Friday, December 9, 2016

Chicks with Chainsaws
Imagine a Christmas parade.  What comes to mind?  Visions of sugar plums?  Frosty? Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? Santa's helpers? The Grinch?  Well, guess again.  If you were in Madrid, NM last Saturday night for the annual Christmas parade through town you would have been greeted by...Chicks with Chainsaws. The group performs mostly at the Engine House Theater in Madrid. The performances are a combination of dance, acrobatics, aerial performance and just plain havin' fun.
There is a "pool" at the Mine Shaft Tavern, of course no betting allowed, on just how long the parade will last.  Times flying around generally are seven to eight minutes.  You do have to get it down to seconds, that tightens up the odds a bit.   If you missed the big event this year be sure to put it on your calendar for next year on the first Saturday of December  around 4 pm.

People in Madrid live outside the box. There is love, acceptance and a support system. The common thread binding the village together is... "Just be who you are”.  Nancy and I are very excited to be part of the village.  Opened our new shop, RIDE NEW MEXICO, two weeks ago just south of the Mine Shaft.  

How cool is that...if we weren't here we would have missed the Chicks with Chainsaws.  Better put that on your Christmas list for next year!

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hitin' the back roads
Room last night in Libby was real Montana style.  Gotta love it.  Rained all night. Turned on the heat.
Folks at the motel suggested a different route than planned back to Spokane Valley.  Followed their suggestion.  Leaving' Libby heavy fog, dripping wet and cold.  Turned south on Montana 56.  In the fog.  Signs readin' "Watch for Deer next 20 miles".  Keepin' my eyes open.  Up ahead black things in the road.  Roll off the throttle.  Hittin' the brakes.  Come to a complete stop.  Must be 25 - 30 wild turkeys taking their sweet time crossing the road.  Signs didn't say anything about turkeys.
Four mile detour off HWY 56 on a narrow single lane road ends at the Ross Creek Giant Cedars.  The cedars are over 500 years old.  Rays of light filter through the trees.  Time seems to stop.  Quiet, peace, strength, tranquility.  Words fall short.
At Cabinet Rock Gorge, border between Montana and Idaho, round a curve and over 140 cars of all makes, models, and years come into view.  Stopped in time against rocky cliffs.  Moments of history from Montana and Idaho.

There was a moment today leaving the ancient  cedar grove when turning right meant finishing the trip.  Turning left meant.....
It was tempting to turn left.

Kickstand down in Spokane Valley tonight.  Drop off the Heritage Classic in the morning at Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson.  

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Gotta have pie at the border
Four lane highway from Kalispell to Whitefish.  At Whitefish HWY 93 turns back into a peaceful two laner north.  In and out of rain squalls all morning  Clouds cover the road heading toward the border.
Border of Canada and US.  US HWY 93 ends at a simple yellow gate marking the boundary of two countries.  Two borders, one marked with a steel wall and spikes, the other with a simple steel gate.  Two borders separated by deserts, plains, mountains, and rivers.  Separated by history of the west.  Separated by human conflict.
Turning back south something tells me...gotta have pie.  Stop in Rooseville at the only place with a food sign.  Two guys outside having a smoke.  "This place have pie?"  "Yea, the best for miles and miles around."  Order the homemade huckleberry pie along with a black coffee.  Jackpot!  Best piece of pie and coffee ever.  When you need pie, you gotta have pie.  Things always have a good way of working out when you need them the most.
With a bit of a heavy heart make a right turn off of HWY 93 onto Montana 37 south.  Feels a bit strange to see a highway sign without the 93.  Heading to Libby.
Few miles down the road see a guy standing in a John Deere tractor bucket loader carving a bear with a chain saw.  Rolling thoughts are scattered.  What was that?
Half mile further down the road make a u-turn to see what that guy was doing.  As he shuts down his chainsaw and dusts off the sawdust I meet Ron Adamson, western Sculpture artist.  Quickly learn Ron doesn't just do art with a chainsaw.  He works casting bronze most of the time.  Have I been to Winslow, AZ on Route 66 before?  Standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ are his famous bronze figures.  The list of his work goes on from there.  What a guy!  Lives in Libby, MT, has his work across the country.
Montana 37 follows the Kootenai River all the way into Libby.  This is one of those unknown two laners that should be on everyone's bucket list. 

Kickstand down in Libby, MT. tonight.  No wi-fi tonight.  Day late posting this.  One more day of riding before dropping off the bike in Spokane Valley, WA.  

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rain, clouds, Flathead country, heavy traffic...
Rained all night last night in Missoula.  Dark skies this morning.  Thank goodness for the long johns.  HWY 93 connects for a few miles with I80 out of Missoula.  Exit 96 puts me back on to the two lane.
Flathead Indian Reservation.  Mission Mountains hiding in the clouds. The Salish and Kootenai people have traditionally used the mountains as a place for fishing, hunting, berry-picking and for performing sacred ceremonies.
Soft discussed light covers Flathead Lake.  The lake is the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi.  It is a remnant of an ancient, massive glacial dammed lake.  Flathead Lake is 370 feet deep and one of the cleanest lakes in the world. Very popular boating and fishing location.

Made a 30 mile detour today to visit the National Bison Range. Theodore Roosevelt established the National Bison Range in 1908 to provide a permanent national bison range for the remaining herd of 100 bison. Arriving at the reserve a sign in red stated..."NO motorcycles allowed on auto tour roads".  Man, was I disappointed.  Guess you need four wheels to ride with a buffalo.
Runnin' in rain for the remainder of the day.  Pulling into Kalispell rain stopped and traffic jams began. Holy smokes...all these folks must be heading for Glacier National Park.  More stop lights and traffic then I have seen on most of HWY 93 since Mexico.

Kickstand down in Kalispell tonight.  Heading for the northern border tomorrow.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Into Montana
WOW...what a change in the weather.  This morning 34 degrees in Salmon.  Big change from Nogales at over 100.  Back on the road after a weather day.  New snow on the mountains.  More cold weather in the forecast ahead.  Stopped in and met Shelia at the local mercantile before leaving Salmon.  She suggested the expedition long johns.  Bought 'em, put 'em on in the store, rode warm all day.  Thank you Shelia!
At the Continental Divide a turn east on HWY 43 for 14 miles leads to Big Horn National Battle Field.  In 1873, Chief Joseph negotiated with the Federal Government to ensure his people could stay on their land as stipulated in the 1855 and 1863 land treaties with the U.S. Government.  In a reversal of policy in 1877, General Oliver O. Howard threatened to attack if the Nez Perce did not relocate to an Idaho reservation.  Chief Joseph reluctantly agreed.  As they began their journey to Idaho, Chief Joseph learned three young Nez Perce, enraged at the loss of their homeland, had massacred some white settlers.  Fearing U. S. Army retaliation, Chief Joseph decided the best way to avoid conflict with the U. S. Government was to flee to Canada. 
U. S. Army forces performed a predawn attack on the 800 men, women, and children encamped at Big Hole.  It was the most violent battle between the Nez Perce and the U. S. Government.

Wet and cold tonight.  Kickstand down Missoula.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mel's 1987 Harley Heritage
This morning at the motel in Salmon I noticed a very unique Harley parked next to my bike.  Tried to figure out year, model, many unique pieces.  Decided to sit tight and see who would be saddling up on this beauty.
Before long Mel came out and began to load up his gear.  "It's a 1987 Heritage, rear fender is from a 1947 Willis Jeep spare tire cover, front finder is a Triumph, all the parts are what I had in my garage."  How cool it that.  We're riding the same model of Harley.  Just a few years and parts difference.  (That's my 2016 Heritage to the left of Mel's bike.)  He got loaded up, ready to hit the road...dead battery.  
Everyone gathered around to help a biker out. That's what its all about. 

Meetin' all these incredible folks out on the highways of America.  Now really, does it get any better?

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Miles of beautiful mountains

The 1938 WPA Guide to Idaho described this section of HWY 93 as "miles of beautiful mountains, ranging from soft flanks to the lean and glittering backbones".  Cold overcast skies this morning leaving Arco.  Temperature around 45 degrees.  70 degree change in a week.  Working to adjust.  Added all the layers in the saddle bags.  
In 1983 one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit North America rumbled through Lost River Valley instantly dropping the valley floor as much as 14 feet and forming dramatic escarpments in the area.
As the valley floor dropped, the Lost River Valley Range rose.  All occurring within a matter of minutes.
The Salmon River meets the road in the flats moving into the Salmon River Gorge with sheer canyons and steep walls of rock.
Into Salmon the highway twists and turns for 35 miles along the river.  After several days of straight handlebars it became a magical ride of pressing and leaning into the turns.  Heavy clouds promised rain all afternoon.  It was a cold, but dry.  Looking for hot coffee.

Kickstand down in Salmon ID tonight. 

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Into the Sawtooth Range
Heavy clouds with light rain leaving Jackpot.  Temps dropping from days of 105 degrees to mid 50's.  Open plains turn to green fields of new hay.  Bugs splattering my windshield.  Feels good to breathe in the cool air.
At Twin Falls HWY 93 meets the Snake River Canyon.  Completed in 1976, the I.B. Perrine Bridge spans the Snake River for 1500 ft.  The bridge rises 486 ft above the canyon floor.  A perfect location for BASE jumpers.
How do you pack your parachute for jumping off a bridge?  They say very carefully with a smile and a prayer.
The ride down is a smooth glide followed with a long hike back up.  Think staying on the blacktop might be smoother.
Several miles east of the bridge along the river is a massive ramp of dirt.  September 8, 1974 was the day Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in his  rocket-powered Harley-Davidson sky cycle.  Unfortunately, one of his parachutes deployed on takeoff.  He gently floated down into the canyon.  As Evel would say..."Where there is little risk, there is little reward."
Volcanic outcropping beging to appear along the road.  Craters of the Moon National Monument encompasses three major lava fields and about 400 square miles of sagebrush.  The lava fields are examples of open rift cracks.  They include some of the deepest known on earth at over 800 feet deep.  Speaking of sagebrush...a four foot high tumbleweed is gently moving toward the road ahead.  Back off the throttle, the weed slows, roll on the throttle, the weed speeds up. You know the rest of the story.  More small pieces of tumbleweed covering the bike that you can count.
Six days on the road.  Looking' for a washing machine and dryer tonight in Arco, ID.  Rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Friday, September 2, 2016

Meetin' the TRIBE
Last night saw the bikers rolling into the Hotel Nevada in Ely.  Figured it was a Labor Day weekend run beginning.  This morning front of the hotel was crowded with bikes and members of the TRIBE NOMAD MC.  They had ridden in from across Nevada, Oregon, California, and Utah for their annual run.   A special time to patch in new members and remember fallen brothers.  They have 22 chapters internationally.  Didn't take long to start shaking hands and sharing stories.
Redman, International President of the MC, made me an honorary brother.  Other brothers from different states handed me "Brother Cards".  "When you need anything, show the card, we'll take care of you".  Swinging my leg over my bike, several brothers gathered in a circle around me.  Shared a special blessing for a safe trip.  Brotherhood, spirit of the road, that's what it's all about.
Leaving Ely a  sign gas 124 services ahead.  And they call HWY 50 the Lonely Highway.
The historic Pony Express route crosses HWY 93 just north of McGill.  Quite a different iron pony.
Gas tank filled at the 124 mile marker.  Another 75 miles to Jackpot.  First heavy winds of the trip.  Front to the west.  Temperatures drop quickly 20 degrees.  Into Jackpot tonight.  Jackpot was founded in 1956 after Idaho banned slot machines.  Jackpot's visitors mostly come from Idaho, as do its power, water, even its clocks are set to Idaho time. 

Kickstand down at the Four Jacks Hotel.  Red carpet in my room with slots and roulette wheels printed in purple.  Pure Nevada border-town gambling.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Extra-terrestrial life does exist...?
Few miles north of Alamo HWY 93 meets the intersection of Nevada 375.  Better know as the Extraterrestrial Highway leading directly to Area 51.  It was a detour from my route, but it needed to be explored.
Within a few miles it was very apparent extra-terrestrial life does exist.  They seem to come in peace.
Forty miles of road without passing a car HWY 375 comes to Rachel.  Rachel is located just outside the gates of Area 51.
Some of the local residents had stopped by the cafe for lunch.  Asking if I could make a picture they were a bit shy about making eye contact.
Turning back from Area 51 to return to HWY 93 alien objects were seen hanging from Joshua trees.
Rejoining HWY 93 the road opened into the Great Basin.  Mile after mile, cloud after cloud,  the experiences of seeing extra-terrestrial life first hand, making photographs of extra-terrestrial folks,  yes...they must be out there...somewhere....

Kickstand down in Ely, NV at the historic Nevada Hotel.  Probably dreaming about ET tonight.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dam...Hoover...that's a lot of concrete
Awaking to pre-dawn light is always a special experience.  This morning was one of those moments.  Early golden sun light shimmered off of Lake Mead as the sky turned deep colbalt blue.  Grabbing the camera, looking out the window of my motel room, the scene took my breath away.  In a sleep caused daze, quickly adjusting the ISO, shutter speed, and f stop, the stunning moment was captured.  Realizing I was shooting in black and white, I went back to bed.  So much for color photography early in the morning.
The first concrete was poured into Hoover Dam on June 6, 1933.  Bureau of Reclamation engineers calculated that if the dam was built in a single continuous pour, the concrete would take 125 years to cool and the resulting stresses would cause the dam to crack and crumble.   Instead, the ground where the dam was to rise was marked with rectangles, and concrete blocks in columns were poured.  A total of 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete was used in the dam before concrete pouring ceased on May 29, 1935.  The wedge-shaped dam is 660 ft thick at the bottom, narrowing to 45 ft  at the top, leaving room for HWY 93 connecting Nevada and Arizona.  Times have changed things.  Today HWY 93 no longer spans the dam.  You are able to ride or drive across the dam, park for $10, then walk the length of the massive chunk of concrete.
Leaving Bolder City HWY 93 joins a section of I515 snaking through downtown Las Vegas.  Transition is insanely abrupt: the barren desert, then wham bam: Sin City.
Several miles east of Las Vegas HWY 93 appears from under Interstate 15.  A sweeping turn to the north puts me back onto a peaceful two laner.  Finally, out from under the interstates cutting and covering the classic highway.  
HWY 93 traverses the entire length of the Pahranagat Valley.  The valley is a narrow ribbon of green, no more than 1 mile  wide, like an oasis in the vast Nevada desert.  It is approximately 40 miles long running north and south.  The southern half of the valley including two lakes is home to the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge.
The Pahranagat Range marks the beginning of the Great Basin.  Great it is.  Ranges of mountains  rising  rapidly from the plains.  Clouds filling the sky east to west, north to south.  Breathing easy now.  Feeling the rhythm of the road.  Shadows from the clouds cool the air on my back.  My heart becomes one with the thump of the motor.
Kickstand down in Alamo, NV at Windmill Ridge Cabins.  Cabin 4: fishing cabin with rods and reels on the wall.  Don't plan on much fishing, but the rods and reels are handy just in case I have a fishing dream.

Did you know Elvis was a motorcycle guy?  Had many bikes.  History tells us his favorite was his Harley-Davidson.  Look close...I'm riding the same type Harley Elvis rode.  Maybe a better way of saying it...I'm riding with Elvis.  Couldn't get any better than that.

be strong, be safe, Carlan