Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Beginning of the End?
President Donald Trump declared war on Harley-Davidson on Tuesday, saying it's decision to shift limited production overseas would be the “beginning of the end” for the iconic motorcycle company.  He also predicted he would suffer little fallout for his aggressive tweets. "The people who ride Harley-Davidsons are not happy with Harley-Davidson,” Trump told reporters.  "Their employees and customers are already very angry at them,” Trump said in an early morning tweet....REALLY?  Maybe he needs to go for a ride on a Harley and actually listen to people.  After spending the last two weeks traveling across this beautiful country, meeting and talking with bikers, HD employees, and by the way riding an  incredible machine, it is impossible for me to understand where this crazy, illogical, thoughtless rhetoric comes from.

It saddens my heart when an iconic American company is threatened and attacked in such a reckless manner.

be strong, be safe, Talon

Friday, June 22, 2018

HWY 83 - Day 11 - Magic City
Good sleep in Westhope in the bank building last night.  It was FDIC insured and secure.   Breakfast at a four table cafe.  Invited to join a table with the local folks and share stories.  Before I knew it we were all laughing and chatting like long lost friends.  Could only happen in a small farm community.  Rode back south to Minot to drop off the LowRider at Magic City HD.  Good folks.  Had a hard time putting the kickstand down for the final time.

Shared a beer with a friend, Arlen, from North Dakota tonight.  Special way to end the ride.

Couldn't help but think about some Bison advise I had read at Standing Rock Reservation.  Lessons of the road.
 Cherish wide open spaces
Stand your ground 
Have a tough hide
Keep moving on
Have a strong spirit
Let the chips fall where the may
Roam wild and free

Wingin' my way back to Santa Fe in the morning.  Via the friendly skies.  Be missing the road with the wind on my knees and the sun on my back.
Roam wild and free, Talon

Thursday, June 21, 2018

HWY83 - Day 10 - Knife River Indian Villages, End of the Road, Sleeping in a Bank
For centuries the Upper Missouri River Valley was a lifeline winding through the landscape.  It's wooded banks and rich soil became the home of the Earthlodge people.  They hunted bison and other game but were essentially farmers living in villages along the Missouri and its tributaries.
Alisha is Chief of Interpretation and Cultural Resources at the Knife River Indian Villages.  She is a direct descendant of the Mandan and Hidatsa Earthlodge people.  "The Knife Villages had been established for over 500 years at the time of contact with Europeans.  The Hidatsa arrived in the area around 1300.  Archeological evidence shows that the Knife River area has been occupied for more than 11,000 years.  In 1837 a smallpox epidemic transmitted by the Europeans reduced the populations by 90 percent.  In 1885 the US Government forced the remaining tribes to move to the Fort Berthold Reservation."
Hand painted buffalo robes depicted and celebrated important events.  They were placed within a sacred area of the Earthlodge.  Cooking fires were in the middle.  Buffalo hides were wrapped around the upright beams to give thanks and respect for all the bison provided for the people.
Walking through the villages and along the Missouri River this morning I was filled with a sense of peace and tranquility.  Agriculture with gardens of corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers were the main crops.  The women of the Mandan and Hidatsa nurtured their gardens as they did their children.  It was here in this village Lewis and Clark met Sakakawea who traveled with them to the Pacific Ocean.
A short 85 miles further north brought me to the end of HWY 83 at the border of the United States and Canada.  At one time the road gently curved into another country. Today it is all about passports, immigration, forms, and government regulations.  2211 miles from the Gulf of Texas to the border of Canada in North Dakota.  Across vast grass plains, sand hills, headwaters of mighty rivers.  Through disappearing Americana and history that formed this country.  Folks I met in small towns and big cities, chatted with, heard stories, and drank coffee with.  All part of the Last American Highway, a journey through time.
Lookin' for a room for the night.  Pulled up to the Gateway Motel in Westhope, ND just 6 miles from the border.  It was a bank at one time.  Now the city hall, library and a motel with 16 non-smoking rooms.  Entered the building.  Sign with a phone. "Call this number if you need a room".  Called the number.  Jim answered.  Told him what I needed.  He took my information, gave me the combination to a key box where I found my room key. "Don't forget to leave your key on the dresser in the morning.  If you don't we are goin' be charging you for each day the key is missing."  Got my attention.  Key is laying on the dresser.  BTW 15 additional rooms still available tonight.

Tomorrow ride back south to Minot.  

Kickstand down Weshope, ND 210 miles

be strong, be safe, Talon

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

HWY83 - Day 9 - Standing Rock, Sitting Bull, Mandans on the Missouri
Rode to the Sitting Bull Monument this morning.  Chief Sitting Bull, or Tatanka Iyotake, was a Hunkpapa Teton Sioux spiritual leader. In the 1870s, Sitting Bull had relocated to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  He became a great spiritual leader and organized a resistance movement against US expansion on treaty-reserved lands. On December 15, 1890, nine years after surrendering to the US government, he was shot to death by government police.  The police had been executing an arrest warrant in order to prevent Sitting Bull from attending a Ghost Dance ceremony.  The location overlooks the Missouri River. Quiet, peaceful, overlooking the country he loved.
Clear skies and dry pavement were my companions today.  Leathers finally beginning to dry out.  Into North Dakota sections of the original two laner share the true feeling of the original road.  Passed through Strasbury,  home of a bandleader and musician who became a household name with his popular TV show in the 1950's, Lawrence Welk. 
At Washburn turned west to meet the Missouri River.  The Mandan people, who lived along the river, provided food, supplies, and shelter for Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.  Fort Mandan was built in 1804 and the men of the Corps wintered over there until April of 1805.  Lewis and Clark met Sakakawea at Fort Mandan.  It was here the Corp made their final preparations for the push into the unknown American West toward the Pacific Ocean.
Met Charles, a recent college history grad and park ranger at Fort Mandan.  "We're not too busy at the moment.  If you like I'd be happy to provide you with a personal tour of the Fort.  It is build of local cottonwood trees.  This is a reproduction.  The original fort was built down river from the Mandan and Hidatsa villages.  The exact location of the original fort has been lost.  It is most likely covered by the Missouri River now.  This replica was built in 1972."  Nice to have a personal local expert to share the history.
Pulled up to the Coal Country inn to check on a room for the night.  Unique, industrial type of motel...discovered it was set up for working crews at the local coal power plant.  Complete with it's own store, cafe, and laundry.  Took my boots off as instructed.

Kickstand down at the Coal Country Inn, Stanton, ND. 240 miles

be strong, be safe, Talon

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

HWY83 - Day 8 - Fog, End of Pavement, Lookin' for Buffalo
Woke up to heavy rain in Valentine this morning.  Rained all night.  Little break about 8am.  Suited up, covered up, saddled up.  10 miles down the rainy road hit fog so thick was thinkin' about getting my Leatherman out to cut my way through.   Orange sign in fog...road work ahead...10 more feet...gravel road...10 more feet...pavement ends...It ended at the Rosebud Reservation.  No pavement, no gravel, just slippery old fashion mud.  This is a US HWY.  Now maybe it is under construction.  Wondering about how the road could be like this on the Reservation?  Oh...just let me guess.  Hold tight, keep the throttle steady, stay focused, slipping and sliding side to side.  Just lookin' for a little solid ground. BIG shot of adrenaline getting through that one.
Out of Murdo SD rain let up a bit. Smiling when I saw the dry pavement.  Smooth two lanes.  Travel Tip: At Murdo HWY 83 meets I90.  You can run the original 83 instead of jumping on the interstate.  Drive through town and make a right hand turn at the stop sign.  Road will be all yours.  It was mine today.
South of Fort Pierre is the Fort Pierre National Grasslands.  If it weren't for a sign, you'd never know it.  There is no interpretive center, not even a scenic overlook.  Seems like the incredible prairies have always gotten the short stick when it come to preserving and appreciating our natural heritage.  It is a stunning short grass prairie.
Sign: Turn Right now. Buffalo Interpretive Center 5 miles.  Rode the five miles twisting and turning through the green grass covered sand hills.  Stunning country.  Saw the Center coming up down the road.  Pulled in.  It was locked up, boarded up, and closed up.  Hadn't been interpreting any thing for quite some time.  No buffalo left to interpret is my guess.
Finally found some buffalo in Fort Pierrie.  Used them for a backdrop with my iron pony.  Not sure where the Stanley County Buffalo roam these days.
Grain silos dot the landscape in South Dakota.  Farming has replaced the Great Grasslands.
Into Mobridge tonight under clear skies.  Dry pavement never looked so good.  Nice family run motel called the MoRest.  Parkin' right at the door. Paying my respects to Sitting Bull tomorrow morning.

Kickstand down MoBridge, SD.  262 miles.

be strong, be safe, Talon

Monday, June 18, 2018

HWY 83 - Day 7 - Warmin' the soul
Woke to a sky looking like it was filled to the brim with water.  Stopped to have a McCafe and study the Nebraska map before leaving McCook.  First sip of coffee.  Heard the familiar "Where are you headed?".  A very special thing about the folks in Nebraska.  They don't know a stranger.  In less than a minute Don was sitting across the table from me chatting away as if we were close old buds who were just gettin' caught up a bit.  Born and raised in McCook, Don was a helicopter pilot in Nam, used the GI Bill to study dentistry, opened a practice in McCook, married his high school sweetheart, has a daughter who is following in his footsteps and taking over his practice of 40 years.  "Just work two days a week now. Kinda retired, not really. Don't know what I would do if I couldn't go into the office at least twice a week."  Started to get a good history lesson.  "This area around here at one time had both the tall grass prairie and the short grass prairie.  Grasses were 8 feet tall on the tall grass prairies and 3 -4 feet tall on the short grass prairie.  Over 2 million buffalo roamed the prairies right here in McCook.  Proud history."  It was a good conversation.  A real conversation.  Enjoyed the time chatting with Don the dentist.
83 north from McCook is a beautiful two lane running over the Sand Hills of Nebraska.  Today low overcast, fog, light mist, light rain, then it rained harder than I have ever ridden in before.  Ever.
Even through rain and fog the beauty and tranquility of the Sand Hills surrounded me.  Rained so hard didn't have to stop for a drink of water all day.  Just licked my lips and swallowed. Figured got my 8 glasses easy.
Pulled over and walked to the top of a hill.  The horizon melted into the landscape.  Trees blended softly with the grasses. Sky gently kissed the earth.  Didn't matter if it was raining.  Didn't matter if my goggles were filled with water on the inside.  Took a special moment to stop and give thanks to Mother Earth for all the beauty she provides for us.
Dryin' out tonight in Valentine, NE.  Everything is wet.  That's only the physical stuff.  My soul was warmed and filled with the beauty of the day.

Kickstand down Valentine, NE. 220 wet miles.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Sunday, June 17, 2018

HWY 83 - Day 6 - Across the Kansas Plains
Bagged the seat on the bike last night.  First rain of the trip.  Woke me up hitting the window of my room.  Overcast this morning leaving Garden City.  At an intersection turn a wrong direction.  Find myself heading west on Highway 50.  Four years ago I was in the same spot on a new 2014 LowRider doing a story on 50. Still remains one of my most favorite rides.  Morning thought: is Texas flatter than Kansas?  Thinkin' Kansas might win out on this one.  If I had a marble I do believe I could put it in the middle of HWY 83 in Kansas and it wouldn't roll in any direction.  Actually, I'd bet dollars to donuts it wouldn't move an inch in any direction, North, East, South, or West.  Now if I only had a marble...
Stopped to top off the gas tank.  Heard a friendly "where you headed"?  Met Liz and Bob.  Both Harley riders.  Liz works with Lace, Grace, and Gears.  It's a group of women riders attempting to set the world record of the most women riders meeting in one place at one time.  Their goal is to bring 1200 women together in Bardera, TX this fall.  Bob worked for a Harley shop in Illinois where he met and did some crazy motorcycle ice racing with Evel Knievel. Had a good time swapping stories.
The 225 miles of HWY 83 across Kansas is the land of wheat and cattle.  Most of the cattle are in feedlots, not like this perfect "free range" picture.
In the spring of 1868 there were two Williams in the buffalo hunting trade around west Kansas; William Cody, who supplied the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat, and William Comstock, who fed the soldiers at Fort Wallace with his catch. To settle the dispute that they had on who the rightful owner of the nickname would be, they held a contest to see who could bring back the most buffalo in a day. Cody, with his large-caliber Trapdoor Springfield rifle he named “Lucretia Borgia” and his circling technique that kept his kills in one area instead of scattered, won the contest 69 to 46.  The contest took place 10 miles west of the town of Oakley, and the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center was established there in 1995. A large sculpture was commissioned  and dedicated in May of 2004. Placed on a hill just outside of town to keep above the horizon, the statue towers above the plains.  It was all about a "contest" to see how many of these magnificent creatures could be slaughtered.  A sad piece of history.
Kansas travel tip:  It may be difficult if not impossible to find any place open for a meal on Sundays.  If you see a Casey's  Gas/Convenience Store that will be your best Sunday meal plan.
Stopped at Casey's for my Sunday lunch.  "You the guy ridin' that blue motorcycle?  Blue is my favorite color.  Not only that...Blue is my name."  Blue had blue eyes and was wearing a blue shirt with blue jeans.  His uncle had been a rodeo clown following the circuit across Kansas.  Blue was a bull rider for a short time before a serious accident.  His belt buckle caught my eye.
"My Dad gave it to me when I was a kid.  He had a special feeling for the buffalo.  Respected them, loved them, always felt sad about what happen to them."
Out of Kansas into Nebraska tonight...the good life.  No buffalo sighted.

Kickstand down McCook, NE. 230 miles.

be strong, be safe, Talon

Saturday, June 16, 2018

HWY 83 - Day 5 - Dinosaurs, Horses, Combines
Breakfast.  The most important meal of the day.  Today was no exception.  It takes so much energy just packin' up the bike each morning.  Always ready for a good dose of eggs with a side of ....Those are two eggs over easy, a good portion of hash brown potatoes, jumbo patty of sausage, with whole wheat toast lathered in butter.  Oh, black coffee and some strawberry jam included.  Now this will keep you going no matter which way the wind is blowing out there on HWY 83.
In early 1992, Gene Cockrell took $2,000 dollars worth of concrete and steel and built a dinosaur on a bluff outside his home town of Canadian, Texas. He did it, he said, so that local children heading up US 83 would always know that they were almost home. He also wanted curious travelers to ask about it.  Maybe stop a while in town. He named the dinosaur "Aud" after Audrey, his wife who he married in 1947.  Don't know how much she appreciated the dino being named after her.  Then again, we all have different ideas on how to become famous.
Chris Harris put Canadian Tx on the map when he earned the title of National Bareback Riding Champion.  Crusing through Candian this morning on my iron pony, rounded a curve, and there was a full blown barrel racing event firing up.  All young kids warming up their rides to beat the clock circling the barrels.
Around 10am the winds started blowing full force.  83 is a smooth two lane between northern Texas and Oklahoma.  To my good fortune the wind was blowing from the south.  Simply said, that put those 40 mph winds right on my back.  Good place for them.  Before I knew it my speedo was pushing 75.  Had to keep rolling back on the throttle.  Felt like floating  across the landscape.
HWY 83 cuts across a short section of Oklahoma.  Right at the state line was one of the largest wind farms I have ever seen.  Went for miles.  Those blades were generating the kilowatts today!  Clean, quiet, beautiful energy.  Need more like these.
Up and down the road in Oklahoma and into Kansas the convoys of combines and haul trucks filled the road.  Wheat in full harvest.  Grain elevators were advertising $5.00 a bushel.  Must take a lot of wheat when you see the million dollars of equipment in the fields to harvest it.
Finished ridin' into Garden City passing hundreds of "nodding donkeys" better know as pumpjacks.  Working the earth below as the combines covered the ground above.

Kickstand down in Garden City, KS tonight.  230 miles.  40mph winds.  Feeling like I could keep ridin' forever with the wind on my back.

be strong, be safe, Talon

Friday, June 15, 2018

HWY 83 - Day 4 - Flat, Food, Get Your Kicks
Saddled up in Abilene this morning feeling fine.  Did laundry last night.  Nothing like clean socks and underwear.  Into the Panhandle of Texas.  Flat.  Did I say flat?  Sure is flat...boy is it flat.  This is a flat picture.
Flat: smooth and even; without marked lumps or indentations; lacking interest or emotion; dull and lifeless.  Well, at least the traffic wasn't too heavy.  ZZZZZZZZZZ...
A few hours into the flat ride needed gas.  Stopped in Gurthie.  No gas here today.  Travel Tip: when in the Panhandle do not go by a gas station which is operating without stopping and filling up.  You have no idea where the next operating station may be located.
Let's skip ahead to the food part of the day.  Now this was not flat.  In Paducah stopped at the Dixie Maid Drive Up.  Met Vicky the owner, grill queen, and batter specialist.  She makes everything at the Dixie Maid from real scratch.  Includes homemade fries, and battered onion rings to die for.  She served up the best onion rings I have ever had the honor to taste.  Crisp on the outside with the perfect crunch on the inside.  
After finishing those onion rings needed a walk around town before firing up again.  The county court house is a work of art  Chiseled into the stone roof line is a powerful statement: "To No One Will We Sell, Deny, Or Delay Justice". 
On the north side of the town square is the Cottle Hotel.  Built in 1929 it was one of the largest hotels in the Panhandle.
South of Shamrock and north of Wellington is the Red River.  Wondering why I included a picture of a river with a bridge on HWY 83?  Well, this particular river crossing has an interesting story.  Bonnie and Clyde were on the lamb.  Their lacky W.D. Jones was running so fast from the law he flew into the river with all four wheels when he hit this spot. A nearby family came out to see if they could give the stranded folks a hand.  For their efforts they were held hostage for a brief time by the famous Barrow Gang.
At Shamrock HWY 83 crosses Route 66.  Wouln't be a proper stop without pulling into the Magnolia Gas Station.  Lookin' for the "Kicks on Route 66" tonight.

Kickstand down Shamrock Tx. 230 miles today.  A flat day...but well rounded.

be strong, be safe, Talon

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Day 3 HWY 83 - Donuts, Dust, Texas Dylan
Coffee with the sunrise in Junction this morning.  Good night's sleep.  Quiet...peaceful.  Love the old motels where you park at the door, of course you know I like that.
Breakfast in Junction at the Donut Palace.  Know what you're thinkin'...he only had a donut for breakfast?  No, a lot more here than donuts.  But the donuts...light, melt in your mouth, strong black coffee.  Doesn't get any better.  Family run business.  Chanty and her daughter Srey  live up to  their slogan "The Donut Palace - Where the customer is always King".  No need to say more.  When in Junction if you don't stop by the Donut Palace...you just flat out missed one of the best places on HWY 83 in Texas.  Perfect way to get the kickstand up in the morning.
In Menard found some wonderful old buildings nestled along the tree lined streets.  Figured out this had been a gas station at one time.  Tire ramps on the planters where the pumps were at one time kinda gave it away.  
Dust in the sky.  Thought there was a BIG dust devil down the road.  No, farmer in the field.  Made me think of how the great grass plains were plowed up in the 30's.  Soil carted away with the winds.  Forever changing the destiny and environment of the country.
Decided after today to throw away the old guide books for HWY 83.  Most of the listed special attractions and locations in Texas at least seemed to be closed or "under new management".  Finally found a local motel with "in room coffee, microwave, frig, and cable".  Even had a full size frig blocking the office door.  Parking lot could use a weeding.  What the heck...can't be too picky.
Stopped in Winters and met Steve at the Shop on the Corner.  Yip, sure enough.  Shop was right on the corner.  I was ridin' by real slow when Steve pulled me over.  "Hey, that a Harley your ridin'?  You need a windshield?  Got a spankin' new one...cost over $500, you can have it today for $75."  Now that got my attention.  Not so much the idea of a windshield, but how much Steve sounded like Bob Dylan with a good dose of Texas added in.  Parked under a shade tree and spent the next hour swapping tales with Steve.  He's been married, divorced, reunited, rehabed, reborn, renewed, and repaired.  Bought the building where Shop on the Corner is located for $30.  I said..."Steve are you just jerkin' my chain?" "NO, $30 bought the entire building.  Now don't look at the roof, it's not in too good of shape."  As I left Steve offered me the windshield for $15.  Act of friendship.  Appreciated the thought.

The road is not about the attractions.  It's about the people who make up America.

Kickstand down in Abilene.  Not a lot of miles today, 150.  People met and stories shared...too many to count.

be strong, be safe, Talon