Friday, December 19, 2014

Nicaragua 2015
In conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, please join Morgan Smith and I in Nicaragua for one of those rare workshops where you'll have the opportunity to share in a rich, authentic culture unspoiled by tourism, and landscape guaranteed to take your breath away.

I first traveled to Nicaragua in 2009 for an educational NGO.  Not only did I fall in love with colonial town of Granada, I found myself taken in by the exceptionally friendly community whose focus, despite limited means, are family, home and tradition.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this trip is the access our group will have to NGOs that provide support to locals in need. Visits to a barrio shelter, a veterinary clinic, and a program that feeds street children are included.  A portion of proceeds from our trip will be donated to these charities.  To experience the spirit of Nicaragua please view my short photo essay at: 

For more information contact: Santa Fe Workshops:

 be strong, be safe, Carlan

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Living and Dying in the Ashes: has published a powerful story on our Bokoshe, OK work.  Read it here

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Final Leg Sacramento
On Sunday morning I rode a short distance into Sacramento on Highway 50 now an eight lane freeway.  Quite a change from the past two weeks of riding across America.  Dropped the Low Rider off at Sacramento Harley-Davidson.  Handing the keys over and unpacking the bike was not an easy task.  A close bond between man and machine had been established.
Two flights and a layover created a long day on Sunday.  Waiting for my flight at the airport I dozed off for a moment.  I was riding again through the open country of the American West.  Turning in my dream to look over my shoulder for traffic my head fell to the left.  Awaking suddenly, the realization of where I was came to me...sitting in an mind and spirit still on the open road.

Back in the studio.  Working on the story for HOG.  Planning the next trip.  Freedom of the road.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Highway 50 into the Sierra
Fires in the Sierra Mountains filling the sky with smoke this morning.  Checked with Caltrans Hwy 50 was reopened.  King fire now over 76,000 acres and threatening 12,000 homes.
Short stop at Lake Tahoe.  Currently not in the direct path of the fires.  What an incredible deep blue body of water.
Around a sweeping turn in the road the small town of Twin Bridges comes into view.  Knew I was in California...a beautiful VW bus.  Met Squirrel and Jenifer owners of the Strawberry Station Market.  19 years ago Squirrel proposed to Jenifer...the engagement ring... the bus.  License plate reads "Marry Me".  Thanks Squirrel and Jenifer for the great coffee and homemade cinnamon roll!  You two are the best!  Excellent break from all the smoke.

30 miles from the end of Highway 50 tonight.  Into Sacramento tomorrow morning, drop off the bike at Sacramento Harley-Davidson, catch Southwest to ABQ.  14 days on the road.  Seems like a few minutes.  Mile after mile, thought after thought, cold and hot, fog and sun, clouds and smoke,  stop for gas, look for a place to eat and sleep, meeting so many wonderful people along the BackBone of America.  No words can express it.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Friday, September 19, 2014

Riding with the Pony Express
Highway 50 out of  Austin, NV follows the Pony Express route.  Big fires in the Sierra filled the sky with smoke this morning.  Hard to see the mountain ranges ahead.  Why would someone set the forests on fire?
Old ruins from the Butterfield Stage Station and Pony Express stop, New Pass Station 1861.  They built using local stones.  The Pony Express only lasted for a short time.  Riding they made over 100 miles a day.  Replaced with the telegraph, and then the railroads.  Hard to believe how fast the west was developed.
Gas stop at Middlegate Station.  Met  Jerry, Misty, and so may others there.  Real people, real Nevada.
Grimes Point.  Sacred hunting and gathering location dating back 7,000 years.  To walk on the earth where our ancestors  hunted and gathered so may years ago helps to bring perspective to our lives today.  Caves here were used to preserve food during the summer months.  At one time this location was used as a  trash dump for our society until the importance of this site was realized.

East of Caron City the billboards were advertising...."The Bunny Ranch"...wonder what this might be...are they raising rabbits here .... should I stop....what could this be...just another interesting part of Nevada....?

Carson City tonight...into the fires of the Sierra tomorrow.....

live free, ride free, Carlan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Riding with the clouds
West from Ely this morning Highway 50 becomes the "Lonest Highway in America".  The road leads straight into the clouds.
 Clouds leave small openings for pieces of light to touch the earth.
Clouds fill my frame from horizon to high over head.
Mountains create a graphic line against the cloud filled sky.
 Road side rest along the Lonest Highway, clouds are my company.
Smoke from fires mixes with clouds.
Cozy Mountain Motel.  My home away from home tonight in Austin, NV.  Ridin' with the clouds...what a beautiful day.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Riding and Thinking...

Excellent breakfast at Mom's Cafe in Salina UT this morning.  Willie Nelson had a "great steak dinner" there in 2004.  Sat in the same booth where he enjoyed his steak.  Felt his good energy.  Think I need to start everyday like this.
Highway 50 due west across Utah toward Nevada. Think I have never seen a straighter road for 98 miles.
Think it is a good idea to stop at a gas station when you see one.  You never know how far down the road the next one might be.
Shoe tree  Delta, UT.  Think this is a creative use of old shoes and a dead tree.
Think I am in the Great Basin now.
Think these thunderstorms may get me wet.
Think...this is some of the most stunning light and landscape I have ever ridden into and  across.  And to all started today sitting in a booth in a small cafe where Willie enjoyed a meal as much as I did.  Think it has been a really good day.
Ely, NV tonight.  Room at the historic Nevada Hotel.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

HWY 50 West - Pavement - Broken Pavement - Gravel - Dirt - Slab
West out of Fruita CO this morning HWY 50 was like the road we all dream of traveling.  Smooth, not another car in sight, prong horn grazing in the hills, soft morning light, cool breeze on my face.
Crossing into Utah things change quickly.  Pavement broken, potholes big enough to get lost in, down to 10 mph just to prevent my teeth from banging together.  Up over a rise in the road...before I can stop...I am committed.  Into a deep washout.  End of road. Finally get turned around.  So much for Google maps.  Back track several miles to I-70.  
At Crescent Junction short detour south to Arches National Park.  Stop at Papa Joe's for an ice cream.
 Arches National Park.  Red rock reaches to meet  blue sky.
 Red rock landscape.  Millions of years old.  Carved by water and wind.
Passing through "The Reef".  A day of moving through a timeless landscape.  We are so young compared to the ancient land we walk upon.  Salina, UT tonight.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Monday, September 15, 2014

Landscapes - Turns - Curves
Day began in Gunnison CO at the W Cafe with their famous breakfast burrito.  Lasted all day...and into tonight.
 First stop Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
A friendly reminder not to feed the bears along the way.
Short stop in Delta to check out the "used" cars for sale.
The sky and earth come together as one.  Clouds as if painted on a blue background.
Along the rim of the canyons in Colorado National Monument.  Beams of light peaking through the clouds.  Sweeping turns in the road.  Riding along the edge.  Bike and I are one.  Leaning into the turns checking to make sure I am not scrapping the chrome off the foot pegs.
Forms of Mother Earth unmatched by human hands.
There are times when photography and riding a motorcycle are one.  All the senses are connected.  A machine made from many parts now filled with life.  It carry's me across the country.  Landscape connected with the sky.  Wind on my face.  Sun warming my back.  A good day to be alive.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Royal Gorge - Arkansas River Headwaters - Monarch Pass
Out of Canon City early this morning heading to the Royal Gorge.  Special to be back in the mountains after the plains of Kansas.  Sun and blue sky.  Beautiful light.
 The Royal Gorge - America's Highest Bridge.  Really...oh yea...really.
Hanging above the Arkansas River, the Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the world's highest suspension bridges.  Built in 1929 for $350,000 the cost today would exceed $20 million.
The bridge is wooden plank.  It creaks and sways as you walk across.  In June of 2013 the Bridge and surrounding buildings suffered extensive damage caused by the Royal Gorge Fire.  The fire destroyed the aerial tram as well as the visitors center.  The bridge escaped with only minor damage to some of its wooden planks.
View from Point Sublime.  Note at the bottom of the gorge along the river.  Yes, it is a train.
Highway 50 west from the Gorge snakes through Big Horn Sheep Canyon following the Arkansas River to the headwaters.  The ride and landscape took my breath away.  Some of the most stunning I have ever experienced.  Pressing and leaning through the turns.
Climbing to 11,312 feet above sea level the road peaks at Monarch Pass.  Front tire on the Pacific Ocean side, rear on the Atlantic Ocean side.
Downhill into Gunnison CO tonight.  Room at the ABC Motel.  Met three Harley riders from Switzerland.  Shared road stories.  Exchanged addresses.  Perfect ending to a day beyond description.

live free, ride free, Carlan

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bent's Fort and Swinks' Sweet Meat Melons Colorado
Located near La Junta CO along the north bank of the Arkansas River on the Santa Fe Trail is Brent's Fort.  The Fort was one of the significant centers of buffalo hide trade on the Santa Fe Trail.
Charles and William Brent brought 150 laborers from Taos, NM to make adobe bricks and build the fort.
For 16 years the post played a major role in the U.S. expansion into the Southwest.  By 1849 the trade which had made Brent's Fort prosper was deteriorating.  The Buffalo herds were in decline, cottonwood groves were exhausted, and the lives of the Plains Indians were disrupted by a growing stream of settlers, gold-seekers, and soldiers.
Some theorize that, frustrated, William Bent unsuccessfully tried to burn down the fort in 1849.  The fort was reconstructed in 1976 by the National Park Service.
Swink, CO named after George W. Swink.  George developed the watermelon and cantaloupe (sweet meat melons) industry in Rocky Ford, and In 1878 he introduced honey bees and sugar beets. In 1879 he grew his first crop of alfalfa in Colorado. In 1899 he helped to found the American Crystal Sugar Factory to process sugar beets, which remained in operation until 1979. Swink invented the cantaloupe crate, which replaced the barrels formerly used for shipping the fruit.
Into the Rockies this afternoon.  Sun on my back, 82 degrees, blue skies, smile on my face.  A good day.

live free, ride, free,  Carlan