|11-18-2009, 05:37 PM||#1|
Joined: Jul 2009
Az to Ny on a 76 CB550 Cafe
Lets see how this goes. I guess I should give a little backstory on the bike. When I was 17 I saw a old motorcycle sitting in a parking lot. I fell in love with those 4 mufflers. It was a Honda CB550. I remembered that there was an old Honda motorcycle sitting in my parents back yard. It turned out to be some old CL125. I got it road worthy and rode it for a while while looking for a CB550. After a while I found one that had bee sitting in a corner of a garage for 20 years but was complete and went on a crash course on restoring it. I got it back to being road worthy but it had charging problems and a CB750 came my way so the 550 went under the knife for a cafe conversion. Completed about a year and a half later. Which brings me to my trip, Originally planned to just be sturgis and back. However it turned into something a little more. The format is a little weird because I copied it from my trip notes. Grohidighast is the forum handle (from another forum) of my buddy who was with me the first leg of the trip
Here is the bike before and after...
-2 Rear Tires
-1 full speed blow out
-10 miles pushed to the nearest town on two separate occasions
-20 miles ridden to the next town on a flat rear at 4 miles an hour
-countless hours on the side of the road, rain and shine day or night.
-1 1/2 months spent sleeping on the ground
-1 free night in a luxury hotel because I crashed in front of a bunch of executives.
-1 group of said people that proceed to get ultra hammered in the lobby of the hotel room while telling me about various things.
-1 Bag of the devils lettuce that the nice people of Tennessee left on my bike, in plain sight with a note saying Good luck with your trip
-Couple of nights spent sleeping under a tarp on my bike in the middle of no where while it rains.
-2 days spent in a field in Wyoming trying to get shit to run.
-countless interesting people met.
-4 hours spent going top speed, red lined in Texas.
1- mystery animal almost fought in the woods in the middle of the night with a cheap walmart machete and no phone.
-1000's of miles with out the comfort of a cell phone
87443- attractive females in checkotah Oklahoma for no reason what so ever.
5-police stops and one near mistaken arrest for credit card fraud
1- shop owner who called the cops walking out just in time to see the police give us our machetes back.
11000 total miles
1-other country that would let me in (thanks Canada) but one home country that would not let me BACK in. Thanks America.
1-shitty job worked to get my broke ass gas money
105-MPH with my feet on my handle bars and my hands in the air.
1-Topless is law sign found.
1-mirror lost to hitting a taxi cab in NYC
Many close calls with disaster.
1- Creepiest lake on the face of the earth.
And some other things I cant think of off the top of my head.
Me and forum member Grohidighast set out from Arizona, we planned on leaving around 10 that night and being in Denver the next day. There was supposed to be a third person but he flaked out last minute. He would have been the odd duck on a 650 V-Star anyway.
Bikes packed up. Yet to see any mileage and still clean.
We headed out, when we pulled up to the street and Grohodigasht said "there is only one word to describe right now" to which I replied "Fcuk yeah?". Even though thats two words its exactly what we were both thinking. We pulled out and got on the freeway, to be honest I was unsure if the bike would even make it to Globe, let alone mount Rushmore. Only because of the fact that I had put less that 150 miles on it since it was completely finished and that only right before we left. I guess I would find out soon enough.
We took the 60 and made our way up the twists and turns in the canyons that surround globe. They probably look a lot better during the day but at night they were just black walls. Soon enough we made it out to the first rest stop just outside of Globe. We ate Power bars and kept our eye on the shady couple walking around in the dark of the stop, then got back on our bikes and headed into Globe. Globe is a small mining town, this part overshadowed by the mountain which had been squared off from mining. It looked sort of like a pitch black DEVO hat. The whole mountain is pitch black except for the red dots thats follow the numerous pipe lines that snake around it. It over looks the streets, the main one which we were passing on is filled with old run down buildings. However there windows show disproportionate life. Nice interiors of stores, shops and cafes in run down buildings. This made the town seem fairly friendly but hard to imagine it being busy during the day.
We headed out past the town and into the desert. Nothing but blackness and whatever your headlight lights up in front of you. Everything else is black until the horizon of the sky meets the ground, the sky itself is much brighter than the earth. I took the lead as my headlight from some old gold wing was much better than his set up. He had a single light from one of the dual light set ups from the 70's. A uneventful while late he pulled off to get gas and since I was leading I missed the turn off. I went down the road a bit until I noticed. Not more than a couple hundred yards away. So I pulled off to turn around and just for kicks turned my bike off. Pitch black all around me, pure nothingness. I quickly kicked the bike back into life and made a U-Turn to go fill my tank. When you ride a while and fall into that sort of trance getting gas is like an interruption.
heres a picture of Grohidighasts bike at the pump. The total blackness of the background is not an illusion of the camera flash.
Back into the night we headed the road soon became curvy and the skyline began to rise. We were entering more canyons. The roads soon became very curvy, a pretty fun road on my bike but I don't imagine to comforting on a chopper with a poor headlight. We descended some more into the salt river canyon and ended up in the bottom just before the bridge where we decided to take a break. It was a kind of bizarre sight with the roads snaking down each side of the canyon the headlights of the other cars resembled search lights. There headlights sweeping out into the void illuminated by the mist from the river as the cars rounded the corners on the canyon walls. Kind of like search lights, 3 or 4 cars total were descending either side of the canyon. The guardrails giving the lights shining out above us peculiar shapes all with the roar of the overflowing river just below us. We walked down and checked the river out. The only illumination was my flashlight. The water was high and strong and would have be terrifying to fall off the cliffs about 20 feet to the raging water below. Even a few feet from the edge your cautious instincts kick in and you step slower. We got back up the stone steps to check on our bikes, both coughing oil out the cam breathers. A bit concerning but what could we do. Kicked the bikes back to life and across the bridge over the water to the opposing side to snake our way up that cliff. Soon adding our headlights to the strange show to anyone watching below. The skyline soon lowered back to normal as we got out of the canyon and back onto the open road.
More hours of uneventful blackness and maybe a small town or 2. My Speedometer back light went out and it began to make a "wheeering" noise. We came to the next gas station and noticed the ground was wet. We had just inadvertently missed a passing storm. Lucky us. I let Grohidighast borrow my par of vise grips as his throttle handle kept slipping off. Up the 191 we went and soon day break. The morning sunlight revealed that my speedometer had eaten itself from the inside out. Guesstimating speeds around cops would not be fun. We eventually got to the long rolling hills in the Navajo Indian reservation. Miles and miles of giant rolling hills and straight road.
We came to a T in the road. A small town where we got gas, If you have ever been to an reservation you know for whatever reason there is always tons of feral dogs. This place was no exception. The inside of the gas station was spacious and mostly empty. Entire shelves dedicated to a few cans of this or that. I stared and contemplated the dogs fate as we both got gas and ate. The area was very busy for being so early, I don't think they like to waste daylight.
We go east on the 160 and a few miles later are in the painted desert. We passed the camera while riding back and forth to take a few photos.
Not half a mile after we took these pictures I saw Grohidighast fall back and pull over. I looped around and pulled up thinking maybe he just wanted to take more pictures. We had a problem. The end of the clutch cable had broke. One possible solution was using a pair of vice grips but I guess he had lost them during the night and he had none. A scenic place to stop though really...
|11-18-2009, 05:38 PM||#2|
Joined: Jul 2009
I was wondering, "Is this it already?" and really it would have been sensible to turn back. We stared at it a while and came up with this rig. Which worked but was very very difficult to even take off with, any normal use would be throw out the window. Good thing most of the road ahead of us for a while was at least straight. Did you know the starter motor can replace the use of the clutch to start out by using it to lurch foreword and start you off with the bike in gear?
We went on and for the most part were ok. The road T'ed off 3 or 4 times but most times we got lucky with no other traffic. The one time we had to stop to let traffic past kept us on edge because we had to deal with traffic coming both ways and it was not easy to quickly select gears with the foreword controls. About 10 miles or so later we past the exit for the four corners monument and came up the welcome to Colorado sign. I pulled up and turned my bike off to wait for some other tourists to take pictures and move out of the frame. When they left I turned my bike on and kicked it. I knew with in the first 1/4 of that kick that something was wrong. The bike always starts with ease. I put my hand in front of the headlight to see if I had power and nothing, great. So in front of the sign all my gear came off and I unloaded the bike. Took the tank off and the seat and whipped out the multimeter. I was relived when my battery showed 12.6 Everything else seemed in order. I got the idea that it might be the cigarette lighter so Grohidighast jammed it into the corner of the welcome sign. It may still be there as far as I know
I reloaded everything and put my gear on got on the back to leave and turned the key on. Hand in front of the headlight and no power again. I dreaded unloading all the stuff again and Grohidighast was pulling out in the road. It occurred to me for some reason to wiggle the positive lead and that did the trick. I guess the cam breather had spit enough oil that seeped down and was enough to block the connection. I wiggled it around a lot to make sure it had clean contact.
We went on until Cortez Colorado where we stopped in a parking lot just in town. There was no way we could do stop and go traffic with his clutch. We pulled over and made a few calls to see if any shop around was open. I learned for the first time that for some reason motorcycle shops are closed on Mondays. He got some sketchy directions and took my bike to go try and find the place. I kinda lounged in the shade a bit while he was gone. Running over to what I though was an ice cream shop, but turned out to be a coffee shop. It had been converted from one of those 60's metal camper trailers and the inside was barley big enough to fit 4 standing people. I went in and was disappointed but I asked them to fill my water so as not to be completely rude. I think they noticed my disappointment. Went back over to the bike and watched the heavy traffic go by. One couple on a bike stopped to see if I needed help. All he could do was offer the number to the shop that works on his bike. He then asked if the choppers engine was "like his" as he made a v with his arms. I find it bizarre that you can own and ride a bike and not even be familiar with the engine configuration. I thanked him and took the number in case we needed it. Grohidighast came back, no luck and it looked like a storm was moving in. My mind started to look around to find a place to set up camp. We figured we have to at least get to a store to eat. We stare at the problem some more trying to come up with solutions when I get this brilliant idea...
Although it was sketchy we made it to the nearest walmart where we proceeded to find a rather nice corner in the back of the parking lot. A bit secluded with 2 grass hills and a wall on top. Also with very little traffic. We got food and decided to stay the night there.
Little did we know that during the night the water tables rise and the curbs around where we were sleeping start seeping water. Right into where we were sleeping.
The next morning we find a shop to patch his cable and then are on our way. I never realized how awesome Colorado really was and not to far at all. At some point along here I lost a pod filter.
A few times we had passed and been past by another rider on some older Honda cruiser. We got no waves in return and almost a cold should. As we were at this paticular rest stop he caught up and pulled off. No greeting or anything. As he was walking past I was adjusting my rear luggage when I pushed on it too hard and the bike lurched and fell over. A bit embarrassing and we quickly picked it back up. No offer from help from our fellow rider. We stood a while around our bikes and the other rider got back on his and went to take off. JUST as he was pulling past us he stalled it, suddenly I did not feel so bad about dropping my bike.
Up the mountains and I noticed that my bike felt a bit sluggish probably from being jetting for lower elevations.
All the way up to Silverton and of course the Silverton train which CW McCall did a song about.
Anyways we marched on for a while until it got dark. We came to a mountain pass. I wanted to sleep but Grohidighast pushed for us to go over it. At first we backed tracked to make sure it was the right route and then we went for it. At the time we were not aware that it was a high mountain pass. It was also the middle of the night and freaking freezing. We descended up, on the pass the tree were blocking everything much similar to the the cliffs, pitch black beyond the light and the only difference where the skyline meet the tops of the trees. I was cold, all I had was jeans and my jacket. Every moment was agonizing. After what seemed like forever we got to the midpoint. If it was just me I would have curled up into a ball in the corner but we pressed on and made it. As we were descending I could feel in my legs and arms and fingers the warm blood again winning the battle with the cold. Relief! We made it into the next town and found another corner of a lot to fall asleep. To our dismay that walmart was not 24 hours. I settled with a dinner of tater tots from the Sonic across the street. It was still pretty chilly and my warm sleeping bag was more than welcomed.
The next morning we awoke and looked to see what we had just crossed and got this, Pikes peak.
Here is our bikes the following morning.
And the flatlands before Leadville and the town of Leadville. We went into a mom and pop owned gift shop and the older couple that owned it were pretty crazy. The conversation started out normal but after we had paid for our stuff the conversation soon veered off. I think we slowly backed out of the store nodding our heads.
Grohidighast bike had no power in the mountains. It must be more than a altitude issue. It was suggested to us that its the carbs themselves. The intake manifold of the cycle x carbs is different in length from 1-2 3-4 maybe causing one to be lean and the other to be rich? Maybe Honda had 4 carbs on there for a reason, does any one have a set that are in perfect or good tune?
A while after Leadville and just after the Eisenhower tunnel Grohidighast clutch cable gave out again.
After a while we finally got into Denver and crashed at a friends house. Well their yard anyways.
The next day we headed over to a local from the Honda chopper board to try and find a clutch cable. He helped us out big time with a cable and a set of plugs. We made our way to the Nebraska boarder.
If I had a sport bike I would probably be dead right now. The route we took had miles and miles of nothing. Gentle rolling hills with only the occasional farm. You look out and see nothing but the gold green color of the grass. You could see as far as your eyes would let you. You could go as fast as you could for hours and not see another car. It was as desolate and for some reason more worrying than a equal barren desert. At least a desert has variety, this place had nothing and maybe thats what made me a bit more nervous than usual that I would break down or crash. If I was seriously hurt in a crash I would have been pretty much helpless. I was glad that I was riding with at least one other person then. It was still in the back of my mind that if a car took us out, would they find us before we were nothing but skeletons in a ditch? I mean there are few thing cooler than skeletons and motorcycles but still...
The small towns with the old style pumps. I forget what small down in Nebraska this was in but as we were getting gas the local sheriff pulled up to the pump to get gas. Let me describe what happened. He gets out of his dodge truck and he must be at least 70 with a big cigar in his mouth. His grandchildren in the back along with the dog all barking and yelling. He pays, comes back out and then a lady in a car who had pulled up to get gas starts yelling at him about something and I soon realize it must be his daughter as she ended up taking one of the kids. He gets his gas and almost drives away with the gas cap open his daughter and the gas station attendant flag him down before he gets out of the dirt lot. Something about witnessing this whole thing was amazing too me. I think maybe because they are so much like outlandish book charters but they are real. It would not be the last outlandish person I met.
We ended up staying in a camp ground. Getting closer to Sturgis we were seeing more and more harleys and goldwings. We eventually found our way to mount Rushmore. We pulled up to the entrance and they wanted 10 bucks just to get it! Forget that, we turned around went past a few barriers and got one shot. Then headed out for the road that runs right next to it, for free. My entire life I thought that the faces were carved out of the side of the whole mountain. All the pictures I have seen were framed to suggested it, in real life its really not that big so that was a bit of a disappointment.
When we got to the black hills there we so many bikes. Hundreds and hundreds. We were not even in the town yet. I guess we had developed a faster pace from the rest of the trip so it was also a bit frustrating because all the other bikes were going sooo slow. We got into the town of Sturgis and stopped at a gas station. Grohidighast also bought the corniest T-shirt he could find from a tent vender set up in the parking lot. We also saw an awesome S S remake pan head in a bobber. The only bike I saw besides hundreds of "baggers" and goldwings. For some reason I also noticed a bunch of CX500s too. So from there we turned around having no interest in the town other than saying we have been there and started heading south. More open roads and just as we were getting near Cheyenne Grohidighast bike started running on two. We pulled up the on ramp and just off the road. We would spend the next two days here.
|11-18-2009, 05:40 PM||#3|
Joined: Jul 2009
The order of events for the next 2 days are a bit jumbled because its a bit hard to remember the order of events from almost 4 months ago that I did not write down but I think it went about like this...
For the rest of the day we tried to figure out what was wrong and to make things worse there was a storm moving in. So for a bit we combined our tarps over the bikes and made a tent. The heavy rained missed us luckily. Right away a fellow biker pulled up and helped us out the best he could but no luck. Kept running on two and we could not track down the problem which was obviously in the ignition system somewhere and starting to drain the battery from all the testing. Before it got dark I made a food/water run and then we set up camp for the night. The next morning Grohidighast took my bike from Cheyenne to Denver to get a points plate to replace the electronic ignition. I just kinda lounged in my sleeping bag hiding from the sun. About an hour before he got back a cop car rolled up. They said someone had called to report a dead body on the side of the road. They figured I was dead because I had not moved for a couple hours and that no living person would be in a sleeping bag in this kind of heat. I guess thats what I get for being from Arizona. Ghrodigasht made it from Cheyenne to Denver and back in under 5 hours! Who says a 550 cant go? We were helped out soooo much by the biker, an other driver and a rancher who lived down the road. They bought us food and both hung around to see if they could help. Also they made calls to try and find us the coil late at night. "I know every one in this damn town, we can get you a coil" He made phone calls and eventually got a hold of someone who owns a custom bike shop and gave Grohidighast a ride to the shop to get the coil. After we got it back it was still running on 2, shit. I have to say they were some of the nicest people I met during my whole trip and in there own words "Don't really want you to leave, just don't want you to be stranded". The next morning we worked on it some more and our friends came back at different points and checked on us.
We tried this and that, made sure the gap was set on the points that everything was getting power and that the signals from the points were getting sent. We eventually switched the signal wires and the coil wires while trying everything we could think of and got spark on the two "dead" cylinders. The OTHER coil had gone bad! So Grohidighast again borrowed my bike went into town and found the nearest harley dealer and got another coil. I guess what must have happened was the electronic ignition went and somehow took both coils with it. We tested EVERYTHING and that was the only thing that could have happened, strange.
And finally the depression in the grass our bikes and us had created the past two days.
We made our way south and got back to Denver that night and stayed with our friend again. They had a very nice backyard. Before getting there and a bit bored while eatting we decided to stuff a bunch of fruit in the exhaust and blow it out. The results were not as entertaining as we hoped but it did blow it a good 10 feet.
The next day we made our way down to New Mexico and copied part of the route from easy rider and went through Taos.
The daily grocery store stop to eat.
Now, probably starting from somewhere back around Nebraska it was brooding in my head to just go to New York. The bike had proved itself with almost no problem. I had just about enough money to get there. I had always wanted to ride there and figured there would be no better time in my life and its the farthest I can go without a passport. Even if I failed a few miles out it would be better than "what if". So I argued with myself back and forth while heading south but I think deep down as soon as I thought about it the answer was yes. I finally decided that in Albuquerque I would depart and take the 40 east. I would have taken one of the main roads east earlier but did not want to let Grohidighast ride alone too far. I figure if something happened I would feel terrible. So we finally got into town and to the freeway intersection where he would head back to Az and I would be on my way solo east. Here is our bikes at the gas station and departing point. Notice the rain starting?
About 20 seconds before I was supposed to depart heavy rain started moving in. Now remember we had not really got rained on ONCE so far on this trip. This was not starting off very well, and it would get much much worse. For me anyways.
So we depart the block to the freeway and it starts pouring. Me and Grohidigasht pulled up to the freeway entrance and stop light where my bike starts dying at the light. So I give it one last rev and run the light to get under the overpass and the bike dies. I gave it a few kicks and got nothing. Grohidigasht makes a left and gets on the freeway as I wave. Now on my own "Awesome way to start this" I thought to myself as the water from the rain ran up to my ankle on the ground. I turned the key back on and put my hand in front of the light, I had power. When I stopped at the light water must have started running into the pod filters. About 5 mins later the rain stopped just as suddenly as it started and the bike kicked back to life. So I got on the frontage road to get on the freeway and of course somehow miss it, can things get any worse? Yes, yes they can.
|11-18-2009, 05:42 PM||#4|
Joined: Jul 2009
Crash 1 of 3
I went down the frontage road up to the next light to make a u-turn to get back on the 25 south to get to the 40. and came up to this intersection heading south on the "pan American freeway"
the light turned red and I hit brakes and my back wheel instantly locked up. I was on my front brake but did not want to use too much of it for fear that if the road was that slick to lock up my rear, if I lose my front I am going down. I can at least try and ride out the rear lockup. So maybe 50 or 60 feet from the intersection I start trying to ride this out. As I get close I noticed the cross traffic that I am heading for, not good. 40 feet, 30, 20, 10. About 5 feet from the crosswalk the rear end swings around the right and down I go. The added "traction" of my bike grinding along the ground was enough to stop it from going into traffic. Look back to make sure I am not about to get run over from behind. Get up get to the bike and turn off the fuel since my fuel lines came off the tank and turn the ignition switch off. I am in one piece and the bike seems to be too. However it turned out that I could not have picked a better place to crash...
After the crash I got up and paused to look at my bike for a second then picked it back up. A car pulled up behind me and the occupant got out and walked over. Just as I had got the bike back up he came over and asked if I was ok, which I was. I rolled it over to the sidewalk and he pulled into the parking lot of the hotel on the corner (which you can see from the Google maps link) and walked back over. As I was looking my bike over he asked where I was going and I told them about my plan. He then said that his company had rented out the hotel and that I was welcome to stay in one of the extra rooms. At first I thanked him but declined and shook his hand. I put the fuel lines back on and let the carbs fill back up with gas. Kicked it over and pulled out into the street, the bike was pulling horribly to the left. So I made a U-turn and pulled into the lot to park. In retrospect my bars were bent and thats what was causing me to feel the pull but adrenaline is a funny thing and makes you think a bit odd. It was also quite useless as the majority of it hit after my crash. So I deducted that I needed to align my back wheel. As I was doing that the occupants of the hotel came out one by one until there was 8 or 9. Now the range of these people was incredible. From a Indian gentleman to, for lack of any other way to describe him, a gentleman who was obviously a "hippy" in the 60s and never gave it up, he also had a cb550 back in the day no less. He could not remember the year but from what he told me about the black on the tank we deducted it was a 74. So I talked a bit with them and decided to take them up on the offer of the hotel. I later learned that they were all sort of coworkers and reps. for different clothing companies. What they all do is rent out a hotel and each rep sets up the clothing lines that they work for in the hotel rooms. Then the buyers for the major chains walk around the different hotel rooms and pick out what they like and buy it for the chains that they work for.
They said I could pull the bike into the lobby but I put it under the overhang to the side entrance since I did not want to leak anything in the hotel room and brought my back pack and sleeping bag in, covered my bike with my tarp and they showed me to an extra room. The room was full of racks stuffed with clothing with "Demo" written on every piece. The bed was hidden in the room amognst all the clothing. I took this opportunity to shower and change into clean clothes. They actually washed all my clothes for me too. Its odd to come out of a room and have someone you don't know hand you all your clothing. Everyone was in the lobby so I went out there and sat and ate some take out they had ordered for everyone. Everyone then proceeded to get drunk off their ass which in itself was a bizarre scene to me. Here I am in some random hotel with a cast of drunk people who I honestly could never imagine getting drunk at all together in the first place. Amazing. There was a girl my age there but she seem constantly angry, it did not help that at one point all of my drunken company started yelling, uhh "surprising" things at her to come over and meet me, At some point she fled to the other side of the hotel. And remember some of these people I could never imagine outside of a library desk. More shenanigans for a while and then took a group photo and went to sleep in a nice bed for the first time in a while. The next morning after the free breakfast I said goodbye after getting a few phone numbers and got back on the road heading east.
Sorry for the bad photo. It was 50 ISO film in a dark room. I lightened it up as much as I could.
Ok, much better way to start the day today. Full of food that I did not get in the canned isle of a grocery store and with a full nights rest. So I got on the 40 east and I gunned it. I mean throttle all the way back.
I wish my speedometer worked so I could have known my real speed. Counting the mile markers put me around 100 but its hard to be exact. Going so fast on a bike that rolled off the line around 35 years ago is a thrill in itself and a bit of a risk. The motor that was propelling me down this road was put together almost 35 years ago. At one point it sat for 25 years and now I am just sitting here redlining it for a hundred miles and depending my life to it. At that speed if anythings happens your done for. A blow out or a ladder, animal or even bottle or 2x4 really anything but these thoughts race in your mind yet your wrist keeps the throttle wide open and you continue, almost disattached to your body. Fully realizing that what I was seeing right that second could be the last thing I ever saw but the fact that you are wondering about it means your alive. After a while even that speed starts to seem mundane and your mind starts to wonder even more. I floored it from New Mexico along the 40 in the left lane and I fully expected to get pulled over but it never happened, after going so fast for so long when you finally slow down to around 50 you feel like you could jump off the bike and run and keep up. Before I knew it I was in Texas. Flying past the towns of Boise then Gruhlkey, Adrian, Landergin, Vega and Everett. Only slowing down to get gas and every time I pulled into a gas station my bike would idle perfectly as if it had not just been past red line for a few hours. The view was not very interesting so I continued to go as fast as the bike would go only slowing when passing Amarillo. Once I was past the big city I went back into the left lane, tucked down as far as I could and gunned it past Conway, Lark, Groom, Boydston, Jericho, Alanreed, McLean, Lela, Shamrock and finally Texola. I was soon out of Texas. My total time in Texas was somewhere around an hour and a half.
At this point any worry about my bike was thrown out the window. As if it was suddenly no longer in my control weather the bike would explode or do fine. All I could do was ride it.
I continued this way all the way to Oklahoma city. Getting gas seemed like a huge interruption. I wish I could just ignore it and be able to keep going. Sometime around here I took an offramp and found some nice woods to get some sleep in for a bit. A while after Oklahoma city I slowed down a bit to around 80 as the scenery was a bit interesting. I passed over a bridge over what looked like a lake system. This slowing down may have saved me. I past the lake system and a small town called Checotah.
I was a few minutes past Checotah when all of a sudden I could feel the rear end of my bike start to go to the left. It snapped me out of my trance and everything then went into slow motion as I feel the rear go out to the left. Not knowing if its going to keep going I sat there grabbing the bars all my concentration on that rear end moving out. There is a second there where I was unsure of if it was going to stop sliding out or if it was going to keep going and I would soon be trying my luck as a ragdoll. Remember all this happened over a span of maybe 1 or 2 seconds. As soon as I felt the rear go back to the right everything seemed to explode back into action as I tried to ride the rear wheel out, no longer worried about the back trying to walk around my front wheel. Before I knew it I was on the side of the road stopped with my bike upright between my legs. The rear was completely flat.
I sat there a while. I had lost my phone somewhere around Texas. I looked at my map and it told me the nearest town was Checotah. I sat a while in the shade of my bike, I don't exactly know why but I guess just to let my mind wonder a bit more. I noticed the field off the side of the road and the bolts and cords that were on the side of the road. I wondered about their story and the fact they were made new in some factory and then shipped to a store where someone bought them brand new off the shelf. I wish I knew the complete story of the stuff laying on the side of the road, it was probably an interesting story on how it ended up there.
A fellow stopped by in a truck and confirmed to me that my best chances were back in the town and that the next town was not for a while. He gave me one of those 5 hour energy shot things which I put in my backpack. The bike aint' gonna push itself there so I got up and go it across the highway and started my way back to Checotah on the side of the highway. It took a while but I finally made it into town. "Town" was a tire shop and a gas station on the opposite side of the freeway. There were a bunch of houses a little north but they could not help me.
I got to the tire shop. It was completely empty except for a toolbox and a stack of tires. A few young kids ran around inside, playing on the tires. Where the front office would be there was a completely empty room with a cash register sitting on the desk. It reminded me of the gas station on the Indian reservation. Then the guy who owned it came out. He told me he had no way to repair the tube but I rolled it around back to the air compressor to see if the tire would at least hold air. He did not have a nozzle that would fit.
Next try was to get it to the gas station on the other side of the overpass. Which was pretty close after how far I had just gotten the bike. I tried the air there and the tire would hold none of it.
What now? Well I pushed it up the gas station and decided it was time for a god damn soda. The gas station was also a sort of fryer. With there daily special for food listed on the whiteboard. They also had a few booths to sit down at where a few old farts were reading the papers and doing crossword puzzles. I sat down with my soda to look at my map to find the closest town that would have a bike shop. Thats when I noticed the girl that worked that, and maybe 3 out of the five people wondering around were just beautiful girls. The gas station was very busy and about half the people in and out of there were seriously gorgeous young women, it was insane and I have no idea why the ratio was like that but I was not going to complain. Needless to say I took my time around there before finally moving out. I talked to a few of them and they agreed the the next biggest town was Musgokee, About 30 miles north of where I was. I wish I had a phone
30 miles! There is no way the bike is going to be pushed that far. That would take days and besides the odd amount of girls there was not much car traffic. So I got on it and took the 69 north. I rode on the shoulder of the road on the flat trying as hard as I could to keep the tire on the rim. After about an hour a car pulled off in front of me and I rolled up and stopped by his window.
He was an older gentlemen, maybe in his 50s or 60s. He drove a flashy white Mercedes and had a huge gold cross hanging on the inside of his car and had on a nice suit and a cowboy hat. His speech was eccentric and very "southern' he told me he was a preacher of the biggest church in the area and a fellow biker. He kept telling me "us bikers gotta look out fer' each other, Im just trying to look out fer a fellow biker. Ya' know what I am trying to get at?". An amazing character really, straight out of a book. He offered to call a tow truck for me or get me some water. I had my transportation covered and had plenty of water so I thanked him and he sped off, his car flinging rocks in the air. Encounters with random people like that are why I love traveling.
I eventually got into town and found the shop. I checked to see if they had a tube my size and they did, that was a relief. So I propped it up on the center stand and proceed to take my rear wheel off and deliver it to their service bay...
|11-18-2009, 05:43 PM||#5|
Joined: Jul 2009
I spent a hour or so poking around their showroom. Looking at all the sport bikes I don't think I will ever get. I think it was the FZ6, which had an attractive set of headers which was ruined by a tube running in the middle from the number the 2 to 3 header. Newer bikes are a world apart from our SOHCs but I dont think they could slide down the road on their sides with almost no damage. The shop that did my tire gave me a great price on the tube and mounting. Yamaha of muskogee, I think this is their building. They gave me some cash and demanded I get myself a warm meal, they are good people.
So after putting the tire back on and reloading all my stuff I was off again. I went on for a while with nothing too exciting happening. It started to get late in the day so veered off the highway and found some nice woods to camp in outside of Morrilton.
During the night it got humid, very humid. At some point during the night I must have pushed my jacket and sleeping bag off my upper body. Since I had no shirt on I got destroyed by mosquitoes in my sleep. When I woke up it took me a second to part it together. I though I had broken out with chicken pox and I hoped I did not get sick. Packed everything up again and back to the road. Every mile I went put distance between myself and home. If the bike became inoperable I would have to figure things out, I did not even have a phone to count on. I was the only one that could help me figure it out. Maybe I could hitch a ride in the back of a diesel rig? I guess I could have sold all the parts off my bike. The pipes were in good condition and could get me a bus ticket back home. Even the correct finned points cover goes for a decent amount. I came to realize that as long as I had a straight frame I would be fine. I could find or rig everything else, including a motor if I had too. It would be a lot of work to find one and switch it out or even find a set of forks or a rim but it could be done. Whats waiting a week? This made me feel a little better. Since it was early in the day I took a few detours to smaller towns. Resting in a few parks and looking around some old graveyards. I noticed then that some graveyards are excellent places to sleep. Every town has one. The older and more hills the better. You can usually find a mowed place in the back thats out of sight and the people that are there have other things on their minds than to mess with you. There is a low chance of people wondering around late at night too, and if there is its not to hard to scare them off ;D The only thing is you have to be out of there around daybreak if your in sight but some of the smaller ones you could get away with spending days there if your smart about it. And its a bit of a mental hurtle but realistically is no different than any other place. Never in your life will you notice all the small sounds as when you rest alone in a graveyard. I wished it was later in the day so I could stay at that particular one and I wished I would have taken more photos around this time.
After a while I crossed the Mississippi and parked to rest some more in this lot.
On across Tennessee uneventfully. Miles and miles and miles then gas. Miles and miles and miles then gas. I thought about a lot of random things. I think I want to stop and visit Checotah again on my way back. What if my dumbass ends up in a ditch? What if starts raining but does not let up for days? How will I get the money to get back home? blah blah blah. Riding along watching my shadow infront of me grow taller and taller and soon it was night. I pulled off to go try and find a place to sleep in a small town. I did not find anywhere really suitable but there was a dennys so I pulled in and figured I would get some food to get me through the night. I would have just had the usual tuna or sardines but I had forgot to resupply myself.
The following incident is probably one of my favorite things that happened on the trip just because how ridiculous it is.
I walked into the dennys and found a seat. Ordered and then pulled my map out to look over where I should go. There were two guys sitting in the both next to me probably around mid 20's "good ole' country boys". They asked where I was heading to and we chatted for a bit and I told them about my friends bike with confederate stripes across the tank figuring they would get a kick out of it since they were both wearing confederate shirts. They left before I did. After I finished my food I walked up to pay and the waitress said the two guys payed for my meal. Awesome. So I then walked out to my bike to get back on the road and noticed a mailing bag with the clear side down under the strap to my bike. So I picked it up and turned it over. The clear side letting me see the contents inside the bag. It was filled with "the devils lettuce" The clear side had a note written over it with a marker that just said "I hope this helps with your trip". So here I am holding this bag containing more than I know what to even do with of some mystery plant in the middle of an open parking lot with a fair amount of people walking around. How in the hell did that happen?
A little bit later I started heading north east on the 81 I think it was. It was the middle of the night so what the clouds were doing was a mystery to me. Stopping at a gas station I noticed the television bolted up in the corner. It was on the weather. I looked at where I was and then saw a giant yellow and red blob heading due south. It was just north of me, I watched as it looped over and over. I think if I floored it I could make it out of harms way. Since the 81 heads north east I would have to take another road due east to be able to get out of its way in time. I ran to my bike and took off taking the first major road that went east. I could see the storm now because of the lighting, the flashes lighting up the clouds and revealing the tops of the mountains. I would like to think of this as the true spirit of cafe racing. I was on a curving mountain road in the pitch black of night, thousands of miles from my home. Going as fast as I could trying to beat the storm on a bike that is 16 years older than myself. Now that I look back on it I should have just hunkered down somewhere but it became a battle between me and the storm. I HAD to beat it. Everything my headlight was lighting up was flying past me, there was only this rush of scenery and the almost still loom of the storm. Reminding me it was there every few seconds with a flash. I cut it close a few times having to grind my pegs to be able to make the apex of a turn and having to slam on my brakes. It was one of the most intense rides of my life. The flashes getting nearer and nearer. The closer the storm got, the taller and more forbidding it seemed. I kept on the gas and made it. For a few mins it rained a little bit as the east part of the storm skimmed me but I got out of the way. I pulled off and watched it lumber by. I felt like I had just escaped a out of control train or something. Its really hard to describe the feeling but it seemed like more than just adrenaline.
I made my way back to the 81 around daybreak and kept moving on. The remainder of the storm kept me soaked but the bike ran fine. I pulled under an overpass at one point to let some of the heavy rain pass. I watch the people of the town go about their lives which they had probably been doing before I got there. I sat on the bank of the overpass and drifted off to sleep. I was awoke by a police man shinning his flashlight on my bike. Not a good sign in the middle of the day. He saw me wake up and asked if I was alright. I told him yes and then made some conversation for a bit. It hard to search a bike and talk at the same time... The rain stopped and I groggily got back on the road. The front brake being useless when wet almost got me in trouble a few times but I learned to keep it dry real quick. On and on north east pass the hills covered in trees with fog seeming to seep out of them and rise into the air. I pulled into a gas station and it began to rain again. I sat there watching the odd effects of the sun on the fog and sheets of rain on the hills. I was unsure if it would last for hours or days and there was nothing I could do about it but wait.
Finally the rain passed but everything remained wet. It was not too cold so I really did not mind, the front of my jeans were soaked and the back dry. First time I had thought "Hey, dumb ass, maybe you should get some rain gear." To this day I still don't have any. After a while the sun came out and the wind dried me out about as I got into Maryland and then out into Pennsylvania. The country side was full of slight rolling hills and farmland, divided with walls of trees with the single farm houses with silos. It was kind of nice to get to actually see this kind of backdrop in person instead of in a photo or on television. It reminded me of what I think the countryside in England must be like. Hopefully one day I will get to find out firsthand. Its also strange how the names of the towns are so different than back home and the fact that some of these towns had probably been around for a lot longer than my hometown. I made good time and felt pretty good knowing that I was not to far from my goal and that my bike was still working perfectly underneath me. I stuck to the 81 all the way up to Wilkes barre.
Wilkes Barre is a bit larger than a lot of the towns I had been passing so I figured I should take a break and find a library. Since I had no phone it would be a good way to let people know I am still alive and try to find a place to stay in NYC. I descended off the freeway, a surprising distance down, into the valley where the town was. I then realized the town was much to big to try and find the library on my own so I stopped and asked at a store. I got a set of directions I would never remember but at least I had a general direction of it. After stopping a few times I made my way to, I think it was called public square? It was the happenin' district of the town. I took a break and there and watched the locals, that area of town was pretty interesting. There was newer building that seemed to be stuffed in between old, ancient to me, structures. The people were pretty friendly and I remember the place seemed to have a very good vibe to it. Even at night I doubt I would be weary if I was walking down the street. Whenever I talked to different people I always tend to ask the same set of questions and it always amazed me the set of responses. It really helps you get a wider feel of a town and you can almost pick out people who live in the same town by a basic set of questions that dont ask anything to do with where they live.
Lots of one way streets but I eventually found the library a few streets north west of public square. The building was an old church, I wish I knew more about the periods of architecture so I could have know its real age. It was maybe 3 stories tall with the pillars and towers reaching up another few stories. It was covered in fancy stone engraving and statues and a black rod iron fence surround the lot. Which was only feet bigger than the building itself, the only hint of the library was a paper sign on the door about book return dates or something. I walked inside, the roof was very high and all the empty space seemed almost like a waste. It reminded me of a temporary shelter with all the shelves and computers being on mis-matched desks, most of which had wheels to be moved around. There was wood covering the inside of the huge stain glass windows.The whole place had a very personal ambiance to it. Busy but not crowded and surprisingly noisy for a library, I went up to the front desk and got situated with a computer. I sent a few emails and checked the things I normally check at home with no luck for a place to stay, I checked the weather and was not faced with anything major. Which was good because I was exhausted. My trip to the town took a lot longer than I expected. So I hurried back to the freeway and I had lost track of how far I had traveled since my last fill up but by the time I had got to the freeway I had neglected to get gas.
All I could do was to keep moving towards New York. I pulled off in Scranton to get gas (and because I am a fan of the office). I could NOT find a freaking gas station and got lost in the roads of neighborhoods. The roads would dead end on the freeway walls and I could not find a on ramp. This went on for about 40 mins when I decided my best bet was to retrace my steps and I finally got back to where I had started with even less gas than when I pulled off. One thing I did miss was the ease of finding my way around in Phoenix. I got gas a few towns later and was one my way. I had to be getting close to New York.
And then FINALLY the New York state line, I triumphantly pulled off at the welcome center. I had made it, it was a horrible idea that I somehow managed to accomplish. I was IN New York, myself and my bike. No more looking at maps and pictures because I was there and could see for myself. I made it and I was alive, somehow!
Then it hit me that I could almost not get any farther from home, that I had no phone, no backup plan if my 32 year old bike gave out and not to much money left. Hoping that I would be able to stay with a family member, that I had not talked to and still had nowhere to stay in the city, but hey, I was in New York
And of course it then started to rain.
|11-18-2009, 05:45 PM||#6|
Joined: Jul 2009
I almost skipped one of the highlights of my trip. For some reason I had ripped out these pages and put them in the back of my notebook, maybe because I did not want to lose them. And I think I know why, it was the only time during my trip that I got my machete out. Looking back on it and the possibilities, both humorous and terrifying at the same time.
When I first got into Virginia it was the middle of the night and I needed sleep. I pushed myself farther and farther but I could not put it off anymore. I pulled into a rest stop having not come across any other perspective places to sleep. I did not even have the strength to put my bike on the center stand so I rolled the front wheel up the curb and rolled it back onto the center stand. Now with a level bike I proceeded to fall asleep, slouching forward onto my sleeping bag with full gear on. A helmet can turn anything into a reasonable pillow. I must have got up and used the restroom and then sat down on the bench on the sidewalk next to my bike because thats where I was when the rest stop employee woke me up and told me I could not sleep here. Since I had been caught I could not even climb up on a roof to sleep out of sight. So I got back on my bike and got back on the 81. After a while there was a sign for some campground and I took off the freeway after it. I ended up heading west and after a half hour of riding could not find it. I got lost on the back roads with my brain only half functioning. I made it worse by trying to guess how to get back with no reference (No stars that night because of the clouds, Note to self: buy a compass) and eventually ended up on a dirt road in the middle of the woods.
So I guess I was going to sleep right where I was because really, I had no choice. I found a really nice spot just off the road, I had taken so many turns and back roads that I doubt I would have any problems sleeping where I was. So I unpacked my sleeping bag, laid down my tarp then my padding roll all by light of my flashlight. The sky was starless and there was nothing but pitch black around me. Not even any lights off in the distance. With everything set I walked about 10 feet away from my bike with flashlight in hand, to piss before I went to sleep.
As I am sitting there watering the ground, half asleep holding my flashlight, lost in the middle of some woods when I hear this noise. It sounded like something big was moving along. It was to my right about I would say 10 feet and it instantly startled me and caused me to drop my flashlight. The flashlight was a surefire, I think its the same as the police use. Since I was only holding the button on the end (Instead of twisting the end which causes the light to stay on) As soon as it left my hand it shut off and I was in pitch black. I'm pretty sure I jumped the 10 feet back to my bike with a single bound, I franticly fumbled for my key and jammed it into the switch and turned the headlight on. I then reached down and grabbed my dull, cheap, 8 dollar walmart machete off my bed roll. My headlight was pointing down and to the left because my front end was turned. I sat there frozen, I thought about turning my headlight to see what it was but my body was just not responding to my brain. So I stood there and listened. It sounded pretty big, but it was hard to tell because its movement was all I could hear. Maybe it was a deer? I hoped it was just a deer. As it moved along I noticed that its footsteps did not seem "sharp" like I would have imagined a small hard hoof going along the ground. It seemed duller and more lumbering. So was it a bear? Were there even bears here? I remember thinking "I hope its a dog, I will take a fight with a rabid dog over a bear. I wish I had a .45, shit. SHIT." My mind started going a 100 miles an hour trying to remember everything I have ever overheard about bears and what to do and where they lived. All while listening to these steps lumber on, taking no note of me. All I could do was to sit there clenching my machete and standing as close to my gas tank as possible. It lumbered away and then was gone. I stood there with my heart beating in my throat, listening. Focusing on every single sound I could hear. I stood like that until my headlight started to get noticeably dimmer, it seemed like hours but must have only been 20 or so minutes. I finally pointed my headlight at where I was standing when I was startled and walked over and found my flashlight. This took a while of planning and getting myself ready to move and break the statue that I had become. As I was walking to get my flashlight, looking around with my machete the only way I can describe how it felt was like I was deep in enemy territory or something like that. My bike seemed like a safe island that somehow offered a little bit of protection and walking out away from it felt like walking out into a sea full of sharks. I slowly walked back to my sleeping bag, moved it as close as I could to my bike with my back pressing against the kickstand and curled up in it. The machete by my side in the sleeping bag un-sleeved. I figured that limited the sides I could be attacked by at least one.
As soon as the adrenaline wore off I manged to somehow fall asleep but not after being startled my a few falling leaves landing on me. I was woken up the next morning by the sun, luckily. It was foggy but I got up and packed up and found my way back to a road which lead to a main road which lead to the freeway. I manged to laugh about it to myself, thinking maybe it was only a dog if not something smaller and all that commotion was over nothing.
Back to the New York state line. I stood under my tarp leaning against my bike while I ate. Waiting for the rain to pass and watching the busy rest stop (lots of Florida plates?). The rain stopped and I continued on my way. In no time I was in downtown Syracuse. If I had my family members numbers I could have just found a pay phone as it was not long distance. I decided my best bet was to find a library. After a while I found one but it turned out to be useless. I left the library and went back out to my bike to check my map. I was trying to remember where they lived from faded memories when I was a lot younger, I used to fly out there every summer and I tried to remember which roads they took from the airport. It had been way to long to get any useful details out of my memory. Then it started raining. Luckily there was a enclosed bridge a few stories up that ran from the building on one side of the street to the building on the other side. Which would provide enough cover to keep me and my stuff dry. It was only maybe 5 feet in front of where I was parked to the dry area provided by the cover of the bridge.
There was a large SUV that so happened to be sitting in the dry area waiting to pick someone up. There was nothing behind her for 15 feet. As the rain started to pick up I walked over to her window. She reluctantly rolled it down, I told her that I needed to get my stuff under the cover from the rain and that if she could back up, not even 4 feet (there was nothing behind her, remember) that I could get my stuff out of the rain and that it would be much appricated. She just replied "I will only be a minute" I told her that my stuff was getting soak now and that in a minute it would be completely soaked, I just needed her to back up 4 feet if that. She just repeated "I will only be a minute" and rolled up her window, seemingly annoyed. I was kind of shocked, are you fucking kidding me? Your too busy sitting there staring into space to back up 4 feet? There is NOTHING behind you. So I rolled my bike back until it was touching her bumper, with me and my stuff not more than 2 feet from the dry cover. Sitting in the rain, I walked under the cover. Sitting there watching my stuff get needlessly soaked. I had nothing to do but stare at her. She locked her doors, hilarious. Maybe 15 mins later her husband or something came out from a building a few buildings down and got into the truck and they left. Sorry, for trying to suggested moving your car back a few feet, I do not want to interrupt your busy session of sitting in a nice warm covered car doing nothing. I was pretty mad but whatever. The rain did not stop but it let up enough so I headed to the airport seeing how it was a place to start. I knew they lived within a few miles of it. Almost got hit twice on the way there. I needed the number for my family that lived there as I did not know it. All I had to do was call back home and get their number. Easy right? I hate bumming peoples cell phones but I had no choice. Once I got the number I could collect call. There was a family walking up to the hotel I was in front of. A mother, father and 3 sons, about my age. The mother and 2 of the sons had their phones while they were walking up. By the time they got where I was only one was still on it, must have been texting. They were waiting for a cab so I asked them and said that I am traveling and need to use a phone to get a number, the only problem is that the number is in Az so the call would be long distance. I asked if they would be willing let me make a call and get that number so I could figure out my situation. I also said "if your not comfortable letting me use your phone or you dont have free long distance, no hard feelings just say so" (because I don't like it when people ask to use my phone sometimes either...) Instead of saying that they did not feel comfortable they all said that they coincidentally left their phones in their hotel room, and that the phone that one of them had in his hands was dead. I was pretty agitated by now. All I could do was wait, the one son trying to text out of sight as they waited for a cab. It boggled my mind as to why these people just did not give me a straight answer. I had no more patience. As we were all waiting a portly businessman came by. I could tell right away that he would not let me use his phone but by that time I was pretty much over everything. I said to the waiting group "Hey watch, this guy wont let me use his phone either" sure enough he angrily said "I dont do that sort of thing" He was obviously much too busy and important. As he left I said to him "Well good luck!" smiling. Then said ".....with your fight with obesity" under my breath. I then told the group, still waiting for the cab "At least that guy was honest!" and walked away into the parking lot to stand in the warm sun.
I know I shouldn't have been such an asshole but that chain of events really got under my skin. That plus the prospect of maybe sleeping in the rain and cold less than a mile away from my goal.
Anyways some one finally came up to me and asked if I needed directions (because I was sitting there looking at a map) and he let me use his phone, I got directions to the house. I think they were a bit surprised when I showed up on my bike.
For a while I stayed with them and found some work, I spent most of my time exploring the state and finding cool places to read.
There is kind of a cool story to that key ring. When I bought my 750 the guy went into his house and dug this out. He got it from the dealership when he bought his 750. Its pretty dirty in the picture but in the center of the white thing is a Honda emblem. So anyone who got new bikes from that dealership got one. He said that the first day he had it he put his bike key on it and that thats where it stayed for years and years.
Escape from New York?
After a while I decided I wanted to go to the city "for a day". So I packed up my stuff and left full of excitement, it is the big NYC after all. In my mind New York was mainly that, the city. Not really knowing how long it would take to get there, I left in the afternoon. Which was far to late. I took the expressway all the way there, what a boring ride. After the boring ride I made it to the outskirts, I had neglected to think about the fact the city itself is actually huge and complex with many many toll bridges and islands. I neglected to look at a map and the roads here were the most complicated road system I had ever been on. All I wanted to do was get to Manhattan. As I was riding along in the heavy traffic the roads made me nervous, if I were to break down here there is not even anywhere to pull my bike off into. The cars behind me would have to stop, what if I blow a tire or cant move my bike. All this when the sun was starting to set and I was not even at the island yet. There is one thing that can transform a city into a foreboding mass and that's nightfall. In my mind at least, the sketchy places in all the other places I had been paled in comparison to here. Its the same kind of feeling of being alone that you get in the middle of the desert or woods. Its very strange. All I could do was try and follow the roads. After much fret I finally got on the island and was in the bronx. How I did this I could honestly not tell you. I had lost all sense of direction. Even now, while looking at a map, I still don't have my bearings of that place. I thought it would be straight forward but it was far from it. I filtered up the roads and eventually found myself along side central park. For the second time it hit me, "What the hell now". It was getting dark and I really wanted to be out of there already. Where do I go now?
Riding with the traffic in NYC is an experience. The taxi cabs and traffic weaving in and out. Slamming on your brakes and then making a dash for a small opening between two cars. I was in love for the next hour I just ran up and down the main roads on either side of central park that run the length of Manhattan. Its amazing the rush of activity on the road and then the lights as far down the road as you can see all turn red and all the cars freeze. Then masses of people flow across the street then vanish as the light turns green, then its the cars turn to burst back on their way. I finally stopped and took this photo with my film camera (only one I had on me) before it got too dark. I was so lost and the clock was ticking as the sun set. What it was ticking down to I have no idea. I did not really even get a chance to walk around because I was worried about all my stuff on my bike. I wanted to stay the night in the city so bad. I thought about trying my luck with some people, but what would work with the girls in the small towns I doubt would work here. The people here seem to all be busy and in a hurry. There was this constant flood of people, making any one person seem almost unapproachable. I did not even know where to start. It reminded me of the tactics herd animals use against predators. So I laughed about it.
50iso film is a pain.
It was getting dark and I decided I needed to get the hell out of there and so it began. To make matters worse as I was stopped at a light and looking behind me I saw smoke shooting out of my #1 pipe. Blue smoke, the bad smoke as far as I was concerned. Not ten minutes later my bike started making a noise, it sounding like maybe my chain rubbing my engine case but my chain was not loose. Pressing on the cover with my foot I could not "feel" it hitting so It must have been coming from something else. This was all happening while I was navigating the freeways, lost and fighting with the traffic. The drivers there are insane. Worse yet again the roads them self were horrible, I would hit bump that would cause my rear tire to bottom out on my fender and then pogo the rear end of my bike. A lot of the roads were soaked and barriered off from construction with no way to get out of the way of the cars barreling along. There was huge cracks and mismatches in the pavement which I had to avoid like land mines. Once I hit a patch and my rear pogo'ed, it seemed inches. I felt like everything went into slow motion as I looked down at an angle because of the rear of my bike being in the air. It drifted to the right a little bit and when it came down it gave me a minor tank slap. All these thing happening at the same time was making for an intense ride on a 30 year old bike and I imagine would even on a new bike. I was working at full capacity just trying to not get killed while going freeway speeds. I had no more toll money so that farther limited my options. I had completely lost any direction and what little understanding of the area I did have, using Manhattan as a reference point was wrong (My north south was switched) This went on for I have no idea how long, too long, and got to the point where my body was letting out some adrenaline. I had to backtrack a few times and make split second decisions on where to go and was worried I would run out of gas. As Keith code would put it, I must have been a few hundred bucks in debt. I ended up east of the island, breathing heavy but out of the chaos. I had long lost trusting the directions on the freeway signs and even though it said east all I cared was that it took me away from the city. I figured it cant really go east because of the ocean! I got maybe 20 minutes out into the big island that reaches out east. When I realize after checking my map, that I was heading into a dead end and that the only way out was back pass the city I fought so hard to escape from. It then hit me that it was Freezing, too. I rested for a little in the parking lot of some hige building. Then headed right back into the city.
Its worth noting that when I was resting I wrote a little in my notes. And by "a little" I mean I wrote "SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT" only with more I's.
On the way back I got pretty lucky and took the queens midtown tunnel? and it spit me out back on the island and it was easy to get across to the other side of Manhattan and follow road (9A)? to the far side of the island and up to the 95 and I ended up on the 80. With only the cold to fight with. It was not exactly how I envisioned my visit to be, which of course meant I would have to go back again. The cold was horrible about an hour or two later I had to stop to let myself warm up. I stopped at a rest stop and walked inside and turned out the hand dryer and put my cuff around it so it blew directly into my jacket. After that I tried to warm up my legs with it but it was no use. They were chilled all the way through and it would take a few hours to warm them back up. As I walked out 2 pretty girls walked by and I smiled and turned my head as they past. Probably a bit older than me I thought.
I got back to my bike and stood there shivering, it was cold even out of the wind. I saw a man fast approaching and its pretty easy to describe him, he was almost a dead match for the kind of characters that Dave Mann drew. I mean down to the vest, jeans and beard and combed back hair. The only difference was he was quite tall and thinner. [size=4pt]oh god, I hope its not the father of those girls father[/size] Lucky for me he had come up to me to talk about my bike. (it turned out they WERE his daughters) He had been a biker all his life and used to build bikes for a shop in the city. I noticed he had tattoos of bikes on his arms, but none of them were harleys, one was a Guzzi and one was an MV Agusta race bike. He told me about all these tricks that he used to do back when "they would go out on runs". One being putting newspaper in your jacket and another being wearing woman's stockings to keep your legs warm. He said a lot of the cops used to do that too back in the day and that "I shouldn't crash and die while wearing them because then people will think stuff" We talked for a while and when his daughters came back out they all got in their car and left, as he was leaving he was telling me good careers that make a lot of money as he leaned out his window and was then gone. The cold was horrible but I got back to Syracuse at about 5am and thought, "Well that did not go as planned".
|11-18-2009, 05:47 PM||#7|
Joined: Jul 2009
After getting back from New York I hung out and kept seeing as much of the state as I could. Including going to the New York state fair which I was unaware was so massive. So that was a shock and kind of cool to walk into unexpectedly. I had a friend in Buffalo so I figured I would head over there and stay a while, maybe there were some better jobs around over there.
The drive was pretty easy, the scenery in New York is pretty consistent so nothing new to report in that regard. No planned route just heading west. I found a few cool abandon buildings along the way. I parked my bike in sort of enclave in a corn field to check out this multilayer barn in the middle of a field which looked like it had survived a war. I remember thinking that I needed to find some way to be able to just do this for the rest of my life. The barn was disappointing and I almost fell through the rotted wood floor. I thought about how long it would probably be until someone found me if I impaled myself or something in there. I ended running into the town of Fort Niagara a bit north of buffalo. I made my way down to Buffalo, taking the bridge onto and off of Grand Island and was in Buffalo about an hour after dark.
As I was trying to find my friends house I ended up taking a wrong road and going into the "wrong" part of town. I think this was the only time on my trip where I felt so nervous solely because of the area. As soon as I went down the road I knew it was a mistake. As I crept down the poorly lit road I noticed the buildings along the left side of the wide street. It was lined with maybe 10 of the exact same rectangle'd apartment buildings that were maybe 6 stories tall. The outsides were grimy with flaking red paint. All the buildings seemed unkempt. The area had quite a lot of people, most of which were just sort of standing around being idle. I must have stuck out like a sore thumb as I could feel the eyes watching me. I lowered my blue bandanna below my nose, just in case. The right side of the street had the only street lamps and the sidewalk boarder a tall chain link fence. It gave me that bad gut feeling. Under each of the spread out light posts there was a group of people both shiftless and shady. As I went down the road all I could do was hope that I did not break down. Breaking down in the middle of a rainstorm in the middle of nowhere? Sure, but not here. As I went down the road I got glimpses in between the apartment buildings which were no more than 8 feet apart. The dim lights above the doors showed even more people sitting around drinking. Some were playing dice and some where listening to the radio. The truck in front of me which was driving slow to begin with stopped. I slowly went around and noticed that the driver was talking to what was obviously a hooker. As I past she got into the truck. A few streets more and I made it to the main road and got my bearings straight. Soon I found my friends place not too far from where I was. There was a huge juxtapose between the neighborhood where he lived and the one that I had just past.
I hung out for a few days but decided to soon leave after. For whatever reason I was just not feeling buffalo. Sorry to anyone who lives there but it was just a place I did not want to spend my time. Heres my bike outside of his house.
So after days and days of doing nothing I decided to cut my losses and go to Canada. I did not have a passport but my friend assured my that it was not necessary for a day trip and that he has done it before. My goal was to see the Canadian side of the falls and get lunch in Toronto. I drove around a bit by the falls and then crossed the "Rainbow" bridge to go to Canada. The toll was I think 3.50 and I soon realized that I had only 2 dollars cash left on me. I had to pay the rest in change. I hoped that it did not charge to go from the Canadian side back. What would they do, just not let me pass? I shut off my bike and waited in the line. There was a couple on a road king in front of me. Rolling it forward with my feet when the lined moved. I finally got up to the booth and was then instructed to pull up next to the building. Was it because I only had my drivers license or because when he asked me to declare any weapons I said "One machete" I am not sure. I pulled up to the quiet attractive looking female officer waiting for me. I liked Canada already. Then I gave her my machete and license. She escorted me into the building and I had a seat in a waiting area with a few other people. Some tourists from Germany, a family from the mid west and the couple on the road king. As I waited I looked out the window behind me and saw the road just on the other side of the glass.
I waited and waited and struck up a conversation with the couple on the bike. I forgot where they told me they were headed but they were from some place along the east coast. I kept hearing them whispering to each other about something obviously a bit nervous. I overhead them say "I hope they don't find out" They got called, one at a time, into a back office and for some reason where not allowed to go into Canada. After a total of about 2 hours I got called up to the desk. They explained that, with what I had on me, The USA would not let me back in. I figured it was not a good idea to get stuck in Canada with no passport and only spare change on me and half a tank of gas. So another female officer led me back out to my bike and gave me my machete back. She showed me out to a road that ran back to the US and gave me a paper to give to the US boarder agents that state I never actually entered Canada. Surprisingly she asked the year of the bike and I had a conversation with her for about 15 minutes. As I got to the American side the agent ran though a list of carefully engineered questions. Asking why Canada did not let me in and such but I had no other problems. I got gas and I headed back to Syracuse. It was starting to get colder and colder. I had to head south soon.
After some more time spent in Syracuse and one scam of a job, I packed up and headed back to the city. My window of opportunity to get south of the lakes weather system finally had come. I left early enough and made my way on the back roads. I ended up in Fort Wadsworth New Jersey some how while trying to get to the city. Yet again I completely lost my sense of direction but I figured it out and soon arrived to Manhattan. I still did not want to leave my bike but I lurked around as much as I could, the city is really an incredible place. So many people in such a small space. I tried to find the WTC but got sidetracked. The feeling of being in a place like that, so far away with only the essential things you need strapped to your bike is probably one of the best feelings possible. After a while and a few phone calls later, I finally figured out the order of streets and made my way to where I maybe had a place to stay. I would only get a definitive answer later in the night so I risked it and stayed in the city after dark but thats how those things work. It got pretty chilly as I found a corner just outside of times square. All I could do is wait and people watch which I enjoyed. For a little I made my way to times square and took a few photos. At this point everything seemed surreal.
And finally the pictures I was waiting for the entire trip!
As I was waiting I was approached by a haggard man in a overcoat who was constantly stroking his beard. He had two bags full of dirty clothing and sheets in each hand. My first New York crazy person. He launched into a conversation about my bike. He started reciting all these facts about the electronics manufacturers on my bike and all the 70's bikes. He must have been some kind of savant because the details he was spouting seemed correct. The years that different factories made bikes and what models got the ND gauges or the nikkon seppi gauges. How the vin numbers were layed out and what each one meant. He soon made his way to car manufactures and then off on some other tangent. I saw my friend waiting across the street, not wanting to interrupt the conversation I was having. I used her as an excuse to get myself away from Johnny factsalot. I had a place to stay the night. I unloaded all my gear into her apartment and we went to times square and ate at the hard rock cafe. Walking down the street I turned back to see my unloaded bike on the center stand, not looking too much out of place. Hoping it would be there when I got back
We got back to her apartment and got up to the roof. It was only about 6 stories tall and I imagine it was not anywhere close to the possible views from the taller buildings but thats where I was. It was probably mundane for the people that live there but I enjoyed the view.
|11-18-2009, 05:49 PM||#8|
Joined: Jul 2009
The next day I packed up my stuff again with my only goal being to head inland a little and then south. I was lucky I had somewhere to sleep because it rained that night. As always the bike started first kick. After an hour of trying to find my way out I ended back up on the Island. I guess I just don't want to leave. I made my way south in a tunnel into New Jersey, I had a lot of time to sit in traffic hoping my bike would make it home or at least not strand me in the mess of roads. I got to Philadelphia and toured off the freeway briefly. Then got out away from the freeways and back on to the back roads. I decided my only plan was to only take roads that head south or west.
From Philadelphia I made my way down to Wilmington then into New Jersey. I hoped it would have been a bit warmer by now but it was cold enough to be uncomfortable during the day. I was not looking forward to the night. I took the 40 bridge over the Chesapeake Bay. I got to Baltimore a little before sundown and wanted to get out to the other side before nightfall. I would always rather take my chances in wilderness at night than a large unfamiliar city. The road I was on was horrible (I think the 40 in the city?), it was rough and uneven with lots of patchwork. The sun was setting and casting a steep orange light on everything, it seemed to cover the details of the buildings making old walls into perfect detail-less squares. When I would come up to a hill I could see the oddly lit rectangular buildings that went on in every direction. Hundreds and hundreds that seemed to be almost the exact same building. Just maybe different colors. The buildings started to get less crowded and I was past the city as it started getting dark. I somehow ended up on the 70. Which was fine with me because it was dark outside. It got cold quick. I wanted to press on in the night but I did not know how long I would last. Worst yet there was heavy fog. I have never really ridden in fog before so it was a first. The first thing I noticed is it got everything forward facing wet. I had to wipe my goggles every 15 seconds or so as the mist blurred them up. I tired to put my legs as far up behind me as I could but decided I would rather have the lower part of my jeans soaked than the upper. The only up side was the effects the fog had, besides making me feel like I was in a bubble, the lights of houses and buildings and parking lots had these ambient light effects. When there was a strong light behind a house or a tree it was cast a distorted silhouettes of the tree or house. All the lights had this bubble of light around them. Its a shame I was not exactly in a picture taking position. Its amazing how much light the fog can cover. Seeing a car appear in the opposing lane with its brights on when its no more than 100 feet in front of you. I wondered how much unseen stuff I was passing by. The cold and fog wore me out quick. My tiredness seemed to hit me all at once so I pulled off at the nearest rest stop. Parked in the farthest spot I could with my bike parked sideways next to the curb and laid down on the sidewalk to sleep. I hoped my bike was blocked anyone from seeing me to kick me out. I was beat. Sitting there I noticed my legs where laying across a trail of ants so I arched my legs to let them pass and just slept where I was. I woke up late the next morning around 10. There was a cleaning lady changing the trash bags out of the trashcans and asked me if I had a good nights sleep. I was just glad I did not get kicked out.
The next morning there was still some fog but it dissipated by about 11 o'clock.
Soon I hit the North Carolina boarder. As I rested I looked over my motor which had yet to let me down. It was looking a bit sad on the outside however. My main seal behind my sprocket was starting to give out. Leaving a few drops of oil where ever I went.
I stumbled across some amazing roads in North Carolina. I spent my daylight hours taking the back roads. It certainly made my distance per day go down a bit but it was worth it. I rode all day but I think this was the least distance North to south I covered during my whole trip. That night I went to a grocery store to get dinner and came out to find my master cylinder cover had walked away somehow so I fixed it the best I could. It worked for maybe 30 mins before my front brake was gone completely.
I kept slowly wandering around. I stopped here to rest my arms and look at a map to try to find the nearest lake to sleep at. You can tell I got restless because I start talking a bunch of senseless photos. After the short rest I made my way to a campground near a lake.
I almost lost my camera and all my photos here too. To get to the lake there were these two small bridges that go over these two small streams. I went over it once and then turned around to go check the map at the entrance again. The second time over the two small bridges I saw a little black box on the edge of the bridge with the hand strap HANGING OVER the edge above the water. I instantly realized that it was my camera! I grabbed it and it still worked find but that was a close call and I don't think its possible for it to have been ANY closer. I must have set it on my bike when I was checking the map and not realized it.
Motor starting to leak pretty bad from behind the sprocket. Nothing I could do but keep the oil level in check. One of the O-rings in the cam over is starting to leak pretty bad too but the motor still starts first kick. As you can see my rear fender is starting to sag pretty bad. My back brace I made for my fender has broken on both sides. The oil is making its way to the chain which is then flinging it everywhere.
I manged to stumble right into the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love it when things work out like that.
Anyways heres another batch of slides from earlier in the trip that I just got back, plus a few randoms.
Middle of the night somewhere. The white line is a car in the distance.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway I planned on then going to deals gap but I ended up a bit west and decided to keep going instead of back tracking. I don't think it would have been nearly as much fun without my front brake anyways. A while of the same old stuff and I came to the Alabama boarder. I got off my bike to take a picture and the last brace for my rear fender gave out and my taillight stopped working. I assumed because it was no longer grounded to the frame. Turns out it was just the bulb and that one of my multimeter prongs was shot. All this AFTER adding a ground wire... There was a gas station about 20 feet behind me so I wheeled it over there. The gas station was pretty busy for being in a relatively rural location. There were video poker machines inside that were all full of people. A lot of people would walk in and out from there car, buying lotto tickets and scratching them in their car and then getting some more. It seemed to be the happenin' place. Which was weird because the gas station seemed like it should only be getting a few customers a day.
Dinner, lunch, breakfast.
I ended up bending the turn signal wire holders out and tying it with some extra wire. The bike was still leaking more and more oil. Since there was a lot of people I started asking any passer byers if they knew any welders with no luck. However one women I asked ended up asking me if "I like corvettes and if I want to go take a ride in her husbands while he was away" no, joke. Too bad she looked like the type to take up 2 seats on an airplane, I declined.
No one else even knew of a welder so I packed up things best I could and hoped it stayed off my tire.
sorry, I couldn't help it...
Not to far in to Alabama I hit rain. It rained pretty hard and never let up enough for me to be comfortably on the road. So I took shelter in front of a school right off the road. I sat there for a while, did not feel like sleeping so I messed with my camera and read a little.
The rain stopped so I jumped back on and took off only for it to rain some more not 3 miles later. I took shelter at an abandon looking gas station. There was this lone lawn chair so I sat it down and propped my feet up on my bike and covered myself with the tarp to wait out the rest of the hours until daybreak. JUST as I was leaving a depcripted looking truck pulled into the "abandon" gas stations grage. I guess it was not abandon after all. I am sorry I peed on your gas pump.
|11-18-2009, 05:51 PM||#10|
Joined: Jul 2009
Went on for a while and then the rain got to heavy again so I took shelter in a car wash. It was resting here that I finally figure out the almighty goal of sleeping while standing, well leaning, up. It required me to lock one of my knees so I could not really do it more than 30 mins or my knee would hurt. After a large break I kept heading west. I came across a RV graveyard and I wanted to explore it so bad. But not bad enough to get shot. The people in this area were pretty polite. Greeting all strangers and friends. I got gas and got a greetings or good day from every person I passed.
A severe storm started to roll in from the south. A little while later I heard that a tornado watch was in effect for the area. Not exactly good news. I again did the mad dash to get past it. Going north west as it went north and I got past it with time to spare.
Went on and on for a while. I came into this small town. It was absolutely vacant as in not even a car or window light. I stopped under the bright light of a bank ATM drive though to check my map to try and find any easy places to sleep. I could not seem to find the road but I figured I would wander around until I found it. Then I saw the first car and then another. They both started following me and it took me a second to realize they were both cops but my heart rate had already jumped. They followed and followed but did not pull me over. I wanted them to just hurry up and pull me over, ask me some dumb questions then let me be on my way but all they did was tail me from a distance. I think they thought they were being a lot more stealthy then they actually were. So I said screw it and turned around and pulled up next to the first care to ask directions. Suddenly they seemed uninterested in me. I got my directions to the road I was looking for. Before I got out of the town I found a tank and took a break by it. Still certain the towns population was 3.
I went on and on for a while and finally reached a rather large town. The town started on the west side of the freeway and there was nothing on the east side. I pulled up to a hotel which had some sort of carnival circus going on right next to it. I asked the hotel if they knew of any campgrounds or national parks or such. They knew of nothing so I walked back out not knowing what to do as it was getting pretty late. I got the idea to try and sneak into the carnival going on next door but they had that place sealed up pretty tight. After about 20 mins I lost interest and got back on the freeway. After about an hour my rear tire went flat again. I was in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I was only 15 miles out from the closest town so it could have been worse. So by my headlight I got out my sleeping bag as sleeping was really my only choice at the time.
I was worried about the wildlife of the crawling or slithering variety in the field so I cupped my tarp like a hammock and bungee'd the two ends to my bike and slept in there. It kept the edge of the tarp/cocoon off the ground. I was awoken the next morning by a cop. He seemed heavily interested and almost amused by my situation but never came close to offering any type of help. A couple hours later I was in the "Town" which was just a gas station. I was later informed that all the buildings of the town were spread out far from each other. At the gas station a older couple asked if I needed any help and instructed me to the nearest motorcycle shop. Which was about 10 miles away in the "town". They said that it was very easy to get lost and that I should just follow them there.
Did you know that you can go 50mph on a rear flat if you keep the bike perfectly still so the rubber does not shift to either side? About 5 miles in they made be pull over and wait while he went and got his trailer. They told me they were getting the trailer because my back end while riding was all over the place, when I did not keep the bike perfectly straight anyways... I could have made it but I waited and I was soon in the cab of a truck looking back at my bike. They explained to me how they really did not like the town. They had had a child there and had to wait to raise her until they could leave because they did not have a lot of money. They also told me that EVERYONE knows everyone else in the town and that people have kids and build a house half a mile away and thats how the town had gotten so spread out. Which reminds me I still have to write them a postcard.
I would have never got to the shop without them. Once there they gave me a parting gift of a bag of food and told me to call them when I got back home. The shop put on the new tube while I ate, the mechanic almost crashed it when he brought it out to me. Remember it had no front brake and he forgot to adjust the rear break arm. I was now back on the road.
With the new tire I would be set for a while, I kept heading toward Louisiana and got to the boarder by around night fall. I was not at all tired but did not feel like abiding by the side roads as all the scenery would be mostly black and bland. So I got on a major interstate and I gunned it. Again, there is nothing like going fast for long periods of time and my goal was to get out of Louisiana and get to Texas as fast as I could. Why? I have no idea.
I did have a very close call doing this. Probably the closest I have come to getting my ticket punched, and it was really my own fault. I had been cruising pretty much in a trance for a while on a divided highway. 2 lanes in one direction, a median and two lanes in the other. The interstate merged into a two lane highway from the divided 4, un-noticed to me of course. In my mind there was still white lines in the middle of the road but in reality they were yellow... I came up behind a car traveling slower than I was and started to nonchalantly pass it on the left at speed. As soon as I was maybe a foot in the other lane I saw a car barreling toward me. The only thing that went through my mind was "caaar?" Really it had not even registered as car, but more of "Something is wrong".
When I try to visualize what went on in my head at that moment it seems like a period of a sentence, a dot. So I think just "?" is a accurate way to describe it.
I was reminded then that reaction is what counts and that it has to be pounded into your mind. You cant control your reaction, only shape it. As my mind was making the "." part of "?" my legs griped the tank and my left arm pulled violently as my right arm pushed and shot me back into my lane. Doing this seemingly on there own while I was still forming the rest of the question mark. The yellow blur of his running light filled the corner of my vision and then was gone with a whoosh. Both me and the car had been going highway speeds, by the time I realized that "there is something coming toward me and its going to hit me" the said car was probably a couple hundred yards behind me and then had JUST slammed on its brakes. I was stunned and a few moments later all the adrenaline kicked in and my heart migrated to my throat. I never once made a conscious effort to move any part of me. God damn that was close, shit.
I stopped at a gas station not to far from the texas boarder. My speed had caused quiet a bit of carnage, on a small scale at least...
I past Shreveport on the I-20 and then entered Texas. As I got to the rest stop I realized it was starting to get late and the need to sleep hit me. I would have just slept there but it was far to much of a busy and major rest stop. Plus there was a security guard that I could already tell was picked on in high school that never took his eyes off me. I checked my map and saw a lake not to far north so I decided to take the first road north. Thus the adventure began.
The only roads north were designated "Farm routes" or something similar. As I headed west I debated taking them when I finally stumbled on a major road heading north, route 9. I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to soon be woods. No big problem, I had traveled worse. So I headed north and soon bumped into a small community where I had to make a sharp right then another left, it seemed like the sole reason for the community's existence was because of the kink in the road. Something about the houses and area just seemed unsettling. I don't know what it was, maybe that feeling plus being absolutely alone and not knowing what to expect in a strage place. There was not one movement other than the trees, everything else seemed frozen. The various street and building lights and the orbs of dense air that surrounded them, not even a dog barking. Nothing seemed close together. What buildings there were, were spaced out with grass fields. Often surrounded by trees, the only way I can describe it was that it seemed detached from any human action. Maybe I was just a lot more tired than I thought. I regret not talking photos here. I went on past the grouping of buildings much further than I thought I would have. I figured that I would have bumped into the lake by now. After a bit I bumped into another major route. "1999" really, one nine nine nine. I should have flipped the camera upside down and taken a picture of the road sign. I thought of the song "We going to party like its 1999" but it was probably the most opposite of a theme song to the moment. That fact made me laugh.
A bit more north and there was some road signs about lake resorts and the such so I followed them and they led me a wild goose chase. The only thing I got out of it was a loss of my sense of direction. After a maze of turns I somehow ended up on route 2198 and then into the town of Uncertain Texas, on the "shore of the lake". Uncertain, this god damn town is called Uncertain, great... I figured it would be more of a lake resort but it was more of the unsettling stillness and spread apart buildings which people apparently somehow have no part in. With no traces of anywhere appealing to sleep. I wondered around a bit along the shore roads but could never seem to find the actual shore line. I did however after a bit of back tracking find this perfect grassy knoll next to the lake. There was even a perfect picnic bench to sleep on!
So I parked it there and could make out a bit of the "lake" maybe 30 yards away. It must be because I see a dock.
So I walked over and saw "it". Only a town called Uncertain would be on the shore of a lake like this. There are a lot of places I dont want to be, but in that lake at night would have to be at the top of the list.
Let me describe it, at one point in time it had been a normal full lake but for whatever reason the water had receded to only a couple of inches. There had been fields of water lily's stretching off into the distance of the lake but when the water had fallen they had all died. Yet for some reason the stems had all held up straight as the tops of the plants had kind of drooped down and shrivel up. So here is this forest of dead things which are seemingly rising out of the water. To make matters worse the moon is on the other side of the lake illuminating the water and causing the silhouettes of the plants to be even more appearant. From a distance it looked like hundreds and hundreds of draped people slouched over in the water. I then decided that I was much to tired and crawled into my sleeping bag and went the hell to sleep.
|11-18-2009, 05:52 PM||#11|
Joined: May 2009
Location: Netcong, NJ
Awesome. I'm glad to see that you brought your story over from the SOHC4 board.
It was an even better read the 2nd time.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
2006 Suzuki DL1000
2003 Aprilia SR50
|11-18-2009, 05:53 PM||#12|
Joined: Jul 2009
The next morning I woke up, peaked out of my sleeping bag to see what kind of hellish place this really was. It was rather pleasant, amazing the effect of night and day can have. I walked over to check out the lake out and packed all my stuff back up.
It really was way to late in the day to try but I wanted to see how far I could get across Texas in one day. I probably could have got a lot farther if my bike did not start "rejecting" all of its oil. At first I would have to buy a quart and put it in. Then after a while I had to put one in and take another. It got so bad that I ended up having to carry the big containers of oil. I think I went though about 5 total of the larger containers. I dont remember how many of the quart bottles. All this was going on while I was speeding though Texas, with not much interesting going on or in sight. I am sure Texas has its fair share of places to explore but again I just felt like going fast and covering ground. This is what the ground looked like EVERY time I stopped.
And of course my SOHC4 pin, which I broke the day I got it trying to put it on but it still manages to hold on.
Marching on and marching on with really nothing interesting to report. Tail light burned out again and I had to go buy a new bulb set.
I got about halfway across the widest part of Texas before I came upon this sand dune and recreation area. I decided its better to get a good nights sleep here than to press on. Sand is comfortable.
Woke up the next morning and spent an hour or two just sitting on the sand contemplating things, never moving a muscle. I was relatively close to home so I was in no rush to get going. This wasting of time and late start would later cause the worst day of my trip, or maybe the best. The plan was to keep heading west on the I-20 and then take the 285 or similar up to Roswell because what kind of trip would it be without going to Roswell? I dont know what happened I guess I just kind of forgot but before I knew it I was overlooking Mexico from El Paso. So I decided I would backtrack, just a little.
From Las Cruses I took the 70 towards Roswell and stopped by some place called white sands. Which is an awesome place as I soon found out. 15 or so miles of nothing but dead white sand. I could of and SHOULD have spent a few days there. Not only is it a wonder of nature but its also a missile test range. "Bat country". The entire place seemed devoid, not inviting or intimidated. 100% neutral. I felt sure I could have spent a long time exploring this place, which is odd since its just slighting moving sand. There is not really much more but the roads carved out of and made out of sand and even more sand. The sky was slight overcast and some light rain could be seen in the distance. It made the place seem unreal, ridiculous even. More so from the journey I had taken to get there. Its a shame my digi cam was dead. Only real way to describe a place like this is with photos. (I still have some more undeveloped photos from here that I will post as soon as I find them.)
The small black shape on the left of the last photo is my bike.
You can see some rain moving in the background which soon became very very relevant...
I had been due for a get off anyways.
As I was wandering around the dunes the light rain had finally moved over me. It was nothing much and I thought nothing of it. I kept going about my exploring business. I was pretty close to the final turn in the road which flipped and headed back toward the highway. The absolute farthest you can go before you turn around. I hopped up on my bike and started heading towards it going the same speed I had been going all along. What I did not know is that the rain had the effect of turning all the lose sand on the sand roads into this very slippery gel. I came to the corner going about 35. The corner was a left 90 degree bend spaced out over about 60 feet.
I started to lean in and turn, about 10 feet in my back end started to slowly slip out to the right. I did my best dirt track impersonation over the next 50 feet. The back end just kept moving out and I had to keep turning the bars to compensate as I tried to hold my line around the corner. I had to turn the bars more and more to keep the front wheel pointed in my direction of travel and inevitably after sliding for a while I heard the click of my lower triple tree hitting the turn stops. The rear end kept on going out so I started to lean the bike down now that the bikes front wheel, turned all the way right, was facing more to the dunes on my left. As the bike got lower and lower now almost completely side ways I found myself still holding on with both hands and feet still in their normal spots on the bike but with all my weight on my right leg against the tank. I was pretty much kneeling straight up on the side of my bike still sliding. I stayed on it as it started to slide slightly backwards (!) when the hard parts dug in and spun it around and kicked me off. I was able to run it out and finally stumbled away sitting on the ground about 8 feet away looking at my bike. Which was facing the opposite direction I was traveling in.
First thing I did (besides laughing) was to stand up and take the first photo of the bike then run over to turn off the gas then took the second one. Notice the marks in the sand where the hard parts dug in at the end of the slide.
Got the bike back up, everything still working fine. Looked myself over and not on spec of sand on my left leg. During the slide it had somehow manged to not contact the sand. Made it back out alive and got a soda at the entrance office and was then back on my way. It was getting later in the afternoon.
I think I got my 3.50 worth out of that place. Now that the fun part was over I was heading into a very very long night.
After leaving White Sands I kept heading toward Roswell. The clouds got darker but I hoped it would pass or not rain at all. After leaving the wide valley and passing Alamogordo I headed into the mountains and cold air. Its was pretty cold but bearable, when I was dry anyways. Since I was passing though Indian Reservation I wished I was old enough to just go into one of the casinos and wander around while warming up until morning. I ate as the sun set and continued on the mild curvy roads though the mountains. I pulled over to try find a place to pee, there were not a lot of options because of the terrain but I found a field next to the hills and an abandon gas station. I walked a little distance out and as I started walking back a pickup truck pulled into the station and slowly drove by my bike then stopped about 10 feet ahead of it. My first reaction was to stay hidden in the field but all my stuff, including my jacket was sitting on my bike. So I walked up toward them with my phone against my ear. As soon as they say me they took off. Odd. Replaced the tail light bulb again and kept on going. Soon it started to rain. I hoped it was just a quick shower so I pressed on but it started to come down. I parked on the side of the road, complete black hills around me.
This is why I love google maps/earth. I can find the EXACT location where I pulled over.
Little did I know there was a major storm heading from south to north that I was just on the edge of. I sat there a while watching the impressive light show just over the hills. The quick flashes reflecting on all the pooled water in the previously dark reaches of flat between the hills. Definitely surreal, my digi cam was still dead so I took some long exposure film photos of the storm. (Which I hope will turn out alright!) After a while I decided to keep moving, not knowing I was just heading straight into the storm. My legs started to get wet but I pressed on hoping to pass it. After a couple of minutes I was past the mountains and there was a pretty much straight, flat desert road going to Roswell about 40 miles away. A few miles in the rain got heavy and I had to pull over just ahead of a single mile marker. I pulled over there because it was something to help make where I was more visible. I yanked out my just-too-small tarp and hid under it. My bike demanding more tarp than me to keep the essentials dry. My legs were soaked from the knees down and I was freezing! I leaned against my bike in the middle of this flat dark void. The only difference of the black around me was the black divider of sky and earth was a little bit higher back down the road from where I came.
Then there was the storm I was in the middle of. I think everyone should experience this situation once in their life. I have never ever been in something like it before and I will never forget it. I sat against my bike looking from out under the tarp. As the lightning lit up the expanse of desert for miles and mile around me. The flashes creating contrasted glances of the desert, always at a different angle creating a new vision of the surroundings every time. The pools of water reflecting the clouds above during the flashes making the ground look like it was full of holes that dumped into an extra sky that was some how below me. I worried about being struck by lighting for a bit but there was nothing I could do, I was at the complete mercy of the storm, wind, rain and lighting while absolutely freezing. All there was, was me and this storm and the seemingly ever changing surroundings. The only other evidence of modern civilization was the road under my feet and my bike and tarp. There is no way I could ever come close to describing the feeling of being in the middle of no where in the middle of a heavy rain and lighting storm with almost nothing around me like that while alone. It was more surreal than any dream could ever be.
I sat there watching this unfold around me. I thought about how the frontiersmen must have felt, taking shelter in their covered wagons while they waded into the unknown and then even further back in the past. Seeing almost the exact same thing I was then. The only thing I had over the travelers of the distant past were carefully shaped and combined hunks of metals, plastics and some cleverly applied electrical and chemical principles to power it.
I decided my best plan of action was to wait for it to pass or until sunrise to continue on my way. I was much too cold in the shape I was in to move. Hours and hours of this passed with the storm never letting up. Freezing cold I manged to eventually nod off for a bit while standing. I was shocked awake by a passing truck, coming to just as it was passing in front of me. One of the few vehicles I would see while waiting. After what seemed like forever the rain let up to a slight drizzle and behind the clouds you could see a slight blue light. Which I incorrectly assumed was the morning light. Turns out it was just the moon lighting the backs of the clouds up. I checked the time and it was only 1:00 AM! only one! how! This was not working, since the rain let up and packed my tarp back up and used my energy to head back on the road. During this entire time I was maybe close to the coldest I had ever been in my life, but when you have no other options or choice it becomes inconsequential. (At one point I did try to kindle a little fire using some unused paper from my notebook, failed miserably) After about a half hour I was in Roswell thinking what the hell was I doing and what kind of situation I had got into just to see a sign beginning with "R" and ending with "oswell". Perfect time for a cold soda, I asked the gas station employees where the nearest 24 hour dry cleaner was. They knew of none but I did get directions to the laundry center in some nearby apartments, which I should be able to get away with. By this time I would have killed for a set of dry warm clothes.
As I rode deeper into the town I passed motel after motel. It started to rain harder and there was no where to take shelter so I figured it was about time on my trip to stay in a motel for once. I found the cheapest and consequently most sketchy motel I could get to and it only cost a couple days worth of food. First thing I did was take a warm shower to repair my friendship with falling water. No towels and the T.V. was bolted down. I watched the weather and saw that it was not going to get any better and that it was going to keep coming from the south. Only choice to stay dry was to get out of its path. There was no way I was touching the mattress or sheets of that place so I laid down my sleeping bag cover on the bed and put my wet clothes over the heater to dry. Charged my digi cam and got what sleep I could before checkout. The next morning my pants were not completely dry and I was still beat but I packed back up and left.
On the way out while it was still raining I finally got my god damn photo of the Roswell sign I had went thought so much for. I am pretty sure you can tell how pissed I am in the photo. But again the best memories are usually a bitch when your actually making them. They are sometimes a lot better to look back on than to be currently making them.
As soon as I got out side of Roswell and out of the path of the storm it cleared up. Once again heading in the right direction... Clubmans can double as foot pegs and a throttle lock. Since I was heading back the way I came I got to see the day incarnation of the surroundings were I spent so much time the night before. Hard to believe they are the same place.
|11-18-2009, 05:54 PM||#13|
Joined: Jul 2009
I backtracked to Hondo then took the 380 back to the I-25. Curving my way on the 380 I kept noticing dark spots on the road and then realized it was pools of dried blood. I wondered what kept getting hit around there. Not 5 freaking minutes after this thought ran in my mind as I saw a deer right on the side of the road. It caught me off guard but he ran to the right instead of across the road. Its hard to tell but I think if he were to have bolted across the road we would have had a close call. Besides this it was smooth sailing.
Notice the clean spot? There comes a point where so much oil will actually stop dirtying things and will start keeping them clean again, somehow. Plus my tire started to shred.
Here is one of the closest public roads (I think) to the site of the original trinity nuclear test 50 years ago. Which was possibly the beginning of the end, but then again I am an optimist ;)
Its odd thinking what happened here and what it must have looked like from where I was. It was eerily windy.
Passing the Rio Grande river.
Soon I was in Truth or Consequences and as I took a rest there I remember wondering what kind of horrible crimes that seem like they would go on in towns like this. Only later while watching T.V. did I see that it was the home of David Parker Ray and his horrible crimes. I am pretty sure New Mexico has a different model of sky from the rest of the country. From Truth or Consequences I had the goal of going to Silver City. I wanted to go there because I have a neighbor who travels there all the time to scout for old cars so I educated him how to spot a 750 and he had spotted a gold! one there that I figured I might as well check out. I am still looking for a late 69 frame btw....
For the first time my bike started overheating. It would start to not idle as smoothly as it should so I pulled over to put some more oil in and as soon as I took the oil cap off I could see white smoke. Every part of the engine would sizzle off water on contact (Even the back end of the bottom case) I dont know how many miles I put on it with almost no oil and/or fried oil but it still ran perfectly (after it cooled off for a bit) after a while I encounter a smaller mountain range and the bike was struggling up it with all the weight. Had to stop and add oil a few times.
It was getting late in the day but I finally got to Silver City and made a phone call to navigate to the place where the "gold" 750 was sitting in a yard. I was also freezing again and it was not even after dark, I did not realize how high of an elevation the city was. If I had know I would have camped out the night in the mountains. That night was going to suck if I did not figure out the warmth issue but the pressing issue then was finding the 750 before dark. I made my way following the direction into this sketchy neighborhood. It was a very bad area, all the roads running north and south were paved but the roads running east and west was just a wide dirt path. Since the whole area was on a hill it reminded me of the view of Mexico from El Paso. I found the house in the very back of this neighborhood and saw the bike. It was in the middle of the gated yard but it was closer to the edge of the adjacent fenced off field. The fence on the field had barbed wire so I climbed on the telephone pole and jumped into the empty field next to it to get as close as I could but was still 10 feet away. "Gold" unfortunately meant really really faded red. Headlight ears were chrome, had a separate idiot light panel and the tank had the lowered wider stripe. so it was a 73-76. Could have narrowed it down if I paid attention to the engine pillars but I was lazy. Stock exhaust had been cut and it had "chopper" bars, extended forks, 16 inch rear wheel, extended forks and a sissy bar. Besides that dead stock. So it was really nothing much exciting but I left a note on his gate saying I saw the bike and was interested and left my number. Never got a call. With that taken care of I had to find a place to stay the temperature was already in the 50's and would be in the low 40's high 30's during the night. I called my neighbor and asked if he knew anyone. Bingo I might be saved, I ended up showing up at this old guys hanger/house (that I did not know) and knocked on the door. When he answered I handed him my phone and said "Bill 1, your friend Bill 2 is on the line for you" (both bills, last names omitted) He took the phone with a resonably questionable look on his face. My neighbor asked him over the phone for me and I had a place to stay. Well an empty wood working bay to stay in but at least it was warm and worry free. I kind of got locked in and had neglected to eat yet that day but it was not going to kill me.
Ok the last day, I contemplated going to L.A. first, just "because" but I realized my bike was in need of some major attention. I had put some paper down under the bike as to not to dump oil all over the hosts floor during the night. I packed up, opened the door and headed west.
This photo is hilarious to me because, coincidentally, about 20 feet down the road on the other side is a spot where a cop car likes to hide. I did not notice him when I pulled over to take this picture, only when I left. I wonder what he was thinking?
More open vacant scorched land, my favorite type of terrain. I pulled over after I was a good distance from anything to let the bike cool down and noticed some tents or something off in the distance. For a second I was excited thinking of a cliche 70's hippy colony. After checking it out in on my camera it was just some tents and a pickup truck, I wondered what the hell they were doing. I almost wanted to ride over and ask them.
Nothing worth mentioning really. On for a while then another stop for oil. I pulled over next to this two ancient machines that seemed to be fending for themselves. They were maybe 20 feet off the road, I bet they had a colorful history when they were not sitting in the middle of nowhere for 40 years. There was also an unexplainable rectangle of gravel that must have been been poured and then shaped by someone. Talk about a strange place for landscaping. I wonder if they knew that there creation would be almost perfectly preserved in the desert climate. The square plot of gravel that had been sitting there for who knows how long, was absurd enough to make me laugh at it. A bit after that I crossed back into Arizona, I was a relative stones throw away from home.
Just before Safford my tire ate my fender again. So out with the duct tape and zip ties. I always wondered what my bike would be look like without a rear fender. I lost my book here probably 10 mins after the picture. A while after I had got home I put a craigslist ad up for one free copy of Les Miserables in a plastic bag, but they had to find it. I really wonder what its fate was, it was protected from the elements in the bag. It ALMOST made it back from New York, I wish the new owners knew the complicated tale of how it go there. If I ever go back there I am going to try and look for it. I know EXACTLY where I left it. It still might be there if anyone wants it, north side of the road directly across from the street on the other side. AKA here:
Thats a lot of grime, from a lot of places.
The worked fine for a while but it ate it again and I mean it really ate it. A couple on a big Harley from the east coast stopped, which was good because it took the both of us to pull the fender out. Somehow my 13 mm socket had migrated from the top of my backpack to my swing arm and had been there since my last stop. I made a better system by hanging the fender with zip ties and I was once again back on my way.
I was getting close to Phoenix. Only a few hours away, which used to be "a long time" but now it seemed like nothing. Soon I passed the mining town of Globe, I was less than an hour away and almost home. My cargo shifted and slumped over the right side of my bike. No big deal as I just pulled over, as I came to a stop and went to put my foot down it just hung in the air pointing down. The side of the road was much much steeper than I thought and over I went. Needless to say I was a bit agitated. Getting the bike back up was going to be challenging since it was down on a steeper bank, funny how quick the bike went back up when I got angry. Reloaded and secured, took the very last picture "while on the road" and made it into familiar Phoenix.
A mile away from my house my luggage slumped over the side again, only being held up by my left hand. I managed to get across the road though traffic while holding it and adjusted it for the last time. A few minutes later I pulled in front of my house, alive and surprised that I had actually made it home after trying to do, what really was a bad idea. The bike still ran and idled perfectly as it sat outside my house, by the way.
|11-18-2009, 07:47 PM||#14|
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: New Zealand
Excellent report with some really good photos!
Love what you have done to your bike - it's a credit to you.
|11-18-2009, 10:11 PM||#15|
enjoy your spagehtti
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Medicine Hat, AB
bravo brother.....great report!!
surley one of the most epic stories i've read on here thus far, big thanx for sharing!!
DL650AK8 - aka, The Rumble-Wee
"As bad as that went, it couldn't have gone any better for that particular situation!" - Travis Pastrana
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