Two weeks away from the computer has been – pleasant. Now it’s time to entertain you with tales of my travels – Across America in the Spirit of Freedom.
On May 1, the weather was perfect for duck hunting; cold, rain, and relentless wind – the heated liners proved their worth for my departure. At the far end of South Dakota’s prairie, I met Jim Burgess, owner of Black Hills H-D in Rapid city. While service made minor repairs, and threw on new brake shoes and topped off the oil, Jim and I shared mutual views, concerns, and respect in the comfort of their lounge. On a farewell, my wallet was not allowed out of my pocket. It was late in the day, but I stopped at a recommended Sturgis bar for a burger and a Bud, and was not allowed to remove my wallet there either – more kindness to share down the road.
A lot of space laid out across Wyoming. At dusk, I was lucky there wasn’t a fourth deer around the curve. By 10 p.m., 280 miles laid behind me and my camp in Worland. In morning sunshine, I rolled over snow covered passes, then into Jackson Hole. It’s actually a valley that sinks four times faster then the Grand Tetons rise; but their clock runs on a geological timescale – grand spectacles, nonetheless.
For those fond of wide open space, I would recommend anyplace along highway 20 in south Idaho. The scenery projects an otherworldly landscape, so much so, that NASA tested vehicles in the 750,000 acres of crinkled lava in the Craters of the Moon National Monument. The town of Carey sits on its north side, and the good people offered their fairground for my camp site. In Oregon, highway 26 climbed into pine covered mountains along wide fertile valleys. A side trip led deep into the scent in search of a Lewis and Clark Trail, but mud and snow on the track turned me back. Farther on, one of Oregon’s classics pulled up at a gas stop. The 318 cubic inch engine roared true in the 1970 Dodge Charger – a General Lee model. But, it will soon blow away competition with a 429 Hemi engine.
From the town of Sisters, the trail twists off the mountains. Had it not been raining, I would have enjoyed the piney scenery much more. In Veneta, west of Eugene, Roger, and his wife, Ellen, welcomed me to their home for a couple nights. Roger and I met in 2009 while I lived in a resort out in the rice paddies of Vietnam – and a nice home it was too. On my next visit, I will look forward to ride on our Fat Boys, or salmon fishing. A short ride from there brought me to Aunt Martha and Uncle Bob’s, and out to cousin Kari’s home in the wilderness – where her goats, donkeys, and cats guard the yard. Then my direction turned onto the Redwood Highway into California.
Thankfully, the rain slacked off for a quiet stroll through the Avenue of the Giants – some of the largest and oldest trees on earth – one of the most serene and humble places for a walk. The next day, I met up with Mike, another buddy I met in Vietnam. Of all places, we met up at Johnny’s Bar in Hollister. In 1947, a group of motorcycle riding WW II veterans, known as the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club, along with their wives, girlfriends, and other riding enthusiasts, arrived for the 4th of July jamboree. The bash was ‘almost’ news worthy, and to fix that, the media fabricated and exaggerated – mayhem sold in those days too. But, it was the birth of the American Biker, and Hollywood drove a fear of them into the heart of the American public.
Johnny’s owner, Charisse, entertained Mike and I with some of its rich biker history, then we were off to, Howie’s, a friend of long standing. Along with his collection of music, he cares for, and turns a few records he keeps for me. The weekend of tunes resulted in a lot of recyclable aluminum. On Monday morning we bid farewells and rode off to meet with the National Veteran’s Awareness Organization for the Run to the Wall in Washington D.C.
Blogs of the Run will follow.