Welcome to one way I share my photography hobby. With a nod to Margaret Wolfe Hungerford who said, Beauty is in the Eye of The Beholder, my goal is to take pictures that have feeling. My hope is that the viewer will perhaps connect with a photo or two on some level. Click on the image to view it in a larger size on a separate page.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Barn Bluff

I recently visited Red Wing and hiked up to Barn Bluff.  Here are a few photos from that area.


The View from atop Barn Bluff with a rain storm in the distance.

The NSP power plant behind the bluff.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Badlands

In June, my motorcycle buddy, Pizza Steve, proposed a spur of the moment idea to ride to the Badlands of South Dakota.  After securing two rooms at the Sunshine Inn (yes really) in Wall, SD, we were set to go.  Here are a few pictures from that trip.

View From The Road in The Badlands




Pizza Steve imagines having this view from his homestead.  Minus the rattlesnakes, of course.  Pizza Steve, I discovered, is no fan of rattlesnakes.  


Day 2  The Black Hills

Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills

After eating dinner on our second night, we decided to ride a few miles out of town and try some pictures of the stars.  

Another view from the road, this time at night.


Night Three - Night Photography in The Badlands

As it started to get dark, the wildlife started to appear on the ridges and roadways.



Pizza Steve silhouetted by the sunset as he photographs the wildlife walking along the ridge. 


My camera is mounted on the back seat of my motorcycle, facing backwards.  The green lights seen in the right side of the photo are from the satellite tracker I have mounted on my luggage rack.





It was so dark out here, and the stars were so bright you would swear you could hear them.  With a little (aka a lot) of help from a car that just happened to drive up the road, shining it's headlights on the hills while my shutter was open, I captured this shot of both the Milky Way and the hills.

Thanks for visiting my photo blog!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Diary of The Traveling Pink Tent

"As I write this, it is April 13th, 2016 and... "

Anyone who saw this initial blog when I sent it out on April 13th knows that my plans to update the blog and post new photos during the entire trip failed completely.

Turns out, Blogger didn't like communicating with my wireless phone, so I was never able to completely log in and post photos.  Sure, it would let me post text, but this isn't that kind of blog.

Anyways, below you will find my updated photo blog with commentary showing some of the highlights of the motorcycle 'trip of a lifetime' with my friend Darrin Schultz during which we visited 10 states in (generally speaking) the southwest. I hope the photos will give you a feeling for how great this trip was.


Packed and ready to go.  

Ready to go at 0530 before riding to Darrin's.

My buddy Darrin, 3 hours in to the trip, at our first stop in Clear Lake Iowa.  This would be THE last time I saw him without a hat on during the trip.

It was windy out here, and none too warm either.  I donned a thin balaclava that fit under my helmet to prevent some facial windburn and keep me a little warmer.  Don't laugh, someday this look will be popular.

It was windy.  Very windy.

At our second gas stop, in Council Bluffs IA, I found more humor than 'yummy' in the photo of the wrapped sausage that appeared to have mold on the breading.  Decidedly not yummy even if it was a good deal at 2 for $3.

The Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney NE.  Funded in 1997, opened to the public in 2000, bankrupt in 2013, and reopened in 2014.  Essentially a museum, it documents the history of Western expansion from the 1840's on, including the gold rush, Pony Express, Transcontinental Railroad, and the Lincoln Highway amongst many other things.

Even while battling the wind for over 700 miles, I'm still smiling.

Day one is in the books. Over 700 miles through Iowa, Nebraska, and down into Kansas.  The wind was relentless and we're both tired from fighting it all day. We didn't take many photos so far because we were on the freeway most of the day and, as anyone can tell you, there's not much to see from the      freeway in any of those three states. When we arrived in WaKeeney KS, we checked into the KOA planning to set up our tent.  Due to tornado and flash flood warnings, we opted for a $10 upgrade to a KOA Kabin.

I chose the rubber mattress of the upper bunk, and Darrin took the rubber mattress of the single bed.  We slept in sleeping bags. On the rubber mattresses.  Rubber mattresses.  It just sounds wrong...

Despite the forecast for bad weather, our spirits were high.  Here Darrin celebrates a good day's ride by sliding down the 'giant slide' right next to our Kabin.  

My GPS was still working at this time, and it showed we had traveled 727.6 miles the first day.  A good, long day in the saddle.

Parked in front of the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill, a dog that I immediately named "Tank" volunteered to watch over our bikes while we ate inside.  Tank spent a fair amount of time on the roof of the truck too, seemingly more interested in his owner, who was eating inside, than actually watching over our bikes.  This restaurant was built in 1925 originally as a hardware store.  The food inside is pretty good, though honestly I was pretty beat up from the wind and long miles, so I probably would have found an old sock and shoe laces pretty tasty too.  WaKeeney is known as the Christmas City of the High Plains.  That would explain the huge Christmas tree inside the bar and the Christmas village decoration across the street.  


Day 2

This is the view from our KOA Kabin on the morning of day 2.  Not a promising sign. Photo by Darrin

Photo by Darrin

We woke up to rain.  After packing, we forged on into rain I can only describe as biblical.  It was the same day parts of Texas got over 20 inches of rain, and we were riding into the same storm system.  The fields and roads were flooding all around us, with lightning striking and the wind blowing so strong that it seemed we were constantly leaning at a 45 degree angle just to keep from being blown off the road.



Photo by Darrin

  We stopped to rest at a gas station, in Ness KS I think.  The parking lot was starting to flood here as we warmed our hands on hot coffee cups and chatted with the locals who, understandably, thought we were crazy.  After warming up a bit, we hit the road again, into the 50 mph crosswinds, driving rain, and thunder and lightning.  Before even reaching the town limits, there were a few thunder claps where the thunder boomed at the same time as we saw the lightning flash.  We pulled to the side of the street and, yelling over the wind and thunder (and music blaring from his speakers), and considered stopping to wait a little longer in hopes the storm would pass.  Instead, we throttled up and sped off into the eye of the storm.  At future gas stops, we would just laugh and wonder how in the world the wind could be so strong so constantly.  Both of us hated it, but we loved it too.  It's truly one of those things that if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.  We established very early on that there were no posers on this ride.

My hands were cold, and they were wet.  Despite wearing rain covers over my gloves, the water still soaked through and the dye from my gloves bled onto my hands.

We arrived in Clayton NM where, due to weather concerns again, we stayed at the Hotel Eklund, an old hotel that served good food and allowed us a good night's sleep.  

Darrin was not happy that we were going to stay in a hotel instead of camping in Clayton, but after we checked out another hotel at the outskirts of town, a hotel we both agreed was akin to the Bates Motel, he conceded to my suggestion of the Hotel Eklund.  The small motel pictured gave us both a bad feeling, with piles of dead crawfish (?) in the gravel parking lot.  This motel reminded me of the Desert Sands Motel in Albuquerque NM as depicted in the movie No Country For Old Men, where Llewellyn Moss met his demise in a drug and money related gangland shooting.  

The beds at Hotel Eklund. Photo by Darrin


We took this photo of the rain covers we wore over our boots, mainly for the humorous benefit of our friend, Dez, who enjoyed that they were "matching".  

Photo/screenshot by Darrin


Day 3 

We woke up to temps in the upper 20's.  At 65 mph that's cold. Period.


View from inside a gas stop in New Mexico where we ate a little and allowed the blood to return to our hands.

Cool things that pop up on your phone when you're traveling on a motorcycle.

It's cold.  It's windy.  It's time to be photo-bombed!

Blast shield deployed.

On our way up the mountain to Taos NM.


Our hands were frozen.  But we were having too much fun enjoying the beauty around us to give it much thought.


Rio Grande


Rain, sleet, snow, etc.  Still smiling.


After our visit to the Rio Grande, we raced back through Taos in hopes of beating the snowstorm that was bearing down on us. We didn't get too far before it started snowing.  At some points it was snowing pretty heavy, but fortunately it didn't start accumulating on the road so we kept going, hoping to get down the mountain to warmer air in Albuquerque.

This photo by Darrin shows the snow starting to build up on his windshield.

Photo by Darrin showing the ice building up on our fairings. The irony: It was 80 degrees back home this day.

Photo taken by Darrin of me in front of Maggie's Diner in Madrid NM.  Site of the movie, Wild Hogs. Sign on the door reads, "It's a store, not a diner".  True that.  It's just a gift shop now.

View from our campsite at Elephant Butte State Park, NM.

Pink Tent deployed.  Yay!  I am not an experienced tent camper, so setting up when it was nearly dark, after riding nearly 500 grueling miles, was very challenging for me. Around 12:30 a.m. while my wing man snoozed away, a couple of guys came rambling through our campsite, talking loudly as if maybe they knew where (more) beer could be found.  By the time I could get my tent unzipped, they were gone, so there would be no beer for me. 

Screenshot by Darrin showing a ride just shy of 500 miles today. 


Day 4 - April 18th

We woke up to clear skies and chilly temps this morning. 

A photo of Bob at a gas stop before arriving in Tucson.  He is dirty, of course, because he has been through some serious weather, never mind the cattle trucks that have passed us in driving rain that washed the 'cattle juice' from the trailer as it passed.  A quick glance at the exhaust told me that so far, my rain pants hadn't melted to the exhaust pipe.  That would come later.  

Welcome to Tucson!  I took this photo while sweating heavily at Xavier Mission.  Darrin, though somewhat reluctant, granted me this diversion from the route so we could go into the mission for a few photos.  



View from the patio of our hosts, Jim and Darlene, in Tucson.  They are family to Darrin, but from the moment I pulled into their driveway they treated me as if I were family too .  I truly miss sitting on the patio with them each night, watching the Tucson sunset and chatting comfortably about any topic at all.  They are undeniably Good People.

Being photo-bombed by the coolest saguaro cactus in the world, located in Jim and Darlene's back yard.  It is easily 20 feet tall!  I really wanted to take this guy home but, despite mailing back 9 lbs of stuff I had overpacked, I simply didn't have room on my bike.  


Good friends, good times, Tucson!  What more do you need?


Sunset over Tucson

This is a tarantula hawk.  I watched as it walked along the back yard, going in and out of small holes in the dirt and looking under rocks.  According to Wiki, this wasp has the second most painful sting in the world, second only to the bullet ant.  It's stinger can be up to a 1/4" long!  It will fight with and sting a tarantula, paralyzing it so it can lay a single egg in the tarantula's abdomen.  When the larvae hatches, it creates a hole in the spider's abdomen and feeds on it's guts, avoiding the vital organs in order to keep the spider alive for as long as possible.  Yeaaaah...  Mosquitoes aren't so bad now, are they.  

Day 5

Jim and Darlene drove us to the Pima Air and Space Museum.  Despite being there several times before, they were both very enthusiastic about taking us there.  This is where there is a 'boneyard' where thousands of military aircraft have been mothballed or brought to be disassembled.  There are B-52's, F4 Phantoms, B-29's, and countless other really cool planes to see.  The Air Force One that flew JFK around is present, as well as many aircraft from WWII and Vietnam wars.  


My friend, Lloyd, flew these in Vietnam.  







I have no idea what this is, but it is... odd.

This is the B-52 that launched the X-15.


Pink.  Fight like a girl! This is the British Jaguar XZ396, painted pink for desert camo.  Though obviously not painted pink for breast cancer, the color pink has become very symbolic for me since losing my Mom to breast cancer in 1997, being married to a 12 year breast cancer survivor, and having met numerous wonderful women who are fighting or surviving breast cancer.  

A10 Warthogs seemed ever-present in the Tucson skies, as they flew their training missions from Davis AFB.

View from the car as we drove past the 'boneyards'.


Day 6

On day 6, Jim and Darlene drove us to Tombstone AZ and then to Kartchner Caverns.  As it was not tourist season, Tombstone was pretty quiet, though still very interesting.  Kartchner Caverns was really cool, but photos were strictly forbidden so you'll just have to take my word for it. The caverns were very well preserved, with no graffiti or vandalism whatsoever.  Very cool.

From Darrin's camera.

Photo by Darrin.

Day 7

Today we rode up to Mt. Lemmon.  At over 9,000 ft above sea level, my left eardrum nearly exploded (again).  Happy that no rupture had occurred, I resolved to buy a nasal decongestant spray, which opens the sinus cavities and reduces pressure in the ear drums at the same time,  at the next stop.  From this point on, though I sometimes felt a bit jittery from side effects of the spray, I was comfortable and without pain or rupture even while crossing over Loveland Pass (over 12,000 ft) in Colorado.  



Blooms on my favorite cactus in the world.





On the way up to Mt. Lemmon



Panoramic view at the top of Mt. Lemmon






One last sunset at Jim and Darlene's in Tucson on our final night there.



Superstition Mts.


And suddenly, the paved road just ended.  We sat for a bit, me wondering if we were about to ride the Harley's onto terrain similar to the Dakar rally.  Remembering my promise to "follow his tail lights", I throttled up and followed Darrin into the desert.





The Superstition Saloon where we had breakfast.








The Grand Canyon
We arrived at the Grand Canyon with plenty of light to spare.  Great news for me because it meant I would be able to set up my tent while it was still light.  Unfortunately, the campground was full and we did not have reservations.  As we rode through the campground, you know, just to make sure the park ranger wasn't mistaken, I played the scene over in my head:  "Hello sir, I see you've brought your family to this very nice campground.  Would you mind if me and my friend,  two road-hardened Harley riders, pitched our tents alongside yours, allowing us the opportunity to get a good night's rest?  No sir, this isn't anything like the movie Easy Riders".  Fortunately, that dialog never actually occurred.








After taking photos at the Grand Canyon, we still had that nagging issue of just where the heck are we going to sleep.  A room at the Grand Canyon Lodge was over $200 a night.  Nope, wasn't going to happen.  Then we discovered we could camp in some areas which were classified as "primitive" camp sites.  Perfect.

At our "primitive" camp site.  Photo taken just minutes after Bob (my bike) toppled over trying to traverse one of the ruts in the road leading into the camp site.

View from my tent.

Ahhh, home sweet home.  About an hour later, right after falling asleep, a rescue helicopter flew over us at treetop level, not once but three times, which kept me awake for another hour or so.

The next day, we set out for Historic Route 66. 


Angel and Vilma's gift shop in Seligman AZ.  Shortly after we parked the bikes, a tour bus full of Japanese tourists stopped too, and it got very busy inside.

The foot rest on Angel Delgadillo's barber chair.


Linda and Shelly, proprietors of the gift shop, shared the history of the shop with us and were fun to chat with.

While Darrin and I were shopping inside, we noticed that several of the Japanese tourists from the tour bus had gathered around our bikes.  They were particularly fascinated with Darrin's bike as hard rock music streamed from his speakers just before we roared off into the desert. Personally, I think they just liked his smile.

 The road from Seligman to Oatman AZ





At an overlook before riding into Oatman, I was approached by a young lady and her boyfriend from India who asked if she could have her picture taken on my bike.  





Oatman AZ

The town of Oatman was ramping up for the Laughlin River Run, a bike rally, about to take place in nearby Laughlin NV.  While having lunch here, we lamented that we would miss the rally.  Little did we know that weather would later change our plans and we would get to see it after all.

"Can you believe this trip?"

While eating lunch, they were filming a documentary of some kind.  According to Darrin, they filmed us at some point during an interview with the lady in the hat.

One of the things Oatman is known for is the donkeys that roam the streets freely.  Shops sell food that you can give to them.  I was told that if you show any kind of interest in the donkeys they will follow you around until you feed them.  Apparently they have been known to chew on the mirrors of motorcycles to get food.



Lake Havasu City

Our hosts here were Benjamin and Lisa, two wonderful people who opened their home to us and drove us around to see some of the sights.

The London Bridge.  First built in London, it was dismantled and brought to Lake Havasu City in the early 1960's.

We had a very nice dinner with Benjamin and Lisa on our first night here.  Note the London Bridge Harley dealer in the lower level.

Lake Havasu City at night.

April 24th - Our last full day with Benjamin and Lisa
Benjamin and Lisa drove us to Laughlin Nevada where the Blues & Brews festival was going on.  Beer and live blues situated on the waterfront behind the Colorado Belle casino.



Benjamin, Wildcat D-Man, and me.


The weather was beautiful, we were surrounded with good friends, and the music was great.  There simply wasn't any reason to not crank out a few riffs on the air guitar!  "Come On!"


April 25th - Day 10
Hoover Dam.  One of the 7 Wonders of the Industrial World.  Constructed between 1931 and 1935 (depending on which source of info you seek).







Vegas Baby!
After Hoover Dam our next stop that day was a drive through Las Vegas.


No small feat taking pictures while navigating heavy traffic in Vegas.

Here's proof that Elvis is alive and well, driving a red Mustang convertible.  

I don't know how he did it, but two blocks later I took this photo of Elvis motoring along on a scooter while drinking from a can of Foster's Lager.  Could'a swore the red Mustang was still behind me...

Later that day we made it to California where we first experienced a sandstorm and then, right before making Pasadena, more rain.

Tuesday, April 26th - Day 11
Today I started my first of 4 days venturing out on my own while Darrin attended his class in Pasadena.  I started the day by getting turned around by my GPS, which suddenly was becoming a bit quirky.  My plan was to explore the Sequoia National Forest and Death Valley.  I had made it to the outskirts of Bakersfield CA when a guy pulled alongside me as I was riding down the freeway.  He was pointing at my bike as if trying to tell me something.  Turns out, he was pointing at the lid to my right saddlebag, which was flailing wildly against the side of the saddlebag.  To my knowledge, nothing had blown out of the saddlebag, but apparently the 5 tiny screws holding the lid to the hinge had vibrated <Vibration on a Harley??  #thatscrazytalk> loose, causing the lid to be attached to the bike only by the fabric retention dealy-bopper on the saddlebag.  I was able to use a luggage strap to secure the lid to the bag, turned around, and set out to find a Harley dealer.  Bakersfield Harley was more than happy to sell me the five tiny screws for about $12.  I opted to use my own mechanical prowess and tools to install the screws myself as opposed to accepting their very generous offer to do it for me for a minimum of $40.  I didn't buy a t-shirt there...



Once the lid was repaired, I set out (again) for my destinations.  

Isabella Lake in the background

v
Verification stop.  I stopped here after two military jets had just flown over me at low altitude, carving through the canyons with ridiculous ease at ridiculous speed making ridiculously loud noise that almost scared me into crashing the bike.  I call it the 'verification stop' because I had to verify my pants were still clean.

While riding the Kern River Hwy towards Sequoia National Forest, I stopped and climbed down some rocks to be closer to the river.  

As I am no fan of snakes, I was always scanning the area around me for them.  I didn't see any snakes, but I did spot this lizard which I'm certain spotted me long before I saw him.

While riding at the higher altitudes of Sequoia National Forest, it was very cold.  And now that my GPS had decided to do it's own thing, I was starting to consider turning around before even seeing some of the giant trees.  Truth be told, I was also considering throwing my GPS into the ditch and beating it with a large rock. As it was, I would be lucky to make it to Ridgecrest to find a hotel before dark, so there was no time to search for a suitable rock to punish my GPS with.  I stopped at a wayside rest down a short dirt road to look at some maps to figure out where the heck I was. While there, I met a young couple from Germany who were traveling in a rental car.  They commented on how cold it felt and asked wasn't I cold.  Nah, pffft, cold?  Me? I watched wistfully, mumbling 'take me with you' under my breath as they drove away in their toasty warm car.  

Instead of turning around, and against all reason and common sense, I pushed onward.  I was going to see some of these giant trees!

I put my helmet on the left side, near the base of the tree to give some perspective as to it's size.

Here's another giant tree where I've placed my helmet near the base to give an idea how large this tree is.

After seeing the giant trees, I had to make it back down the mountain and quite some distance to Ridgecrest. I was hoping to make it there before dark.  The scenery on the way down was spectacular.  



I was trying to make fairly good time coming down the mountain.  I wasn't dragging my knee, mind you, but the day wasn't getting any longer either.  Little Miss Brown Eyes here reminded me that I should slow down because this was open-range country, where livestock wandered freely, including on the roadway.  Apparently, the early evening is when the cows start working their way back home.

Little Miss Brown Eyes - Sticking her tongue out at me as she moooved along. 

After Little Miss Brown Eyes, I was on high alert. (Sulu, red alert).  She was not alone out here.  In the distance here is Milky Face and her calfs, pondering (I'm sure) why exactly do they want to cross the road.

Milky Face and her calfs (or is it calves?)

Once startled, it's anyone's guess which way they'll run.  This time they ran away from the road.





While trying to beat the clock on my way to Ridgecrest before dark, I just had to turn around after passing by this cemetery.  I made it to Ridgecrest just as the sun was setting.  Just after walking into the Best Western in town, a woman came to the counter and told the manager (who was about to check me in) that there were "way too many cockroaches" in her room, and she wanted to be moved.  The manager's face was beet red as he found her a room to switch to.  Turned out that room was the last room available, so it was not meant to be for me to stay there that night.  Out of curiosity, I asked the woman that if there was such a thing as "way too many", how many exactly were acceptable to her.  Her answer, not surprisingly, was "none".   Despite the manager telling me there wasn't a room available anywhere in Ridgecrest,  I found a very clean, cockroach-free room at the Springhill Suites.  

April 27th - Day 2 on my own
I woke up in Ridgecrest after a very nice, cockroach-free night at the Springhill Suites in a king size bed.  After a complimentary breakfast, I hit the road.  The temps were very cool, but the wind hadn't cranked up yet.  I had initially planned to ride to Death Valley, but I learned that many of the roads I planned to ride now required "high clearance vehicles" due to deep sand from recent flooding.  I reviewed my maps again and set a course west for the Pacific coast.

When it's cool/cold, or snowing or sand storming or blazing hot sunshine, I try to protect my face and eyes.  <Queue the theme song to Star Wars> 


Clementine trees.

As I worked my way west, towards the Pacific coast, I rode through several small towns like this one, Buttonwillow, that seemed to be just a step away from becoming a ghost town.  


Just outside McKittrick.  It was here that I started seeing the warning signs that I was 75 miles from the next gas or service station.


  

Highway 58 between McKittrick and Santa Margarita is best described as desolate.  The road is very good, awesome even, for a motorcycle.  But I came across 2 cars the entire distance, meaning it is not the road most travelled.  It was along this road that one of my dash lights, warning me of imminent failure of my charging system, came on to brighten my day.  As I shut down everything electronic that I could - iPod, radio, cruise control, microwave oven, seriously malfunctioning GPS - I began my hunt for yet another Harley dealership.  What I found was what I can only describe as a very honest dealership, Santa Maria Harley Davidson.  I pulled into their parking lot with less than 9 volts showing on a voltmeter which should normally be showing over 14 volts while charging.  The young man in the shop brought me directly to the service manager who assured me he would take care of me.  A couple hours later, my regulator had been replaced and my bike washed.  These guys could easily have sold me a new battery, but instead they charged and tested the battery I had and assured me it had not been damaged by the issue with my regulator.  They had me "over a barrel", but they treated me like I had purchased several motorcycles from them previously.  My hats off to them for being an honest, reputable dealership.  And yes, I did buy a t-shirt (and several other things) from them.  Also, a tip of the cap to Sam, my favorite service writer at St. Paul Harley Davidson, for being there for me to provide Santa Maria Harley with the proper info for my extended warranty to cover the regulator.

The Road Glide at Santa Maria Harley that I jokingly (?) considered buying to replace my current ride (Bob).

After having my bike repaired at Santa Maria Harley, I was texting with Darrin to update him on my status.  He suggested we meet for dinner at approximately the halfway point between Pasadena and Santa Maria, which is Santa Barbara.  Here is the view from the restaurant where we ate.  Looking back, I don't know that either of us would think it was a good idea, considering the 75+ miles each of us had to ride to get there, but in the end it turned out to be yet another memorable part of our journey.  My ride back to Santa Maria was pitch black, making this one ridiculously long and painful, not to mention cold, ride.  

April 28th - Wake up call in Santa Maria
The pocket trinket my beautiful wife packed in my luggage that I've been carrying in my pocket since discovering it on day two.


Agriculture is big out here.  Really big.


Here, field workers process what I think is lettuce.


When I arrived in Oceano CA I pulled into a parking lot on the beach.  I wowed the locals by driving into a small sand dune in the parking lot which caused Bob, my bike, to flop over on his side.  Fortunately, one of the locals, Dominic, was parked in the lot, and he came over to help me get Bob out of the embarrassing predicament he created.  Dominic called me "dude" so many times that I started to crave white Russians. (Google "The Big Lebowski" if that didn't make sense to you).

The beach in Oceano

Definitely not the type of sand one would want to ride their motorcycle onto, despite one of the young ladies in Santa Maria suggesting it could be done.


Boots in the Pacific.

After Oceano, I meandered up the coast a bit to Pismo Beach.
Pismo Beach Pier


While riding through town looking for a place to have lunch, I saw there was a parking spot right out front.  It was meant to be!

Excellent fish and chips!

April 29th - Back in Pasadena
It was Friday and it was Darrin's last day of class.  While he was at a conference getting smarter, I set out on a day trip to Santa Monica where historic Route 66 officially ends at Santa Monica Pier.  

The pier itself is something akin to a carnival atmosphere.  

There's people taking pictures

And there were people fishing off the pier.  This guy seemed to be excited to have just caught a 6 inch fish. In the ocean. A 6 inch fish, from the OCEAN.  I figured that would be considered bait.

And, of course, there's the 'man on the pier' who eventually would have so many pigeons clinging to his arms, hat, and body that he became a tourist attraction himself.  Later, he would have children in his lap, pigeons clinging to them too, as the children's parents happily snapped pictures of them, apparently quite comfortable that this stranger was cuddling their kids.  But I digress.  I'm sure he was just fine.  Sure he was.

That evening, Darrin and took a ride that eventually led us to a fancy Italian restaurant.  The food was good and, perhaps thinking we were straight out of Son's of Anarchy, the valet parking folks at the restaurant parked us right in front of the doors.  Yeah, we may have been a bit under-dressed for the place, but the staff didn't seem to care.

Desert.  It was fabulous.

There was no shortage of expensive vehicles in the lot.  Yes, if you drive a Mercedes, you CAN park in a no parking spot.

April 30th - On the road again.



Roy's Motel Cafe on Route 66.  Famous.


A couple of ticks shy of becoming a carnival/freak show atmosphere.


The lobby of Roy's Motel, preserved.

The rooms at Roy's are as they were, more or less.


There were some weird, nonsensical, displays in some of the rooms.

I'm sure it was quite comfortable...



Shortly after leaving Roy's, we stopped to don our rain suits.  Natch.


We kept checking the weather as we rode, and plan A had us running right into rain and bad weather. We decided to change course and spend the night in Bullhead City, right across the river from Laughlin where there just happened to be a bike rally, the River Run, going on.  Yes, this is the same River Run where the Hell's Angels got into a shootout with the Mongols on April 27, 2002.   

The Pink Tent deployed at the campground in Bullhead City.   After setting up our tents, a group of 6 riders set up camp right next to us.  They had the appearances of being a more outlaw mc club than not, and one of the riders was clearly under the influence of more than just life.  The others in the group seemed pretty cool as we chatted with them, setting their minds at ease regarding the pink tent. We all had a good laugh over that, except for the one guy who seemed pretty fascinated with his fingers and toes.  That group took off for the casinos before dark, and we fully expected that when they returned it would be the beginning to a long night.  I was pleasantly surprised when they all returned to the campground at 2 a.m. and without so much as a peep climbed into their tents and went to sleep.  

The casino in Laughlin as seen from my tent in Bullhead City.

May 1st

View from the Pink Tent on the morning of May 1st.

 Today our goal was to make it to Moab, UT.  The route was fairly long, and the forecasted weather included rain and snow.











 If you use your imagination, you can see a lone rider waaaay off in the distance.

 A lone rider approaches.

 The bike looks familiar.

 Darrin!  

After another long day in the saddle, the last 80 miles or so of which were in snow and freezing rain, we pulled into Moab.  Darrin opted for a campground and I opted for a hotel. Unfortunately, Darrin lost all cell phone signal at his last-minute campground choice, meaning I could not get in touch with him.  The end result was a sleepless night for me, a 911 call asking if they had responded to any incidents involving his bike, and texts and phone calls with Darrin's wife.  Oblivious to it all, Darrin was sleeping soundly at a campsite with a beautiful view.  I'm sure he was quite surprised the next morning once he got a cell signal and the numerous texts and voice mails I had sent him came streaming through.  

May 2nd

Today, after confirming Darrin was alright and the world was still round, we set our sights on making it as far as we could to minimize the mileage on our last leg towards home.  We took Hwy 128 out of Moab, a very scenic road that follows the Colorado River all the way to Interstate 70.


 Once we made it to I70, it didn't take long to spot the Rockies in the distance



As the elevations increased, the temps dropped. 


We're over 11,000 feet here, making our way up to Loveland Pass.


Here's a photo of Darrin holding up the number of fingers he can still move due to the frigid temps up here.

We broke 12,000 feet elevation.  Man, it was cold up there!

After witnessing the beauty of the canyons, valleys, and mountains, there was a stark contrast to our scenery once we crossed into Nebraska.


After following me nearly the entire way, my shadow takes the lead.

Still smiling.

The horizon, and Ogallala NE beckon us.

We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Ogallala.  It was... well, it was a bed to sleep in.  There was some renovation going on, and some areas of the hotel were covered in plastic.  The halls had a smell of urine, and the room we stayed in reminded me of what I had smelled in 'garbage houses' I had encountered over the last 22 years.  Other than that, it was fine.


  
 May 3rd, after joking that we had experienced almost every form of weather during the trip except for fog and an earthquake, we woke up to fog.  After calling my insurance company to see if I was covered for damages the could occur to my bike from an earthquake, we set off on our final leg - destination Home.

At this point, the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney NE, we had come full-circle in our trip.  It was at this point that we had dipped south into Kansas at the start of our trip on April 15th.  For me, it was bittersweet to have come this far.  It was amazing to me to think back through the last 19 days of all the places we had seen and all of the people we had met.  It truly was a trip of a lifetime, and a powerful experience.  The weather had been amazing, though not in the way one generally associates with a great trip.  It was sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, but always unfiltered and raw.  It tested our metal, so to speak, both physically and mentally.  Though both Darrin and I would have preferred to have sunny and warm weather, neither of us let bad weather ruin our trip or dampen our spirits.  When it got really bad, we laughed at it - "Can you believe this wind/rain/lightning/snow/sleet/sand/cold/fog?"  The weather didn't ruin the trip.  Far from it.  It actually made the trip even more memorable.  I think Darrin would agree when I say that, even knowing what I know now, I would take that trip again in a heartbeat.


On I35 in Minnesota now, a rainbow appeared off in the distance as if to say "you made it guys.  Sorry about all that weather!"  

And finally, rays of sun shining through the clouds.  A nice ending to a great trip.

Back at home, Bob sits in the corner of the garage.

Many thanks to Darrin for inviting me along on this trip and also to Darlene and Jim for their incredible hospitality and friendship in Tucson, and to Benjamin (Shane) and Lisa for opening their home and hearts to us in Lake Havasu City.  Thank you also to my beautiful wife for encouraging me to take this trip.








































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