Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things I am Thankful for.

On the eve of this Thanksgiving I sit here writing to you because I am feeling truly blessed. Today I spent the day looking at the world threw the eyes of my six yr old daughter, Maggie. She always reminds me what is really important. We stopped for a snack at the General Store and at 48degrees outside Maggie wanted a Popsicle because that is what she had back in the heat of summer.. No need for logic. We had Popsicles. This afternoon my oldest daughter came up from Huntsville and her Husband and their college friend soon followed. Great dinner and time to just talk was part of the joy in my heart. Tomorrow there will be 20 of my wifes family will be at my table. Some that I only talk to just twice a year but they are family just the same.

I thank the Military for their commitment and I think of my Brothers In Arms who will spend their Thanksgiving Day on the front lines and in harms way for a cause that we question. I wish for them a peace of mind and the understanding that we as Americans support them.

From my house to yours. I hope your Cornucopia is overflowing and you have more blessings than you can list in a day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


As Autumn settled in upon us I took the opportunity to go for a long ride. My plan was to go to Galveston for the Lonestar Rally and then out to So. California to see some friends and check out the scene. More about The Lonestar Rally later. I'll not bore you with the story of the road because there is not much to see between Galveston and L.A. Let me put it this way, I could not find any place where two tree's were close enough together that I could put up my hammock.

I would rather share with you about this Place In The Sun. I pulled into Orange County, California during rush hour on Thursday afternoon. I had forgotten how many people they had crammed into this geographical area. The last time I had been here was in the late 80's while I was in the Army and it was crowded then. I found my way to the home of my dear friend, Russ Niedwick and after a short catch up with him and The Man known as "Pothole", we proceeded to a local watering hole. Sailor Jerry and his friend Jack Daniels joined us for a celebration and in the morning the question was asked many times. "What Happened".
A cup of coffee and a dip in the hot tub started off my Veterans Day. The day had no plan and that's the way I like it. The only thing on my agenda was spending time with a friend and checking out his machine shop. Russ Niedwick is the third generation owner of Niedwick Machine, a full service precision metal shop with costumers from dishwasher manufactures to the military. If it is made of metal, these guys have what it takes, including motorcycle parts. Grandpa Neidwick started this business in 1956 working on airplane parts in Long Beach. Now they have diversified into all kinds of different industries. I found pleasure in seeing Russ, his father and his grandfather talking about a set of brass handlebar risers they are soon to put into production. Those of you who watch Orange County Choppers on TV have seen some of the pieces they have made. The DNA wheels and The Gears of War Trike Wheels among many other pieces and parts. It was truly my pleasure to spend time with these people. Craftsmen each and every one of them.
One of the things that I loved about the area was the closeness of all the different trades and Craftsmen. Because of the population density there is enough work to have a machine shop, auto paint shop, powdercoating shop, metal plating, parts houses and metal suppliers and all the other connected trades. All of this in a 5 mile radius. For a guy like me, living in the hills of Tennessee, the availability of those services is damn near mind blowing. The amount of knowledge in the area was also mind blowing. We were in the area where the So. Cal. speed movement started back in the day. I was thinking about how it must have been back then. I have heard lots of stories of the glory all these people were trying to achieve. These were the people who were defining "West Coast Cool". These were the guys that punched horsepower and speed to a whole new level. And Then I met Wink Eller. Russ knew that I would appreciate meeting and talking with this Legend of Speed. Wink Eller's body of work is greater than I could address at this time but I can say this. He has set 67 official land speed records and that doesn't include the 13 records they took from him. Keep your eyes open. This man has some huge plans in the works including a live cam for your viewing pleasure.
Saturday morning found me rolling my throttle up the Pacific Coast Highway. Destination Beverly Hills for The Cycle Source Mag. West Coast Bike Show. Morning rain kept some of the people away but all in all it was a great show. It is always a pleasure to run into good people like Mr. Johnson, The Mailman and talented Sara Liberte. They seemed just a bit surprised to see me on the west coast.

Take some time. Invest in yourself. Go see a new friend and enrich your life with new things. Get on your bike and ride. Find you a place in the Sun.


Monday, November 7, 2011

To Galveston and the Lonestar Rally.

My goal for the day was to stay off the Interstate. I don't mind the interstate if I have to make a lot of miles but today I only have 330miles to go. After looking at a map, I decide that I will take the gulf coast road. Highway 82. A lot of the road is surrounded by grass marsh but every once in a while there would be views of sugar fine sand. Luckily the wind was not blowing hard and I had a beautiful ride. Clear blue sky's and mid 70's for the temperature. The route I had chosen took me past many Wildlife management area's and I knew that I would have to take two Ferry rides to get to Galveston. The first of the two was so short that the entrance gate was still closing as the exit gate was opening. Maybe a 90 second ride.

If you decide to take this road, be sure to gas up when you can. I was a bit concerned but good fortune was on my side and I didn't run out of gas. The attitude of the gas station attendant told me that his gas station was the only one in town. I told him after I paid that if he didn't say thank you for my business that I would never be back. His look told me that he couldn't care less. I asked a local for his recommendation for good local food. He gave me directions to what looked to me to be a closed in metal car port. I ordered a crab burger and I was surprised with how tasty it was. I went to use the bathroom and I was surprised to find the toilet in a 10 foot enclosed cargo trailer. This all made perfect sense to me after talking with the waitress. Her explanation was that everything had to be mobile so that when the surf gets up they can move the whole operation to higher ground. I was about 75 feet from the gulf of Mexico. After another hour and a half, I found myself in line for my last ferry ride for the day. I was waiting with all types of vehicles from cars and pick ups to delivery trucks and around 40 motorcycles. We sat waiting as we looked out over the Galveston skyline.

I truly enjoyed the Lonestar Rally.  It was well organized and it being the 10th anniversary, Most of the logistic bugs had been worked out. Unlike some of the other rally's, Galveston was not a huge rally. Everything was within an 8 square block area and within walking distance. This was nice because I could park and walk to see everything I wanted to unlike Daytona Bike week that covers 50 miles of the Atlantic coast. Great concerts and outstanding food. I want to give Rick "Dakota" Kempf a shout out for putting on such a killer bike show. I'm not sure of a total count but there was well over 100 bikes entered in the show. He had it all well organized and it all went down as smooth as any show that I have been too. Some expected him to fail but he pulled it off without a hitch. All the people that I had reason to work with did a great job. It's amazing how much goes on behind the scene's to pull off an event of this size. Jay Allen and Sasha did a wonderful job, again. I look forward to working with them again.
I pulled out of Galveston on Sunday morning before the Rally was over. I wanted to get some of my 1400 miles behind me and I'm glad I did. Rain in central Texas shut me down around dark. A shower and a bed was very welcome last night and as I type this morning I'm thinking about the 1000miles ahead of me today.
My next destination is central Arizona.
Until next time... PEACE&GREASE.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The road to Galveston.

Loaded and Rolling. If you read my last offering, you got the jest of what this trip is about. If not, catch up. Getting to galveston has been nothing but wonderful. I pulled into Hammond, La. on Tuesday evening. I had met Charles Eldridge 5 months ago at my house. I played host for a pre party to Big Mountain Run and this man who I had never met or heard of showed up. When he pulled into my driveway he said "my bike is messed up". We wrenched on his bike for probably 30 minutes and then we made introductions... The bike always comes first.. That evening we shared stories, lies and some good home cookin and I knew right off that that this was a solid guy. We spent the next 6 days riding and partyin with each other in the Smokey Mountains. Chaz, as his friends call him, lives in Louisiana and when he heard that I was coming threw, opened his home and heart to me. Just a quick stop in the middle of the week but we shared some good conversation and some great grilled steaks. We started talking about his next trip to Tennessee and how his lovely wife would get along so well with my wife, Shelly. Early Wed. I was back on the road with a mind full of warm thoughts from the night before. My destination was set for New Iberia, La. and supper with my cousin David who was working in the area.

230 miles to go and I don't want no part of the interstate. That's usually not a problem but in Louisiana that becomes a major problem. See, not all the roads in La. go on forever. Many of them stop. That road that you would think goes around that great big lake,, it may not.. I decided that I would take the Interstate just far enough to get west of the Alachafalaya water basin. I have been in a boat in that area and I knew it would take a week to navigate it on a bike.. I love this area of the country. The natural beauty is very unique to Louisiana.. The people down here are full of life and have a wholesome sense about celebrating life. It's not uncommon for an ole man to get up from the diner table, grab a young girl and dance a jig to the live Zydeco music. These people understand "The Spice of Life." Dinner with my cousin was not only good, it was entertaining..

I'd say, other than the food, the best part of the area to me is this little Hotel that I found years ago.. It's called Hotel Teche, named after the Bayou that it is on. 1960's era cottages for $40 and the Bayou garden is the shit. I layed in a hammock watching the water for close to an hour. Not a sound could be heard but what mother nature could provide me. I was left to my own thoughts and the hope of tomorrow. I kinda like that place.

5am wake up and I go to load the bike as the rain begins to fall. Scratch my head and recalculate. 330 miles to Galveston. Why am I up SO early.???  Good time for me to take a nap. 930am and clear blue sky's. I smile at myself as if I have tricked the weather Gods, and I get on my bike and ride.. No interstate today. I set my coarse. South until I see water and then west. If a road goes south, I take it. Tomorrow, I'll tell ya how that worked out for me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rotating my odometer.

It never fails.. I am seldom able to hit the road at the pre determined time. Yesterday was no different. My plan was to be on the road at 9am. I am yet to reach the point of personal growth that I can for-see the future. Even the weather bitch had it in for me. Clear blue sky's was the liars forecast for the day. She has lied to me so many times that I have gotten into the habit of seeking out a second opinion. After looking at the radar maps, I was confident that the she-bitch had finally got it right.... Wrong. All my gear for an 18day journey is packed and sitting on the patio. I head back into the house to get that other thing that I forgot and I'm thinking about Charlie The Nomad and the 5 things he takes on the road that he really doesn't need. (He once told me that he limits himself to taking only 5 items other than what makes the bike run.) Then I hear it. Rain is beating on the metal roof of my house. Damn. At 11am I am finally pulling out of my driveway.. I had made it. I was on my way with the wind in my hair and the sun in my face.... for all of seven miles. Up ahead, on the shoulder of the road sat one of my garbage trucks.. As I should do I pull over to check on the situation.. After fixing a blown air line I was back in the wind and one of my money makers was back to work..

My wife lives 14 miles north of Interstate 40. As I pull onto the interstate and settle into 5th gear it occurs to me once again, my journey has begun... It's a mind set that I enjoy dwelling on. You have heard it a hundred times.. "It's the journey, not the destination." I enjoy getting into that frame of mind.. It never fails. When I pass a bike on a trailer I know that I am blessed. My journey has already started and for whatever reason, that trailer hauler will miss the journey. He will only know of the destination.

Speaking of destinations... I sometimes wander when I ride but this trip I have a set of destinations.. my first stop on this journey is Hammond, Louisiana to spend some time with a friend. More about Mr. Charles Eldridge, Later. The Lonestar Rally in Galveston, tx is in my plan. as is Arizona, California and hopefully an endurance run to Key West. then back home to Tennessee. Total mileage will be around 6500miles.

It is my hope to write about this trip every day and if I can find internet service, I want to share these writings with you. I'm 400miles into this journey. As the sun set and the temperature dropped into the 50's, I found myself in Meridian, Miss. Dinner, drinks with a clown on Halloween night and then a $40 hotel room I find myself in a content frame of mind.... Until we meet again, PEACE&GREASE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's all about them Boots.

Sense the beginning of my time, I have admired men in boots. It's a respect thing. The men who have taught me what I wanted to know wore boots. There have been many loafer wearing people who have been compelled to teach me. I have always questioned why these people were motivated to teach me Algebra or rules or sunday school songs or the traffic laws. Don't get me wrong. I have learned and used valuable information from people who were wearing slide on shoes but most of what I have learned, I've learned from people who wore boots. The music teacher who gave me an appreciation and understanding of music structure. He wore a pair of  slip on loafers with a tassel on top of each shoe. I have been friends with my banker for over 15 years and in that time he has taught me all kinds of things about personal and business financial matters. He wears his loafers because they are part of his occupations wardrobe. He wears boots when he doesn't have to dress up for work so I consider him a boot wearer and he's OK in my book.

I was raised by a man who wore slip on shoes because his chosen occupation was The Preacher at the Southern Baptist Church in town. I was your typical preachers son, I rebelled against everything and I was good at it. I rebelled at such an elevated level that the preacher gave up hope on me and when I was 13yrs old he said to me "You will not listen to me. If you ever want my advise you will have to ask for it. I'm done trying to get you to do right". for the next four years we avoided each other as best we could. At 17 I joined the Army just to get away.

When I was a kid there were a few men in our community that I would spend my time with. These were the men that raised me and they all wore boots. The man that lived across the road from us was in his 30's when I was 7yrs old and he had an 40's model Chevy coupe. I would be at his house every time his garage door  opened. We worked on everything from the lawn mower and weed eater to the washing machine. His wife would bring us sandwiches when he had a major project going and Mr. Al would share with me some of his knowledge  and a whole lot of history. I don't recall ever seeing him in anything other than work boots. He taught me about hand tools and leverage, how to read a tape measure and how to shake hands "like a man".

Mr. Jone's wife hired me to do some chores and stack some firewood when I was 12. When Mr. Jone's got home he fussed at his wife for hiring me to do what he would of got around to but then he took the time to inspect what I had done. He then asked if he could call on me if ever a project came up that he needed help with. "Yes Sir. I would like that." For the next 5 years Mr.Paul and I worked on everything from roofing houses and hanging drywall to how to clean a gun and field dress a deer. From 15 to 17, I ate more meals with his family than I did with my own. Mr. Paul wore boots and he was suspicious of anyone who didn't.

The man who taught me to weld wore boots. So did the man who taught me to fish and work on motors. So did the man who taught me about carpentry and hunting. The people who have taught me about motorcycles and refurbishing old cars and trucks all wore work boots. These men also taught me other things. Some good some bad. How to get into trouble. How to respect a woman. How to deal with people. How to be considerate of others and how to be open minded and accepting of others. These men also taught me how to be a man. To stand up for the weak. To be honest. To not spread gossip. To confront the person I have a problem with.  I have learned that people who wear work boots are more likely to be worthy of my trust than people who wear loafers. I have been fooled a few times and it has shook me to my foundation once or twice. I have known the man who wore work boots because he was portraying an image. That man was not being honest with me or himself. He didn't fit in those boots and come to find out, that was not the only fake thing about him.

One of the things that was taught to me was an understanding that if I was open minded enough  I would find that there are some people who don't wear work boots who are great people. I have met a few who wore cowboy boots and a small few who even wore loafers that were some of the greatest people on planet Earth. One of the things I have learned and that has served me well is this... "People like people who are like themselves". go ahead and read that again. You look at any picture of any group of people and all the people in that picture are dressed the same. To get along you have to fit in with the group you are trying to fit into. Go to the local diner one morning and look at the people sitting at the lairs table. all of them are dressed the same. Now if these people are not open minded, they will never open up and welcome someone who is wearing shoes that are different than what they are wearing. lets say tennis shoes. It takes an open minded person to make friends with someone who is not like themselves. But an open minded guy wearing work boots can meet some of the best people.

At the Sturgis rally this year I was working with Cycle Source Magazine and Rally TV. We were set up next to a Female Roller Derby team and their track. Being neighbors we shared a few meals together, a bike ride for a photo shoot and more than a few beers at night around a hobo burn barrel. The owners of these chucks was, in my opinion, the leader of the Derby team. One evening after a small mini bike wreck, I was laid out next to the burn barrel and I had a conversation with the owner of these shoes.. As the captain of the Roller Derby team and an on air radio personality, I was highly impressed with this 24 yr old lady, the depth of her knowledge and the passion she had found in her life. We talked for over an hour and we have maintained contact sense then. I was impressed with the quality of this lady, the fact that she is 24 and beautiful had no bearing on our time together. She is an old soul and I am glad that I met her. I know that she would be just as comfortable in a pair of work boots.

Put on your boots. Get on your bike and ride. Be open minded when you meet someone. Enjoy the uniqueness of each person you encounter. Don't write him off because he is 70 yrs old. Give him time and he will tell you about when he was 17 and rode his Ducati motorcycle from Florida to Wisconsin to see his grandmother. ya, true story. Give people a chance, they will enrich your life. Then ask yourself, does he fit in his work boots.?? 

Until next time... PEACE&GREASE.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hugh's HandBuilt: Biker Metric - And other randomness

Hugh's HandBuilt: Biker Metric - And other randomness: Trent Reker of BikerMetric dropped in for a bit last week, we discussed the more important things in life. Beer, Hot Rod Engines, Women, M...

Wheels Through Time Museum.

Don Wood Approved

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend and I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my wife and daughter. We had planned on a quiet weekend at home, away from the traveling masses. This was the plan till about 7pm friday night. I asked the wife how she felt about a little road trip. As usual, she was game and asked, "Where we goin.?"
We got up Saturday morning and set out for Maggie Valley, NC. Destination; Wheels Through Time Museum. The owners, Dale Walksler and his son, Matt call it The museum that runs and for good reason. A lot of the bikes in their collection run and it is not uncommon for a staff member to hop on a bike and crank it to life. Burn outs are not uncommon. I had done a little checking and I knew that Dale and Matt were in Davenport, Ia. for an event so I called a dear friend who works at the museum. John Dills has been a friend for quite some time and when I asked him if the Museum would be open with the Walkslers being out of town he told me. Come on. When you gonna be here.?
We arrived to find John and a young fellow washing one of the many collectible cars on display at the museum. It is more than just a bunch of motorSickles, you see. Cars, Trucks, chain saws, Ice saws, Harley powered toboggans, outboard motors, Harley powered farm equipment and even a Harley powered airplane. I'm not sure of the oldest  but there are many motorcycles that date back to the beginning of time. Knucles and pans. Shovels and wl's from the war era. Full dressers and board track racers. Choppers and Police specials. Harley's and Hendersons, Arrows and Indians. and some motorbikes that I have never seen before in my life.

In the last 2 1/2 yrs I've been to this place I call Mecca, 6 times. I've probably spent over 20 hours walking amongst The history and collectibles. I have been given the high honor of being invited to the back room to see where the magic of restoration happens. I can tell you this.. I could spend another 20 hrs there tomorrow and still not see it all. Some folks go to Art galleries or to a comedy club. I like studying motorcycles. I've been to quite a few Motorcycle museums and a few very impressive private collections. I am yet to find anything that compares to The Wheels Though Time Museum. It's the people that make all the difference in the world. They are the kind of people who know that they are blessed and they treat their work as if they are caretakers. They have a desire to share their knowledge with anyone who might have a question and if you have a motorcycle related question you couldn't find a more prepared group of people to find your answers.
The area around Maggie Valley makes this Museum a destination for a rider of motorcycles. Maggie Valley is a town of 1,000 people but this is a tourist town and there are many options for eating and lodging. This small town lies on the eastern edge of the Smokey Mountain National park. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs within a few miles of the Museum. Check their website for days and times of operation.
I want to thank Dale, Matt and the rest of the staff for always making it a joy to spend time with them and their collection. I also want to thank John Dills for the time and friendship he has shown me and my family. These are some of the greatest people on planet earth.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I have long wanted to do a motorcycle ride that would be a defining moment in my life. I'm not talking about a crash or going from pavement to gravel at 60 mph in the dark with a video crew hanging from a mini van 5 feet from my front tire. I'm talking about a ride that books are written about. A ride that is large enough in scope that someone else is willing to pay for that trip. This past weekend, I think I got a little closer to recognize that dream.

This past weekend I was with a film crew that was doing a documentary about Moonshine for the Discovery Channel. We had two days of taping in Oklahoma and Kansas. During one of our down times the producer of the documentary asked me what my dream trip would be.??? I have pondered this question many times. I have ridden all over the USA and I have thought hard about branching out across our border. Before a moment past I answered his question. "The Pan American Highway". I told him a little about this dream trip and within about 3 minutes he said, I want to do that...

We are still in contact and trying to figure out the logistics of such a trip. I have no commitment as of yet but I think that this thing will happen. The goal is to start this journey in June 2012. Timing is because of extreme weather at the north and south ends of the trip.

There it is. My goal is out of the bag now. Let the Haters and the Doubters line up. The rest of you, Just wish me well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sturgis 2011.

When does Sturgis start.??? Well, this year the official dates were August 6- 14th but my Sturgis always starts when I leave the house.  Little did I know that when I left my house on the 26st of July headed for Mountainfest in West Virginia I had actually started my Sturgis trip.
I arrived in Morgantown, West Virginia at dusk on my second day of tooling around the backroads of Kentucky and WV. I looked at two campgrounds but thought I would continue searching. I found a lovely little spot behind the Pilot Truck stop. I set up my pop up camper trailer and settled in for the night. Working with Cycle Source Magazine does have it's benefits. The next morning I found the Chateau that we would stay in while in Morgantown. Thats when I found out that I could have been in a feather bed last night instead of an air mattress at a truck stop. Such is life. We had a great time at Mountainfest. A great time to me is catching up with people that I have met before and finding new people to build lasting relationships with.  The WV. crew treated us better than family and the laughs and drinks lasted till the early morning hours. We had a super Bike Show and I had the time to catch up with some other friends. I am always amazed when I get to meet the people that I have met threw association on facebook. After the rally was over and we were loading out Chris Callen made the comment that it would sure help him if I would come to his house in Pittsburgh to help get ready for Sturgis. I think he said this with no expectation of that happening. I called my loving wife and explained the upside of this plan. number one in my mind was the 24 hrs of riding that I would be saving. I have the most understanding wife any man has ever known. Next stop, Pittsburgh.  I rode north with Rob Keller and his wife and Kieth. That night we had the pleasure of having dinner with John Rogue. This man is considered a freedom fighter for our industry and in 2005 he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his work. A man deserving of all respect. The next couple of days Chris and I worked on issues related to the magazine. We were also able to design a new t-shirt for me. I was suprised with the amount of work we had accomplished.
This is when I have to share the biggest part of my life during this time. The last day of Mountainfest was the last day of my 10 month addiction to Morphine. A prescribed medication to manage pain after my motorcycle crash and the surgery to repair my shoulder. I have never known addiction and I have never gone threw the related detox.  The last two days at Chris's house were physically the hardest time of my life. You could have hit me with a taser and it would have been gentler than the full body convulsions I was experiencing.  Part of my reasoning for not going home to Tennessee was to avoid the chance of getting more Morphine. On day four of detox I left Chris's house headed to Ainsworth, Iowa to help Papa Clutch prepare for his annual pre Sturgis Party.
 Pittsburgh to Ainsworth is not that long of a road but the turmoil that my body was in made it the roughest road of my life.  I arrived to find almost all of the preparations already done. I was pleased to spend some quality time with some dear friends.  I often refer to these people as some of the greatest people on planet earth. I don't say this halfheartedly. People like Tim and Dana. Roadside Marty. Jeff Cochran and Wes Hackett. These people are truly golden in my book.  We had a great pre party at the local Casino. Right up until I was informed that I was scaring the staff at the casino. I'm still not sure what that was all about. So back to our suite for more story telling and belly laughing until early morning. Chris pulled in that night and we started about the business of fixing the broken and bent tow hitch on the RV. As usual, our party was with wrenches and cutting torch in hand. My pain level and lack of sleep had finally got the best of me and I had set about to get wasted enough to pass out. This was a great plan until I found out that Chris wanted to leave as soon as the tow hitch was fixed. at 2am we were hitting the road. Sturgis bound.

After an uncomfortable amount of hours at 52 mph because of an over heating RV engine and the temp. gauge buzzer sounding in my head. We pulled into the Buffalo Chip with only enough time to unload the bikes and blaze to the Broken Spoke for the staging of the annual Michael Lichter ride.  This is one of the must do rides in my life. Its not the road or even the motorcycles that excites me. This is a meeting point for most of the people that I know. Some that I only get to see once or twice a year. Sasha Mullens lives 60 miles from my house but I see her once a year and we ride threw Vanocker canyon together and then talk about how we should really get together more often. The ride turned into a mad weather event.. Hail the size of golf balls came down for 10 minutes. As people ran for cover and to cover their bikes, I found myself under the safe cover of a mid 1800's stagecoach..  More of this story, later.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

What a Wild Ride.

I've been on top of the world in my travels. I've seen the highest mountains and the lowlands of the Bayou. I love riding motorcycles but more than that, I love the new and interesting people that I encounter on the road. I have been on the road alot this year and I'm on a super busy cross country run as I type this. Let me just hit the high spots. Omaha, Ainsworth, Laconia, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, middle Ohio, Morgantown WV. I sit here Outside of Pittsburgh at Chris Callen's house. a couple of down days and then we are off to Ainsworth and then on to Sturgis. To say the least, I've been burning up the road but there is one huge difference in the way I ride and alot of other people. I DON'T RIDE TO A DESTINATION.
WTF does that mean??? I'll tell ya. When I set out to go somewhere, before I cross the bridge at the end of my driveway, I am on a journey. In my mind the trip has begun. I don't wait till I get to the party to have a good time. This mindset first hit me on a trip to Daytona Bikeweek. I was still busted up from a wreck and I had reservations about the 800 mile ride. 30 miles into the ride, my shoulder killing me, I was passed by a truck, trailer and two bikes. It clicked in my mind that their "good time" won't start until they get there. "My journey starts now". became my mind set and I try to to take a little more time to enjoy the journey.

I left for Morgantown, WV a day early. I set out north into KY. and realized that I was on the same road that I had been on for the ohio trip and the return from Laconia. I did the unthinkable... I took a south bound highway on my north bound trip. That decision on the surface seems counter productive but it turned my ride around. Smart phone and road atlas was no longer my friend. I took the road I wanted and at times that was the road less traveled. I stopped for ice cream at the smallest stores I could find. I had a great time talking with people and sharing experiences with them. I rode threw the Daniel Boone National forest and I rode with no destination in mind. I rode for the sheer pleasure of the ride. No care in my mind of where I would eat, I wasn't hungry. No care of where I would sleep, I wasn't tired. I have realized that those things that we worry about on a road trip are not important enough to fill our minds. my point here is,,, I have never wanted for a place to sleep. I have thought, at times, I would "LIKE" a better place to sleep but my needs have always been met.

The next day I was close enough to Morgantown that I didn't have to rush to get there. I was on the verge of being lazy about the ride. I would stop to look at a stream and I missed not one scenic overlook. When I arrived in Morgantown around dusk my mind was free. I didn't have that feeling of accomplishment that I get from finishing a balls out, epic long road ride. What I had was more about the memories and the people that I had encountered. I have blazed many  1,000 miles in a single day. I have done a lot of that kind of riding. I got to tell ya,,, I find peace for my soul and hope for my country in the people that I take the time to meet along the road.
Until we meet again,

The Human side of the Photograph.

Mountain fest 2011. Morgantown, WV.

As I have travelled all around this fine country, Tramping from one rally to another. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the greatest people on planet Earth. Each one an individual and each with an extreme story to tell.
Michael Lichter is a photographer. We have all seen his pictures in magazines and other print media. Hell, The man has been working his craft for 30 plus years. I had the pleasure of being in Sturgis last year when he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the industry. The mans body of work is in my humble opinion the greatest in the industry. I can spend a large amount of time looking at his work and picking out all the little suttle elements that make up the photo's. I have often thought about a picture of his and wondered what the story was that went with the picture.
In the last year Michael and I have gotten to know each other a bit more. Daytona  BikeWeek 2011 he rode backwards on my motorcycle shooting photo's of a group of custom bikes out on a ride. In Arizona, He make the trip from Phoenix  north to the mountains to shoot an event that I was involved with called Choppertown Camparound. In all this time he was working and I never took the time to ask about the stories behind the pictures.
Mountain fest. Michael had set up about 60 of his pictures in the air conditioned pavilion and he and his lovely wife were there answering questions and selling books of his work. Now understand this was not a photo album on a table. This was a full blown art exhibit with each photo framed with special lighting.  I had the High honor to be with a small group of 4 or 5 people that Michael took from photo to photo. He would explain in great detail about the where's and the when's of the picture. He was very involved with communicating to us about how it came to be and the elements of that picture that struck him.  This man took the time with us to answer all of our questions. He would take us to the time and emotion that was depicted in each shot. After we had reached the last photo, we all thanked him because it was such a High Honor to spend that time learning about all that his art is. As I turned to thank his lovely wife and talk a bit about the schedule for the day, I turned to see that Michael had already started the process with another small group of admirers. The sight of him sharing his stories with other people did my heart good. I hope they gained as much from the experience as I did.
It's not often in the world of successful people that you meet one who will take the time to share with you. I feel that Michael Lichter is one of the good guys in that group.
Until we meet again,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We all know the guy who has a bike and he doesn't ride but maybe a couple hundred miles in a year. We all have heard him try to convince us that he is a biker. He is just as likely to have a matching trailer and a Harley Davidson pick up truck. He is the typical annoying guy at the gas station wearing a full set of brand new leathers in 95 degree heat. Given the chance, he will try his best to convince you that he is an individualist and he is blazing his own trail. All you can see is some poor schmuck who has spent a whole lot of money on his props to fit into a sub culture that he really doesn't understand.  Don't be that guy.
Until again we meet

question ?

I am wondering just how effective this whole blog thing is at communicating with the people who are interested in what I have to say. I would really appreciate your input on this. I write from the heart and what I write I feel is relative. I enjoy writing but I need some guidance from you.  Please, tell me what you think.
Until again we meet


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don Wood Tested. Don Wood Approved.

On my return from Laconia, NH. Bikeweek 2011 I had the time to do some mountain riding. I decided I would ride my motorSickle threw the Adirondacks and the Catskills of NY. Other than rain, I had a great ride threw an area that I had only traveled in a Freightliner truck years ago. It was a wonderful and very mountainous area. I made my camp at the end of the day close to the NY, PA. state line and I pulled out my map. I decided to break my own rule and travel a bit on the interstate. My reason was to get out of the populated area I found myself in. I pulled off the interstate in Strasburg, Va. and I found state highway 55. and this is where my journey begins. Within 15 miles of the interstate I found myself on a two lane mountain road with 9% grades and corners that were labeled at 15 and 20 mph. Switch backs and hairpins were the recipe for the rest of my day. There were more than a few times that I had to slow down, not that the bike couldn't handle it. It was more for a chance to get my mind to catch up. Do twisties for 30 minutes straight and know this. Your mind can get to the point of overload and the only thing you can do is slow down.
This road led me into The George Washington National Forrest. Not a house or store for miles after miles. The topography of this area was set back when 2 large land masses collided and they called the area Pangaea. Unlike the spikes and peaks of the Rockies, this area is dominated by a heaving of the earth that ended with ridge lines all of the same heights. This area is also known as The Allegheny Mountains which is the northern section of the Appalachian Mountains. Highway 55 led me into the area known as The Seneca Rocks National Rec. area.

Seneca Trail

From West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia

The Seneca Trail, or Warrior's Path, was the Native American highway from upper New York into deep within Georgia. In West Virginia, it followed, in general, the Alleghenies. From the South Branch of the Potomac, at Seneca Rock, it crossed the Allegheny Mountains near the headwaters of the Cheat River, then, by way of Cheat Mountain and Shavers Fork of the Cheat, it led almost direct to Elkins. From there it continued westward, with a branch to the south.

When the King of England in 1763 issued a proclamation forbidding further settlement beyond the mountains and demanding the return of settlers who had already crossed the Alleghenies, a line was established roughly following the Seneca Trail. That line formed the boundary of "the frontier" during the French and Indian War. The highway comes into Tucker County near the famed Fairfax Stone (, a boundary between West Virginia and Maryland.
When I came out of the Seneca Area, after another series of twisties I entered The Monongahela National Forrest. A beautiful undisturbed  area That was just begging for me to push my moterSickle to the edge of its abilities.  I have at times rode on the razors edge but I am only 6 months into recovery from the last crash so I kept the throttle on the safe side of that razor. I'll tell ya. I have ridden all over and I was having a ball. The roads were well maintained and well marked. All the corners were posted with a recommended speed limit and milage signs to the next town were posted often enough to keep me from fretting about my gas situation.

Shortly after exiting the Forrest I came down a steep grade as I looked at the landscape of the city of Elkins, WV. A small town of around 8,000 people. This town is big enough to have some good food stops and services if needed. Thankfully I needed nothing from this town except for 30 minutes in a car wash bay as I waited for a heavy rain to pass. I continued south west along the valley floor with mountain ridges to my left and to my right. Threw a couple of smaller towns in the valley and once again I was twisting up the side of a mountain and back into the National Forrest. My road ended for the day in the small town of Summersville, WV.  at The Tractor Bar listening to Jasmine Cains Band. ( She was quite surprised to see me.)
The total route from Strasburg to Summersville was 240 miles. I took a total of 5 hrs to get to my destination. I was packed for all weather conditions and I was thankful for how I packed. You can plan on hitting all forms of weather from hot and cold to wet. I'm sure that there are times in winter months that this road is completely closed to all human traffic.
In closing I will say this... Highway 55 through Virginia and West Virginia is in my top 5 roads in the US. Time of year could be a deal breaker on this road. Plan on doing this ride alone. It doesn't matter if you are in a group of 50, you will need to be alone on this one. No formation riding on this road.

State highway 55 through VA. and W.V. is DON WOOD TESTED. DON WOOD APPROVED.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Checking to see if this is working.

Sent from my Samsung Captivate(tm) on AT&T

Don Wood Tested, Don Wood Approved.

I will be starting a new online business idea today. Here is the premise of my idea. I will be reviewing and testing all manner of products, places and people that would interest the MotorSickle community... for example. lets say I get a new tent from a manufacture. I will test it for its pro's and con's. I will report to you my findings and hopefully, you will be able to order that product from this blog. I plan on concentrating on "new to market" items. Camera's, camping gear, riding apparel and other such items. I will also be writing about places and things that I find on the road. That might include a restaurant or a specific highway.

If you have any idea's of a product or location that I should check into please let me know. PEACE&GREASE
Test to see if this is working.

Sent from my Samsung Captivate(tm) on AT&T

Monday, June 13, 2011

Laconia. 2011

Don Wood here. Coming to you loud and proud from Cycle  Source Magazines, mobile World Headquarters in Laconia, NH. for the 88th Annual Bikeweek. Much to see here in the New England area. I will be reporting back from time to time just to fill yall in on whats going on. There will be video posts also on Rally Go check it out.  The sun just came out. First time in 3 days. I'm goin riding.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tennessee ticks and the US Government

A couple of days ago I was working in the back yard.. OK. Shit head. I'll rephrase... I was walking across the back yard to change the filter on the pool. This is a thing that I do quite often. This time though was different. As I walked into the house I had a small sharp pain close to my belly button... Once again, I found myself before my wife with my T-shirt up around my forehead... Honey...??? Yep. Sure as the world I had a Tick attached about an inch from my belly button.. My first thought was, " well, I believe you have bitten off more than you can chew." As I grabbed the little blood sucker and started to pull I realized,, " Hey, this fucker's got a pretty good grip". Then I started thinking about all the wisdom I have been given over the years about Ticks. It's amazing the volume of information that has been given without even a little coke-sing. as I went to the bathroom to get the petroleum jelly and the tweezers..." ""and the thought crossed my mind""".... This little fucker is just like our government... Of no consequence in my life and then without any prompting on my part, this insect has entered my life and now I must deal with it... Understand this... How I deal with this could have a profound effect on my life and by extension, my families life.

I'm not by any means a conspiracy theorist but there is a lot going on in our government that can not be simply explained. I do know this,,, our country can not sustain the path that it is on and if I need to I will cover my government with petroleum jelly until it can't breath and pulls its head out of my flesh.. Then I will pinch it's little head, toss it aside and drive on with what benefits my family, my friends and me.

by the way.... "Seven" dust from the garden store or Sulphur from the farm store sprinkled around the yard will rid the area of just about all the bugs... Chickens do a good job, too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Here is what I know to be true.

I don't know if Bin Laden is dead or alive. I don't know who he was or if he was created for a purpose. What I do know is how I felt when the media reported that he had been killed. I felt that another page had turned in our book of history. I continued to watch the broadcasts and then I saw Americans rejoicing. I pondered the moment. I have sat in a foxhole for days on end. I have trained with some of the most elite members of our military and the elite of 14 allied countries. I am and will always be a United States of America Army Infantry Soldier. I tell you this because I know that the only ones who celibrate the death of battle have not been there. I can not "Prove" this any more than I can prove that there is a God. My life exsperience has brought me to this point of understanding. I will tell you this,,,, Seal Team 6 did not High 5 and fist bump at missions end. They did not gather with many to celibrate or posture on the great things they had done. These modern day Warriors more than likely sat side by side in a helicopter without a word being said. I have to be honest here.. While watching the broadcast of our citizens celibrating I felt like we were behaving in a manner that was beneath us. What was it that America was celibrating.? We are yet to "Win" anything from this battle. A man, Evil as the Devil is dead. That is all. This might serve as closure for those that lost loved ones. It might mean something deep in us that justice and good has prevailed. But this ain't over by far.

I think the bigger issue that has come to light is our doubt in the "Trustworthyness" of our elected Government. I am not the typical conspiracy theorist. I'm not goonna fly off the handle and tell you it was all a cover-up or that Bin Laden has been dead sense 2001. Here is what I will tell you.... America is quickly loosing faith in its leadership. We have been lied too. We have heard too many broken promises. We have seen fiscal irresponsibility. Our government has sanctioned the drugging of Americans for the purpose of control and study. I am yet to talk with one person who doesn't have a story about how screwed up our Government is and in the next breath qualify that with the standard,, "But this is still the greatest country on Earth". I heard on CNN a couple of weeks ago that 70% of Americans are not happy with the direction our country is going in.... Hom much "Unlike" will it take for the People to stand up collectively and say "Enough is Enough". Can we do that.????  Can we as a Country deside on a set of goals.? Can we develop a 5 yr plan? Can we as a whole agree on 5 things that we need to fix in America? AND THEN,,, Can we elect the person to drive our plan down the road.???

Hows that for having a dream.? I highly doubt that the Powers that Be would allow such a thing to happen. The will of the People is no longer the Goal of our Government and that is why I no longer trust them.

I'll see you on the road.... PEACE&GREASE.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Raising kids.

PLEASE BE ADVISED....  This is just a RANT.

I've seen and heard a bus load of people talk about the proper way we are to raise our kids.. Some dude named Dr. Spock was the loud mouth expert a few years ago and that opinionated bitch, Jane Valez- Mtchell, who is on TV has more than a few issues... I don't know who Mr. Mitchell is but he needs to straighten out his woman. But I will save her for another topic. All these people telling us about how to raise our children and they don't have a clue. They say that we have to be gentle and not crush thier little spirits.

I have raised one child. I am raising another child and I have been robbed of the opportunity to raise two others. My children call me super Dad.. I wear no cape but in my childrens eyes, I do all that they need.
These people who try to tell us how to raise our children have no idea of what is really important and because people listen to these nuts those of us who are trying to do right are held in contempt for it.

 I have heard a child say to an adult... " why?". Do I have to?" How come? I don't want to. You hurt my feelings. I have actually been told. "You shouldn't speak so sternly to your child". to that I replied." I ought to punch you in the throat. I want my child to hear me when I speak". I have a habit of explaining my communication skills in this way.. " I say what I mean and I mean what I say". I have been in situations where I needed to give instuction of a dire nature. I understand how to "Communicate From A Foxhole" and when I'm talkin, I like to think that what I say has some importance. The people who know me and that have been around me during times of high stress know that I am a take charge kind of guy and if I say something, they can believe that to be true. I tell you all this to get my point across.. There might be a time when I sit at the shoreline and talk with my 5 yr old Maggie about the clouds or butterflies or any of those other important things. There will also be the times when  we are walking threw a parking lot or crossing a street. When I speak, people listen because I speak in a voice that conveys authority. When I say STOP. I mean it.

There are four words in the english language that when heard,, elicit an immediate response. STOP. MOVE. DUCK. HELP. Trust me when I tell you that you better listen to me when I speak. I am not concerned about how Maggie "Feels" when I command her to STOP. I am just thankful that I have trained her to "Listen" to me. I know we don't live in fear of land mines but there are land mines everywhere. and if I can save my child or yours from some pain then I will gladly shout at them. I think it has alot to do with training up a child to do right. My 22 yr. old often tells me that her friends are having hard times with things she finds easy because of the way she was raised.. I remember the first employment that Ruthe, our oldest, had. She worked at a grocery store. The owner was rough on the kids in that he told them what to do and how to do it. So many of the kids who started work there had a hard time with that because they had never been told what to do and certainly no critiqued on thier performance. Ruthe came home one day telling me of a friend of hers who had quit her job. My child thanked me for teaching her about work.. That is the reward that I had worked for the whole time I was raising her. My time was not ill spent.
Maybe I come from an old school but I do know the lessons I learned and these are the leasons I wish to share.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bike week bound.

As is normally the case, I was not able to leave when I wanted... Friday morning found me still packing. Dealing with work that just popped up and a meeting at City hall. I finally hit the road 5 hrs late and the first thing I noticed was I HAVE NO BACK BRAKE. This came to my attention as the front wheel locked up as I came sliding to a stop sign... After a moment of investigation I deduced that the engine crash guard had been bent in the last crash and was not letting me push down on the brake pedal. A stop at a repair shop and I was able to heat the guard enough to bend it back to where it should be.. Thanks Ray.

On the road again.. This is the first time I have ridden more than 5 miles sense my Arizona wreck back in October. I'll tell you straight up, I was nervous. Wind, traffic and road conditions were on my mind but I decided to push through. Because of my weak and sore shoulder I was not able to ride the distance that I am use too. I was getting discouraged until I was passed by a trailer full of bikes. I was reminded, My trip had already began.. Some people are just going through the motions until they get to there destination. So what if I have to stop every 50 miles because my shoulder is killing me. I'm doing my thing. I'm riding my bike and I'm towing my camper. My experience has already begun.

I stopped in north Georgia after about 5 hrs on the road. I was cold. I was tired and I was sore. A stop at Ruby Tuesday and after a salad and A beer, I was ready to get a room and a hot shower.. I pulled up to a hotel next to the interstate and as I got off the bike I noticed a cemetery next to the hotel. I checked in and paid my money but as I was unloading my overnight bag I kept noticing that cemetery. For some reason, I was drawn. I walked over to the cemetery and walked up the hill so I could get an overview of the place. As I stood on that hill I could see the whole of the property. I could very easily distinguish between the old part and the new part. The new had huge monuments, visitors and fresh flowers that had been left by someone who had cared enough to spend a dollar and pay their respect with a visit to the grave site. I spent little time with the new because for some reason I was drawn to the old. No flower were in the area. There were no visitors in that area and the head markers were at the most, unassuming. I walked over to this area and I felt the rush of the dead. As if they were aware that they had a visitor. I was reading the headstones and noticing the dates. I was amazed that some of these headstones dated back to the early 1800's. As I walked amongst the dead, I found myself aware that alot of the mens headstones noted the military unit of service and then "CSA". Confederate States of America. I was standing amongst the confederate soldiers how had fought and died for the South.

As I read the headstones and the dates on them I was reminded of a Garth Brooks song that sings about the dash thats in between the dates.. I started thinking of what that "Dash" meant in these peoples lives. What had transpired in their lives between birth and death. I was moved by the thoughts that were running through my mind. I kept thinking of the sacrifices that these men had lived through. Then, I realized the headstones beside beside were the markers of these mens wives.. and what cought my attention was the amount of time that had passed between the death of the husband and the death of the wife. sometimes the amount of time that passed was 20 and 30 yrs. I thought about these women and there grief. I thought about how life was for a widow woman in north Georgia in the mid 1800's. I was reminded once  again that not all that sacrifice for the cause of war wear a uniform. There are many who carry the burden on war that never saw combat. There are mothers and brothers and sisters and wives who must carry on and sometimes, for a very long time. I have always thanked the mothers and wives of our service members because I was in the Army and I understand what these women are going through. Or so I thought. I feel know that I have a deeper understanding of what they go through.

As I walked from the cemetery I walked up to a flag pole that had no flag... At the base of the flag pole was a marker that read. "In this area rest the remains of 134 confederate soldiers who were unclaimed".
Unclaimed is a very strong word.

Until next time

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The longest road part 4

Soon after Big Mountain Run was over I made a run down to Texas. I wanted to see south Texas before it turned unbearably hot. I found myself at a place called Jamaica Beach, Tx. Just down the road from Galveston. Some of the greatest times I have had were by happen stance. With no destination in mind and letting the road and the weather take you where they will. Without expectation there can be no disappointment. I picked up a magazine off the bar in Jamaica Beach. The Horse Magazine was advertising its upcoming celebration called The Smoke out. I got on the bike and headed home so I could get ready for that epic journey. I left out early one morning heading to Santa Rosa, NM. I was going to meet up with Wes Hackett and his wife and ride in together to Smoke Out West. a Weekend celebration of motorSickles and dirtbags. Santa Rosa must be the armpit of all the places I can remember. I was standing in the front parking lot of a little shitty bar and diner when out of nowhere shows up Wes and Alicia. Santa Rosa just became a little closer to bearable. The back gravel parking lot of this shit hole was also what they called an RV park. Ya, really. We paid our fair and claimed our home ground for the next couple of days. The logic was that at least we would be close to shitty food, warm beer and a bathroom that we could use when needed. Smoke Out West was the starting point for The Long Road. A scheduled road trip of 5 days that would end in Rockingham, NC at the beginning of Smoke Out East. There were around 85 misfits that had decided to make this journey and some of these heathens have become friends that I will cherish for life. Our first stop on this road was at Brass Balls Choppers in Okla, City. OK. We had a little street party but they forgot to tell the local cops. The boys in blue were just waiting for us to step out of line and an Oklahoma jail was not on my to do list so I cut that party short and headed back to the hotel, parked the bike and walked to the nearest bar. Within 30 minutes the bar filled with alot of the folks that were on the road. I guess great minds think alike. In the morning, we headed out to a campground in Arkansas around 300 miles away. Along the way I happened apon a group of 15 bikers on the side of the interstate. As I was pulling over who did I see, Wes Hackett was flashing me. I pulled over and turned to see 15 bikers jogging up to me. Wes had informed them that I probably had beer in my cooler. Picture this. 16 bikers standing in the shadow of an interstate exit sign, drinking beer and waiting on a tow truck for a bike with a shredded rear tire.. When the beer was all consumed I thought they would fall over when I pulled out a quart of cherry moonshine. We got the bike loaded on a trailer and then we set out to find some place to go swimming. It was god awfull hot but within 10 minutes we were skinny dipping in a river under a rail road bridge. I am glad to report that there were some females with the group. I think it might have been a bit gay if it had just been a bunch of dudes. At the campground, folks were starting to bond a bit and with the help of a half gallon of Sailor Jerry Rum and the cooling effect of a slow moving river, I met some of the greatest people on planet earth. Who the fuck is Roadside Marty??? Thats what his stickers say. I had the pleasure of treading water and passing a jug with him for about 4 hrs. We laughed until the tears came. There were probably 10 of us in that river. telling stories of the road and sharing of our life experiences I will never forget trying to explain to a guy from Canada that just because he could stand up in the water did not mean that he could stand up and walk out of the water... He proved me to be correct and after a little projectile vomitting, he slid into a peaceful sleep. with his feet still in the water. I was amazed that the Canadian was one of the first people to be moving in the morning... Next stop... Memphis Tn. The magazine had scheduled a pub crawl down on Beale St. Way too much fun. I met a lady who, within 2 minutes of conversation, started bragging that she plays the Tuba... ya, I know, odd right... I played along for a moment and then I called, BULLSHIT. This woman left but within 5 minutes she had returned with a full size, marching band Tuba. Where in the hell do you hide a tuba??? why would you have a tuba with you on Beale St. on a Tuesday night. ?? There were many questions that went unanswered that night. I saw a homeless woman approach one of our group, asking to bum a smoke. Show your tits, was his response... She complied..  Amazing. Wed. morning as the sun was shining threw the hotel window it dawned on me that I was just about completely out of moonshine. I made the plan to seperate from the group and go to my house and restock my cooler. It was so nice to have a home cooked meal and a night in my own bed while the group spent the night in a field in Crossville Tn. watching old biker movies on a blow up screen. eating pizza and drinking beer. I met back up with the group at the Wheels through time museum in Maggie Valley, NC. What a wonderful place. I have fallen in love with the motorcycles and the people. If you like motorcyles, this is a must do. The party was all that you could imagine from a group that had been together for almost a week with very little adult supervision. Thoughts were not about yesterday or tomorrow. We were in the moment and thats all that really mattered. The morning sun rose onto a group of misfits that had dragged motorsickles down a very long road. Today would end in Rockingham, NC.