Carpe Diem!

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Well-known member
Aug 5, 2011
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Lafayette, LA
Earlier this year, I completed the longest bike tour of my life, covering basically 1/4th of the country in 16 days. I’ve had dreams of visiting Yosemite National Park since I was a kid, and when some FJR owners suggested a June 2017 gathering there over a year ago, I signed up immediately. All told, we were about 75 participants from all over the country gathered for the weekend in Mariposa, California. It was epic and something I shall not soon forget.

In review by the numbers, the tour took me over 6300 miles and 8 States throughout the American southwest. My average fuel mileage was just under 44 mpg, and on one impressive tank, I got almost 51 mpg. My FJR ran flawlessly and once again proved (at least to myself) that this bike is indeed the perfect mechanical companion to take me wherever I want to go. I did burn out both high beam headlights within an hour of one another on the trip, an occurrence I’m told is common with the FJR. I changed the bulbs on the road and otherwise, had no problems with the bike. After one does this for a while, he learns what he likes and what he doesn’t. Truthfully at times during this tour, I found myself just grinning with happiness and pleasure at how fun it was to ride this motorcycle.

The weather was varied, to say the least. The temperatures I observed ranged from a low of 42 degrees F to a high one horrendous afternoon of 105. Preparing for that range of temperature on a motorcycle takes creativity. I choose the textile jacket and the mesh pants (with liner if necessary) and was glad I had done so. Even though I brought the cooling vest, in the end, I found that just wetting my T-shirt with the jacket vents open was actually longer lasting and more effective than using the cooling vest. Rain wise, we got about 1 hour of a moderate shower on about Day 5. On Day 12-ish, I got about 15 sprinkles over 3 minutes as I was coming down a particularly high mountain. Otherwise, dry. And when I say dry, I mean DRY! I found myself in a perpetual state of dehydration on this trip. This climate was far different from the sauna in which I live. Different, to be sure.

As seems to be the case over the past few years, my travel companions varied along the way. My good friends Andrew and his Pops accompanied me from the start and for about 7 days until we left Yosemite. We’ve traveled together before, and we truly enjoy each other’s company on our common bikes. While there, we were accompanied by others in large (but manageable) groups of riders. After the Yosemite gathering, my good friend Josh and I spent 4 days riding together in a general east and south direction, camping and touring great and wonderful places. The last two days, I rode basically alone, and this gave me good time to think and reflect on my adventure, and to be thankful for my great and fortunate blessings.

Despite my preference to the contrary, riding a motorcycle for over 6,000 miles in two weeks takes some planning. If you throw caution to the wind on this ride, you will miss opportunities and a chance like this doesn’t come very often. So Andrew and I talked and visited a bit before the trip. I was glad that he resisted the urge to make nightly reservations at exact locations, pinning us down to a strict itinerary. And I suspect he was equally pleased that we decided generally on a route to get to Yosemite, ensuring that each of us got to see important and desirable roads, views, points of interest, etc. along the way. In the end, it worked out just wonderfully, as I knew it would.

I believe there comes a time in every man’s (or woman’s) life when he realizes that he is not going to live forever. I think when it happens, it is not meant to be some kind of morbid shock to the system. People my age start to feel the reality of their mortality. You don’t necessarily get lazy about it (although that can happen), but rather you become complacent and accepting in the realization that you only have one life and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

That time came for me a few years ago. I can’t state the exact day, but it was definitive. It happened on a sunny afternoon as I recall. I don’t even remember the circumstances that prompted my revelation, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that on that day, I realized in my heart that the end is closer than the beginning. How close, I cannot say. I don’t have any control over that, the quantitative part.

What I can control is the qualitative part. I can do everything in my power to make sure that I enjoy every single day. I can dismiss childish grudges and animosities and agree to disagree. I can love my wife and my kids and my friends and support them in whatever matters most. I can be thankful for my health and my resources and not squander or take either for granted. And I can see the world, both literally and metaphorically for what it really is – beautiful and good.

And I can seize each day! Carpe Diem!! I hope you enjoy the pics.

Carpe Diem #1: Reunion, Catfish, and Redemption

Lafayette, LA to Comanche, Tx. Approximately 525 miles

I woke up a little tired. The excitement of leaving on this wonderful adventure had me tossing quite a bit during the night. Andrew and Pops were coming my way, and giving them a head start meant that I could take my time in the morning. Still, I was itching to roll and already giggling inside day dreaming about riding and discovering.


I checked my horse twice, pulled up on the Rok straps one last time, kissed my wife tenderly goodbye, and left the neighborhood before the morning commute traffic. Andrew and I planned to meet about 40 miles from my house, and I got there on time, which is a little unusual. Soon thereafter, the other two arrive in perfect ground flying formation.


Pops tanked up and joined me in the shade.


Seeing him on that new bike brought warmth to my heart. The last time we rode together, things went terrible. Pops crashed his 2007 FJR and was air lifted from the scene to the hospital. He spent over a month in the hospital with multiple surgeries and his recovery was painful.

That experience haunted and inspired me simultaneously. At first, the reality and brevity of what happened scared the living shit out of me. He could have died that day. My selfish ways led to fear the consequences that could have transpired. I would have had no chance to say goodbye. No chance to make sure, 100% sure, that he knew how much I respected and admired him. No chance to tell him that I’m so proud of him, proud to know him. No chance.

But that didn’t happen. He’s here in the flesh. I’m looking right at him. And he’s on a beautiful red motorcycle, just like the one I’m riding. His son is with us and somehow right there at that mundane gas station, the world just seemed right again.

The God that, at 51 years old, I still struggle to understand and accept, the one that I only pray to only when I have no other choice – that God has rewarded me with the priceless inspiration of this reunion. If I do nothing else over the next 2 weeks, this man is going to know how I feel about him. And for the rest of my life, to whatever extent my foolish pride and humility can allow, so will the rest of my loved ones.

Since we are in my neck of the woods, I took lead heading generally west. There are faster ways to get where we are going, but we’ve got plenty of time.


We ran through the piney woods of south central Louisiana and stopped at the eastern shore of Toledo Bend. I’ve been there many times, but to my surprise, my friends had not. All riders should embrace the concept of finding new adventure in their own backyard, and then seek it with passion.


We crossed into Texas and turned north on Hwy 87 into Milam, where we stopped for lunch at a place I like to eat where the fried catfish is especially good.

We might as well get this out of the way – there is going to be food porn on this ride report, and LOTS of it, so settle in and grab a paper towel to wipe the drool from your mouth.


There are plenty of nice roads to run in East Texas, but we have got be moving more directly in a westerly direction. So after lunch, Andrew took the lead. Our primary objective is to avoid Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. Texas is a HUGE state; this was not much of a challenge.

Somewhere in south central Texas, we stopped to pee and drink some water at a smoke house/tourist trap kind of place. I bought a slug of some Bison jerky and shared. I don’t think the old man cared for it much, but as is typical of his gentle nature, he wouldn’t show it.


Hydrate, my friend. Keep drinking.


We get back on the bikes and continue on the State roads that head generally toward the west. We find endless one horse towns to slow down for and stimulate my imagination. I think about the Wild West days when a posse of horseman would trot into town from the wilderness on the main street. Shopkeepers and ladies staring at them in wonder, admiring their beautiful horses.

Well, no shopkeepers or ladies stared at us, but I still felt like a nomadic cowboy at times.


At this train stop, we met a couple of bikers heading home nearby from a ride to Florida. We told them that we were going to California for two weeks. I can’t explain it, but my MP3 player is able to pick up communications (C/B, Sena, etc) if I am close to the transmitter. After the train passed and we continued, I could hear those two riders talking to each other through their comm. system:

(rider 1) “Riding to California, can you believe it?”

(rider 2) “I can’t believe they can get away for 2 weeks.”

Truthfully, they are right. We are blessed, and we know it. Very few people get this chance. We got it, and we took it. Life is good.

As we accelerate from these small towns, the road gets straight and flat, but we have it all to ourselves. I’m content to just set my cruise control, sit back, and enjoy the experience.



All of these towns in Texas are cut from the same cloth, but they are part of Americana and beautiful in their own rite.



We pushed a bit to make miles, but the day still went by like a fart in the wind. Late in the evening, we arrived in Comanche, TX and chose a simple motel for the night.


I really like these little independent motels because you can park the bike right by the door.


After settling in, Andrew pulled out this bottle of Scotch and poured us each a snort.


We toasted each other, but honestly, I can’t remember exactly what we said. It’s not really important, though. Ms. Tyler, an “internet only” friend from California, sent Andrew that bottle of Scotch after Pops’ crash. Two years ago, she sent me a similar bottle after my own unfortunate crash. Having crashed herself, Tyler represents the club honorably. She gets it. She knows the feelings that riders get when they fall. She knows the hurt, both the physical and emotional hurt, which accompanies it. And she knows the elation that follows when a rider gets back on the horse and conquers his demons.

The significance of that Scotch is priceless. The accident Pops had was horrible. The recovery was long and painful. But the reunion was realized. The 500 mile ride today was basically uneventful from a scenery perspective. But the redemption of physically seeing Pop behind the handlebars, following his son’s lead to new adventures, well, that was incredible. Washing that redemption down with a mouthful of good fermented grain, knowing from where that bottle came from was my spiritual icing on the cake.

I felt complete. That chapter is finished. Tomorrow we will move onward to new things.

Carpe Diem Day 2: The Crow’s Nest

Comanche, Tx to Carrizozo, NM, approx. 535 miles

I slept OK, but not well. It always takes me a couple of days to relax to the idea of sleeping in different environments every night.

We load up the bikes fairly early to take advantage of the (relatively) cooler morning. I soaked my T-shirt and the Redfishes are ready to go.


Today picks up exactly where yesterday left off. The roads are straight, flat, and empty. But the speed limit is 75 and we making decent time through it.



Lunch at this place was pretty good.


Andrew caught me methodically adding crushed ice to my water bottle. In these temperatures, every little bit counts.


Occasionally, we pass through an oil field of pumpers.


And at one point, we ran adjacent to this high wire that supported a bird nest on every pole. Some were hawks, but most were for crows – the proverbial crow’s nest.


As an amateur birder, I found this enlightening. There are no trees to be found. But despite their literal bird brains, these creatures have made the very best of their situation. Their home is only inches away from imminent danger, an electrical voltage that could vaporize them. But they fear not, and use whatever resources they can find to build a wonderful home that will protect them from predators and weather, offer them comfort when they need it, and a way to raise their babies. I shall try to remember that in my own challenges.

By mid-afternoon, the heat is on and I’m sweating pretty good.


But more so now than ever, I’m convinced that the textile jacket was the right choice. The vents are flowing a little, but for the most part, I’m keeping that hot air off my skin.

After hundreds of miles, we find a hill. It presents itself like an island oasis and I find myself staring at it in disbelief.


And shortly thereafter, we cross into New Mexico and the topography changes instantly.



I led us to Ruidoso and quickly learned that this is a Casino tourist trap. I found no hotels available for under $150.00 on this Memorial Day weekend. So we pressed on northward, heading toward the Interstate, where we were sure rooms would be available.

My friend, the planner in our fine organization, is wishing we had made a reservation months ago. But to his credit, he puts up with my need for adventure and the unknowing. I hope it brings some balance to him, but I fear in reality, it just pisses him off.


It always works out, and at the cross roads otherwise known as Carrizozo, NM, we found our stop for the evening.



Again – clean as a whistle, park the bike at the front door, and for $50.00, I’m stoked.

But I need a beer!




We walked to the local diner and dinner was very good.


After dinner, I settled into my own crows nest, content to rest and look forward to whatever comes tomorrow.

Carpe Diem 3: White Mountains, the Big Pit, and Consequences

Carrizozo, NM to Globe, AZ, approx. 470 miles

I slept much better last night. Perhaps my exhaustion finally suppressed my inhibitions. Regardless, I was rested and ready for another day of adventure. We walked to the same diner as last night for breakfast.


And then we turned west to see what this part of the world had to offer us. Just outside of town, we stopped at this lava field, which a geologist friend of mine recommended we see.


The plants here are different than anything I have ever seen. It’s hard to believe that they can grow out of rock.


The sky is cloudless, and we are really enjoying the temperature in the 60s, which is much cooler than we have seen for the past two days.


We crossed the interstate near Socorro and jumped on Hwy 60 still heading west, stopping at the VLA (Very Large Array) radio observatory.


At the intersection of Hwy 12, we stopped at this little grocery/gas station for some supplies.


And then Andrew led us through the high desert of New Mexico. We turned onto Hwy 180 and the road started getting twistier, the views more panoramic.


Somewhere close to the Arizona border, we found a picnic table at an overlook and it felt like lunch to me.


A tasty sandwich. Good stuff.


Since everyone ate their veggies, we split the treat 3 ways!


It was a wonderful picnic, as the air in that altitude was still very cool and I was soaking the sunshine up like some kind of legal drug.

After lunch, I led us to Alpine, Arizona, where we gassed up and turned south on Hwy 191.


Months ago, while lurking through Google maps, I found this road and it looked very inviting. Andrew came here before with his family and pickup truck, but was amicable to riding it on the bikes, so we planned to hit this road from the start.

What a terrific idea that was! Hwy 191 runs through the spine of the Arizona White Mountains. I had no idea this existed, as my own understanding of the White Mountains was limited to the New Hampshire variety. But these mountains are just as majestic and several of them run as high as 10,000 feet.



The road was just wonderful – a beautiful silky smooth ribbon of black pavement that was very technical in spots, and opens up in others. Since I ride a little faster than the redfish, I took the lead here and when I felt like it, I’d down shift the big red girl and let her sing a little. It was great fun, and plenty of it. I believe that stretch was somewhere around 80 miles.


I’d run up a hundred or so curves and then slow it down for a minute, where the Redfishes would have time to catch up.


It was really a blessing – calming and slowing it down every so often would keep me in check, lest I do something I’d live to regret – or worse.

It was hard for me to believe I was in southern Arizona. The whole place was littered with cedar, spruce, and other conifers, along with a sprig of hard woods for good measure. It was not like anything I pictured the land of the Sun Devil to be.

Then toward the town of 3-way, things changed dramatically.


We entered the Morenci Copper Mine area. The trees were gone, all rocks gone, nothing but these enormous pits and piles of dirt. I’d never seen anything like it. I mean – this is a hole that is at least 1500 feet deep.


It was hard for me to imagine that men could literally grind a few mountains into dust. Some mixed feelings came over me as we stopped to look at the mine. On the one hand, I’m sure that this place employed just about every human being around. This place provided income for hundreds (if not thousands) of families. This place provides a much needed resource for people all over the world. Copper doesn’t grow on trees, ya know.

But on the other hand, these people have decimated this land. The site looked tidy enough, and I’m sure it’s regulated by somebody. But it looked so barren, so dead. There were no birds chirping. No insects. No squirrels… no nothing.

It made me realize that everything has consequences. We have to be resourceful, but we should not be wasteful. The next time I’m playing around with some copper wire for a project, I will remember that perhaps someone in Arizona mined the material for my circuit.

In 3-way, we stayed on Hwy 191, which had since gotten a whole lot straighter, and then turned northwest on hwy 70 toward our destination for the evening.


On hwy 70, I took notice of some Giant Cactus on the hills as we rode by. This is the first time I’d ever seen these plants and I remember turning around to look at Andrew with excitement of my discovery!


Later I would learn that Andrew saw them long before I did and was waving and signaling with all his might in hopes that I would see them. I suppose subconsciously, it worked.

In Globe, we found another clean local motel for the evening.


We settled in and rode a short distance for dinner. One doesn’t normally associate Arizona with Italian food, but I’m on vacation and game for anything.


They have decent beer, so it can’t be all bad.


Our waitress told me that the small pizza was just enough for me to eat. Apparently, Arizonians are some HUGE eaters.


With my doggie box in hand, we rode back to the motel for some much needed rest. We are riding about 500 miles a day so far on this trip, way more than I am accustomed to. But the miles are coming easy and I’m having so much fun with this uncharted water, this unfamiliar land. I’m seizing every day as the special moment that it is.

I’m in the zone now. I can hardly wait for tomorrow to get here.

Carpe Diem Day 4: Prickly Plants, Gold Mine, and Kicks

Globe, AZ to Bullhead City, AZ, approx. 440 miles

I woke up early and leaned that sometime last night, Andrew wiped off my bike. That was a nice gesture.


I ate a couple pieces of cold pizza for breakfast (excellent!!) and after we load up the horses, we are off and running under yet another beautiful blue sky.


We turn northwest on Hwy 188 and enter the Tonto National Forest.


I’m now realizing that just because the map says “National Forest”, it doesn’t mean that you will be shaded by an unlimited supply of deciduous trees. No, in these parts, leaves are pretty hard to come by.


But that doesn’t make this forest any less beautiful. We found the giant saguaro cactus, and I was thrilled. Except for very briefly yesterday, I’d never seen these magnificent plants before. We stopped at a roadside location where several cacti were close, and I jumped right in, studying and observing them.


I didn’t realize that birds make their nest inside of the cactus, and we saw several birds running in and out of their nest, enjoying their breakfast of bugs and what not. There were bees or all kinds pollinating the flowering ground cactus and other plants. It was exhilarating.


This is considered near the northern most range of the Saguaro, and they tend to grow only on the southern facing slopes of the hills. I truly enjoyed my time in the Tonto National Forest.


We pressed further northwest….


…and stopped to look at Lake Roosevelt, which seemed out of place in this dry topography.


Andrew suggested that we detour just a bit north toward Sedona to see Oak Village. Hwy 179 there is amazing, as the rider is treated to quite a show.




We rode through the city of Sodona, and I was impressed at how efficient the round-a-bouts there make the traffic flow.

We then turned onto hwy 89A and stopped for lunch at the State park in the town of Jerome.


We found a little shade under the derrick of the old gold mine, and my sandwich was delicious.


I bought a mini-watermelon and Pops loaned me his switchblade to slice it. Bet you don’t hear that too often.


It was a great after lunch treat!


And of course, we can’t forget about dessert. No self-respecting motorcycle picnic would be complete without a chocolate pastry.


I poked around the gold mine exhibit and learned that beneath our picnic table was a hole over 1200 feet deep where they removed hundreds of tons of gold, silver, and copper.

I suppose it’s not every day one can say that they ate on top of a gold mine!


After lunch, a quick look at the road ahead on the GPS revealed CURVES, and LOTS of them!! So I took the lead and while my pancreas was working on that chocolate pastry, my right wrist started working on those curves. Hwy 89A here is fantastic. The road was crowded, but overall, most cars got out of my way. It was great fun. As we came down out of the mountain, and the road straightened out, I slowed down to wait for my friends. Then I stopped and wondered… why? They should be here by now. Heaven forbid, I hope no one fell. I turned around and within a mile, discovered them pulled over.


Andrew picked up a nail in his rear tire and had quite a scare getting the heavy bike slowed down. Thankfully, no harm, no foul and within minutes, we had the tire plugged and aired back up.

It pays to be prepared.


We turned north on Hwy 89 and in Ash Fork, hopped on I-40 for only a few miles before exiting onto another milestone for me.


I’ve never been on Route 66, and was very happy that our route led us to this place. The road was in decent shape, but to be clear, this was not as much about the riding as it was about nostalgia. Before the interstates came to exist, roadside commerce lived on the US Highways. And route 66 was at the heart of them. We stopped for gas in Seligman and I had great fun browsing through the store.


I bought a T-shirt and some water, and the 3 of us sat on the front porch to chew the fat a little. If you’ll pardon the pun, I got a real kick out of my time on route 66!

We continued west on 66 and as the afternoon wore on, the heat started cranking up. I was watching the temp gage on my bike: 95, 97, 98, and even 100. For me, once it gets to 98, I can really feel it. Not sure why 98 is the magic number, but that is what I observed.


We actually passed through several rain clouds that were clearly shedding water, but the air was so dry at ground level, the rain would never reach us. I can’t remember ever experiencing that. Back home, the rain unzips on us like a trap door.


It was cool to catch up to this enormous freight train, with 4 engines pulling and 1 pushing.


As I passed the front engine, I could see the engineer with his arm rested outside the window. I waived at him and clearly remember him waving back at me. I wanted to make a motion to encourage him to blow the horn, but at the last moment, I chickened out.


Along the way, there were plenty of stores and outpost and other buildings to entertain us. I imagine that back in the day, this place was hopping more, but not so much now in the name of progress.


Now late in the afternoon, and the heat is on big time, baby.


I found a hotel in Bullhead City with a laundry and even though it was relatively early compared to other days, we were all ready to get off the bikes and get into some air conditioning.


Andrew and I walked across the road for some beer. This one was a tad bitter for our liking, but there’s something about a cold beer at the end of a hot day.


We washed our clothes and had an uneventful dinner at the local IHOP. I think I drank 3 quarts of water over dinner. My body is dried out like a raisin. But my mind is overflowing with excitement. In four short days, I’ve seen so much. It’s surreal and I can’t believe that in reality, the party is just really starting.

Carpe Diem Day 5: Joshua Tree Surprise, Pirates of the Dessert, and it’s a dry heat.

Bullhead City, AZ to Ridgecrest, CA, approx. 380 miles.

Last night went by like a blur. I closed my eyes and in what seemed like 10 seconds, it was morning. We rode back to IHOP for breakfast. My hash browns were very good.


With clean clothes and blue skies, we crossed the Colorado River into Nevada, a first time for Pants and another State added to my riding repertoire. Andrew looks particularly chipper in tow this morning.


We turned north on Hwy 95 and things got even drier, if that is even possible. No more green on these hills. Just dirt and rocks, but it’s still lovely and so different from what I am accustomed to.



Last night, I pulled out the Nevada State highway map and started talking with Andrew about possibilities. We talked about the idea of going to Death Valley, but we would be getting there in the middle of the day, and with a forecast high there of 112 degrees, that seemed kind of dangerous. We also talked about the possibility of riding to Joshua Tree National Park. That place is on my bucket list. But it’s a bit south of our path to California and would require a detour of at least 300 miles, something neither of us was up to.

On the map, my attention was drawn to the Mojave National Preserve. It was conveniently situated right in our general path, and would eliminate quite a bit of interstate miles we had previously planned. I didn’t know what to expect, but it just felt right.

Andrew was OK with the idea, so in Searchlight, NV, we turned west on hwy 164 and were greeted immediately with the most pleasant surprise.


Hwy 164 is also known as the Joshua Tree Highway.


How cool was it for us to be able to see these trees! I was so excited and happy. It was unplanned and the surprise was just wonderful. We stopped to get a closer look – these trees are fascinating. Their bark is very rough and they don’t grow very tall. I’m not sure if they are classified as a conifer, but they do shed some kind of cone-like device.

Explorer Pants, discovering Joshua Trees.


Just outside of Nipton, we turned southwest and rode into the Mojave National Preserve. This place is the quintessential wild west. It’s largely untamed. It’s vast and beautiful.


For the most part, we’ve got the whole world all to ourselves.


Well not so fast, Pants. What’s that up ahead?


Ah yes, that’s the group of Pirates (er… Harley riders) that passed us about 30 minutes back while we were stopped. I’m gaining on them, but to be honest, they are not riding like typical pirates. I decided to back off and stay behind them. No point in trying to pass 15 cruisers out here.


We stop at the Kelso Visitors center and I learn that the pirates are all German tourists that have booked with Eagle Rider Tours.


We had good fun talking with them and I learned a lot about that business as I chatted with the tour guide. He told me that this was his dream job – the only way he can make money while riding a motorcycle. Touche’, my friend. Ride on.

The visitor’s center was closed, but the stop was welcome anyway.


The old post office must have been a blessing back in the day, as it was likely the only connection these people had to the rest of the world.


After a break, we mounted up and headed north toward Baker, where we planned to hop on Interstate 15.


Out here, NOTHING is wasted. There is no road kill to be found. I mean the scavengers eat everything – bones, fur… everything.


We get to Baker to learn there has been a huge accident and we are told the traffic is backed up for 20 miles.


Rather than fight that cluster, we opted to turn around and ride south toward I-40. We discovered the Kelso Dunes.


And a little further south, we found what the map calls Granite Mountains.


From a distance, they look like these enormous piles of broken milk chocolate.


At the intersection of I-40, we got on the slab and even though the speed was higher, so was the temperature.


We don’t see vans like this back home – it looks to be ready for the dunes.


By the time we got to Barstow, my temp gage was reading 104. Holy cow was it hot. All my life, I’ve lived in the high humidity sauna of south Louisiana. Our temperatures only get to about 95, but with the humidity, it can be pretty unbearable. I’ve heard others say that out west, it gets hot, but “it’s a dry heat and it doesn’t feel so bad”.

That is unmitigated bullshit.

Let me tell you that 104 degrees on a motorcycle is hot. The air coming over the windscreen feels like someone has stuck an 1800 watt blow dryer about ¼” from your face, turned it on high, and left you to enjoy it. I found myself remembering that comedy movie “Home Alone”, when the kid pulls that prank where the blow torch is firing right on Joe Pesci’s forehead. Fear not Joe – I’ve been where you’ve been.

Dry heat, my ass…..

In Kramer, we pull over at the only shade we could find, this abandoned burger and ice cream joint. How I wish the ice cream machine was running here.


After some water and a quick check on the phone, we turn north on Hwy 395. In only a few miles, the temperature dropped to about 99 and it felt like somebody turned on the A/C.

Along the way, we crossed Searles Valley.


This place is significant to me. My Michigan friend Tim Searles, who is otherwise known as Designflaw06, is the man that introduced me to the Yamaha FJR. I will always be grateful to Tim for this, and seeing this rather uneventful place reminded me of him.

We pulled into Ridgecrest about quitting time. It was Andrew’s turn to pick the hotel, and he made a fine choice, although the front desk clerk was somewhat unfriendly.


I walked a block from the motel to this place. They have everything from soft drinks to iced teas to slushies to beer and wine, which I found to be quite unusual.


I asked for something local and red. This was a great beer to me and I think the Redfish also liked it.


Some of the hotel guest recommended this place to eat.


There is an air force base in this town, and I enjoyed listening to Pops tells stories about his time in the Marine Corp. while we ate dinner.


I chose the sirloin, medium well and I have to say, it was very good with some fresh sweet potato fries and veggies.


Early this morning, Andrew thoughtfully decided to check the air in his tire, wanting to make sure his plug was still holding air, which it was. I figured it would be a good idea for me to check my own tires, but when I reached underneath the cowling for my SAE wire, this is what I found.


It worked its way between my motor and radiator, and the rubber didn’t fare too well in this heat. So after dinner, I stopped at Autozone, grabbed a replacement connector, and changed it in the hotel parking lot. I figured it’s an easy fix, and I might need that plug before I get home. I did have to disconnect my battery, which meant my trip odometer would reset. However, I took a picture of the reading beforehand for posterity.


Another day in the books. The memories I’ve made so far are incredible. The heat we’ve seen has really surprised me. Hopefully tomorrow, things will be cooler.

Carpe Diem Day 6: Diversity

Ridgecrest, CA to Three Rivers, CA, approx. 175 miles.

Last night, I fixed myself a stiff toddie before going to sleep and I think it helped. Once again, before I know it, morning is here and it’s another day in paradise. Andrew bought me a coffee and we walked over to Denny’s for some breakfast.

From Ridgecrest, we back tracked just a few miles west and then turned north and started climbing.


We skipped over to Hwy 178 and found the southernmost reach of the Sierra Mountain range. Almost immediately, the temperature dropped and we had to stop to put on a layer. It was fantastic!


Here, the topography is still high dessert with sage brush and other small plants. However, looking ahead, I can see that it’s about to change.



Those are trees on the tops of that mountain. Green trees!! And I’m going there right now.


As we climb up over Walker Pass, we stopped at this roadside park to wander among the Cottonwood trees. Andrew and I talked a bit and shared with each other how grateful we were to be experiencing this wonderful trip together.


Our plan was to ride around Lake Isabella, and then turn west on Hwy 155, which is supposed to be very twisty and good riding. However, when we got to the lake, I saw a sign that said “Trail of 100 Giants”, with an arrow pointing to the north. I’ve heard of this place and seen pictures of it before. I got inspired and checked the GPS to see how much of a detour this would take. As it turns out, we could just head north now, see the 100 Giants, continue north, and then find our way from there without having to double back at all.

So we made an executive decision to shift gears. The ride around Lake Isabella was great. At this elevation, I’m starting to see more grasses mixed with the occasional trees and the bushes and scrubs look greener. This place has had plenty of rain recently and it shows.



And then we continued north, following the Kern River as we climbed higher into the mountains. Almost instantly, the terrain changed again, with more boulders appearing, along with various leafy trees.


I’ve got a thing for bridges and this place was just too inviting not to stop.


Andrew and I walked down to the river and poked around. It was a great time.


The road was great – twisty and curvy and smooth as a baby’s ass.


As we continued north, we kept climbing. Within miles, we started seeing conifer trees and the higher we climbed, the bigger the trees got. Soon, we found this place.


Since all 3 bikes only took up one parking space, the park attendant allowed us in for only 1 admission fee. I thought that was real nice, especially since Andrew paid the fee!!

The trail is paved and only about 1 mile long. Within minutes of the highway, we find our first giant.


By now, it must be abundantly obvious. Pants is a tree hugger. I am – I admit it, and I’m damm proud of it. I just love being in the woods. I love looking at trees and enjoying them. I’ve seen the Giant Redwoods before, but that doesn’t take anything away from the awe of this place.

Let me introduce you to my new friend.


We walked the trail and I really (REALLY) enjoyed it. The smell is clean and the temperature is perfect.


The size of the root structure on this fallen giant is mind boggling.


What a majestic place, man.


Andrew and I enjoyed a playful debate with each other over this phenomenon. Andrew says that this is 3 trees that somehow connected with each other. I think this is only 1 tree that grew 3 trunks. He wanted me to cut it down so that we could settle it, but I refused.

Three or one – I think it’s beautiful.


I would highly recommend the Trail of 100 Giants to anyone traveling in the region.

Back at the bikes, it started raining a little. I put on my rain pants, zipped up my jacket vents, and switched to my new Alpinestars waterproof gloves. As we rode Hwy 190, the grip on my Michelin PR4 GTs was very good. I was riding through that mountain road with complete confidence.

An hour later, we rode out of the rain and continued north.


In the town of Springdale, we stopped for a late lunch.



Good burger with curly Q fries.


I don’t know what kind of tree or plant this is, but the purple flowers on it were lovely.


After lunch, I checked the map. We have plenty of time to get where we are going. I saw this really twisty road labeled Yokohl Drive or J-37. It looked really interesting, so I convinced Andrew to give it a try.

It started out as a legitimate goat trail. Pretty rough with some potholes and broken pavement. I debated turning around, but something told me to keep going. I slowed it way down and the views started getting spectacular.


Soon, the road conditions improved and we were treated to a wonderful ride through this incredible valley.


These little critters were running around everywhere.


I stopped at this place. Pops and I walked across the road and sat down right here to take it all in.


The story of today is diversity. As the crow flies, I doubt we have traveled more than 100 miles. It was much longer on pavement for sure. But in that short distance, we have seen such a variance in topography, it boggles my mind. We’ve gone from dessert to high dessert to some hard woods to grass fields among small trees to a beautiful lake to large hard woods and conifers to GIANT conifers to boulder laden creeks and rivers and now we are right smack in the middle of a beautiful grass valley.

In other parts of the world, you could travel 2000 miles and not see that much change.

As I get a little older, I’m desperately trying to engage the serene part of my brain that is accepting and appreciates our differences. I now realize that each and every one of us has something to contribute in this world and without all of us, the whole is not complete. I’m no longer living in the box that was my life. I’m educated in the worldly sense of the term. I’ve been places and I’ve seen things. I’ve seen people and they are all an intricate part of this beautiful rotating rock that we all live on.

Sitting at that valley with Pops, I realized that I’m doing it. I’m not talking about it. I’m not thinking about it. I’m actually doing it. I’m living the dream.

We turned north at Lemon Cove and quickly arrived at our destination for the evening.


Andrew and I walked to the grocery store about 100 yards up the road looking for some beer. At the checkout line, we met these two German tourists.

(Pants) “What are you doing with that Coors Light Bottle?”

(German) “I’m a tourist – we want to try American Beer.”

(Pants) “That is not beer. That is horse urine. Now THIS is good beer.”

Outside of the store, I found my new friends.

(Pants) “Well, what do you think of the horse urine?”

(German) “It’s a good beer for my wife.”

I offered him one of mine and he used his cigarette lighter to open a beer for each of us.


I gave him another one for the road and we walked to the hotel.

The bikes could use a bath, so Andrew found a garden hose and was put in charge of the water supply.


We rinsed off and gave the bikes a good wipe down. People staying at the hotel would stop and talk to us. Even our new German friend stopped by to tell me how much he liked the beer I gave him.


At the recommendation of the hotel clerk, we rode a mile or so up to this place for diner.


We ate outside on the patio and it got too dark to take a picture.

Back at the hotel, we ran a load of clothes at the laundry and called it a night.

Carpe Diem Day 7: Humility, a Royal Canyon, and Rye

Three Rivers, CA to Mariposa, CA, approx. 250 miles

We hit the FCB at the hotel and surprisingly, it was very good. Our German friends were sitting right next to us and looking as excited as we were to get on with the day. We grabbed some picnic supplies at the grocery and hit the road about 830 am.

Today, we will visit Giant Sequoia National Park. I’ve been here before with my wife and it was a great experience. We don’t have very far to go today, so there will be plenty of time to stop and look around.


The water flowing throughout this region is incredible. Everywhere we turn, even looking into the mountain at some kind of little crack in the wall, there is a waterfall.


We stopped at this place to poke around.


I’m not on top of the world, but it sure feels like it!


As we continue further into the park on the General’s Highway, the forest gets thicker and the road gets curvier. But even though this would be a great peg scrapper road, nobody cares about that now. We are willingly being mindful of the 25 mph speed limit in order to enjoy these incredible views.


Almost as soon as we cross the 8000 foot elevation sign, the trees got enormous.



I detoured off the main drag to a side road leading me to Parker’s Grove. I remember skipping this the last time I was here, and wanted to try something new.


I got off the bike, walked to the trees, and had a moment.

At first, you look at them and your mind starts playing tricks on you. The skeptical part of you comes to the surface and tries to convince you that what you are seeing is not real. It’s some kind of scam, a glorified fun house, or something of that sort.

But after you touch the bark, you smell the forest, and perhaps most dramatically, you see with your eyes the physical scale of these giant living things, your perspective changes totally. I started wondering what this country looked like 250 years ago when virgin forests covered our landscape. I thought about how wasteful our ancestors were, destroying natural resources as though they were unlimited. I thought about great people like Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir, who had the ability to think forwardly and convince others to preserve these beautiful lands so that all of us and those that come behind us could enjoy them. It’s hard for me to imagine that those people could realize how complicated and congested life would become for Americans a century in the future. How our entire being is consumed in an electronic sea of digital bullshit. How we are constantly overwhelmed and bombarded with schedule and deadlines and paranoia and other matters of utter chaos. How humans have an innate need to physically decompress. To take a break from all that bothers them and just find some inner peace. How nature does that for us and therefore, the preservation of these sacred lands is so very, very important.

Once my inner peace takes charge, then a feeling of humility overwhelmed me. I realized that these trees were alive when Jesus walked the earth. They have been through the discovery of America by the Europeans, and its occupancy by indigenous people long before then. The development of our country. All of the wars, both here and abroad. Industrialization. Climate change in all forms. They have lived through drought and floods. Fires. Lightening. Earthquakes. Tornados. Blizzards. Smog. Beetles and bugs. Fungus. Bacteria. Virus. Plague.

And yet they are still here and I’m looking at them and I am honored to stand among them.

In the grand scheme of things, we are not that big, we are not that tough, and we are very impatient.


We continued up the driveway to the end where we found a small tunnel.


And then we ran a short distance to the granddaddy of them all.



The size of these things is remarkable.


We did find another FJR in the parking lot, but I cannot say who it belongs to.


Now lunch time, I checked the park map and found a picnic area at the top of a mountain very close by. Imagine our surprise when we found SNOW there!


It’s June 1st, and we are most assuredly NOT in south Louisiana anymore.


Enough playing in the snow, it’s time to get down to some serious business.



What a beautiful and peaceful place to have lunch, away from the park crowd.


After lunch, we gassed up as we rolled out of the edge of the Giant Sequoia Park. It’s still relatively early, so I looked twice at the map and thought a run through Kings Canyon would be a good idea. The last time I was here, I only drove to the beginning of the canyon and really wanted to see it. The others were game, so we turned right on Hwy 180 and it didn’t take long for the overlooks to get amazing.


Oh my…..


There is only one road in and out, but as you can see, running this stretch of pavement twice is not a problem at all!


We stopped often and the views were incredible. Kings Canyon was named appropriately. It’s a place fit for royalty.





I’d take the lead and turn the bike loose a little. Not too much as the tight curves close to the mountain had some grit on them. Also, a word to the wise. On this road and in these conditions you have to make a conscientious choice: you can either ride twisties or you can stop and look around. You CANNOT do both. One very small distraction here and you will find yourself 2000 feet lower in about 4 seconds.

Regardless, the Redfishes were never far behind.


What a place, man.


Like everywhere, the Kings River is flowing madly.


This is one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip. It just reminds me of how much fun that day was.


So we get to the end of the road and its 4:30 pm. I plug in the hotel in Mariposa into my GPS and… holy shit, 167 miles???? 3 and ½ hours???? These two are going to shoot me. I’m going to be murdered right here at the end of Kings Canyon Road where the vultures will eat what they can and the rest will fertilize plants here.

I mustered up enough courage to break the news and it turns out that the Redfish were anticipating a late evening for a while. I got so caught up in the moment and the beauty of the place, I completely lost track of time. I apologized and we mounted up and decided to start heading out. I didn’t panic or start riding stupid fast. We just stayed on the bikes and took it in big chunks. After we doubled back to the exit of Giant Sequoia, we stayed on Hwy 180 west toward Fresno. Holy cow, what a fantastic road that was!!! Silky smooth pavement with tremendous curves and changes in elevation. I think I stayed in 3rd gear for about 25 miles!!! What a hoot!

We only stopped one time on the way, and that was only for about 3 minutes. We ran Hwy 49 into Mariposa and I did see a deer on the side of the road as we got close to the lodge. We arrived at the Mariposa Lodge about 20 minutes before dark, so it worked out fairly well.


Many FJR peeps have already arrived and are in full festivity swing.


We were greeted immediately and we were welcomed by so many people. It was heartwarming for everyone to seek out Pops and us to shake our hands and talk about our passion. He looked like the superstar that he really is.

One person in particular (not pictured) was Niehart, who presented Pops with a delicious bottle of Rye Whiskey. Now how cool is that that someone you hardly know (certainly not in person) cares enough about you to give you a bottle of fine booze? I was speechless. That was really special.


We settled into our home for the weekend and then walked two blocks to dinner. On the way, we found Tyler and Marty and others and for a minute, we just stood in the middle of the Street talking and greeting and being completely oblivious to the fact that we were holding up traffic.

I forgot the name of the restaurant, but the steak salad was excellent.


After dinner, I poured a stiff snort of the Rye, sat down, and tried to just calm down and take it in. It was a futile effort. I was in sensory overload to the 19th degree. What an amazing and wonderful day I just had. I stood among 2500 year old giants. I ate a sandwich in the snow. I ran through a canyon fit for a king. I met some of my motorcycling heroes. It’s hard to conceive that it could get any better than this.

But it will. Just you wait and see…..

Carpe Diem Day 8: New Friends, Waterfalls, Panorama, and Serenity

A day in and around Yosemite National Park

Morning came fast once again as I am sleeping like a baby these days. We walked over to the Café’ just down the street and after a delicious breakfast, the gang started stirring and assembling at the lodge.



Tyler agreed to lead a “few of us” to Yosemite to see the sights. I was a little skeptical when about 25 of us lined up behind her for the tour. Normally, a ride group of this size would be no less than a total cluster. However, FJR riders know how to ride. The design of our bike lends itself to longer distances and heavy loads. We travel to unknown places and if we get off the beaten path, we tend to be self-sufficient in our resolve. So – 25 FJRs to Yosemite? No problem, man.

Once again, the weather is wonderful. How can I be so lucky?


Not sure who’s behind me, but “hello” to you, my friend!!



Very nice with your coordinating riding gear!


And hello to you, Jim and Christy!


Hang in there, Andrew – it’s going to be all right!


It was so cool to see so many different variations of the same motorcycle.


FJR-Ray brought the Honda-pottomus for the momentous occasion.


This is going to be an awesome day!!


We stop and I find myself staring like a deranged lunatic at these gigantic granite formations.


He really is having fun, ya’ll. You will just have to take my word for it.


I love waterfalls. Where I live, there are none. Sometimes, I stare at the running bathtub just for kicks. That’s about as steep as they run. So when I go to the mountains, waterfalls are always high on my list.

I believe I have found nirvana. Holy Cow!!!



Everywhere you turn, its another post card. The park is very crowded, but they have done a good job of spreading things out and directing the traffic to avoid jam ups.

We stopped at this location in the Yosemite Valley. I walked to the edge of the parking area and found a decent sized log leaning over into the water. It was under the shade of the surrounding trees, and the white noise of the running water and waterfall in the distance was just too hard to resist. I sat down on the log and tried to soak it all in and be thankful for my many blessings. Then I lied down and actually closed my eyes for a much needed 10 minute power nap.


We continued on to the Tunnel View overlook and it was just as I seen it in pictures and also in my imagination.


And then we rode to Glacier Point. After some confusion at the shuttle parking lot, we learned that there was room at the actual overlook parking lot, so we were able to ride directly there.

Oh my goodness


A grabbed a snack at the concessionaire and walked up to the point for some mental health therapy.


I caught Jim and Christy in a moment.


The view from up there was stupendous. I cannot remember ever seeing something so panoramic before. There is no camera lens wide enough to capture this. I stayed there with others for an hour or so. After you let your eyes adjust to the magnitude of what you are looking at, you start to see things you otherwise would have missed. Small waterfalls, unusual rock formations, different types of trees, etc.


Eventually, we mosied back to the bikes and a few of us decided to double back to Bridal Veil Falls for a closer look. Jiminy Crickets was that water running fast!!


What a place!!



I got back to the lodge and took a quick shower with a cold beer. As we were gathering for dinner, Tyler is having no problems putting a finger on her feelings on the situation.


We walked down the block to some fancy pants restaurant and crashed the place proper! By this time, Im on beer number 4 or 5 and things are getting warm and fuzzy!!


Even my good friend is loosening up a bit!!


Good eats at this restaurant.


Somebody is saluting my meal, but I give it thumbs up.


Even Jims pork chop got the finger pointing.


All kidding aside, the meal was delicious and we had great fun!

Back at the lodge, many gathered in the parking lot like a bunch of belching bikers. Josh (Cav47), my brother from another Illinois Mutha, rode in for the festivities. He didnt have much time, so he trucked his bike to Albuquerque, and then basically rode a saddle sore 1000 to Mariposa in one day!! Even though he told Andrew that he would not make it, I was expecting him and the surprised look on Andrews face was priceless.

A couple of days earlier, both of my high beam headlights burnt out, one just after the other. Im told that this is a pretty common occurrence for the FJR. Replacement bulbs were easy to find at the local Autozone. I went back to my bike and started working on it. Andrew and Josh joined me and what seemed like 2 hours later, we had the bulbs replaced. Whoever designed that process at Yamaha obviously had MUCH smaller hands than I do. Boy, what a PITA.

We swapped a few lies with each other before turning in for the night.

Carpe Diem Day 9: Dinkey Creek Picnic and The Goat Trail

Another day in and around Mariposa, Shaver Lake, etc.

Josh took the living room couch and I learned that the four of us have formed a pretty good Barbershop Snoring Quartet. A few good beers knocks me out like a light.

My stomach was not quite right that morning, so I ate a lighter breakfast at the same diner as yesterday, unlike these jokers.


And like clockwork, the cats start herding in the parking lot. Allen C. has brought his R3, which took the ride on his motorhome from Indianapolis. Boy, Id sure like to have a go with that little pocket rocket on these roads.


Today, Tyler wants to lead us to a picnic somewhere near Shaver Lake. Again, about 25 of us take off together and it was quite remarkable to be in the middle of this.


Josh is looking quite nice for having ridden 1000 miles just yesterday.


We get to the town of Oakhurst and I was kind of feeling like breaking off. Unlike yesterday, where the ride was very short to the park with many stops, I was thinking that today, I might be able to stretch the FJRs legs a little. Josh, Allen, and Big John were up for that too. Tyler gave me a great idea of where they were going to picnic for lunch, so the four of us broke off on our own.

I knew basically where I was going, and I used my GPS to try and pick the best (curviest) roads to get there. It worked out pretty good. We were able to wick it up a little along the back roads in the area, but not get too crazy with it.

Somewhere along the way, Big John broke off on his own, and past Shaver Lake, Josh, Allen, and I started climbing. We found this great cascading waterfall right near the road, and jumped off the bikes to look around.


We have this place all to ourselves.



Josh is a beast!!! That water was ice cold!!


The reason I know its ice cold is because there was snow everywhere. Ive never thrown a snowball before, so after some pointers from Josh, I gave it a world. My first snowball fun at age 51!!


Now getting to lunch time, I set my GPS for the Lat and Long that Tyler gave me. In order to complete the route, we had to ride about 150 yards on a dirt path, but it led us right to this bridge, where the others were gathered.


They were wrapping up their lunch, and I was lucky to grab the picnic supplies from Andrew before they took off.

Nothing shabby about this lunch, eh??


Dinkey Creek is one fine place for a picnic.


After lunch, I decided to free style it through the back country. I was trying to get to some road that I cant even remember, and told the GPS to avoid highways. Long story short, we found ourselves on a bonified goat trail. Barely 1.25 lanes wide with zero pavement markings and potholes that could hide a grown man. We ran that for 13 miles only to discover the remainder of the road closed! By now, the temperature is about 100 and I was madder than a hornets nest. But Josh and Allen didnt give me too hard of a time. We doubled back the same 13 miles and then I told the GPS to get me to Mariposa the fastest way. No harm, no foul, I suppose.

Back at the ranch, or lodge as it were, I got gussied up and ready for a banquet.


Everything looked so nice as Tyler worked her magic and took care of all the arrangements.


I brought my shampoo bottle to the party and shared with anyone I could. Im not sure Tony cares much for my shampoo (Heradura Repesado Tequila).


Everyone was having a good time.




And I was having a GREAT time I got lit up like a Christmas tree! I hope I didnt embarrass myself too badly.

There was even raffle prizes and I won a T-shirt. Cool Beans!!!


The evening wore on and I had a nice wind down conversation with Bugnator (Doug) and some others. It was really fun and I was so happy that we made the trip to meet these fine folks.

About midnight, give or take, Josh and I stumbled back to our apartment. What a night!!!

Carpe Diem Day 10: Thanks Puppychow!!!!

Mariposa, CA to Grass Valley, CA, approx. xxx miles

I woke up around 630 am to realize two very important things. First, apparently somebody sneaked into my bedroom last night and stuff my mouth with a hand full of cotton balls. And secondly, boy-o-boy - did we hit the shampoo bottle hard last night.


Man, I was dry. And when I say dry, I mean BONE dry. I felt like I could stick my beak under the facet, turn the water on, and just stay there for an hour. What the hell was I thinking, trying to keep up with this bunch of bikers. Sheesh!

Oh well, the show must go on. Today, Josh and I will set out on our own for more adventure. We knew we’d ride together for a few days after the YFO gathering, but really hadn’t given anything else much thought. Last night, Josh arranged for us to run up to Doug’s house and spend the evening there with some others. That sounded just great to me, so we packed the horses fairly early.

Unfortunately, this was the end of the line for the Redfishes and I. They were heading west to visit family in Sacramento. It was kind of rough saying goodbye to Andrew. We had such great fun for the past 9 days. I was so happy and relieved to spend quality time with his Dad and see how far and complete his recovery had been. We vowed to get together soon back home, and left it at that.

Josh wanted to see Glacier Point at Yosemite and who was I to argue that request? So we honk the horns toward the parking lot, and it’s off to the park we go.

Come to think of it, Josh is looking a little dry this morning too!


Jim and Christy wanted to tag along, but the traffic at the park entrance bothered them, so they broke off shortly thereafter. I enjoyed being with these two during the weekend. Even though they are only married about 5 years, to me they still look like honeymooners.


Ironically, once we got into the park and started moving along, the traffic and the crowd wasn’t really bad at all. Josh was impressed with the waterfalls, compared to the last time he visited Yosemite.


I really like this picture, with the morning light. Another blue bird sky for us today.


After a slight mis-calculation on my part regarding route (dumb ass Pants), we ran right up to Glacier Point and the view today is just as nice as it was two days ago.



“Lady, I really don’t want to be in your stupid picture.”


We met some fine people including this guy from Canada that picked us out for “the boys riding those FJRs”. They do have fine taste in motorcycles.


A grabbed a couple of nice pictures of Josh as we negotiated traffic back out of the park.


Back in Mariposa, we gassed up and turned north on Hwy 49. Yesterday, our new forum friend Sam (Puppychow) gave Josh this great route chock full of twisty and tasty and curvy pavement to take us right to Doug’s house. So Josh took the lead and off we go.


What an incredible route that was!!! Every road was just wonderful. Scenic. Twisty – just great riding. Hwy 49 was a hoot. Hwy 36 was the bomb (can old people use that term?)!! I never would have known about these fantastic roads if Sam didn’t hook us up – ahem… fix us up with a great route.

We hardly wanted to stop to eat. But we did find this place interesting.


The kid at the grill entertained us with her precision and skill.


The burger was good. And that order of fries was enough to choke a mule.


Then Sam’s route directed us to a wonderful gem called Salmon Falls road. Oh my friggin G!!! What a blast. Imagine the most perfect, newly laid out blacktop road that just curves and ribbons though these great valleys and hills with not so much as a spec of dust in the turns. And then imagine that it just keeps on going for what seems like FOREVER!!! Thanks Puppychow – you fixed us up so right, dude!!!

We stopped at the American River crossing to poke around.



These kids were hanging around being, well….kids.


Even the girls were not scared.


This old Chris Craft was restored to showroom new condition.


We continued on and found Gail and Doug’s house in Grass Valley, and the others have already arrived. Tyler, Bob, Joe, Gregory, Ms. Gregory – we’ve got a nice posse to crash the Bug residence!


I picked up this local beer right before and couldn’t wait to dive right into it. Nothing like a cold brew after a great day of riding.


Ms. Gail prepared a delicious salad and they ordered a couple of pizzas as well. My old friend and I had a very nice gathering with my new friends. Mr. and Mrs. Bug have quite a lovely home.


The weather is so mild, there is no point in pitching the tent. So Josh and I just laid out the sleeping bags on the back porch.


It was just another day of awesome riding with a great friend in a new and exciting land. I’m having such a wonderful trip, I can’t hardly believe its happening. I closed my eyes and thought about my great fortune. I am so blessed and so thankful.

Carpe Diem Day 11: We may be lonely, but we are definitely not alone.

Grass Valley, CA to Ely, Nevada

I struggled last night with Bug’s 93 decibel patio wind chime, but all in all, it was a good night’s sleep. The air here is so dry. I can hardly muster up a decent morning bugger from my gigantic snout. No, we are most assuredly not in the Louisiana swamp today.

Bug’s coffee is very good, and I enjoyed walking around his homestead with a warm mug in my hand. I see that the stable horses are looking quite capable this morning.


Josh and I packed up and hit the road about 730-ish as I recall. I grabbed Hwy 20 heading east and as we climbed up over some small range, the spruce trees have got me thinking about Christmas, of all things.


And then we jumped on Interstate 80 heading east over Donner Pass. Now it’s no secret that Pants can’t stand riding on the slab. Be that as it may, this section of concrete is really nice.


On the other side of Donner Pass, we exited I-80 and started heading south on Hwy 267. It’s June and I’m seeing snow – and lots of it. That concept is so foreign for this southerner.


We reach the north shore of Lake Tahoe and oh my goodness….


“Hey Josh – how’s my Yelp rating looking so far for this ride?”


Lake Tahoe is a place that I’ve never really thought much about. I’ve heard many people tell me how pretty it is, but I’ve never had this burning desire to go there. I’m so glad that we found it because like many things – this lake has to be seen to be appreciated.

Be that as it may, we were having quite a difficult time “seeing” the lake. The entire lakeshore is covered by homes and resorts. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the lakeshore where a traveler can park his vehicle for free and just take a picture.

It kind of pissed me off and quite frankly, reinforces my argument for preserving our public lands at any cost. In my opinion, this is what happens when privateers take over the attraction.


We found a little alcove on the side of the road and stopped. The water is crystal clear and as colorful as the deep blue sea. With the snow on the mountains in the background, this was just stupendous.


I found this beautiful yellow flowing plant shining in the sun and I had to take a picture of it.


We turned east on Hwy 50 in Carson City, and once again, the topography changes instantly.


And the road straightens out significantly. This section of Hwy 50 is known as the Loneliest Road in America, and I think I’m beginning to understand why…


A month or so earlier, Doug Bug and I exchanged emails regarding this region. He told me to plan to stop for lunch at the Middlegate Station. Although he gave rudimentary directions, he promised that I couldn’t miss it and he was right. I could see this place about 5 miles up the road.


A 150 year old Stage Coach stop, this place has morphed into a bar and grill.


We ordered lunch and walked around to soak up the history.


My chicken sandwich was very good. I believe Josh had a different sandwich, but enjoyed it as well.

I might as well leave my mark and Josh did the same.


We walked around the outside of this place


Doug also recommended a slight detour of Hwy 50 to Hwy 722, which is “twistier” than Hwy 50 and doubles back to Hwy 50 farther east up the road. Doug hasn’t steered me wrong yet, and so off we go.


Well let me tell ya, friends – the founders of Hwy722 clearly got ripped off by the Hwy 50 gang. Without a doubt, THIS is the loneliest road in America. Over this 50 miles section of pavement, we crossed exactly 4 (FOUR) vehicles.


But it was still a great ride through the Nevada dessert.


These critters are running around fenceless, and they don’t seem to be too intimidated by a couple of puny motorcycles.


Since the road is so desolate and straight, I had time to let my mind wander and appropriately, I remember feeling a little lonely. Specifically, I missed my wife. I’ve been married to my bestest most greatest all time buddy for 30 years now. She has put up with more crap from me than I could describe. She is a poster child for unconditional love gang. The epitome of the voice of reason. No matter how bad things ever get for me, I can always count on her to listen and be supportive. She will occasionally ride the bike with me, but would never consider a trip of this nature. Yet she fully understands my need for this. And while I’m quite sure that she waits nervously at home, she still waits and waits without complaint. At that time, I wished I could have seen her and told her about my great adventure so far and how much I love and appreciate her.


Regardless, while I may be lonely, I am certainly not alone. I’ve got my good friend right here with me and together we are conquering the Wild West.


I’m also content with my thoughts keeping me company. I remember getting melancholy about the realization that I’m actually doing this. And I’m doing it with passion and conviction. Compared to home, I might as well be on a different planet. This place may look like nothing to some, but to me, everything is so new and exciting. I observe things and wonder about them. It’s like I’m living in a real life IMAX movie.


We reunited with Hwy 50 and continued east to the map dot greater metropolis of Austin, NV.


There was a problem with the gas pump and I was thankful for the great fuel range of the FJR.


Josh took the lead and we are both hoping the town of Ely is somewhere in the distance up there.


Thankfully, the maps did not lie and we picked up some much needed fuel and groceries in Ely, before proceeding to our camp for the evening.


This is Elk Flat Campground and it is gorgeous.


We had everything but electricity…..…and FIREWOOD.

A major difference between camping in the west and back home is that they do not let you gather firewood and to be honest, there just isn’t much to gather anyway as the trees are small. I wound up walking the entire campground and gathered whatever people left behind or in their fire pits. Thankfully, I found enough for us to use.


This one is very tasty. Josh is not much of a beer drinker, but even he liked this one.


Josh wanted to do the cooking and he explicitly asked me to stay out of the kitchen. My role was to sit down, drink beer, and take pictures. Roger that, sir.

As you can tell, I’m in very good hands.



The sun started setting behind the mountain and the temperatures got much nicer immediately.


Grilled Pig and Trimmings, thanks Chef Josh!!


After dinner, we stoked up our campfire and proceeded straight into the meaning of life, under a full moon and countless stars.


Of course, no self-respecting camper can serve dinner without dessert!


With a belly full of food and beer, I settled into my tent for a cool nights sleep.

Carpe Diem 13: Read and Adjust

Ely, NV to Green River, UT

I had a great night’s sleep in my tent. My air mattress is very comfortable and my new goose down sleeping bag was just right to keep me snuggly warm.

Josh tried out his new hammock and judging from the snoring sounds I’m hearing, he was equally as comfortable last night.


I boiled water for my coffee and for Josh’s tea, and we sat down to enjoy the morning sunrise show.


Since Josh cooked dinner last night, it’s only fitting that Pants prepares breakfast. This is my 3 ingredient recipe that is very good.


It doesn’t look like much, but on a cool and crisp morning, this stuff hits the spot!


We loaded up at a leisurely pace and by 8:00 or so, we were back on Hwy 50 heading east to new frontiers.



We stopped for gas in Delta, Utah and I swapped my tank bag map from Nevada to Utah. With highlighter in hand, I asked Josh what he wanted to do. Resoundingly, he wanted to avoid the interstate and I couldn’t agree more. So instead of taking the “easy route” to the slab, we chose a more north and easterly route that took us through the Rocky Mountains of central Utah.

This has been such a great part of my riding lately. I simply refuse to be tied down to any specific plan or route. I know generally where I hope to be at the end of the day, but prefer to consult those I’m with and just wing it with anything on the map that looks interesting. Having the ability to read and adjust brings a whole new level of adventure to the tour. Many people get nervous about that and I must admit, so did I in the beginning. But once you realize that you have a very reliable motorcycle, you have good communications and navigation tools, and perhaps most importantly, you have good common sense and experience, you build a confidence in yourself and the unknowing becomes very exciting.

In Fairview, UT, we stopped at this little diner for lunch.


I ordered the Chef Salad and it came ready to feed a family of 4!


Checking the map during lunch, there’s a handful of mountains just too our east that run at least 10,000 feet. It’s already gotten warm for the day, and when it’s hot, go up!!


It’s a nice 69 degrees up here.


I couldn’t agree more, my friend.


Hwy 31 on Mt. Candland. It’s a tough job, really. But somebody’s got to do it….


I really like this picture. It speaks volumes without saying anything.


Mountains this size make their own weather. At the top of one of the peaks, a small rain shower started and we got rained on for about 90 seconds. As we descended, we rode right out of it and the temperature creeped back up. The trees gave way to typical Utah dessert geography.


By the time we got to Castle Gate, UT, it was 100 degrees and I had enough. So, we turned south on Hwy 191 and I put the coals to the big girl. We were passing 4-7 cars at a pop running a buck ten, give or take.

I did take a picture of this itsy bitsy rain cloud that was trying to reach the ground, with no luck.


At the I-70 junction, we stopped for gas and its still 100 degrees. Camping seemed futile under these conditions, so we ran right up the road to Green River and picked up a room here.


We ate dinner at a nice roadside diner, and then picked up a 6-pack of brewskies and rode back to the hotel. I washed some clothes in the bathtub and hung them out to dry. Then we washed off the road crap from the bikes.

It takes a real man to be willing to air out his skivvies on the hotel bench.


Carpe Diem Day 14: Red Rock, Rim Rock, Grand Mesa, and Charcoal

Green River, UT to Blue Mesa, Colorado

We planned to wake up early and try to visit Arches National Park, but we didn’t wake up until 730 am, so much for plans.

Regardless, we left the hotel quickly and jumped back on Hwy 191 heading toward Moab.


The farther south we rode, the more red the rocks would appear in the morning sun.


We decided to pass on Arches NP – I’ve already seen it and Josh would save that for another time. In Moab, we turned left onto Hwy 128, a wonderful road that follows the Colorado River and soon, we stopped to eat a simple breakfast.

This area is beautiful.



And then we jumped back on Hwy 128 running generally north along the river, stopping wherever the mood suited us.


This is one fine stretch of pavement.


The mighty Colorado is running very well this morning.


This is one of my favorite photos from the entire trip. I hope you like it too.


In Cisco, we hopped on I-70 East toward Grand Junction and into colorful Colorado. Across the border, I made a bee line to this place.


This place is fantastic.


There’s a twisty road called Rim Rock Drive that runs right through the canyon and we stopped as often as we could.



This beautiful critter was trying to hide from us.


At the time, I thought the rock holding me up was far more substantial than this!!


This was well worth the 2 hours and the best part is that it didn’t cost us a dime – my National Parks pass got us in for free.


In Grand Junction, we stopped for lunch and if it wasn’t 100 degrees, it was darn close.


After lunch, we took Hwy 65 heading south toward Grand Mesa.


Within an hour, the temperature dropped 35 degrees.


We caught a train somewhere along the way.


Western Colorado is a beautiful place.


The skies were looking kind of gloomy, so we wasted no time coming down the mountain on the other side. Hwy 65 and Hwy 92 through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison are both some very good riding.


The water running out of the Blue Mesa Dam was ridiculous.


We turned East on Hwy 50 at the Blue Mesa Reservoir and we found several campsites along the way. I picked the Elk Creek Campground and we found plenty of sites available on this Wednesday evening.

Again, the big issue was firewood. I ran my bike through the campground searching for anything I could find in the fire pits, but I had very little luck. Without fire, cooking tonight is not going to be possible. The closest restaurant is about 30 miles away and I’m beginning to get concerned.

I ran up to a campsite and a lady looked like she was loading her van.

(Pants) “Are you guys packing up to leave?”

(Lady) “No, we are staying tonight.”

(Pants) “I’m sorry, you looked like you were packing. I’m looking for some firewood.”

(Lady) “Someone left a bag of charcoal. Would you like to have that?”

(Pants) “Yes Ma’am – I would”

(Lady) “Great – kids, run and get that charcoal for this man!”



What a stroke of luck – I even found a few sticks for an after dinner fire.


With a source of cooking heat identified, Josh got to work on dinner.


You’ve got to get the olive oil spread evenly on the asparagus.


Nice looking meal in the works.


After dinner, I lit my pipe and we sat down at the fire with a good stiff cocktail. I miss my wife terribly. Two weeks is a long time for us to be apart. Even though I’m having the ride of my life, I’m kind of glad to be heading in the direction of home.

Carpe Diem Day 14: A Million Dollar Ride

Blue Mesa, CO to Navajo Lake State Park, NM.

The temperature dropped nicely last night to about 50 degrees and it was just wonderful. I woke up rested and feeling very good. I made coffee and had just enough time to sit in my chair and watch the sun come up over the campground.



Josh soon emerged from his tent and today, we will have toasted bagels for breakfast.


Out of the campground, we run west on Hwy 50 along the lakeshore.


We stopped in Montrose for some picnic supplies. I thought the metal artwork in this city was impressive.


And then we turned south on Hwy 550, otherwise known as the Million Dollar Highway.


I’ve always wanted to ride this road. I had a chance to do so a couple years ago, but on the day I got there, road workers were blasting and the traffic jams were bad. So instead, I took Hwy 149 toward Creede, Colorado. That day I crashed my motorcycle and although I wasn’t seriously hurt, I totaled my brand new FJR. That seems like a lifetime ago, as since I have replaced that bike with one just like it and ridden it 30,000 miles.

Regardless, I was so excited to be riding on the Million Dollar Highway and the San Juan Mountains ahead are looking very inviting.


Not surprisingly, the water is flowing and falling everywhere here, as it has been all over the western part of the country.



The color is just gorgeous on this sunny big sky day.



About noon, we found this creek somewhere near the top of a mountain and stopped to have lunch. From the bikes, we walked about 100 yards toward the woods to find some shade.


Looks like we have everything we need, here.



Boy, we are really roughing it out here, man.


A little fresh fruit and cheese goes well here.


And the grand finale? Cherry pie, thank you very much.



After lunch, we continued south toward Durango and found this waterfall, which looked interesting.


There was a family from Georgia with a bunch of kids playing in the snow. Josh felt compelled to share his extensive snowball experience with them. Great shot!!!


We climbed up the water fall about 50 feet and sat down to listen to the white noise of the clear running water. They say this place got its name because it cost a million dollars to construct a long long time ago. I say it’s because every ride through it is worth a million bucks!



In Durango, we turned southeast and wound up at Navajo Lake State Park, which is just over the New Mexico border. The campground was pretty full, but we did find a nice site up on the ridge. I’ve camped here before and I know that the floating marina sells firewood. While in route to there, at the boat launch, Josh found this dead tree and we loaded up the Sherpas.


Tonight, it’s my turn to cook.


I did ask Josh to make the salad, a job that he took very seriously and accomplished with absolute perfection.


When building a masterpiece, an artist must take great care….


Not too shabby for a campground meal, if I don’t say so myself.


After dinner, I took a shower and then we burned more of the firewood and drank more of the shampoo bottle. It’s been an amazing trip, but I’m feeling the tug of home on my heartstrings.

Carpe Diem Day 15: Solitude, Enchantment, and Amarillo by Evening

Navajo Lake State Park, NM to Amarillo, TX, approx. xxx miles.

Josh setup his hammock last night and together, we snored up the place proper. Today, things have to change. Josh is going to ride south to load his bike in the back of his truck. I’m going to ride East in the direction of home. Our plan is to meet in Amarillo for the evening.

Shortly after exiting the park, we “fist pumped” in the air and for the first time in well over 5000 miles, I’m on my own. Highway 64 from Bloomfield east is a wonderful road to ride on.



It runs up and down the mountains there, and the valleys in between are very green and very peaceful looking to me.



The solitude was great. The vast scenery is giving me plenty of opportunity to think. I thought about my great fortune and countless blessings. I thought about how lucky and privileged I am to be able to travel. I thought about my trip – the countless overlooks, scenic views, and vistas I’ve ridden by and stopped to see. I thought about the plethora of geography I’d seen over the past two weeks. I thought about my new friends that I just met in Yosemite, and my old friends that I spent quality time with. I thought about my wife and started looking forward to seeing her in a relatively short time. I thought about my two grown children, both educated, gainfully employed in field of their choosing, and genuinely happy in their young adult life. I thought about my parents, who are retired and healthy and enjoying the ultimate fruits of a lifelong labor of love.

All of these things humbled me beyond my words. I am truly a happy man. Life for me couldn’t get any better, really.

I stopped at the Rio Grande crossing near Taos, NM. I’ve been here before and really like the bridge here.


At Taos, I turned north on Hwy 522. I wanted to run the northern half of the Enchanted Circle, as I have done the southern half back in 2015. In the ski town of Red River, I stopped for lunch.



The taco salad was pretty good.


After lunch, I turned back on Hwy 64 in Eagle’s Nest. That section of Hwy 64 is very curvy and a hoot to ride.




Now mid-afternoon, and near Springer, NM, my daily sweet tooth reared its head.


$1.25, no tax.


While eating my ice cream, I notice something on the map that interested me, so afterward, I turned south on Hwy 39 and ran through the Kiowa National Grassland


I don’t remember ever having visited a “National Grassland” before, but I can say its name is appropriate. The entire plain is covered in this beautiful tall green grass.


I’d pass a herd of cows and the occasional few deer in the plain and they were fat as pigs. That must be some nutritious grass.

I stopped in the one horse town of Mosquero, NM to drink some water. The whole town has been painted with culturally correct murals and I enjoyed walking the two blocks to for the free art show.


This is my opinion of the whole trip!!!!


Near Logan, I hopped on the Interstate 40 and texted Josh for an update. He’s found a good room right on the highway in Amarillo and I entered the address in the GPS. As soon as crossed the Texas line, the cross winds started getting serious and challenging. By the time I got to the motel, my friend had already taken care of the essential supplies. I’ve had this beer before, and I like it very much.


Josh had also consulted Yelp and determined the best place to eat around. I have to admit, judging just from the exterior, I wouldn’t have picked this one.


Since Josh is driving, I’m going to have another beer!!!


Good burgers at this place.


After dinner, we went back to the room and watched the NBA playoff game. It’s time to go home.

Carpe Diem Day 16: Sieze the Day!!

Amarillo, TX to Lafayette, LA, approx. 810 miles.

Josh has about 1000 miles to get home, but he will do in the comfort of an air conditioned pickup. I’m a little closer to home, but I’ve got 2 days to get there and right now, I’m in no rush. Regardless, we woke up early. I bid Josh a safe trip home and by 7 am, I’m loaded and heading southeast on Hwy 287. The wind was very calm and the road is empty, so I wick it up a bit and set the cruise control. As I approach one of the many small towns along the way, my radar detector flashes on. I look across the road and see the dreaded blue and red lights crossing the median. CRAP!!

The Texas Highway Patrol trooper tells me that he clocked me going 88 in a 75 and I have no doubt he was accurate. I told him I was trying to get home from a long trip, and even asked the trooper for some discretion, but he was having none of it. Oh well – if that $200.00 fine is the worst thing that happens to me on this trip, I suppose I will consider it a blessing.

By 9 in the morning, the winds have increased relentlessly. They are crossing me and I am getting so frustrated with it. The wide open plains are offering no relief from the constant blowing. I’m not having too much fun. I stopped about noon and consulted Yelp for the best place to eat. It suggested a BBQ joint and I went there. To be honest, it was average at best and I didn’t even take a picture. The ribs were kind of fatty.

After lunch, I’m back in the howling wind and starting to get pissed off. I find a sign that says “picnic table” and I pulled over. I used my riding jacket as a pillow and took a 45 minute nap on top of the table. When I woke up, I got a second wind, pardon the pun. I decided to jump on I-20 toward Tyler Texas and just see if the slab was any better. I figured it couldn’t be any worse.

Well, it turns out the Interstate is tree lined on each side, blocking 75% of the wind. It was actually kind of pleasant and quiet. So I got inspired. The GPS says its 350 miles by interstate to my house. I hit “go” and off I went. I ran out of gas as I was exiting the interstate and was able to ease the throttle into the gas station. But otherwise, the ride home was uneventful.


I arrived home about 830 pm after riding over 800 miles for the day. This is far more than I prefer, but I was motivated by the idea of seeing my wife and being home.

So another epic adventure is in the books. As is always the case, I learned a lot about myself. Perhaps most importantly, I was reminded that each of us only gets one life to live. We are obligated to be responsible. To be moral. To have integrity, and live with dignity and pride.

And we should live our one life with passion, seizing every day as an opportunity for happiness, love, and peace.

Carpe Diem!

E X C E L L E N T Ride report hppants!!!

What wonderful pictures!!!Thanks for sharing with us
I see that the landscapes are very beautiful there!

I would like a day to do a journey around there..I hope...!

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That's a hell of a RR, Pants. Lot of work to put it together, but great results. Thanks for taking the time. Great ride, great adventure, but great to be home again, isn't it?

The reason u feel the heat at 98 is that's around your body temp. And air hotter then that can really get to ya. Good thing u didn't ride through here this week as it was 113 here Tuesday & 122 in bullhead.In 2005 my first year here I foolish'ly chose to ride over to Laughlin at sunset on my vulcan 800 on the hottest day of the year, 114 in Kingman and 126 in Laughlin. Going down the hill even though the sun had just gone down the air temp was still 124. My God I never felt heat like that in my life. I actually got scared I was gonna stroke out or something & fall off the bike. I was thinking I'm desending into HELL!

I was supposed to be doing work, but I got caught up in your great RR. Enjoyed reading the report and the pictures, work will always be there. I have got priorities and motorcycles beat work every time.

Rode the Million Dollar highway couple of years ago, really enjoyed it. I also rode Hwy 50 on the same trip, two very different views, but both have their beauty.

I will have to look again, but I think you got a picture of the elusive Redfish smiling.

I used up all my "likes" for the day, so I LIKE THIS RR!

There was enough grey hair at the Mariposa gathering to be a Moto Guzzi rally!