I have a notion to build a bicycle rack for the motorcycle
I miss running the Choo Choo and I hate to see history pass us by.
I'm involved with Rail to Trails. The plan is to ride at least a bit of as many of the Rails to Trails as I come across. As an example the Hiawatha Trail... \
I'd like to go back to a more gentle time. A time of
Soda Fountains and Grape Nehi and Girls in Dresses for cryin' out loud
But that is a different blog post (see earlier posts here on the blog) but the same recurring idea.
For this reason I avoid the Interstate, the Freeway, the Superslab, the wary people and all the rush.
Some ways into this journey I made a wrong turn and stumbled into and onto the Katy Trail Rails to Trail Bicycle path. At Clifton City, Missouri on an afternoon so hot the air shimmered. I unloaded the bike and stripped off the Aerostich. There was a park and a wee bit o' shade and and restrooms. But it is so hot there is no one around. Only the smell of fresh cut grass and the drone of Cicadas and off in the distance a lawnmower. A big one from the sound of it.
I walk up the hill toward town and to the sound of the lawnmower. I have not seen a car nor another soul. About halfway up the incline I see signs for Renting bicycles. But the properties are overgrown and there are no rideable bicycles. I locate the mower and she stops. I ask where I can rent a bicycle. She says, "Oh, that was ages ago" But she has one I can borrow if I don't mind riding a girls bike. I gave up being cool ages ago. Back down the road to he place on the south side of the Katy Trail. We rummage through her shed and dig out the bike. A Huffy, new tires or at least never ridden much. And flat. She has a compressor. Turns out the valve stem is tore out. That's OK, I say, I'll just walk down a ways down the trail. At this point she reveals she is with the Volunteer Fire Dept. and is a EMT. I don't want to put her out but she insists and away we go down the middle of the trail in her Chevy Blazer. Some great old signals still standing.
And then there is this old boy... usually the hounds lie in the middle of the road in rural Missouri. Not today, this old boy is in the shade. He reluctantly comes out to say hi.
Back on the mower... The only person I saw for hours. And to think the RR provided passenger service here, back in the day. All I gotta do is find a Soda Fountain or a Grape Nehi... a craving not fulfilled until Tennessee or Kentucky, I forget where it was. I was on a quest.
America's Still Out There
A wooden floored General Store on some backroad in Tennesse
doesn't have Grape Nehi... that's just wrong.
It has been said or quoted "If a two year old hands a play phone to a Big old tough lookin' Biker, he'd better by God answer it."
A variation on this theme is, "When an eight year old gives you a rock, it might be a silly thing, but it's a big thing to them."
As I went over to Saint Maries again, this time for the Jet boat Races, it reminded my of another America is Still Out There Story.
I really enjoy the P1 highway in Idaho. It runs from Kennewick south to Orofino Idaho. I rode it again on the way home. I kept a lookout for these two old guys. Notice the harmonica in the cup holder... It's a Hohner Marine Band Key of "C" Now don't ask me why, but a couple of years ago I stopped to have a chat. The old boy is ex Navy, I wish I could remember the ship... South Seas anyway. I ask him about the harmonica after a bit. Now he picks out a tune kinda like I do... not that good but we enjoy it. His Harp is a "C" which I think is a mistake as I always carry a "G" harp. It's much lower and pleasant soundbut precluded us from playing together, at least at our ability.
We talk some more and I notice that among the stuff they have to sell are some Rocks that have been cut in two. I ask them, "Do they have a Rock Saw." They do.
Now I'll tell of a little girl who I have become close to. She is the Daughter of one of my Student Engineer's" Now, she is your average little girl. Enthusiastic, energetic, smart. pretty all of that. But most of all she took a shine to me. She is almost exactly my Grandaughters age but so I am reminded.
I went camping "Up the Joe" with Alison and her family a couple of years ago. This is along the Milwaukee Road. Alison , of course, spent much of the day in "The Joe" as it was quite warm outside. She would bring me Rocks. When an 8 year old brings gives you a rock, act like it's a treasure, huh? A few of them were interesting and one in particular was unusual in that it did not seem to weigh enough. My FATHER was a Geologist and even though I tried not to listen a fair amount of Geology crept through.
On the way home I rode the P1 again. And that is where I met the two old guys above. I had them cut the rocks in half intending to pick them up. On the way to Sooke and WeSTOC last year I picked them up in the shack.
This trip, the 3rd trip, the shack, the road side stand and the two old guys were gone.
Another installment of "America's Still Out There"
20 JUNE 2008 - Somewhere in Central Missouri... Bismarck, MO
I had planned on riding the "Great River Road". I have had rerouting because of flooding all trip. John and I upgraded the alternator and went for a ride the day after. We were turned account high water a few times. This is the next day. I give up and head away from the Mississippi River at Hannibal. It's hot, humid and so very green. I miss the green as it's already brown in Montana. Missouri has had so much rain it is really really green. The hazard of dodging the mowing machines on the shoulder of the county roads is there. I blast along and spot a buckboard... missed the pic a bit. Wait, a buggy in the front yard caught my eye... then a sign... "Hand Dipped Ice Cream" I jam on the brakes. Circle around and park in the side yard I discover the classic old farmhouse has a addition. Turns out the old boy has bought the old soda fountain from when the drugstore went out of business (Yes, there is a WalMart nearby)
Now I like Ice Cream but not a lot at a time. I ask for just one scoop. I get three scoops in a milkshake glass. Buck and a half. This would be $4.50 in California. I head outside into the shade to the patio table. The owner follows me out. Is it the classic glass I have? I don't think so.... he lights up a cigar... nice... downwind... nicer. We talk (imagine that) I ask him what he did before he got into the tourist business. He was a barber for 40 years. I say, I usually get a close haircut before I ride on these trips. I'd give $10 for a haircut. I get no change in expression. I manage to choke down all the ice cream. I stand up and start getting ready to leave when he asks if I want a haircut or not. Cool. I'm not sure if he's really set up for it when he pushes the shrubbery aside to reveal a tiny barbershop on the very back of the building. Can you see the barber pole?
Now, if you have never had an old style haircut and shave... straight razor, lather, scalp massage, toilet water... the works. I understand the girls and the spa thing now. Refreshed, get ready to leave. I give him $10. He gives me $2 back. I try to not take it. He's says, "Haircuts are eight dollars." I say, "Then two dollars are a tip" He stuffs the two dollars in my hand and says, "Haircuts are eight dollars"
Another installment of "America's Still Out There"
23 JUNE 2008 - Somewhere near Dogpatch, Arkansas and OKeene, Oklahoma
This is a two parter.
Last night we left Memphis headed toward Taos. We found a nice campground in Arkansas at the bottom of a rain slicked dirt road in to the Steele Creek Campground. Leave it to Dan to lead me down a muddy road. The next morning we packed up and left in the rain looking to find a place for breakfast. A General Store looking place looking promising. This was all near Dogpatch Arkansas... seriously. Steve parked on the porch out of the rain and we went in. We sat there for some time before a Grandma looking old gal came over to take her order. I began to realize she may have overheard my story about how my grandma was raised up in this area. She asks, "Can we hep yew?" Danny, "Some menus?" She stares at me for a tiny bit, then I get it, they don't have menus...so I say to Danny, "It's breakfast... order breakfast food... it she doesn't have it, she'll tell you" I had eggs and grits and a small chicken fried steak... homemade bread toast.. marvelous.
Riding on toward Taos we end up pressing into OKeene, Oklahoma. I's getting dark. Dan is telling me there are two motels. I'm looking at my paper map. Doesn't look like much of a town to me. We ride by the city park - NO CAMPING
Dan rides around and around and around the parking lot of the old folks home. I finally realize this was once a motel. We ride over to the other motel. It's boarded up. Literally. Looks like the little store is open. We roll up and go inside. One lone girl working and one other customer. Beth is just cleaning up... looks like she is closing. I ask if there is somewhere we can get something to eat. She seems more than happy to drag it all out again and fix us some deli style sandwiches. Small town, not much to do. Now, I don't know when to say this but Beth is maybe one of the most stunning young ladies I have ever laid eyes on. And so sweet. I ask her if she knows where we might camp for the night, explaining that we saw the no camping sign at the City Park. She tells us that Keith Richards is going to check on her when she closes up. She suggest we ask him as he is the Constable. After a bit Keith shows up and we find out he actually works for the water department and is only aux. police and doesn't really have authority to tell is it's OK to camp out in the park. He does however reveal that he usually locks the bathrooms over at the park but tonight he's going to forget. And he also says that sometimes people camp over by the airport at the back of the park by the basketball court. He says no one sees them over there.
The next morning we rise and shine and head for the store for breakfast. The whole town is there.
The owner is far left. The Mayor is the balding guy. Beth (I think you can figure out) Keith is still on duty.
As we pay the bill I cannot help but telling Beth I think she is so pretty and sooo nice. And now... here is what made me love her. She says, "You think, I'm pretty, you should meet my sister"
America's Still Out There June 5, 2012
After CresSTOC in Crestline, CA and after riding the Angeles Crest highway.
Spending the evening and night in Carmel, CA. was interesting
(I shared a room with my very conservative friend Don Feyma...)
Actually we avoided politics!
Don had invited my to ride with him to Carson City, NV but I had the illusion that I would return the way I had came. Up the coast to Oregon and Washington then east back to Montana. Up and moving soon enough to see Allan and Adam's wet tire tracks in the upper parking lot of the hotel. Well, no catching them. (We had no plan to ride together) Either that or I was ditched... hee, hee.
Well, the weather didn't cooperate at all. The fog and rain intensified so alternate routing was in order. I veered inland to see if I could get out from under the Cloud cover. Riding along the Sacramento River levee has a distinct Louisiana feel... I even stopped for Crawdads!
As you can see the rain has caught me again... I should not have stopped but I do like the Crawdads.
Not much traffic along the levee I make pretty good time even outrunning the rain. Looks like more precip piled up against the mountains. As I gain elevation the weather progressively gets worse. No on the fly camera shots here even with the waterproof camera. I did a Go Pro video though (insert later here). That wastes some time and the weather really closes in.
Still holding on to hope that I can make it to the top of the pass I am still comfortable with the vest and handgrips both on high, it finally gets so bad I can no longer see... then the snow is sticking to the road but it's slushy. Not much farther it gets slick. I find a turnout. Strangely enough used as a chainup area. I stop. Let of the rear brake and the bike begins to slide backwards... well this sucks, it's much slicker than I imagined. How I managed to get backed up against the tiny asphalt curb without dropping the bike is beyond understanding.
Now the America's Still Out There part of this story.
As I manage to get the sidestand down and swing a leg over to get off I realize there is a vehicle right beside me. It is snowing really hard now. I can barely see that is a CHP cruiser. A Dodge Durango. Officer rolls down the window... asks, "Are you gonna be alright?" I say, "Sure, got my new tent, mountaineering gear, I'm from Montana, no problem, I'll be in the trees right there (pointing) and gone in the morning after the road clears."
"Yeah, No" he says. "There is a Wagon train reenactment up at the top of the pass less than a mile from here... grab your gear and I'll take you up there."
It take me a bit to grab the tent bag and top box. I leave the High Viz windbreaker to cover the instrument panel. I should have used the bike cover but it's in the tent bag and already in the Cop Car. I pile in and Officer N takes me up to the top of the pass.
We talk to the Wagonmaster from the Wagon Train and there are stranded too. It's fine if I join them he says. Well great. Now I look for a place to pitch the tent. There is an old closed down Ski resort and the parking lot. I pick a spot near a picnic table next to the building out of the wind... cozy huh?
Unload the stuff onto the picnic table under the tent bag a wait a bit. There is a rumor that the owner of the now defunct lodge has been contacted and we may be able to use the building. Heck, we were going to to the cookout in the snow al la Donner Party... can you say liver and onions? I realize with the new bigger tent I have left my sleeping bag and pad in the side bag pannier down in the motorcycle about 1 mile down the hill. I prepare to hike down to get them but Mike will have nothing to do with that. He unhooks his outfit and gives me a ride down there. He has been jumping other trucks all day he says. These people do not have winter batteries. About half the trucks don't start the next morning.
Evidently the owner of the Ski Lodge contacts his insurance and his attorney (this is California after all) and after a couple of hours, we are in the building. By this time I have already met a number of the horse people. What a great group.
We all settle in inside. I pick a spot near the north wall so that I can see the storm. They have called for the gas to be turned on... I wander outside and look at the gas meter... the valve it's unlocked. There is a kitchen and a huge overhead garage style heater. It takes a bit to purge the gas lines and find the breaker but soon we have power and heat. There are about 50-60 people in the building now. Many have chase RV's and will spend the night in the parking lot.
The cooks get busy and soon, hamburgers, potato salad... even watermelon. Some stern orders from the Wagonmaster regarding the horse poop and we move on to the Period Dress Contest. I am selected as the Judge as I am the only outsider. The choice is obvious.
Later in the evening I get to know some of the folks. George here (below) walks with what appears to be a broken hip... it is painful to watch him. It turns out he struck up a conversation with me because he is a motorcycle rider too. I figured he had been hurt in some horrible horse and Wagon accident. The story is much different. It is the most common tale in motorcycling. A pickup truck didn't see him. Turned left in front of him and he didn't have time to miss it. Broke his pelvis and back in 3 places and the right knee was dislocated beyond understanding. The resulting nerve damage left his right leg numb from the knee down. He claims that part is a blessing. When he walks I... I grimace. Now the reason I mention all this is he is the most outgoing nice fellow.
This is George... the most cheerful guy I ever met in my life... his paralyzed lower right leg and his
pelvis is held together with screw, rods and all kinds of hardware. How he is so cheerful is beyond me. Seriously... THE MOST
Cheerful person I ever met. He is the treasurer for the Wagon Train and
has done the ride for 34 years. Now get this. He
is with the Corrections department and does the releases for the
inmates... he says, it's easy 'cause they are getting out. The best job in Corrections he says. America's Still Out There.
Click here for the rest of the pictures from this trip