Monday, November 14, 2011

Freedom, Honorand Respect:

Riding across this great country of ours this past summer on the Mother Road 2011 Fund Raiser gave me plenty of time to think.  No CD's, no satellite radio, no iPod, no GPS...just the open road. Passing another biker along the open road produced the - American Biker Salute: left hand off the grip, make a fist, hit your sternum with the thumb side, straighten the arm, extend your first two fingers, point to the asphalt.  The message is sincere: "From my heart to yours, you and I are brothers of the open road".
There are six million of us in the US.  We ride our bikes with pride.  All of us face the same wind and weather.  We all share the same risks and rewards.
The biker is a dimly understood icon of American culture.  Independent, free thinking, joined together by a common bond.
Like anything else, there's always a marginal element that makes the rest of us look bad.  By and large the riding community stands for freedom, honor, and above all - respect.  As I rode the open road over and over again this was the message I received from my brother bikers.

The term "ride safe" reflects a sincere wish from one biker to another for safe travel to his final destination.  "Ride Safe" means more than just watching out for "cagers" (car drivers).  It is a sincere parting and goodbye - as in vaya con Dios.

I will be riding again in 2012 on a Fund Raiser for Question of Power"Ride in Beauty" will be journey through the Four Corners and Southwest of our incredible country.  I am looking forward to meeting more of my brothers on the open road.

Ride safe,  Carlan

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Short stories - Big Picture:
The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released a new report on the dramatic health hazards surrounding coal-fired power plants. The report, “Toxic Air: The Case For Cleaning Up Coal-Fired Power Plants,” reveals the dangers of pollution emitted by coal plants. One of the starkest findings in the report claims, “Particle pollution from power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year.” The study found that the health costs of cancer, lung disease, and respiratory illnesses connected to coal pollutants totaled over $185 billion per year.
Last week I was back working in Bokoshe, Oklahoma.  I just finished five short stories on the health issues the American Lung Association talks about in their big picture of the health cost of over $185 billion per year.  Kenny Self is one of the short stories.
be strong, be safe,  Carlan

Friday, November 4, 2011

Question of Power - TEDx Presentation:

The Question of Power stories I presented at TEDx Albuquerque have been posted as a video on the TED website. The video presents several short stories from communities in New Mexico, Tennessee, Alabama, and Oklahoma which help to describe the larger national story of coal ash health and environmental problems we are facing today.
Thank you for taking a moment to view the stories from the Question of Power project.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Robbers Cave and Rat Rods:

I am in Bokoshe, Oklahoma working in this community which is being buried alive in coal ash.  Collecting more stories, hearing more voices, making more photographs.  This past Saturday I was invited to take a short ride over to a place called Robber's Cave State Park.
Robber's Cave State Park is located 40 miles east of Bokoshe, Oklahoma.  The park takes its name from Robbers Cave, an unusual triangular opening in the side of a scenic rock bluff. According to legend, the cave and its surrounding bluffs, ravines and
rock formations was a hideout for notorious Old West outlaws Jesse James and Belle Starr.

Every year in October the Park hosts an annual event which includes a very special type of car show.  This is where the Rat Rods come into the story.
Rat Rods are "old school" hot rods of the 50's and 60's.  Hot rods built in barns and yards.  No high end manufactured parts.  Only original parts found in the weeds or maybe out in a field.  Old parts pieced together to breathe new life into them.
You will not find any "Made in China" here.
It is all about freedom of expression and individuality.
  Good old "USA creativity".
Wonder if we will be able to find seventy year old parts in the weeds fifty years from now we can breathe new life into?  Will our grandchildren be able to find anything stamped "Made in the USA"?  I hope so.  Seeing these "Rat Rods" sure made me stop to think about it.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Monday, September 5, 2011

1 in 30 - Bokoshe, Oklahoma :

Every day in America:
40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.
30,000 people have an asthma attack.
5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
11 people die from asthma.

Yes, that is every day...

The annual cost of asthma is estimated to be nearly $18 billion.

Among children ages 5 to 17, asthma is the leading cause of school absences from a chronic illness. It accounts for an annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year (approximately 8 days for each student with asthma) and more hospitalizations than any other childhood disease. It is estimated that children with asthma spend nearly 8 million days per year restricted to bed.

Staggering facts when we see printed numbers.  Even more staggering when we see real faces of children suffering with asthma.

I had the opportunity to spend a Sunday afternoon recently with Evelyn Davis in Bokoshe, Oklahoma.
Evelyn is a retired school teacher.  She began her teaching career in 1948 at Bokoshe Elementary School.  She taught 2nd and 3rd grade for thirty years.  Evelyn shared her concerns with me regarding the increasing cases of asthma in the children of Bokoshe.  "In over thirty years of teaching, I remember only one child with asthma.  That is one child in thirty years!  Today, in the 6th grade class there are nine children out of seventeen suffering from asthma.  Our children are breathing air filled with coal ash everyday in our community.  It is making them sick."

The asthma related death rate for children under 19 years old has increased by nearly 80% percent since 1980.

To date no medical studies relating to asthma have been conducted in Bokoshe, Oklahoma.  To date no air quality monitoring studies have been conducted in Bokoshe, Oklahoma.  Evelyn along with the children know it is in the air they breathe in Bokoshe, Oklahoma.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Saturday, July 16, 2011

News this week from Washington regarding the classification and regulation of coal ash:

WASHINGTON — A House committee approved legislation Wednesday that would bar federal regulation of coal ash as hazardous waste. The bill, passed 35-12 by the Energy and Commerce Committee, now moves to the House floor, where a Republican majority probably will pass it.

Almost half of the country’s 131 million tons of coal ash are recycled in wall board, concrete, carpeting, kitchen counters and other household products, according to the American Coal Ash Association.

In June last year, the EPA proposed two options for regulating the waste. One would deem it hazardous and require federal oversight. The other, less stringent option would put states in charge.

The Energy and Commerce Committee also voted Tuesday to require an analysis of the overall impact of EPA regulations on jobs, energy prices and the economy. House Republicans also are targeting coal ash regulation in a draft spending bill for fiscal 2012, stipulating that the EPA may not use any money in the bill to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste.

This does not appear to be very good news for the young children of Bokoshe, OK who are experiencing the health effects everyday of living in coal ash.

be strong, be safe,  Carlan 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Joy and Peace of the Open Road:
A few days of rest after arriving home.  Beginning to sort and edit photographs made during the ride. Open road feels like a dream brought back with visual images.  I have dreamed every night since returning home I was in the world of the Mother Road. 

Nancy handed me the new Sundance catalog yesterday. I looked puzzled at it. She pointed to a short statement written by Robert Redford. What perfect words for the thoughts in my mind.

"Life. Are we living it or running behind trying to catch it?  What are we observing, smelling, hearing from the life around us? Information-too much of it.  The faster it moves the faster we have to move, but with our minds and fingers. Meanwhile, life goes on around us unobserved, unimportant.

I remember as a child traveling by car from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas.  Camping out along the road at night.  Looking at the stars in fascination.  Aware of the silence, the sheer magnitude of space, then the occasional moan of the coyote, the first distant, then increasing, sound of the truck heaving down the highway-the sound of rubber on road, the whine of the engine, immediate for a moment then moving on, fading into silence again.

I miss that.  I would never instruct, just maybe suggest.  That you might find the sensual joy of the open road, the summer air, the silence, the short term peace.  It is there for all of us, what's left of it, and it's free"...Robert Redford.

The sensual joy and peace of the open road.  It is there and it is free.

be strong, be safe,  Carlan

Friday, June 24, 2011

Postscript: Arrows, Barbies, Dreamcatchers, and Big Cowboys:

Arrived home in Santa Fe two days ago.  It was hard to put the kickstand down after all the miles. Let me catch up on the ride East from California.
I decided to ride the Mother Road from the LA Basin back East to Santa Fe.  Have you ever noticed how things look different traveling East to West and West to East?  Sure I am on the other side of the road, but I felt like I was traveling in new territory again.
Crossed the desert early in the morning during the cool time of the day.  The desert is beautiful in the early morning hours.  Light of a new day, cool breeze on my face, sweet smell of desert plants in the air.  Mother Road devoid of other cars.  A feeling of being one with Mother Earth.
Stopped in Seligman, AZ at the Snow Cap Drive-In for lunch.  Long known as the funniest food spot on Route 66, my lunch brought a big smile to my face! This town keeps up the comical tradition along with really great road food.
Twin Arrows was once an attractive establishment, with its red/white Valentine diner, trading post, and namesake gigantic arrows thrust into the soil. Now boarded up the remains are a fleeting memory of a time past along the Mother Road.
Two Guns was a tourist town with a roadside zoo featuring "Real Mountain Lions".  I only found Barbie enjoying her solitude in a dreamlike state.
Further down the road I spotted the world's largest dreamcatcher. Maybe a stop here could help me catch all those thoughts rolling around in my mind since I started this ride.
In Gallup I caught up with Big Cowboy John keeping a watch over all the used cars. Important work...never know when one of those Mustangs might stray away from the herd.
Five days after leaving the LA Basin I pulled into Santa Fe.  Kickstand down.  Odometer reading 4,228 miles trip total.  Over thirty days on the Mother Road across this great country of ours.

Someone asked me yesterday..."Did you ever think it was good common sense traveling all that distance on a motorcycle most of it by yourself?" I could only reply..."if I had used common sense...look what I would have missed".  Would I do it again...oh yes...ready to get the kickstand back up.

Thanks for reading and joining me on this ride.

be strong, be safe,  Carlan 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Route 66 Ends Here:

Wednesday afternoon June 15 into the LA Basin. Foothill Blvd the last remaining piece of Route 66.

The Wigwam Motel built in 1949 is the final historic motel on the Mother Road.

We had decided this would be our final destination. From this point across the LA Basin the Mother Road has been covered over with a maze of freeways. A 60 mile drive to the Pacific Ocean can take four to six hours depending on traffic. Riding a motorcycle on congested freeways did not sound good to us after all the real Mother Road we had traveled.

When I arrived in Santa Fe two very long time close friends from Seattle joined with me for the ride to California.

Kevin (on the right) worked with me in my Seattle studio for many years. He is a very successful commercial photographer today. Walt (in the middle) reminded me we had known each other for over thirty years. I first met Walt when he was a photography student in one of my classes. His daughter and my daughter played together many times. We all worked together for years doing photo assignments. Most evenings on the road were spent in lively discussions of assignments we had worked on together..."remember the time they delivered all those hamburger buns in the aid car for the Jack in the Box shoot....ha..ha..ha...". We celebrated our time together last night with a good dinner and more stories.

This morning we loaded Kevin's bike into their truck. We looked at each other thinking of our experiences the past seven days on the Mother Road. A quiet moment and then some serious hugs between long time friends.

Kevin and Walt headed north to Seattle. I put my kickstand up and turned my handlebars east back along the Mother Road toward New Mexico.

Odometer read 3428 miles since leaving Santa Fe on May 16. Those miles seem like nothing compared to all the experiences rolling around in my head. I know the Mother Road will help me begin to sort them out on the ride home. That is what she is so good at doing.

Thanks to everyone for being with me on this road trip and for your support and special friendships. It has been an experience which has changed my life...

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burros, Bank Robbers, and the Bagdad Cafe:

Leaving Kingman the Mother Road climbs into historic gold mining country.

The road really gets hairy with hairpin curves and sheer drops coming hot and heavy. The view of the switchbacks downhill is tremendous.

Oatman is a long past gold mining town. When the mine closed the burros were turned loose. Today they freely roam the streets along with the tourists.

Thank goodness arrived in town just in time to see a wild west bank robbery and shoot out! The bad guys lost!

Met Willie in the Historic Oatman Hotel. The walls are covered with one dollar bills signed by people from around the world. Willie was proud to tell me he had counted and was sure there were over 70,000 dollars on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Sportster has lived in Oatman for 26 years. He said, "my name is Sportster as in Harley...been riding all my life...looking for a side car...too hard to ride on only two wheels these days".

Into California. Not a single car on the Mother Road. Know that won't last.

Stopped at Roy's in Amboy for gas. The entire town was recently purchased for $425,000. Buyer got motel, gas station, cafe, school, and post office. There are deals still out here!

The movie "Bagdad Cafe" was filmed in Newberry Springs. The motel and cafe are very original, including the folks living here.

Into Santa Monica on Thursday. Riding along the open road today I began thinking of Forest Gump. Maybe when I get to Santa Monica I'll turn around and head back down the Mother Road to Chicago. If I keep doing this maybe...just maybe...I can get things figured out just like Forest did...

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday night in Kingman, AZ:

Internet connection again. Past two days technology stood still. May not be a bad thing. Weather has been good. Smoke filled the evening skies for a couple of days. Clear tonight.

Crossed into AZ. Route 66 enters part of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.

So much of the area I rode through looks like the country around the Four Corners area where all the coal mining is occurring. I thought much of that area could qualify to be a National Park as well.

Fascinating to think tropical giant forests once stood in this now desert region.

Slept for nine hours in my wigwam at the Wigwan Motel.

Stopped and stood "on the corner in Winslow". Music was in the air and the mood was light and bright.

Short detour to visit the Grand Canyon. It is very grand to say the least. Tried to make a picture not like the usual canyon shot. Found a funny looking guy and used him for scale.

Met Benetton from Brazil in Seligman. He bought a Harley in Chicago. Came to the US to ride the Mother Road from Chicago to Santa Monica.

Discovered you can find everything you need on the Mother Road.

Hackberry General Store. Desert ahead tomorrow. Sign says 300 miles.

Running the past few days on "Indian Time". Stopping, putting the kickstand down whenever it feels time to put it down. Meeting people who live along the Road and those traveling the Road. Rode with the Hawks today...actually felt like I was soaring with them.

be strong, be safe, Carlan