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.