Showing posts with label Highway Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Highway Stories. Show all posts

Monday, September 10, 2012

Desert Doctor

June 27, 2012. There will be a time in eventuality when I will set this whole adventure to print.  Maybe even actual print on paper.  For now however, I will share the story, in photos, of the Desert Doctor.  A man who has gone by many aliases throughout his long career as a chopper witch doctor, the surgeon has built and seen choppers through the brutal, cracked streets of the windy city in the 1970s to their dry-air chopper graves in his back yard on the high desert of Utah. This was the Doctor.  It was at his invite that we came to drink his beers,  stand on his garage roof, stare at 40 year old cracked bondo, and listen to a few of his wild yarns.  Worth every second, we stayed until the sun crept behind the buttes of the Kodachrome basin to the west.  

Friday, July 13, 2012


A bit more story.  Shawn Donahue  and Scott Craig were gracious to let Warren and I crash at their shop (Bronsonville which doesn't have a web page but info about them is here: ) when we arrived in California at 11pm on Thursday night.  Invited builders had to report to the Born Free 4 show location to turn in bikes and Shawn was in the midst of pulling an all-nighter working on the Bronsonville genny shovelhead, but still found time to enjoy the company and extent his hospitality. We wheren't the only people there because Shawn draws a crowd with his good looks and humor.  John Tubbs (Dixie Goods) extended his hospitality at his home for the rest of my stay there as I crashed with my crew from Birmingham in Long Beach.  Thanks again John! Born Free 4 post next. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ramble Tamble 2012

Ramble Tamble.  Nothing less than inspiring to see the collaboration of likeminds.  The Snodgrass brothers, Sally, and mother Snoddgrass where there to foster this pow-wow into a full meeting.  About 20 bikes from Milwaukee, Iowa, Chicago and about 8 more of us from Birmingham.  This place, Smoketown, could be the center of north america to us, 300 miles from Birmingham, 300 miles from Chicago.  The ride from Birmingham was hyperbolic green with lakes and rolling hills.  No rain.  We arrive before sundown with time to drink a few beverages and wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  No midwest.  Then the rain.  Buckets.  Pails.  Truckloads dump on us.  Hard thick black rain, and after Derrick started a barrel fire and Ivan said their was an icicles chance in hell.  Hells own rain.  Despite it, they trickle in, broken into factions of 1, 3, 4 or 5 cycles at a time.  Each in his own storm.  No one gave up.  The midwest made it.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

the Greenest

Probably because of my transience in past years, and no winter to speak of, Alabama is an exaggerated green this year.  The storm that just went over my house and the hail that rained on the Dojo also looked dark and strange.  Today a ten story cumulus cloud promised rivers in the city streets and blew trees onto their sides.  Last year Japan looked exaggerated as well.  It seemed I didn't have anything to compare it to.   Everything dripped with thickness.  New paint on thousand year old temples.

In Alabama we have only the more recent history of the last three hundred years, at least of those of us from European backgrounds.  I can pretend though cause I am about and eighth native.  My grandmother still bares some strong physical traits.  My father and I got the high jaw and neither one of us can grow a beard.  That's our claim to the ancient.

Still we wander, with our friends, two lanes to a four way stop town where the board walks are still right up to the lanes of the blacktop (they never moved the buildings to make for parking for four wheeled obstructions).  You go into the only shop in town, which happens to be located on the corner at that same four way stop.  You look at guns, various forms of canned meat, instructions for a bomb shelter, and umbrellas that have been in the same spittoon with the same price on them for 25 years.  You better have cash for that confederate bandana too because the bearded owner on his high stool behind the counter doesn't take new world order.  Lets get back on the road this weekend.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jerimiah's Birthday

Jerimiah is rad to the bone.  At least thats what his tank top says.  Not counting a couple of weeks ago in Chicago for a few hours, I haven't seen him since we crossed the country together in 2010.  That time we met at a crossroads near Alison, Arkansas.  This time we met at the Dojo in Birmingham, Alabama.  
    Other than a kiss and a hug I didn't have any material goods to present to him on this fateful of birthdays.  So when he said, "Brandon, lets go ride."  I replied, "Go tickle the Triumph."  We would take him up the mountain.  
  When I say we, I mean that Moon would join in because when hears the pah-tump of primer kicks that boy has got his lid on, his jammer running and is wearing a grin.  The rest of our friends would do the responsible thing and prepare the shop for a party in Jerimiah's youthful honor.    
     So I think to myself, the least I can to is let this guy put some break in miles on the Trumpet which has only recently been put back on the road.  After all it is't riding season yet in Chicago and its been months since the boy has been able to put some miles under him.  
    Grants Mill road delivered us from our urban setting, up the side of a silver stream running with this weeks storm waters.  Then over the new concrete bridge at lake Purdy and through some Shelby County horse farms to Leeds.  After that, AL HWY 25 led us through a succession of forests, switchbacks and trailer homes all the way to the top where it was cooling down.  Jerimiah did upside down opossum tricks in the tree while Moon laid down to meditate.
    On our way back down the mountain Moon collected a roofing nail in his rear tread and survived, but the flat tire had us watching cars bail around a blind curve at suicidal speeds while we waited on the hidden inside of the curve for a truck that we hope would see us in the pitch dark.  Jerimiah recounted the some parts or our cross country adventure from a couple of years back while the orange sun faded in the branches at the top of the valley and a Norfolk Southern engine blew on the ridge not 60 feet above us.  Bowles and Chauncey arrive to bail Moon out and Jerimiah and I enjoyed the rest of the mountain in the dark.  The ride home was as perfect as the ride out.  
Not two hours later later I contracted the bacteria that causes pneumonia.  But thats another story(to be continued).  Hope you made some memories for yourself Jerimiah.  Happy birthday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Haze of Memory

My brain in the midday post lunch haze fills with the mind imagery of two lanes.  I review pictures that have collected from trips of which I have lost count.  Road signs, mountains, desert rocks and pictures of Nebraska attempted while riding.  Somehow those plains didn’t translate in two dimensions the way they spread out in my brain.  
Lately I see that there is a growing body of media about this seemingly new discovery of the American blacktop.  Not the crumbled freeway concrete which is sometimes necessary when you have to put a great deal of miles under you in a short time,  but the American backroad.  The new rider wants to go down the old roads not at all unlike the  young brave wanting to return to the holy grounds of his forefathers.  There is something out there that none of us can give voice too, but we are constantly in search of it.  We are not the first generation to wonder, but each generation sees something different when they go down the same roads .  What did this country road look like in 1985, 1975, 65, 15?  What did this valley look like to Desoto or Butch Cassidy, depending on what side of the country you are on.  What did this cliff face look like before the Utah highway department blew a hole in it so I can ride straight through it with very little altitude or grade change (I wonder what the cliff was before E. Abbey wrote about running bulldozer over it in an attempt to save it from being ripped in half).   My mind has somehow assembled a framework built to hold this imagery in order to help find its place in the vast landscape of the American soul.  My place, like a grain of sand on a dune being blown constantly but aways towards something larger, a formation, a mountain disappearing (hopefully not before me).  Everything dies.  Decomposition is inevitable.
This imagery is disappearing, or at least changing, and I have become surrounded by people who are trying to prevent its disappearance.  Muir and Abbey didn’t want the landscape to disappear.  I don’t want old engines to stop running.  I don’t want old roads to lose their landmarks.  I run frantically out of the America-eating outer atmosphere of the cities.  Two years ago it took thirty minutes.  This year it takes and hour as identical roofs line the highways dispersed with strip malls that play leapfrog as people move outward, leaving their old box frames empty or occupied by thrift stores.  Money buys you escape from the problems of your trash dump city.  They leave another trash dump (the last suburb) for the less privileged to move into and pretend they have reached some level of privilege, using the throw aways of the outward drifting class.  The running rich and the chasing middle class, following them like obedient dogs.  This imagery is tiring.  Boring.  
Eventually you make it out though, and the desert or the forest will be your new temporary home.  The mountain looks down on you and you thank it for making its stand.  You eat eggs and red eye gravy prepared by somebodies grandmother, with love.    You pass onto ever narrowing roads until pavement disappears with the sunlight.  Your machine has carried you to the extended finger, or toe, of the map’s nervous system.  Now only your feet can carry you, and that is exactly where you want to be, at least for the night, at the end of the road.   

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Absolutely pitiful.  I haven’t been able to keep a bike road worthy from the time I set foot back on American soil until now.  Two months ago, after a few months of tireless effort to get the chassis on road, the Yamaha let go a loud “PINK!” and every ounce of oil in the sump spewed from the top end breathers all over the rear section of my just completed exhaust.  I am saving  that problem for winter.  
On to the retired racer.  The T120 that tickles (no carburetor pun intended) the imagination.  From track back to tarmac just in time for the leaves to change and a swap meet to occur.   The front end is bent, most likely from continuous wrecking on a dirt track. It also needs real lights, but the life within is glaring and most vivid at 5000 plus RPMs.  It came to me tuned to race with only the carbs in real need of attention.  Now it loves the pavement and I enjoy the company.  
This picture was taken after I woke up with frost on my sleeping bag. The shine is condensation melting as the valley of Bucks pocket creeps upwards in temperature.  My camping mate, JT is trying to pay the local authorities for the campsite but they avoid taking our money for some unknown reason.  It wasn't much.  Maybe he has to do paperwork work for every registered vehicle.  Maybe he would rather us remain invisible. Fine by us, but we also didn't want him to chase us out of the gate waving his arms, us having misinterpreted his message.  Also, we didn’t want the next riders to get hassled as a result of our actions.  The county rag headlines would read, “enraged motorcycle vagrants defy justice, breaking down the barriers of beautiful Buck’s Pocket, the state treasure.” 
The ranger: “Oh, you’re the one on the Triumph!  I used to ride a Norton in 1976.  Got pulled over going 140.  Took a turn at the same speed and was afaid the damn thing wouldn’t  stop.  Did I used to drink?  Ha.  Tom, did I used to drink?!   Thats no good anymore.  Can’t do that anymore.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Alabama Map

It is in my bloodline to be fascinated with maps.  When I got my first motorcycle this infatuation, which started with my mom’s Plymouth minivan and a drivers permit in south Texas, reached full fruition on the blue and even smaller grey highways of Alabama.  Other states were soon within bounds.  I started ticking off states.  Surrounding states first: FL, LA, MS, TN, NC, GA, TX.  Mostly, I wanted to explore every twisted forest road, every wide open farm two laner and every century old town square still not yet eaten by the a freeway and bulldozed for a strip mall.  Those old bricks saw decades more use than the new lego structures with so much parking and so little usefulness.  
Soon the entire U.S. was no longer out of bounds.  I had developed the perfect tool pouch for road side repair.  My camping equipment was not worn out yet.  I piled it high onto my first makeshift sissy bar and set off.  I saw the West coast, British Columbia, Wyoming, and all the states in between.  All on different trips.  
When I would return home from the lone journeys I would thirst for companionship and, having rode 12 hours a day for 3 or 4 weeks, would usually let the bike rest as well for a couple of weeks.  I began riding the backroads of Alabama less, losing curiosity in what I perceived to be confined and monotonous at the time.  My curiosity had expanded.  So there was such a thing as too much.  Must be if I no longer day dreamed all day at work about going to eat breakfast in Centerville, AL at Twix and Tween, a 24/7 truck stop between Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, nowhere near an interstate.
I fasted from riding in Japan.  1 year, no motorbike.  I don’t recommend staying off a bike for a year but I can say, with some authority, what staying off motorcycles for a year did to me.  Time away from my own motorbike meant lots of time spent inside of my head considering the psychological effects of riding time, garage time, and friends.  I got cranky, even mean, going through this mental purging.  I binged on Japanese beer, which all seemed to taste about the same and was way more expensive than beer in the States.  I got to where I hated it but drank it anyway.  Stress crept into my joints and my nerve endings caught on fire, making movement painful.  Through all of this a there was a kind of rebirth happening.  A shift in paradigm.  I would never look at riding, wrenching, friends and home the same way.  The “why” of it all became clearer, if not easier to explain.  
My drinking did slow.  I made motorcycle friends and a bought a skateboard, which I should have done as soon as I got there, but I was caught in culture shock and learning how to navigate in Japanese for a bit.  Adhering to my old high school philosophy, if your joints or your brain hurts, punish your body.  Of course the opposite happens to be true.  Nerves eased. I became good friends with an 8ft metal ramp and acquaintances with a bilingual rollerblader, who call themselves skaters in Japan. Rollerblading is way more popular than skateboarding in Japan.  He was the only bilingual person in the park and we spent a lot of time on that ramp.  I had no idea what he was doing when he skated but he was a nice fellow.  His name was Takaaki.
I also spent some effort in getting to know and photograph some motorcycle friends.  Particularly the Vise crew in Nagoya who treated me and my wife better than family.  All the while, I ached, watching those friends go everywhere on their weathered and faithful machines.  
Now I find myself, both literally and figuratively at home again.  To what effect?  Now, again every off colored two lane road on the Alabama map jumps off the page with possibilities.  A two wheeled commute to work changes the entire experience of the day’s business.  My wife says I have returned to sanity from wherever I was.  Any excuse to ride is an excuse to daydream, like I used to about skateboarding and travel in high school.  I reflect on past miles, knowing I was there, but seeing them in a sort of dreamscape.  I was asleep then.  Now every mile that passes under my wheels is added to a vast reality of experience.  No longer sleeping, living the dream.

Picture by Brandon, rider: Chauncey

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I live in Japan right now but once I was on my way to Wyoming on a shaft driven four cylinder yamaha.  The u-joint on the shaft decided to go bye bye between the sand hills of Nebraska and Casper.  I was stuck for eight days in Casper while Eric and Megan put me up and Sport Wheel mailed the part to me from Minnesota.  If you ride old Japanese stuff, Sport Wheel is your friend.  If your 1978 piece of Japanese engineering decides to send a part the way of the dodo, call them.  Parts in three days or so.  A magically endless scrap yard to keep old things running forever.  I didn't make it to the Tetons (French for.....).  Ran out of time, but did get to go camping and trout fishing in the Buckhorn Mountains with two new friends while waiting on parts to arrive. The day we got back the mailman arrived with the Universal Joint.  I was on the road to Colorado by 6pm. Thanks Eric and Megan for the bed and the garage.   Here is a sweeping generalization based on Megan and Eric and many other people I have met during travels.  Most Americans are good people.  My time on the road alone has brought me to this overgeneralization.   My optimism compels me to stick to the theory.  The TV would have you believe otherwise, so don't watch it.  Just talk to the people around you.  People who have known hard times help other people in hard times.  Lets keep that up.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

supertip 3

Day 6 
We are in Monument Valley first thing in the morning.  If you are unsure of what that is you can watch some John Wayne movies.   Or better yet, if you are inclined to actually see it with your own eyes head to the the only place in the U.S. that you can stand in four states at one time, then proceed to Kayenta, AZ and hang a right.  Monument  Valley isn’t on the way to anything, so all those commercials and movies depicting folks making cross country trips right through the middle of it are lies.  You would only be there if you wanted to be.  The main highway through it doesn’t even run east and west.  It runs north south, headed south into the Navajo reservation, and north to Blanding, Utah, where it meets up with other roads across southern Utah that you would only be on if you wanted to be in southern Utah or you drive a truck for a living and you service one of the sparsely populated towns in that part of the world.  
Lucky for motor tourists everywhere, there are now a couple of highways through this strange part of the world.  Unlucky, however, for the desert and those few souls who settled here.   They can live off the land if they know how to find water and if not too many other people show up.  There are barely enough resources to go around.   Some such homesteaders are hard pressed to keep up their original agrarian dream these days.   Fortunately for the desert dwellers, we are only passing through to show our respects and not to stay.    
There is no straight way through southern Utah and that fact alone should be telling.    There is instead a strange maze through bleak deserts and red Canyons with no comparison anywhere on the planet.  If you can read a map, you might find your way out.  On this trip however due to time limitations we will take the northern Arizona route, not quite as scenic from the saddle but it gets the job done.  

At lunch in Kayenta, three stragglers roll into the restaurant, dirty and tired looking.   Turns out they were looking for us.  Nick, Rick and Lee started somewhere around Indianapolis and have been trailing us for a day or more.  They did not catch us yesterday however, because they decided to use the highest route through Colorado.  From what I remember this route took them near or above the timber line on their machines.  Now, for those of you who have done a bit of mountaineering or at least read about it, you may know that the weather changes at the drop of a hat up there.  Freezing thunder storms are not unusual, and lightning is also not a rarity.   These three all happen to have sissy bars on their bikes.  It is possible that nature might mistake a long, skyward pointing metal rod on the back of your motorcycle as a lightning rod.  Well, lucky for them they were off their bikes admiring the scenery when the weather decided to take one of it’s unexpected turns, and instead of striking one the machines, lightning struck Lee.  It is not known for sure that Lee was directly hit, but the story follows that he saw a bright light and woke up in a puddle on the ground.  
Lee survived being struck by lightning and they rode on into the cold and dark turns of the San Juan mountains after sunset where they would eventually camp behind a closed gas station.  The next day they rose early, more likely motivated by the frigid mountain air than a desire to catch  up with us.   Setting out in the chilly air is simultaneously thrilling and miserable.  Convincing yourself to actually twist the throttle in that air, as your outer extremities begin to stiffen is somehow counterbalanced by the sunrise and smell of the pines.  Now they will join us on our bolt for the media capital of the world.  After Los Angeles, they are  off to San Francisco.  Lee is moving there.  I am impressed, even inspired that his moving van is a motorcycle.    These three will prove to be a welcome addition but more about them later.  Into the wind blasts that create the dunes, erode the red rocks and pit the windshields of the trucks that frequent the desert in the scorching desert afternoon.   
 We democratically decide that we should all see the Grand Canyon.  For most of us this is our first time to the Fabled Canyon of American Motorist dreams.  The pavement takes you practically right up to the rim where we crammed 10 motorcycles into two parking spaces.   Sorry folks, but you will have to leave the comforts of your air conditioned vehicles and walk the last twenty feet to the air conditioned lookout area and gift shop from here.  We had not felt air-conditioning in quiet some time so instead  of the lookout we wandered down a set of well trodden trails on the south rim.  We never got too far from the souvenir shop, but far enough to leave other pedestrian tourists behind. Our new friends Rick and Nick toyed with death, playing on the crags and edges just below our position on the south rim.   Duane  stood on the edge of the great red and orange chasm, resting his palms on the back of his head and gazing into the void.   Is he relaxing for once?  Does young man from the dark woods of  Locust Fort Alabama stop to consider millions of years of rushing water which carved out this gulch?   Are his thoughts are silent?   We leave him to his meditation.  
Meantime, Warren leaves to pay his regards to the gasoline gods.  Instead he falls asleep at a closed gas station with no view.  We try to find him but he decided to nap behind the station rather than by the gas pumps where he could be found more easily.  Who can blame him really.  We did a lap around the gas station parking lot and did not manage to rouse him or see him for that matter.  When he wakes up we are down the road looking for him at yet another “scenic” side road.  Warren wakes and rides on past us, not far however before trouble ensues.  To answer the abrupt stop of an SUV whose driver must have been taking in the Grand View, Warren stomped his brake pedal: nothing.  Warren didn’t find it necessary to use the back of the Suburban to stop his motorcycle, choosing to split lanes with oncoming traffic instead.  Thankfully, this complete and total loss of  cycle stopping potential did not prove harmful to our traveling companion. When we finally found him at the next gas station he was disassembling his master cylinder.  Unfortunately, the brake could not be repaired by any means at our disposal at Grand Canyon Village gasoline and convenience stop. Warren looks  at the rest of us with resolve.  “There is nothing I can do.  Lets go.”  Waves of disbelief spread over those of us in earshot. We understand that it would be futile to dissuade him.  Warren will now fully embrace his status as a force of nature much like the wind, difficult to stop.  He rides on, no brakes, which he continues to do from the Grand Canyon to Victorville, CA. 
All day we have been plowing headlong into wind and sand of the north Arizona desert.  For of us on lighter bikes this has been an amusing experiment in physics and gas mileage.  Before the Grand Canyon our group is a mammoth accordion, opening and closing, spreading apart in each gust of wind, cramming back together for gasoline stops.  After leaving the south rim Grand Canyon we find dusk descending on us, the afternoon wind storms recede and the group unites into a perfect staggered pattern for the first time.  The group rides into the pink and purple dusk, not even close to the end of our ride for the day.
Around midnight we land in Laughlin, NV.  Group splits, some to camp, some to the casino.  Creighton, Lee and myself head to camp on the Colorado river.   Actually calling it camp is a stretch, with the gambling lights of Laughlin in view, this is one of those state park things with more pavement and steal, picnic tables, campers,  hookups and facilities that we probably won’t use than actual trees or anything else you might expect of a park.  Lee and I converse about the dilemma of expectations on a trip like this.  I am sure he didn’t expect to get hit by lightning.  Surely Warren did not expect a non response from his brake earlier today.  I am also sure that at this moment, this camp is absolutely perfect for sleeping, despite my projection onto it of being a paved slab of nature eating monster.  I overanalyze, but Lee is happy to have a place to lay his head.  Lee’s peace is infectious.  In reference to past cross country cycle jaunts he says, “I learned a long time ago to just go with it.”  That’s it.  Thats is what I was fighting when Taichi left us in Kansas.  It’s why some of us get restless during our 30 minute gas stops.  Groups like this don’t function on the desires of a single individual, and that’s exactly what makes it worth traveling with them.  No leaders necessary, only the will of the whole, balanced by individual idiosyncrasies.  Shreds of common interests thread the group together, the journey we are on, the place we are going, the pleasure and humor of the company. I consider the question of individual vs. whole and attempt for a second to defeat my selfishness.  More people should be like Lee who is now asleep on his bedroll next to his bike.
I am beat too,  ready for a good night’s sleep.  However,  just before I put my head down next to my bike,  I hear a rumble in the distant dark night.  Here come the loud bunch with beer and firewood strapped to their motorcyles.  Next thing I know I am standing on Warren’s shoulders pulling kindling off a palm tree.   Another late night.  
Day 7
Duane wakes up and throws his underwear in the river, then chases it and drags it out again, washing his undergarments in the waters of the Colorado.  We will be in Long Beach by the end of the day.  On the way from our camp to the mighty freeway at Needles we take a road that rides more like a pothole obstacle course than a highway, so it is no surprise really when Warren’s oversized adjustable spanner shakes loose from his pack and bounces off the pavement, sending every bike behind him sprawling and dodging.  Warren jams ahead, concentrating on the holes ahead of him while Alabama Nick straps the wrench to his mess.  We stop for breakfast at a roadside Cafe in Needles, California, which declares itself, “HOT SPOT, Known for absolutely nothing, 20 miles from water, 2 feet from hell.”
 Jerimiah first points out a slapping sound and a loss of power in his bike at our second gas stop past Needles.  He mentions that his bike may have run a little a low on oil, but he has since topped the oil off.  That’s encouraging...  Maybe a piston pin has wiggled (or melted) loose.  In the fabled past people have been known to ride years with a slapping piston, or so I have heard.  Jerimiah decides to ride on, but will not ride years with this one.  
As the next stretch of desert freeway opens before us I snap a picture. The group eases up to freeway speed and all seems right with the moment when a plume appears around Jerimiah’s bike. In an instant it looks like a giant cloud of smoke has enveloped his cycle from my position directly behind him.  Not milliseconds later, those of us riding behind are bathed in oil. The ill fated rod has come away from the piston and sliced through the front of his engine case, making rubble of the bottom end of his engine and locking his drive train. Through the greasy blur on my sunglasses I see Jerimiah enter a 75 mile per hour skid. The spray trail of lubrication assists his graceful slide to the shoulder of the freeway.   The three oil drenched cyclists behind him pull over to congratulate him on his stellar performance, but his thoughts are already consumed by something else.
Jerimiah looks stressed for the first time since I have known him.  Of course the emotions have nothing to do with his bike’s his engine having self destructed.   He chooses this moment to tell us that he has a warrant out in California.  The news puts a damper on the otherwise jovial mood created by witnessing an engine blow up on the freeway.  With a certain sense of camaraderie Rick and I pile Jerimiah’s saddle bags, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. onto our bikes and our bodies and wherever else we can find room. Jerimiah entered this trip well prepared.  He awkwardly climbs aboard J. Body’s cycle along with J. Body’s luggage, displacing J. forward onto his gas tank. They said this was fun.  I don’t believe him.  
 The rest stop we find one mile down the road will only be enjoyed by the folks who were behind Jerimiah when his engine blew up.  Along with enjoying the oil bath together, we also have the pleasure of sitting around a picnic table in the California desert and recounting the once in a lifetime experience.  Everybody else is miles down the road.  While Jerimiah works the phone lines with triple A, using his sharp Chicagoan charm to temper the conversation, J. Body and Rick climb a fence to go rattlesnake hunting in the Mohave.   I take pictures from the other side, maintaining my status as a law abiding citizen.  We spend about an hour there, drinking the water offered to us by the rest stop clean up crew.  We enjoy strange stories about their families and probe them about the joys of government work, filling in the time before a triple A truck arrives with Jerimiah’s motorcycle already strapped down.  Jerimiah will make friends with the the tow truck driver on the way to Victorville, California.  Rick parts ways with us at a Barstow exit to find the rest of the Indiana faction where Nick’s frame has cracked on this unforgiving freeway.  J. Body is a road warrior, never issuing a word of complaint and enjoying every moment of this trip since day one.  We ride together, leaning sideways into headwinds of the Mohave.  L.A. here we come.   
Body and I meet back up with Jerimiah and the tow truck in Victorville.  Bacon lives here and we will pick up the rest of our companions at his spread on the edge of the desert.  Bacon keeps his friends on their way to destiny.  He will cart a Jeremiah to town for tomorrow’s festivities.  His cycle parts collection also has Warren back on the road with full braking potential, which will now be offset by a new short term road companion, Ryan.
I say offset because Ryan is having slight transmission or clutch issues and where stopping is no problem for him, going means leaving rubber at every stop.  A true bat out of hell, Ryan is a fan of the higher end of the throttle.  He blasts off down the last 60 miles of freeway into the sprawl of the second largest city in the United States.  We grip our throttles tight hold on through the maze of traffic and freeway ramps.  Its dusk again, but this time the valley that opens before us is full of lights as far as the eye can see in every direction.  
 Warren and Ryan split for their friend Will's house only a couple of exits past the Long Beach exit where we will make the last mile to the Hotel de Jon Tubbs.   Jon Tubbs, a one time resident of our hometown,  now resides in the land of perfect weather, a great deal of motorcycle history, and the hit television series True Blood and Monster’s Garage.  I don’t know Tubbs as well as some of the others in this crew but I might make a character judgement based on the fact that he is willing to let this group of haggard, sunburnt vagrants  sleep in his house and he is further willing to fill us with beer.  This makes him the final completing piece of our Western movement.  We appreciate his hospitality by drinking his beers and exhaustedly insisting on staying up to celebrate our landing  in Long Beach.  From the road right back into a garage.  Tomorrow we will celebrate with the masses.  
Day 8.  
Born Free is a gathering of vintage custom motorcycle enthusiasts.  In attendance are a large quantity of vintage custom motorbikes and their owners.  My friend for years before and years to come, Alabama’s own Nick Resty, wakes up early, without stirring the rest of us and rides to Signal Hill   (a place with a different name but seems to be only four blocks from Tubbs’ house) for the bbq.  Nick is, in a manor, an overarching reason for this entire adventure. Nick always makes sure that everyone knows we are getting together.  This trip was no exception.  Nick celebrates.  I spent last Christmas eve at Nicks house with his fiance and his mother, while I waited for my mother’s delayed flight from Texas because  Nick is there for you.   Nick heralded the word Supertrip, went on a mission, and extended the invitation.  Several RSVPed and some of us even came along.  Nick could probably write this story himself.  There is no question that he is more observant of intricate details than I am.  This morning the diligent Nick is up early hoping for a place to park his bike.  He leaves us to our much needed sleep.  
When Creighton, J. Body, myself, and Tubbs drag ourselves to the show, it was already populated with thousands. I spent the day in a haze, one third road haggard, one third amazed and one third drunk. It appeared to be several city blocks long and every inch was covered with living relics of machinery.   I paced from end to end repeatedly trying to get a grip on the level of the event, staring into the details.  After filling my mind with dreams that looked like David Mann paintings, I left the museum of the street, carefully curated by a thousand individuals. I find my friends crammed like tinned fish into the back ally where the beer was being distributed.  We spent the rest of our time doing absolutely nothing but enjoying the company of our cross country companions in the chaos and joy that surrounded us.