Tag Archives: fear

Early June in Sturgis, South Dakota

I had plans to go to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Early August this year with a few friends of mine. Back in December, I paid in full for a reservation where I was going to camp in a tent for 5 days at “Camp Rush No More” which is located just South of the Town of Sturgis. Then the Covid- 19 Pandemic hit with the fury of the titans of old. There were a ton of questions regarding if the Rally was even going to take place. I decided that it was not worth going given the large crowds associated with the event and decided to move my reservation to early June. My friends kept their original reservations which is great, I respect their decision and hope they have a great time. My 15-year-old son often rides with me, and we have done a few motorcycling camping trips in the past. Given his school ended early this year, he decided he wanted to head up to Sturgis for a few days’ worth of riding and camping along with me.

The good folks at Camp Rush No More let me transfer my payment for the Rally for a few Nights in one of their Cabins. Let me just say, that if you want a clean, fun, visually pleasing and inexpensive camping experience then check out this Camp and RV Park. Its strategically placed in some of the best riding the country has to offer. There is a reason why the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is one of the most popular motorcycling destinations and its all about the gorgeous routes that surround this small South Dakota Community. Normally we don’t do cabins, but we took our Royal Enfield Himalayan which is only 410 CCs, and we did not have room for the tent and additional camping equipment needed for the both of us. Before you judge, please remember that we were driving 8 hours to get to Sturgis from our home in Colorado. Try driving that distance two up on a small bike. Trust me, there was just no room for our tent, sleeping bags and pads on this trip. We also have a Yamaha SCR 950 which we could have brought, but we have less room on that bike for storage compared to the Royal Enfield, plus we wanted an off-road option that the Himalayan provides.

We started our adventure in early June and headed North towards South Dakota. I have traveled this route previously and knew that once we got into Wyoming from Colorado, there are vast tracks of land without civilization and services. In fact, a few years ago, I ran out of gas in the middle of no where on the same route. Normally I would be carrying an external fuel can but with a passenger and all our riding gear, the gas can was off the table. Our strategy was simple, in Wyoming and rural South Dakota, when we passed a gas station, we filled up. For all of you touring aficionados, this must seem rather tedious but honestly, it gave us a nice opportunity to hydrate along the route and rest our bodies from the frequent wind gusts that are a normal part of riding in the open rolling plains. The weather on our first day was perfect, partly cloudy and around 68 degrees. We missed rain along the entire route which we were thankful.

Once we arrived at the camp site, we were greeted by a Live Band that plays in the Camp’s open restaurant every Sunday which was awesome. We drank Cokes and dined on MRE’s while listening to live music. For my son, it was his first time listening to live music in this type of environment, it was a great experience. Last year, I found that having a few MRE’s is a mandatory part of my motorcycle pack list. The pre-packaged meals are water proof, critter proof (for the most part), have their own heaters, and are very good to eat. On every trip, we normally have at least one MRE Meal. It was funny watching everyone get a laugh at us preparing to feast upon our MRE Meal.

Our cabin was small but for the money, beyond value. It was so nice after about 8 hours of riding, to sleep in a real bed. It started to rain that evening, so we turned in early to prepare for our Monday riding adventure. Our second day we headed from the City of Sturgis to Custer State Park. As long as you stay of the Interstate Highway, its hard to find a road that is not gorgeous. My suggestion is just a pick up a free motorcycle tourism map which are spread throughout the area. The maps do a phenomenal job of pointing you to recommended routes that are a biker’s delight. We took the Needles Highway into Custer State Park which was filled with amazing views. There are a few one lane tunnels built through these gigantic rock formations which are stunning to ride through. What was so cool is the lack of traffic and tourist in the area. During the Motorcycle Cycle Rally this area can be inundated with both two wheel and automobile traffic, not so in Post Covid-19 early summer. Custer State Park is hands down the most picturesque State Park that I have visited. It seems to be more in line with a National Park, given its size and sublime landscape. The cost was 20 dollars to get into the park which is rather high, but that pass is also good for 6 days. If I could do it again, I would have planned my routes from Sturgis to make Custer State Park a multiple day visit. Don’t miss the Wild Life Loop, its filled with Bison and Donkeys. The views in this area were less about jagged peaks and more about open hilly landscape.

Throughout the park are all these dirt roads that serve as a call to arms for an adventure bike rider. One such route was a dirt road that escorted us out of the State Park and into the Wind Cave National Park. This trail was desolate beyond measure and we traveled upon hard pack dirt for many miles. Once we left pavement, the only man-made item we saw was a sign that said, “Beware of Bison”. The pathway seemed to go as far as the eye could see. We wanted to explore this mystery trail for a longer duration, but storm clouds were rolling in and our gas reserves were low, so we made a strategic withdrawal and headed back towards civilization to find gas. We rode from 8am and did not arrive home till 8pm that evening.

The next day, we slept in till about 9:30am. Honestly after two days of hard riding we needed the additional rest. Our first stop was Deadwood, SD which was rather disappointing. The historic town just wreaked of a tourist trap but what made me aggravated was that there was no place to park one’s motorcycle for free. I don’t mind folks paying for premium parking, that is capitalism but there should be a place where someone can park for free. I guess walking the historic Main Street was cool, so it’s something I guess that everyone should do once.

From Deadwood we headed down the gorgeous Spear Fish Canyon to enjoy a curvaceous route and mountain views. We stopped at a trail head called the “The Devil’s Bathtub” and did a little hike. The walk along the river was perfect but the fact that our motorcycle would not start once we were ready to depart was disheartening. When traveling far from home on a motorcycle, you must expect some adversity along the way, there is risk with any such adventure. We were prepared for such hardship, but the broken-down bike was a definitive fun killer. We got the motorcycle started after checking the fluids, cables and usual suspects but the yellow engine light was burning hot yellow, shouting Danger, Danger. We nursed the motorcycle back into our camp site and after that I could not get the cycle back started. We were officially dead in the water in South Dakota.

Honestly, we were very lucky, the bike broke down on what was going to be our very last ride of our trip before we departed back home. If your motorcycle is going to break down, its best it happens at the end of one’s trip and not the beginning. Given I ride a Royal Enfield, we planned for such an occasion. My oldest son who is 17 got our pickup truck and took a road trip to rescue us. My thoughts were on the fact, that we were about 14 miles out in the back country only a day before; if the motorcycle broke down at that juncture, the situation could have been life threatening. We trailered the motorcycle back home feeling lucky for the opportunity to ride and thankful for family support to get us back home.


Ghosts of yesterday, Keep the Dreams of Tomorrow Alive in Jerome

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One gets the sense that the Ghosts of yesterday, Keep the Dreams of Tomorrow Alive in Jerome, Arizona. Sitting at 5000 feet, the small town is literally built into Cleopatra Hill and overlooks the Verde Valley in Northern, Arizona.

The town was once a thriving mining community which excavated gold, silver and copper from the bowels of the earth below it. The community grew quickly as many followed the money to the mountain town. As it goes with many boom towns, history dictates a quick rise and early fall to the community. In the early 1900s, Jerome was a thriving city made up of several churches, hotels, saloons, miscellaneous businesses and gambling halls. At its height, Jerome once supported a population of more than 14,000 residents. Mining operations began to decline in the area in the 1920s and by the 1950’s, no more than 100 individuals called Jerome home.

With conviction a town once dead can discover new life. The fires, sink holes and industrial economic upheaval could not ruin the Town of Jerome, and from the ashes rose an eclectic renaissance where the community now thrives. Tourism, artistic endeavors, and ghost hunting is now the basis of commerce in Jerome.

What is most interesting about Jerome, is that the City does not hide from its tumultuous decline. The remnants of brick buildings once burnt down now serve as landscape for recently completed artwork; their masonry shells protecting and showcasing individual skills of those who now reside in the area. If you’re in the vicinity, it worth visit. If the reported ghosts that haunt the town don’t get you, the winding mountain roads and scenery surely will.

 


Saguaro National Park and the Darkness of Night

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I lived in a Portion of the Arabian Desert for about a year and vividly remember the sound of everlasting sand particles whipping against our frail canvas tent during storms which would appear at a moment’s notice. Once during a rare cold winter rain squall the tent flooded with a foot of water. We grabbed whatever we could and took shelter upon our cots which barely kept us out of the invading flood. The dry arid landscape surely presents many hardships and hidden dangers but during evenings in the desert, I found solace in the stillness of the nocturnal sky.  In those chaotic days long past, the desert night sky provided a sense of peace in a place void of tranquility. There is beauty to be found is these vastly empty places.
I recently found myself in Saguaro National Park before sunrise on a frigid early morning walk. The park is located just outside of Tucson, AZ. I saw more than a few coyotes on my pre-dawn sojourn which was a bit intimidating. Saguaro is a different environment then the Arabian Desert but both places speak the same language, albeit with a different dialect. The sounds of the desert before sunrise eco the voices of life purged through the rugged reality of nature. If these creatures can survive the harsh struggles of the desert, then they deserve to be heard.
Leave all behind and walk the desert trails before dawn in Saguaro National Park, there is no telling what one will hear.

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Central City, Colorado- A Ride on my Yamaha SCR 950

Just posted a video on my recent ride to Central City, Colorado.  There is some good scenery, a brief history of the City and friendly banter.  If you have a chance to visit, you should!!!


My First Top Ten List and a Trip Down Boreas Pass


Reflections of Memorial Day

Just wanted to share a few thoughts I had as I Ponder this Memorial Day:

Many soldiers did not come back from wars ugly embrace, many who did are still drowning under the weight of its cruel grip. They breath pain and exhale guilt. Their smiles are gone and only exist in the sorrow of Yesterday. Many vetrans believe, it would have been better to die in a place where honor and duty paved a road to heights above the mountain plattue, into the puffy cloud filled sky.

22 Veterans a day lose their lives because the of the burden of memories gone by is just to heavy to carry on. Some gave some, some gave all but many still continue to fight, just trying to find a way home..

We can do better, we must do better. Every day is should be Memorial Day.


Love the Ride for the Pure Joy of Life and the Never Ending Dream

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I knew that it would be another tough day at the office filed with turbulence and strife.  My commute is about an hour and felt a profound satisfaction that my hectic work day would start and end on my motorcycle.  During my ride, I dwelled upon the end of winter and the beginning of a new season.

As the sun peaks over the horizon and shares its warm vibrant rays, I realize that winter has retreated north.  The scent of new life has permeated through the plains and mountains and one can almost smell the land coming alive from a winter’s desolate exile.  The rivers are more vibrant, fed by melting snow and the birds chatter among the trees in an epic devotional of the miracles of spring.   For motorcyclist living in a multifaceted climate, this time of year represents an open door to freedom which removes limitations to our ability to ride.   The warm air and gentle breeze call us from afar to find new paths to places rarely visited.

Motorcycling in spring is like waking up to find that one’s awe-inspiring fantasy has indeed become a reality.  Seize the moment and ride.  Find a new adventure, research the wonders of history in your backyard, visit a friend long-lost, and cherish the majestic environment that only spring can display.  We are our own leading restraint in finding happiness in this world; don’t let any obstacle get in your way.   Now is the time to leave the chaos of life behind and chase smiles and grins on black top covered dreams.

We live a life of risk and rewards.  Every day may be the last day but we are always planning for tomorrow.  It’s a life of balance and one must never lose touch with rationale thought but an occasional jaunt living on the edge builds character.  Find time to live and breathe the fresh air of an uncluttered mind.  Focus on the Ride and let the road be your long-lost muse.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn” –  Hal Borland

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Frozen Traces of Carnage and the Moment of Slowness

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A few days ago, I got my cycle out for a short jaunt.  It was a sunny February day and the snow had melted and there was no ice on the roads, it felt safe to ride.  Given the melancholy bleakness of winter, it felt like a hot summer August day.  Weather can be a matter of perspective.  I went to school in Buffalo, NY where it rained and or snowed 6 days of the week.  Snow drifts the size of houses are a normal occurrence in Western, NY and the snow will last from November through March.  This Sunny February day felt like the Bahamas but the reality was that it was about 40 degrees.

It felt good to ride again.  I recently did a bunch of maintenance on my ride and she felt nimble and ready to pounce.  As I was rounding a corner, I saw a golf course sprinkler system watering the greens.  There was a brisk westerly wind pushing tiny droplets of water away from the golf course and onto the road.  I automatically knew that given the temperature outside that the mist accumulating on cold tarmac would translate into a caustic situation.  The fact that I was riding on a brand new front tire did not help the situation (Always Be Careful on New Tires).  I was already in the curve and without thinking, I tried to upright my bike before going into the wet pavement because I felt that it may be ice.  I am not right often but this time I was, that golf course sprinkler mist turned that corner into black ice carnage.

As soon as I hit the patch of water, I felt my tires sliding out of control and that is when my brain went into slow motion.  It’s like you’re thinking in normal speed but everything in your environment is moving at a snail pace.  This has not happened to me since Iraq.  In combat situations, sometimes things just slow down.  Do you remember in the movie Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks is on Omaha Beach on D-Day and everything just goes in slow motion, that is what it was like.

The funny thing is the first thought in my mind was the safety of my new Bell Helmet.  It’s such a gorgeous helmet and the thought of it bouncing off the road chipping paint was just to horrific to contemplate.  Then I thought of wanting steak and eggs with white toast, eggs done over easy fashion.  Then I pondered my wife’s reaction, she would be so angry at me.  I imagined being in a coma and having my wife lecture me for 43 hours straight on the dangers of motorcycling.  Trapped in a coma listening to anti motorcycling propaganda sounded almost as bad as damaging my new slick painted retro lid.  My last thought I remembered was hoping the dogs would be ok outside if I did not make it home till my kids got back from school.  The beasts are inside dogs and it was a little chilly and hoped they would not be cold.

Then as soon as it happened the cycle righted its self and I was off the ice driving safely forward.  The moment lasted less than a second but it felt like 4 minutes.

After further reflection, I am not sure about my contemplative priorities while getting ready to crash on the motorway.  Luckily the crash never happened but it makes me think that we could all be only one second away from a life changing moment.  Cherish the time you have on two wheels when you can get it and always let your loved ones know how much you care for them.

I don’t fear crashing as much as I fear not being able to ride.

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A Motorcycle Mindset- Exploits beyond the Plateau

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Have you ever noticed the fact that motorcyclist tend to be individuals that normally diverge from the status quo.  When everyone else goes straight down the road of life, motorcyclist travel a different path.  We tend to have eccentric demeanors.  Our focus is not laser pointed unless were deeply entrenched into a journey on two wheels.  What we lack in focus we gain in individual perspective.  Motorcyclist may lack money and fancy houses but we have awesome stories of phenomenal substance.

Motorcyclist have a profound appreciation of life outside societal norms.  We tend to believe in hard work and dedication to family but our minds drift through the surreal in search of harmony and bliss.  The ride is not just about speed and adrenaline, it’s about searching our senses and our environment in a quest to find what is real in this life.   Don’t get me wrong, I love the wondrous views and the remote sense of fear as I take that curve a little too quick but it’s more than that.  It’s about finding our own path and dictating our own terms in a world where individual thought is discouraged.  Our continual search takes us all too a different spectrum of our environment.  Our quest will never lead us to the same answers, were just too darn individualistic to share that same route.

I have been working so much lately in an effort to do what is right for my family.  I have no issue with my job but sometimes I feel that maybe it takes me away from what is real about life.  In Denver, we have a huge homeless problem.  Some of these folks are surely caught up in despair and bad luck.  The gruesome cycle of poverty is no joke and I feel fortunate that I am still able to work and support my family.  With that said, every once in a while as I pass a person I think is homeless and they look at me and I swear THEY THINK, “you look at me like I am homeless but you’re the one I pity.  I may have no wealth or monetary substance but you are living a life of real poverty.”  I never want to be homeless.  I write this while camping in the mountains of Colorado in January.  Its bloody cold out, my fingertips feel like little rocks as I type away at the keys.  My hands and digits are stone cold and I shiver as my toes ask warmth but there is none to be found.  I camp in the cold typing on my laptop knowing that I have a warm home awaiting me after my winter camping festivities which provides me eternal security beyond recognition.  Homeless people do not have this option and this simple tragedy keeps me awake at night. Wow, I never want to be homeless and cold with nowhere to go. Most homeless surely do not want to be in their predicament and are looking for solutions to meet their immediate needs.  I grieve for these individuals and hope they can find warmth and security.   As bad as being homeless may be, is it possible that a few people choose to be homeless?  We live such complicated lives and through simplification of our environment our minds become less cluttered with problems and worries. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” I believe that there are a few individuals that choose this life style.  These few persons, give up everything in their search for an answer.  It’s an ALL IN Approach in their path to find knowledge.  This is a journey I never want to follow but I respect their conviction and courage.

One of the best books of insight I ever read was a novel called Siddhartha.  It’s a spiritual word fest of enlightenment.  When I was younger, this book answered many of my questions about what makes an individual truly rich.  I still very much respect this book for its wisdom but I have found in my declining years that answers of this magnitude can never be answered by a book but must be answered by the individual seeking guidance in the matter.  The answers are all relative and change with every individual.   I believe that books will never truly answer our questions but are needed to help us find wisdom so we can answer those questions ourselves.

Wow that was a tangent, I think I finally have succumbed to hypothermia.  My toes are now numb and silenced.  My hope is that I may be able to thaw them in my car.   My fingers are now in a frozen state and lack the manual dexterity to hit the correct keys.  It’s their way to punish me for writing in the snowy cold mountains in the middle of the night without any heat.  One last thought, I do believe that there is something about riding that helps us open our minds to answers and wisdom.  Maybe it’s a Zen Like state comparable to meditation that our minds transcend to while riding?  All I know is that mind works differently when riding in a positive way and for that I am thankful.

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The Loneliest Road in America

The Loneliest Road in America

I have no photos to prove I rode the Loneliest Road in America.  Forgetting to take photos for a two-week ride on my motorcycle has not been my finest moment as an amateur blogger.  Over the same two-week trip, I also forgot to put on pants at a family re-union dinner.  Oh yes, this is a true story.  I walked into the room with a short sleeve shirt, shoes, hat and boxer underwear.  I totally forgot my pants but luckily was wearing white boxer briefs which could almost count as shorts but are definitely classified as underwear.  The whole family noticed my fashion blunder and I will go down in the family history as the dude that forgot his pants at the Family Reunion. Luckily shortly after that incident, I got back on my cycle to ride one of the most majestic roads in North America.  The Loneliest Highway through Nevada is not just a clever name to increase tourism, it is legitimately desolate beyond compare.  Think of the Desert Planet Tatooine in Star Wars and you will have an accurate representation of the isolated motorway.  The Loneliest Highway is part of U.S. Route 50 which starts in Ocean City, Maryland and runs all the way to West Sacramento, California.  Highway 50 has been named the Backbone of America which defines its rural spirit.  The Loneliest Highway is a subsection of this interstate which is located in Nevada.  This stretch of payment is a philosophical bikers dream.  It’s not filled with wondrous curves or insane pathway cliffs but its barren landscape breeds independent free thought.  In the desert, the lines of communication between our consciousness and soul become more linked and primed.  Back in 2003, I lived in the desert in South East Asia for a year.  During this time, I wrote without abandon with more conviction and feeling then I have ever felt.  This could be explained by many reasons but I always thought that the desert environment served as a muse which affected my soul directly leading to my literary expressions.  It could be the open skies, the vivid sunsets, mesmerizing dawns, murderous sun or extreme deadly heat but for some reason, the desert enhances ones own own self perspective. 

For me the Loneliest Highway started near Carson City, Nevada along U.S. Route 50 and ended in Delta, Utah.  If you’re going to ride this isolated route, then be prepared for nothingness.  For the first time in my life, I did my homework.  My research found a limited amount of Gas Stations along the way.  I packed an external gas reservoir, to supplement my small gas tank.  This was absolutely needed and was used on multiple occasions.   Sun block is needed and a lot of it.  With every stop, I applied sun block.   I found that the scent of the lotion much better than my natural odor (showers were limited on my trek).  There are plenty of places to camp for free in National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Property.  Watch out for small desert creatures that can ruin your evening if you choose to sleep under the stars.  I traveled with a foam bed roll, sleeping bag and fully enclosed bivi shelter.  I am a huge wimp; the thought of waking up with a rattlesnake in my sleeping bag or scorpion on my forehead makes the bivi shelter and absolute essential for desert camping.  Don’t be fooled, it may be scorching hot during the day but at night the temperature drops and a sleeping bag is mission critical.  Sitting under the night sky while camping on the Loneliest Highway is one of the most peaceful environments I have ever witnessed.  The sounds of the desert, vast star infested atmosphere and the loneliness of the place, transfixed my emotions and brought me into a dream while still conscious.  It’s a great place to be with one’s self and ponder life’s many conundrums.

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