Archive for August, 2012

Going East! OH, PA, NY, VT, NH and ME

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2012 by Pat Regan

Going East! Which direction was the question? In years past around this point, I would have said the trip was over. It would end with me riding a fairly straight line back to NYC. I was ready to to that again, but I stayed north to give myself options. I was tired. I decided I’d go to Erie, PA where I had been before. I figured I’d visit a place called the Quaker Steak & Lube where I dunked a girl in one of those baseball throwing booths back in 2008. I thought maybe this place could spark my desire to continue. I ended up missing the exit. I took this as a sign and felt I was ready to go home. I pulled off at the next exit and stopped for gas.

I got to talking to a couple guys at the gas station. These were cool seventies era guys. I knew it when we saw a car go by with fancy new style large mag wheels and one of the dudes said, “I’m still a Cragar man myself.” Cragar‘s, the classic 70’s hot rod mag wheel. I told them I had been riding on the Interstate all day and I was sick of it. One of the guys said, “Hey, you should take route 5. It goes all the way to Buffalo and it rolls through the wine country along the lake.” The other dude, jumped in, “Oh yeah man, that’s a nice road!” I said, “Thank you gentlemen, you may have just rejuvenated my journey.” That’s just what they did!

I followed their directions and was suddenly rolling through miles of vineyards with views of Lake Erie to my left as I moved east. It was just what I needed to stay motivated.

I felt renewed as I zipped along the vineyards of green and purple grapes. I am not sure what this 17th century ship recreation was for, but it looked cool.

I stopped at Lake Erie State Park. I was a bit weary of state parks after the $30 Michigan fiasco. When I entered, the booth to register was closed. They didn’t have a self registration kiosk either. So I went in to investigate the campsite anyway.

I was seeking a primitive site, but then noticed a place right on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the lake. This site had electricity. I decided I would pay the extra for the view. Plus, I could get everything charged up. Once I pulled in, I asked my neighbor campers if there was a camp host or someone I could speak to about the site I wanted. They said their site was paid for through tomorrow and they were leaving. They gave me their pass and said I could have it for free. Really? This was terrific! Thank you!

The sun setting on the lake was tremendous. I was very happy to feel like I could keep this adventure going when I was ready to pack it in only hours before.

A room with a view.

Those are the lights of the Canadian shore on the horizon.

Clouds rolled in adding another effect.

The beach below the campsite by day.

I saw a sign for a Frank Lloyd Wright house called Greycliff Estate. I went to have a look. The only building of his I had visited up to this point was the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. Greycliff Manor was pretty cool. They have been restoring it slowly for years now. It’s a work in progress. They don’t allow photos on the inside.

I went to Niagra Falls. This was one of those situations where I couldn’t comfortably linger because I fell uncomfortable leaving my bags open in such a populated area. But I still abandoned them to go have a look.

I came here once when I was a kid. Back then you could travel to Canada without a passport. The view from Canada is better due to the angle of the falls.

After the falls I continued my eastern path, but now I was riding along Lake Ontario and the vineyards had turned to orchards.

I stopped for the night at another NY State Park along Lake Ontario. My site wasn’t along the lake this time, but I ran over and caught the sunset just after the sun dropped.

That night I heard some scurrying about off in the dark and went to have a look where I found this little stinker.

From here I decided I was going further east and north. I was headed for Maine.

Seemed like people were living in this old church. In fact, I saw another church for sale along the way. Considering the population isn’t that great here, it does seem that there are a lot of churches.

This 1953 Ford tractor pulled up behind me at the gas station.

This Ford Econoline was for sale. I may call to inquire.

Because of the fire bans throughout many of the states I had been to, I hadn’t been able to cook a steak until now.

That night at the lake I think my camera picked up something that I couldn’t see with the naked eye. I do believe that green haze is aurora borealis! While I was taking some star shots I had a raccoon visit the campsite. He grabbed a bag with 3 peaches and ran off.

This is the Hudson River in the Adirondacks.

There was an old train sitting still on the tracks along the Hudson. I stopped to investigate.

This one rock has been enhanced with paint for a startling effect as you round the corner.

Fort Ticonderoga. I was going to visit, but they wanted $17.50. Considering the price and the time it would take, I skipped it.

A falls in the town of Ticonderoga.

I like when when states are separated by a bridge. It defines the crossing into a new environment.

In Vermont things looked noticeably different. Cleaner, more manicured.

Texas Falls, VT.

I crossed into New Hampshire and camped out in the White Mountains. I have no idea what these anomalies are in my photos.

Then I got a visitor. This sucker was bold. He would have taken the food from my hands.

I’d chase him off and he’d just hide behind a tree before making another advance. This guy was way too comfortable and relentless. He was down right rude. With the assistance of nice size pebble and a good arm I taught him some courtesy. He did not return.

In the morning I took a dip in the cold waters of the Pemigewasset River.

I noticed many different mushrooms in the woods.

This road seemed to be along the path for the annual monarch migration.

I made it into Maine. Soon I would be seeing the Atlantic Ocean completing the coast to coast journey.

My plan was to stay in Acadia National Park. When I arrived at the visitor center I heard what I expected to hear. Campsites full!

At first I was discouraged by the news of the park’s campsites being full, but then I arrived at the Bass Harbor Campground. It was a comfortable place.

They had many conveniences yet they separated the RV’s and such from the tent camping. So You have the solitude of camping under the stars in a private section with the conveniences of a pool, WIFI, laundry, a rec room, and a small store right across the road.

Also the staff is very friendly. They directed me to Sawyer’s Lobster Pound for my dinner.

I ordered my grub then went for a beer run. I got a local micro brew and returned for my feast. The lady inside said, “Pat, we have a problem”. “Lay it on me”, I said. She said she had run out of 1 1/2 pound lobsters, so she had to give me two 1 pounders instead. Yes!

Mount Desert Island was a great place to wind down from a long journey.

Acadia National Park is spread out across the island. It’s not just one big park. In fact it’s campsites are not “in” the park and they are not on the water either. I made the right choice with the private campsite.

I pulled over and explored a bit by foot.

A ride up Cadillac Mountain will give you a view of the entire island and it’s surroundings. This is the view of Bar Harbor.

This is my campsite aglow with a blazing fire.

I have really enjoyed the night sky this trip. Besides photographing it, I have gotten to know it better. Not the names that have been given to the stars, but I now have a better understanding of their placement in the sky and where I can expect them to be at different times of the night. I am able to get my sense of direction just by looking up now. I like that.

This peach tree and mushrooms are all on the campsite.

These berries were growing along the road at Seal Cove. Yum.

I saw these guys zipping around town earlier in the day. I did not notice the little guy in the front until I stopped to take a photo.

There is an auto museum at Seal Cove. The Bel Air is parked outside. It’s not really part of the museum.

The museum caters to the brass age of autos. The very early days of automobiles.

They had some bikes of the era as well.

Maine was serene and calming. I did not expect to spend three days here, but it was the perfect place to chill after another epic ride.

Maine’s soothing atmosphere also offered opportunity for self reflection.

When I woke up that third morning in Bass Harbor, I knew the journey was complete. I just had to make it back to NYC. I did it in one shot. Over 520 miles I rode. From Maine, through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut I went, bringing me back home to New York City. In doing so I achieved another milestone in my motorcycle journey. I have now ridden in all of the lower 48 states.

I parked Bonnie, unloaded her and headed upstairs. Bonnie deserved some rest and I needed some. When I awoke the next day, I looked out my window and saw this. Bonnie sandwiched. Welcome home baby!

Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan

Posted in Uncategorized on August 24, 2012 by Pat Regan

The feeling began in the Eastern part of North Dakota. It’s a feeling I get every year. A feeling of loss and let down. Pat, you are no longer in the west. That euphoria from the anticipation of exploring strange surroundings is gone and the melancholy sets in. The physical environment has changed dramatically and folks just seem less friendly. And there is a lot more folks. Also the scenery doesn’t change much. It’s a nice green color, but either in the form of forest or farm. Not much variety. And if it’s not green, chances are you are in a town. There’s a lot more of those as well.

I rode into Bemidji, Minnesota for 2 reasons. One was to see this silly Paul Bunyon and Babe sculpture.

Many towns that once thrived on the lumber industry have a Paul Bunyon reference. He represents all lumberjacks. There is a visitor center right next to this kitchy monstrosity. In there I would get the answer to my second reason for being here and directions on how to find it.

About 30 miles southwest of Bemidji is the birthplace of the Mississippi River. My birthplace is New Orleans, Louisiana where the Great Mississippi makes it’s final turns before emptying out into the Gulf of Mexico. It seemed only fitting that I would visit it’s origin. On the left in the photo is a sign that says Mississippi River, on the right is my Bonnie and the small crossing in the center is the first Mississippi River Bridge.

The river is a mere creek at this point and it is traveling northward. The Mississippi eventually curves eastward then down all the way south pretty much physically cutting this country in half.

As I continued east I passed this giant fish building. My guess is a pickerel. Maybe a Northern Pike as seen in a fish tank from the previous post at the hatchery.

I rode many miles. Storms were in the air. I decided to get a room this night just outside Duluth. In the town just before my hotel, I noticed some event going on. The girl at the hotel counter had no idea what it might be. She only knew of the big train engine expo that was to begin in a couple days. Despite the possibility of rain, I went back to investigate. On the way it was obvious that it was some sort of car show as numerous classic automobiles passed me on the way, trying to escape the impending storm. When I arrived there were still a few cars about. With older cars it’s in the details. It must have been pretty awesome earlier in the day.

In the morning I needed to make one stop before crossing into Wisconsin and then Michigan. I passed by the boyhood home of Bob Dylan at 519 North 3rd Avenue East in Duluth. A real nice woman came out with a guestbook and kindly took a couple shots of me at the location.

Across the bridge and into Wisconsin I went. Would you like to see some photos of Wisconsin? Google it. I flew threw that state quickly in protest with feelings of disgust. Fuck you Wisconsin. Treat your teachers with respect!

And on to Michigan. This was the northernmost part of Michigan, not the glove shaped part.

First it just felt good to be out of Wisconsin. But also, Michigan gave a different vibe. It’s the people. They are proudly a little kooky. They call themselves Yoopers. They are like Canadiens with American bravado.

That’s Lake Superior in the background.

The scowl I wore while wandering Wisconsin was withered when I whipped into a town called Christmas.

It’s hard not to feel happy when you are the corner of Christmas and St. Nicholas Avenues.

The road up here became arched with lush forest and twisty roads, making for an exciting tunnel like riding experience.

Lake Superior is beautiful. Ocean like in many respects. It has quite a tide flowing in. There is an area along the coast called the Pictured Rocks. Theses cliffs here are layered in shades of red, orange and yellow earth. It goes on for miles, but only this one point is accessible by vehicles. The next closest vantage point is a 3 1/2 mile walk each way. You can also catch a boat and see it from the lake.

Michigan also seems proud of their waterfalls. I saw a couple. They were OK. But I also saw one they called a waterfall and it was hardly a rapid. Not a fall at all.

I crossed Mackinaw Bridge on to the mainland of Michigan (the glove). Yoopers call everyone who lives on the other side of this bridge, Trolls.

The sun was getting low and I passed a state park on Lake Huron. The sign said camping. Great!

I rode passed, 5 or so miles to the next town Rogers City for supplies, then returned to the state park. I went into the office at the opening gate (not just a drive thru). I said I’d like a campsite. I was told to ride through, choose the one I liked and return. Before I did that, I asked, “How much is this site?” 22 bucks plus an 8 dollar out of state fee. What the…..? I said no way, that’s not camping. She told me of a place 14 miles away in the woods. That’s just where I went.

In the morning I stopped for gas. I talked for a while with a guy named Frank. He rides, but not on his present trip. He was visiting Michigan from Arizona as I recall. He asked if I had been to any of the lighthouses? Hmmmm. Maybe that was something one does when in Michigan. So I went to see one. This one is on Presque Isle.

Apparently there are Paul Bunyon’s in numerous locations.

This road I rode also had interesting traffic and street lights. Sometimes just a single little streetlight on a wire hangs alone to light a street. But traffic lights hang like this too. And there are the written signs as well. If there is a left only lane, it won’t have a light with an arrow. It will have a red or green light with a hanging sign to let you know it’s left only, dangling next to the light.

Throughout Northern Michigan I saw warning signs for moose crossings. Oh, how I’d love to see a moose. I have seen one twice before. The first time in Yellowstone in 2002. I have that on video. The second time was in Idaho in 2008. A big mama moose and her youngin’ jumped up on the road before me. It had been raining and I couldn’t get to my camera before the moose ran off. When I told a guy at a bar about how it freaked me out and I was lucky to be able to stop in time on that wet pavement, he said, “You don’t slow down for moose, you just ride underneath ’em!”

Anyway, the only moose I got to see were stuffed at Cabela’s.

This Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan is also host to the largest bronze wildlife sculpture in the world.

As I crossed the state line into Ohio I saw a hot air balloon.

I then shacked up in perhaps the worst hotel I have ever stayed in. Not the worst in the sense of dirtiest. That was last year in Tucson. But the worst because it claims to be better than it is. The place in Tucson made no secret of the fact that it was a shit hole. This place in Perrysburg, Ohio said they had WIFI, breakfast, blah blah. There was no WIFI. There was no soap, no shampoo, no bath towels. Just two tiny little towels both of which needed to be used to dry yourself off after a shower. And then at 8 in the morning, the cleaning lady walked right in. No knock. No nothing. Just used her pass key and walked right in. I screamed, “Fuck!” She said “Sorry, sorry!!” and ran off. I was too pissed to bother and see if it actually included breakfast.

The next day Bonnie turned 50,000 miles. It happened in a town called Sandusky, which really bothered me. But some things you have no control over.

My Bonnie has been very, very good to me.

North Dakota

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2012 by Pat Regan

I left the Buffalo Chip and headed north. It was difficult. As big ‘ol Randy said, “There is something about this place. It’s like an old friend.”

The weather in the Black Hills is so deceptive. I could see this storm to the west on my left. Why I didn’t check the radar, I don’t know? Sturgis will make you forget things. I tried to predict it. Knowing what Randy and I rode into the previous day, I should have known. Even when you are looking dead at a storm, you don’t know how it’s going to behave. Regardless, I saw a storm to my left so I took the road to the right. In the wild, wild west that’s how it works. One can easily forget how quickly one has moved on to a completely different environment. Needless to say, I took the wrong road. That storm to the left was moving to the right as I went straight on to meet it full force. I got slammed.

When I crossed the border into North Dakota the rain let up. I stopped at a gas station and asked some fellow travelers from Sturgis how that road to the left was. They said, “Not bad, a little windy.”

Oh well. I was a little beat up, but I survived. I carried on to stay at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This is the Badlands of the north. I was cold. I was wet. I stayed up to look at the stars, then went to bed.

At sunrise the next morning something fantastic happened. I heard sounds like one would hear in Jurassic Park. Loud snorts and groans. I could hear actual chomping on the foliage just outside my tent. It was the buffalo!

I had seen them from afar the day before, but this was tremendous! Even a wild horse roamed past.

They were all around me! It was the most exhilarating feeling. I got out and walked amongst them.

I immediately figured out the pecking order and quickly picked up on their behaviors. There was definitely an alpha to this herd. They all took his lead in the direction of their grazing.

Below is the look you don’t want to see. THis is how he looked at the other bulls just before he charged at them.

The alpha bull’s main concern was his girl. Every once in a while another bull would get a little too close and he would let him know who is boss by taking a quick charge at him. Then he was quick to return to his babe before another bull went for a mount.

I was tired after a late night with the stars followed by a break of dawn rendezvous with the great buffalo herd. I decided I would stay a second night. As I was setting my hammock up between the picnic table and a tree the camp host came by. Sorry no hanging anything form the trees she told me. Hmmmm. I was not satisfied with not hanging my hammock, so I made my own trees.

The next morning I headed out to ride the loop around the park.

A group of wild horses grazed about near the side of the road.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park did not offer the variety of color and formations that the it’s South Dakota Badland brother does, but the wildlife more than makes up for it. Running with the buffalo was an overwhelming experience I will not soon forget.

Just outside the park are the remnants of an old slaughter house.

I traveled a route recommended my the cook at Sturgis. There was lot of lush farmland along the way.

I rode past a sign. It said Knife River Indian Villages. I knew the site of Fort Mandan was nearby. Fort Mandan was where Louis and Clark had set up camp. (If you have kept up with this blog, you will know I am a big Louis and Clark head). So I turned around. What was this Knife River site?

The village at Knife River was only the home of Sakagawea herself. Well, it became her home once she was kidnapped by the Hidatsas from her people. I was in awe of the fact that I stumbled upon this.

The parks department has recreated an earth-lodge dwelling as would have been see here in the scores. It’s a phenomenal structure. Unassuming on a the outside. and spacious and cool on the inside.

The village once sat here by the edge of the Knife River. And Louis and Clark once walked amongst these people right here.

I spoke to the ranger for a while. He told me that the Fort Mandan site is not only a recreation of the old fort, but many miles from where the actual fort would have rested. He said the actual fort site is long gone and believed to be where the present power plant lies. How fortunate to have come here. This is sacred historical ground.

It is difficult to see the texture of the ground from eye level. But from an aerial view you can see the circumference of the form earth dwellings.

The Ranger snapped a shot of me holding a buffalo skull.

I camped out at Lake Sakakawea State Park. The spelling and pronunciation of this amazing woman who probably is  soley responsible for Louis and Clark’s survival on numerous occasions is varied. The park and nearby town use the “k” version. I had a peninsula on the lake all to myself. I placed the tent with in some all day shade on a bed of soft grass. Real comfy.

In the morning Keith the Park Ranger stopped by my neck of the woods. He was on a mission to kill a pesky badger who has been burrowing in the sides of the cliffs compounding an already bad erosion problem.

Keith used to ride. He said he quit after his 3rd near death experience. Flat front blow out at 75MPH, a wipe out from some gravel of a twisty curve, and something else I don’t remember.

We talked about this and that. Freaking fracking and whatnot. He tells me this lake is the best fishing spot in the United States. The best fish around with the lowest mercury content. He said if I ever pass by this way again, I should look him up and he will take me out on his boat to do some fishing.

This was a real nice park. They even had a kid come around before I left just to dust off the signs.

That cook at Sturgis told me I should check out the National Fishery while in the area by the dam. So I did.

The fish start out in these jars before being introduce to tubs, then large beds, then ponds outside before being released.

I moved on east. I am going to leave you with some photos of the rest of my journey across North Dakota. Later!

Sturgis 2012

Posted in Uncategorized on August 16, 2012 by Pat Regan

Ah Sturgis!

I rode like mad from the Colorado Rockies to Sturgis, South Dakota and made it for Thursday night’s show at the Buffalo Chip. I pitched my tent, cracked a beer and began wandering about. That is the cool thing about the Chip. It’s self contained. You can have a great time, have some beers, see class act live music and not have to worry about riding home. It’s all there in one place. I am not even sure who the opening band was. All I knew is I made it there and the weather was perfect. Weather can be a serious issue in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

While taking this shot, I heard the following behind me: “You getting a tattoo?” ” Nah, just a touch up.”

There was lots of performers with fire this year. This chick gave the blow job a whole new meaning.

The schoolgirl look never gets old.

A simple, yet effective use of paint.

Next I came across another new event at the Buffalo Chip. Midget Bowling! They were advertising a lubrication called Biker Lube. They would pour it all over the lane and then someone would toss that midget into the pins. Excellent!

Next up was the headlining band of the evening. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or at least what’s left of ’em. That amounts to one out of the original seven members. Gary Rossington is all that is left. Ronnie Van Zant’s brother Johnnie has replaced Ronnie. A fine choice, though I always thought he could have taken that role a lot sooner. I remember wanting him to join as soon as heard his first solo album back in 1980. He’s put on some weight and lost some locks making him look more like his departed bro. But if you were to close your eyes and listen, this band rocks out the anthem Skynyrd tunes like they were fresh off the vinyl and the crowd showed their appreciation with the roaring sound of twisted throttles.

After Skynyrd left the stage it was time for the Buffalo Chip girls. That’s my girl on the left making the final three.

I say ‘my girl’ because you may remember her from last year. CLICK HERE. OH, AND HERE!

And one of the greatest things about concerts at the Chip is the fact that you can bring your bike with you.

There are various other stages with live music around the Buffalo Chip as well. This one had a great bluesy band and more girls playing with fire.

As I was taking these photos I noticed an old friend sitting on the perimeter of the crowd. It was my favorite Sturgis buddy Randy from Wheeler, Texas.

I hung with Randy the rest of the night. I could listen to him talk all day! I wish I had a tape recorder going when he is talking. Besides his awesome Texas accent, he says some amazing things. He a simple man and a great philosopher of life. So many times throughout the night, I would say to myself, “I have to remember that, I have to remember that!” Come the next day…I didn’t remember that. Below is Randy chillin’ with his new bike. When I first met Randy in 2010, I remember him telling me about the birth of his premature little girl. He said they rested her in his hands, and it was just like holding a hot steamy potato. It’s those kind of descriptions that makes Randy remarkable. I don’t think he even realizes how clever and funny he is. He is a humble man who has lived through a lot of hard knocks. But he told me, “Pat, life’s been real good to me this year.” I’m very pleased for him.

In the morning I woke up kind of early. I thought they stopped serving breakfast at 10. Found out, it’s 11. They make a mean breakfast at this one place. A family from North Dakota comes down and has been running it since 2007. I like to go there, get breakfast and ask the cook if I can plug in to recharge all my electronics. He always says yes. This time though, we got to talking. Once he mentioned he was from North Dakota, I told him I was headed that way after Sturgis. So he gave me some good advice about where to go. And where not to go. “Lots of Oil and Fracking going on above Williston. Better stay clear of there!”  He also told me if I came back for dinner, he’d pick me out a special prime rib.

Randy and I talked about heading into town. In my 3 visits to Sturgis, I never went to town at night. There were always great concerts going at the Chip and I don’t want to ride if I’m drinking. We decided we’d leave just before sundown, stay a few hours then come back to catch Slash and Skid Row. We headed on out. Just as we were about to hit the highway I noticed little things bouncing of the ground. It was hail. And then, BOOM! Rain like you can’t believe! A white out! We quickly turned around. It was raining so hard, I couldn’t even make it back to my tent. I pulled over at the ticket booth and waited it out. I lost Randy.

The rain slowed down and eventually stopped, but the cool air came flowing in and it stayed. This is bad! One of the great things about this place is the dress code and that involves a lack of dress code. Once it gets cold, that’s it. Changes everything. I’ve seen it before. It sucks. When I was in Colorado I bumped into a guy who told me he was up at Sturgis earlier in the weak and it was 105 degrees. Imagine those outfits!

Well I roamed around a bit then saw the opening band while having that delicious hand picked prime rib dinner. Afterward I went back to my tent with every intention of grabbing a beer and continuing the evening, but I closed my eyes. That was it. I didn’t mean to but I fell asleep hard. Between the rain, the cold, and the prime rib, I was out. I woke up at about one in the morning. I walked around and there were still some things happening, but I was wiped out. As was Santa. 

Originally I was going to stay until Sunday, but the weather cleared the place out. I really have to try getting here sooner in the week, but my insane cross country agenda just won’t allow it. So I said goodbye to Randy. Or a see ya next year. He gave me sound advice like, always wear eye protection and (as he held up his holster) that I should really carry a handgun with me when I travel. Thanks Randy. As I was packing up my gear, I bumped into Brian, the guy with all the shade tents from last year. I had also bumped into Jim earlier in the day at the Full Throttle Saloon. Jim was psyched because an oil company was using his land and he doesn’t have to work anymore.

Although this was the least eventful of my three visits to Sturgis it occurred to me that it’s this comradery that really makes this a special place. The more you come back, you meet these people. And you meet them again and it’s like seeing an old long lost friend. I really like Sturgis.

On my way out of the Buffalo Chip I stopped by the Triumph tent. I’d really like something like this. Broken down to it’s most simple form.

While there I met Todd the Regional Manager for New England Triumph stores. He recommended some of the other shops in the tri-state area for me. Might check out the Bridgeport shop when I get back.

I headed north up route 79 toward North Dakota. I made one last stop at the Broken Spoke on my way out of town.

At the Spoke was a map on which people had posted their origins. Pretty neat!

So on down 79 I went. I chose this route because I thought there was a storm to my south. There was. What I didn’t anticipate was it’s distance and trajectory. We were headed right toward each other. Oh boy. A story for the next post.

And on this, the eve of the the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death, I bid you farewell. Funny, I was in South Dakota when that happened. Baltic not Sturgis.

Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Headed East!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2012 by Pat Regan

That was the least amount of time I spent in California in all my trips. Once Sturgis was firmly planted on my mind, I really didn’t want to miss it. My goal was to get there at least by the Thursday before it ended. So sacrifices had to be made. Now I was going to follow that route that Bruce recommended. I should have taken a picture of him too. He’s a big guy with long hair. Very friendly, peaceful kind of guy. A teen of the Vietnam era. It comes up in conversation.

So into Nevada I went. I spent the whole day in Bodie, California so I had lots of riding to do to. I decided to get a room in Reno. Like in Vegas, I could get a nice room for $29. Nicer in fact than the $29 room in Vegas. I stayed at the Sands.

This was the view from my room when I arrived.

I was tired and I wanted to check my photos now that I had some electricity and a desk to sit at, but I figured I should check the town out, at least a little bit. Reno ain’t Vegas! But it has it’s share of glitz and neon.

This Thunderbird Motel sign was great. Unfortunately many of the old hotels with those clever old neon signs remained unlit.

I saw this mint Nash Metropolitan sitting shiny in a parking lot next to a tattoo parlor.

I am thinking…so fix it, right? Reno.

Now it was time to make that last right turn and head east on the loneliest road in america. That is it’s given name. Route 50, the Loneliest Road in America.

I figured lonely certainly meant I did not have to worry about speed limits. I’ve bust 100 before, but not one handed while taking a photo.

On the lonely road are occasionally lonely towns. I was worried about the availability of gas on this road. In fact I had been warned, “Make sure you carry an extra container of fuel”. The guy who runs the Triumph sales department where I got a rear tire for my bike in LA told me I should worry. He said in one town the lady only sells gas from 10am – 3pm. So I checked my maps and saw the town he spoke of. The only way that was going to be a problem was if I hadn’t filled up in the previous town. I learned long ago that out west you fill up regardless of whether your tank is low or not, so it turned out not to be a problem after all.

As is often the case, I think I am going to get a lot farther than I actually do. My plan was to make it to Great Basin National Park and camp. Nope. The sun was going down. Fortunately at my favorite hour to take pictures a subject showed up to my left. A ghost town! Right there as the sun was breaking through some clouds. Yay!

It got dark and I could see rain ahead, so I stopped in Ely and got a room for the night instead.

Great Basin National Park itself was not as spectacular as I expected. I was pleased to see big beautiful mountains with lush forest around in Nevada. My perception of Nevada was that of one big desert predominantly occupied by US military bases, flying drones and experimental aircraft along with regions of nuclear wasteland. Not so. This was a nice ride. Once I got in the park, I ditched my helmet and headed up the mountain. Sometimes when you go from state to state it’s easy to forget the rules. In Nevada wearing a helmet is mandatory.

If you do forget however, they have folks who stop to remind you.

I suppose the reason I wasn’t massively impressed with the Great Basin was because of my exposure to the Colorado Rockies. This place didn’t compare. At least not on the outside…

…On the inside, that’s another story. Lehman Cave is also located in this park, and it is spectacular.

A bacon strip. I had seen one of these somewhere before. It could have been in a Kentucky cave I saw when my friend Marc and I planned to drive to Graceland and ended up in Los Angeles.

The last stop for gas in Nevada on the loneliest road happens to be right on the border of Utah. So I lost a couple dollars in Nevada…

…then I took this photo at the same location. Notice the old lonely dog to the left of my front tire. He was just roaming around looking for scraps.

Now I was on the lonely road Utah style.

As you approach a more fertile area before the town of Delta you will find a shoe tree. Got to love a shoe tree!

I camped by the Sevier Bridge Reservoir in Utah for the night.

That night I was looking at the stars when I thought I was witnessing something apocalyptic. The upper crest of a crescent moon was just rising above the horizon. At first I had no idea what it was. Because the point first showed itself as a pointed orange glow, I thought it was some crazy volcanic activity or maybe an oil well ablaze. It quickly showed itself to be the moon and it was beautiful.

As I rode south from the campsite I passed a group of cows sitting on either side of the road just before going under this overpass. As I look at this photo it seems like a Hollywood painted backdrop. Right? Weird huh? Click it as you can all the photos to see them larger.

I continued along through a small town with numerous old former service stations.

I usually avoid Interstates, but the only choices in this part of Utah would have put me way out of my way to the upper Rockies in Colorado where I wanted to be. Besides, for an Interstate this one happens to go through some very scenic areas.

On to Colorado. I made a left upon entering the state and headed north. I wanted to ride route 14 above Rocky Mountain National Park. When I was staying at Willsville Biker Camp in Virginia a guy mentioned this road. So I camped out in the mountains outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

The stars were incredible.

As I moved on there were nice views but it was hazy from forest fires in the area.

There had been forest fires along route 14 not too long ago as well. The mountains along the last part of the highway were completely burnt.

One finds fewer and fewer shiny chrome tankers to take self portraits in these days. Many of them now have a candy striped sticker to prevent one from seeing their reflection. I am always happy when I find a clean one.

From here it’s a straight shot to Sturgis.

California

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2012 by Pat Regan

So I flew out of Los Angeles after visiting Mr. Hitler’s home and headed north. It gets damn hot once you get “over the hill”. That’s LA talk for the hill between the city and the valley. I really pushed it and the hot winds were kicking my ass. Pushing it in LA is rough. You can be riding 85MPH and people will fly past you. Not on this route. Traffic was tight, therefor it was cutting the lane time. This is a freaky California experience. In Cali if the traffic gets tight, bikers ride between the cars. It is a frightening thrill ride. That’s just what I did for many a mile. The further I went the hotter and windier it got. I was headed up the road that goes between the Sierra Mountains and Death Valley. Hot stuff! I decided I would stay at a campsite in a town called Bishop. I knew the place. I stayed there before. The reason for this route was two fold. One, I was going to take that western route across Nevada that Bruce at Hovenweep told me about, and two, there was a ghost town where I wanted to spend some time. Bodie!

On the way to Bodie is Mono Lake. I was planning to pass it right by but the light was attracting me. There were holes of sunlight hitting Mono Lake as multiple storms surrounded it. I had to have a look. I am glad I did!

Pretty freaky huh? Mono Lake is a shallow saline soda lake. It’s one of the oldest lakes in North America. In certain parts where freshwater springs and the alkaline lake water mix these calcium-carbonate spires and knobs called tufa appear.

But my real reason for being up this way was to see Bodie. I had tried to see it once before, but I showed up  after 5pm and they are very serious about having everyone out by 6pm. Being that the day was getting late and I would have put myself in that same situation, plus there were these storms to the north, I decided to stay in the nearest town Lee Vining.

Staying in Lee Vining allowed me to return to the lake and take a few more shots. A number of people were trying to capture the lightning coming from the storms in the background. I was not successful with the lightning, but the place still looked super cool.

I had hoped to do some work on this blog while I was in Lee Vining, but a storm knocked out the internet. In fact, it knocked out all the power for a short time. In the morning I had a delicious breakfast sandwich at the motel next door as I sat in their garden. Then it was off to the ghost town.

Bodie.

Bodie is actually named after a guy named Bodey who discovered gold there. No one is exactly sure why the spelling was changed. They say a sign painter wrote it that way and it stuck. Unfortunately for Bodey, he couldn’t correct them as he froze to death the first winter after discovering the gold.

Once word was out about the discovery of gold, Bodie soon grew to a town of about 10,000.

Bodie became one of the most notorious wild west towns. It didn’t have the iconic names and legends of the wild west, but it did have 65 saloons at one point. Murders, shootouts, bar room brawls and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences. It had a Chinatown with many opium dens as well.

 

Only about a fifth of Bodie’s original buildings exist, but they are left pristine. Everything has been maintained as it was after the people left. It would have been more expensive to ship things out of Bodie than for people to buy new things, so much was left behind.

I was fortunate to be able to take a tour of the old refinery. They only give tours to 20 at a time and when I had shown up there were 19 names on the list.

This guy Mike was real knowledgeable about Bodie’s history and he is passionate about it’s preservation. That’s a giant cam shaft he is leaning on.

 

So that’s it for California. I would have love to stay longer, but I really wanted to catch the end of Sturgis. It was time to head east!

Los Angeles

Posted in Uncategorized on August 10, 2012 by Pat Regan

I made it coast to coast again! New York to California. That’s #9 if we count both directions, or half way through #5 of the round trip.  I regret not taking a few more pictures while hanging with friends here. I did however take a photo of my friend Matt and his dog Ricky.

Ricky is a BIG puppy. 75 pounds of monstrous enthusiasm! He’ll grow out of it. At least I am sure Matt hopes so. I am proud of Matt. He is one of my college buddies. Matt packed it up moved to LA and became and actor. It sounds cliche, but he really did it and is doing it successfully. Many try, few succeed. He is also a great writer. He keeps a blog of his experiences in Los Angeles packing a sometimes humorous and often harsh NY wit. In fact he recently posted about me and my adventures. Fortunately for me he had only kind words.

Have a look:

http://insidetheactorsstudioapartment.blogspot.com/2012/08/its-just-his-way-of-saying-i-love-you.html

Unlike me, Matt writes daily and it’s always a good read. I highly recommend it. Especially that post above. Also on his blog you can see Ricky grow up. When he was just a small little pup, Matt bought Ricky a Michael Vick chew toy. As you continue to read his blog you will see that Ricky tore Michael Vick to shreds! On the occasion of my visit, Ricky was happy to substitute Mr. Vick with yours truly.

When I first arrived in LA I made good use of Facebook. Many folks have differing opinions about Facebook, but I think one thing that is undeniably cool is how it gives you the ability to contact people from your past who you would otherwise never be in touch with again. So through Facebook I knew one of my first NY friends from the 4th grade also lived in LA, so I gave him a shout! I went out and met my old friend Dan Freyer from Ms.Solomondo’s class at PS 41. This is the lost opportunity where I should have taken a photo. I didn’t, but it was great catching up and talking about old times. Memories darted back about school and other friends and how we used to draw American Indians and make things related to their culture. Good times. Great to see Dan again.

I also didn’t take a picture when I went to meet my friends Tim and Diana for dinner. And I must admit, Diana takes a mighty fine photo. No photos, but again it was great hanging out.

It’s always kind of tough hanging with friends on these kind of trips I take. I mean it’s great to see people, but it really throws my road head off. It’s easy to get comfortable which makes getting back on the road difficult. I was talking to this guy Harry who I met. He has been riding around the world on a diesel powered Royal Enfield. I grabbed this shot of his bike “Batty” from his site: http://www.vegibike.com/

He has been staying with friends in San Francisco and is feeling the same way as I was. Too comfortable. Strange to have to force yourself to a level of discomfort, but that’s how this type of travel works. This guy has already been through 4 engines and he keeps going. Remarkable!

So back to the journey.

Hitler’s LA Pad

What? Really? Yes really! And yes, that Hitler!

Known as Murphy’s Ranch, this 55 acre piece of land high in the Santa Monica mountains was to be the future pad of Adolph Hitler once he took over the world! Nazi sympathizers had purchased the land and began building a self sufficient compound from which Hitler could rule the United States. Obviously these plans never came to fruition, but there remains some of the ruins from those days. So, after riding through a labyrinth of roads in the Santa Monica hills, I reached the dirt road which led me to the gates of Hiltler’s would be home.

I passed through the gates and came across the 400,000 gallon water tank that would supply the compound.

Then I continued my decent into the canyon along the decaying driveway.

As I continued to wander along in a strange state of disbelief at the possibility of such a place existing, I almost stepped on this stick.

But as you can see my friends, that is no stick. It was my very first encounter with a rattlesnake! I have been to many desert climates hoping, yearning to see a rattlesnake. Places with warning signs all around, “Beware of Rattlesnakes”! But nothing. Then here, in Los Angeles, on Hitler’s driveway no less is this beautiful and deadly creature. He made no sound. No warning of his presence. If I hadn’t realized this was no stick before taking that extra step, I would have been in seriously sad shape because there was no one else around. Of course I wasn’t satisfied with this snake lying there in stick position. That’s not how a rattlesnake is supposed to look. And what about that rattle big guy. I want to hear it! Let’s have some fun!

That’s better! The classic pose.

After having my fun playing with the snake I continued down the driveway looking for the stairs that descend to the old generator station.

The solid cement housing for the generator has since been colorfully decorated by the locals.

It truly is bizarre that such a place exists. There were plans to build a huge mansion here as well, but government authorities were monitoring the activities here at Murphy”s Ranch and the day after the attacks on Pearl Harbor the nazi sympathizers were rounded up and arrested.

On my way out, a pick up truck pulled up to me and a lady told me I was trespassing. Apparently you can walk here but usually the 3 1/2 mile dirt road is gated. I was lucky the gate wasn’t working this day. Ha Ha! See ya later Los Angeles!