode deep into Navajo country.
Canyon De Chelly
I rode on to Canyon De Chelly (pronounced Shay). In this canyon can be found some of the most pristine cave dwellings.
Although Canyon de Chelly is a National Monument it is on Navajo land and the dwellings themselves are not open to the public. You can hire a private guide to take you down into the canyon for a fee.
This is called Spider Rock.
Depending on the time of day the colors of this place can be dramatically different. To get the money shots you would have to know when to go where ahead of time. I have been to quite a few cave dwellings. To see a multi level structure like this with it’s original joists is magnificent.
Just as Oatman had donkeys roaming about, the area around Canyon de Chelly has stray dogs. This adorable mom and pup was at one of the sites. I gave ’em some jerky.
The dwellings above can be seen to the left side of the photo below. This is the only one you can walk to without a guide. It is a mile and a half in each direction. You still have to stop at a fence when you get down there.
Where to go next? I surprised myself that the only foot I would step into Utah was here at the Four Corners where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. It is the only place in the United States where four states touch. As it was time to leave Arizona I could make one of three choices. I opted for Colorado.
Just after Yuma, the hot desert turns into California. I had to put on the mask and head directly toward the afternoon sun. After a long ride on a flat baked highway I could see mountains ahead. As I got closer I noticed the mountains were strangely textured. They were covered with these giant ochre boulders.
The temperature dropped quickly as I rose in elevation. Over my shoulder I noticed this stone tower. I exited to investigate.
It cost $3.75 to climb the tower. Even for free I had little interest. It was the surrounding area that I found fascinating.
As I rolled upward toward the tower I noticed this entourage to the side of the road. There were two guys sitting on a trailer platform waving as I rode by. Behind them was a camper and a couple flying saucers.
On my way back I stopped and had a chat with these sky gazers. On the platform with them were two telescopes. They were out there waiting for the sun to set. That’s when things apparently get interesting. One of the guys told me he had seen UFO’s of all shapes and sizes out there. He has seen rectangles, triangles and most recently boomerang shaped celestial objects. If I didn’t have people waiting for me in San Diego I think I would have stayed. These guys were out there, but I liked them.
So my dad contacted some friends of his who offered me lodging during my stay in San Diego. His friend George was supposed to be out of town, so his friend Susan said I could stay at her place. And what a nice place it was. Bonnie dug her new surrounding for sure!
Susan has this great little bungalow apartment behind her house. So I had my own space. It was really nice, as was Susan.
And this is Marty. He lives here too.
It turned out that my dad friend George did return home. He gave me a tour of the city which helped me get my learn my way around. We stopped and had a brew at Hotel del Coronado. It is a grand old place and you may recognize it from the movie, Some Like it Hot.
The next day I rode around the city. I passed the naval yards.
That is the aircraft carrier Midway in the background. Before it is a giant sculpture modeled ofter the iconic image of the couple kissing in Times Square the day Japan surrendered during World War II.
Of course I needed a closer look. Those are some gams!
As much as I admired this fella’s 57 Bel Air, I was also digging Bonnie’s reflection in that cool blue paint job.
I returned to Point Loma. George had taken me up there the day before, but it was cloudy and I didn’t check out the old lighthouse. So this time I did!
Seeing the cemetery up here on the cliffs overlooking the ocean is strikingly similar that of the American Cemetery in Normandy, France where US soldiers from the D-Day campaign are buried.
I was hungry so I headed toward Ocean Beach for some grub.
At this gas station I asked a guy where I could get a good fish taco. He told me the best place was at the end of Newport Street.
He said the only problem with this place is finding parking. He said on a Saturday like today, “Good luck!” As soon as I arrived, I stopped and looked around. A big dude walked up to me and said, “Hey, you want to park your bike?” He was parked directly across the street and I gave me this spot I could see from the bar.
Also at the bar, sitting next me was Julie. She was great company as I had my delicious fish tacos and a few brews.
I had evening plans and now I was running late. That night we headed out to George’s grand daughters home to meet some of his family.
The next day I rolled north toward Los Angeles. I stopped for lunch along the way and oiled my chain. It was rattling away letting me know it was overdue. When I stopped I saw this cool crossing sign.
I also stopped by the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. It was founded in 1798 and the church was build in 1811.
During my LA stay I shacked up in the Queen Mary. I had never been on a ship like this before. I’d like to take a cruise some day, but that’s not a ride I want to take solo. She’s a great old vessel. The Queen Mary’s maiden voyage was in 1936.
During WWII they painted her grey and used her to transport the military. During that time she was called the Grey Ghost.
As I was packing to leave, a bird flew through my porthole. That really freaked me out. Also a little freaky is how thin the walls are on the ship. The folks next door had a bit of a romping in the wee hours and it was if they were doing it in my cabin. I had to put on some ear plugs and watch a movie. I was watching The Wanderers. I know I laughed out loud a few times. I hope they heard that as if was in their room!
What can I say! I love Venice Beach.
Above is the Freak Show where the turtle below can be found. That’s not mirrors folks!
This guy makes homeless look good!
I saw this wacky tree on the way back to the bike. I parked kind of far away.
I stopped by to se my friend Marc. Those machines we are standing with are used to test and strengthen one’s balance. So if you are out of wack Marc can straighten you out! I took the test…perfect! Straight 9’s across the board. Doc says that’s good!
Then I went to meet my friend Diana for dinner. I love motorcycle only parking!
We went to this place the Saddle Ranch on Sunset Blvd. They kept giving us these huge containers of cotton candy. It’s fun to play with. They also give everybody free shooters throughout the night. Whooopeee!
There is a mean bull ride too. The guy on the controls is much nicer the girls. I went flying pretty quick. In the back of the bar was this cool boxing thing. Or punching bag, that would measure how hard you could punch. That was fun too. Diana’s got some shots of that. Gotta get ’em.
And there was karaoke! Being LA they had some good karaoke. Lots of want to be stars! We did not do any singing but had a great time. Then it was goodbye to the city of angels!
I had planned to go to Salvation Mountain on the way to San Diego, but I was running late. It would have bugged the hell out of me if I didn’t check it out on the way back. It was no easy ride. Heat and wind and lots of both is what you get riding past Palm Springs and then down beside the Salton Sea. As I blazed along I had my doubts whether I had done the right thing.
The place was totally cool. The man who built it used to live there year round. Now that he has gotten older he goes elsewhere during these scorching months of summer.
So I thought Salvation Mountain would be it before I crossed back into Arizona. But California was not done with surprises yet. I crossed another desert with sand dunes. It was getting hotter as I moved along. The winds were whipping sand across my face. I get so thankful when the next truck that passes is aerodynamic. Because when they are not, the slap of hot air hits with a most uncomfortable impact.
The temperature was rising. I have posted my dash again. This time do not look at the odometer. Nor the speedometer. No, draw you attention to the watch. The top number is the thermometer. Note that every time I have passed a thermometer in a town, my watch thermometer has read about 5 degrees less. Mine reads 119.4 so……damn it was hot!
And then a little ghost town. This is Vidal. It is an old town along the railroad tracks.
From Vidal I took a right turn, crossed the Colorado and bid farewell to California.