Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Another drug-murder motel... this one in the Pacific coast town of Eureka. I pulled in tonigt just as the sun was dropping into the chilly Pacific, and dug up another roach-haven; this one called the "Heritage Motel". I'm not sure whose lineage we're talking about here...the woman looked Lebanese and there was a large Baghivad-Gita scripture on the office wall. Twenty feet outside my bathroom cars are pulling up to a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. Feels good to be home.

I left Babbs' late morning today. In total, I was based out of his ranch for about five days.. hanging around watching baseball games, getting motorcycle parts, doing some work on his house and maintenance-challenged cars. Although we are a full generation apart and from very different backgrounds, we found enough "Deadhead" philosphy in common to have a few good laughs together. I'm really happy to haver been invited to spend some short time there; Babbs is a very special dude that has been in the midst of some fantastic places and spaces.. and, if he has already had his coffee, is a gas to pal around with.

So after a full Prankster breakfast of Eggs and Trout (yep), I packed up and bid adieux while Babbs donned his obligatory blue gloves and dove into his leaky lawn tractor. Don't scrimp on the brake cleaner, Ken!

Off down I-5, heading south for Roseburg... Grants Pass... the California line. The weather was dry and clear, (good fortune, considering the Pacific Northwest), and the bike was running smoothly and crisply, especially now that I'd changed the brake-line bolt that was wrong ever since Urbana, Illinois, which had made the front brake like squeezing a sponge. I ordered the $12 bolt through a Eugene Harley dealer and they ended up charging [rooking] me an extra $45 for shipping and "fees". Ah, well... all part of the Fun, and at least it finally works properly. I also added a lighted toggle-switch that makes it possible to turn the headlight on and off, (impossible on a modern motorcycle). This is helpful when signalling semi-trucks on the Interstates at night; they like to be told when they can pull right again after a pass.

So all was running smoothly and I was really enjoying the swoopy, 80-mph curves in the southern end of the state. Really, I am very pleased with the performance work I did to the bike; the results are exactly as I had hoped for: gut-sucking Torque at full highway speeds. If I'm rolling along at, say, 70 mph and quickly roll the throttle open, the bike leaps forward and there's all sorts of neat G-forces to play with, once you get the Flow.

Off the highway at Grant's Pass, where I had broken down on my first-ever cross-country motorcyle trip, 29 years ago to the week, in 1981. I took Rte. 99 south towards Cave Junction, then turned left onto Rte 86 heading over past Happy Camp and the Indian Resevations. Awesome road; I've ridden in back and forth three times now, including my trips from San Francisco on rented bikes. Not much to report, other than a slight friction just before the Oregon border.
So I wound around for about six hours, through the Klamath and Siskyou National Forrests and the Six Rivers Wilderness areas, everntually reaching the coast and Eureka just at sunset. Finished a fine Chinese buffet dinner and now....for some sleep.
Here's today's shots:

Monday, August 30, 2010


The ride over from Bend to the Eugene area was really scenic... large-scale vistas off the mountain roads, out across the valleys. I'm in love with these Oregon roads here; they're almost all beautifully-paved and whoever designed them made sure they all have very constant-radii corners. When you lean it over at 80 mph you can rest assured that there will be no mid-corner surprises... just roll it on and put the bike on it's ear with confidence. Beautiful. Nary a copper to be seen, neither.

Arrived at Ken and Eileen's Babbs’ place mid-afternoon, which worked out well. I could potentially have slugged it out and done the entire length of the state in one shot... but this was much easier all around. I rolled into their "farm" and got a warm welcome as I sputtered to a stop.

Babbs is well-known as one of the original Merry Pranksters, for those of you don’t know, a loosely-knit band of cutting-edge thinkers, author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, etc.) among them; who were renowned in the mid Sixties for experimentation with ...new ideas... new forms of art... consciousness... living. They drove a wildly-painted 1939 bus, wired to the gills with electronics and experimental lab drugs, across the country in 1964, Beat-era wheel-man-extraordinaire Neal Cassady at the wheel. They later put on the (in-)famous Acid Tests... where many new horizons were to be hatched, (including a little-known garage band who, in the midst of the Acid Tests, re-named themselves Grateful Dead).
I'd been chatting with Ken online for a while from China over the years, and he kindly offered me a bunk a couple of times on the way past, out in an old-but-clean school bus by the creek. These foks have been super-deluxe in making me feel welcome; Ken's wife Eileen is a sweet lady, originally from Staten Island. Her Mom actually knows a family back in New City, whose kid I was friends with in grade school. Nice folks... but careful! Fast and spontaneous, these folks are true-blue but highly intolerant of shallow thinking or egocentric-games. I found myself working hard to be open and direct with Ken, while still maintaining some sort of Guest Ettiquette that Momma taught me. I did, unfortunately, walk a flapjack of Jack the Dog’s crap into the kitchen on my shoe-sole. I was typing at my computer and thought I smelled dogshit; looked down and was mortified to find a grassy mud-pie sticking to the rubber. I’d just walked across the kitchen floor to get some coffee, too.
Babbs took it in Country Stride, fortunately.

Just about as soon as I got there we turned around early the next day and headed back over to Bend. Bob Dylan was to play there that night. I hopped into the back of Babbs’ Sebring convertible and we took the three-hour ride back east. I froze in the windy back seat, but all was fine, and we played music off my Mp3 player on the stereo. I feel pretty happy to be in company with these ...pretty special people... and perked up immediately whenever I heard anecdotes about the Kesey/Bus days… driving around with Jerry Garcia, etc.
The Dylan show was a treat; I wasn’t expecting to make it to any concerts on this little hejiera, but I’m a big Dylan fan, so naturally this was an unexpected pleasure. Especially noting the company I was keeping. Between the cost of the Cascades Motel (again) and the price of the concert ticket, my “daily budget” went pretty much out the window… ahh, but well worth the expense.

The Les Schwab Amphitheatre in Bend is a gorgeous, new, outdoor venue, covered with soft lush grass. There were about 4000 people in attendance; all sort of homogenous-looking (they drink a lot of milk out here) people who were, like the other Or-Gunian people I’m meeting, highly kind to one another… but strangely enough, very placid in response to the music, almost catatonic at times, compared to a fired-up East Coast crowd. Not many dancers… they seemed to be observing, for the most part.

Dylan was typically… Dylan.. Started the show sounding like a box of gravel rattling in a phone booth…but eventually smoothed out into a more mellifluous vocal groove. His back-up band was great, with a strong rhythm section laying down a fat groove. As always, you can’t really be sure of what song he’s playing until you hear a clear string of lyrics. We made our way up to the front of the General Admission/Lawn area… Eventually we moved back as Ken thought it was overly loud and distorted. A standout for me was Dylan’s Lovesick, which, once again, had a thick rhythm line driving through.

After the show the three of us headed off into downtown Bend to a small bar of sorts where we met one of their good friends for a drink and a plate of extra-gooey nachos. Ken and I were slightly lit from the concert and had a hearty, quip-laden exchange, with him insisting that I look for “the proper mountaintop” along my travel and use it to commune a Spirit-Quest experience. Hmmm…

Spent a night back in the luxurious Cascades Motel; woke in the morning to cold, gray skies. No swimming-pool splash as I’d hoped, but okay. Ken & Eileen arrived with the convertible, (now pleasantly buttoned-up), and we tripped back over into the Eugene area, listening to Beethoven’s 6th, played loudly while Ken riffed on the German army’s push onwards to Moscow or something. Spontaneity was Key to the Moment, and Babb’s is fast on the edge of erupting thought. I offered occasional flashes of my own, but generally let him make way. The skies cleared increasingly as we got over the mountains and back down to Dexter.

Next night I took the bike down into Eugene, to a weekend-long street festival that was going on. Pretty nice situation; the whole middle of town was blocked-off and there were vendors lined up all up and down. Bands were playing at the ends of the blocked-off streets in many places, and in one open field a large, professional stage had been set up. Numerous bars were open, (one place ran it’s happy-hour well into the night; Vodka Grapefruits at $3 each), while beer and wine vendors were within easy reach. I wandered around, looking at the highly-interesting faces; lots of college students from U Oregon down the street…a smattering of long-hair Granola’s…a few bearded mountain men. I frequently saw some very tall women in attendance; one gorgeous dame in a miniskirt had to have been six-foot-three… and built astoundingly well.

Eventually I made my way over to the concert field, as it were, where the Kesey “magic bus” was parked, and an all-girl, AC/DC cover-band was firing up. After chatting with Kesey’s son, Zane, for a few minutes, I waded through the dense crowd to watch the band. Excellent. I think the name was, Hell’s Belles, out of Austin. What a pisser. The lead guitarist seems to be channeling Angus, and she was simply on fire. The crowd, once again, was surprisingly mellow for this sort of act, although clearly involved and focused. I stayed around till the end, then filtered my way back out of town to my cozy bus by the creek, where I ate a cheapo roast-beef sandwich that I had bought along the way and dozed off to the sounds of the Oregon brook bubbling nearby.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


yeah... Bent in Bend.

Left the El Dorado Motel in Baker City on the eastern edge of the state around 11:30, after the perfunctory late checkout and greasy, diner breakfast. Chose Route 7 heading south then over to Route 20 west across the state... and, like so many states before, Oregon is looong. The map said 375 miles to Eugene, so I sent a message to my friends/hosts over there, saying that I'd take an extra night so's not to show up late at night burnt like a glazed potato. Overnight it in Bend.

Heading east in Oregon it got hotter... but I'd chosen a scenic route through the middle of  rather the state rather than big Highway... which turned out to be a great choice. But yeah, hot. Not nearly as bad as the South Dakota, with its 110-degree, Betty-Crocker Bake-Off, blast-furnace temperatures... but a steady 100 degrees nonetheless, enough to wilt yer lily.

Not much to report in terms of action or plot... stopped a few places for gas and water and the people were really honest and kindly... what I'd expected and have been experiencing out west. There seems to be much more timne for civility; if you walk past a stranger in a supermarket you should be prepared to get a smile and a curteous howdy-do. Nice. Takes a little more effort than out east, but nice.

Went past a lot of geological scenery... including three national parks. Here's the photos... do it yourself. I'm tired.

Now finally in Bend... found a cheapo motel.. a real Classic called the Cascade Motel...1950's traveler kitsch...Dad, Mom, and the Plymnouth Wagon pulling a Fred & Lucy trailer. Big pines overlooking a C-shaped, flat motel with a proper old-fashioned, concrete swimming pool in the middle, which I plopped right in and soaked for an hour. Then went out for bad Chinese food and drank $3 Pabst tall-boys in a little bar with a garage band that was short on talent but long on enthusiasm. Crosby Stills & Nash...Creedence.. etc.

I'm just waiting for my shadow to catch-up with me.... it's kind of difficult to know where I am with all this geographical change going past me... but good, good, good.

That's it; now I'm finally caught up.Hopefully this will get more literary as I progress... but I doubt it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Uhh... let's see..
Okay. Got into Diggs Idaho late at night, and the whole town was closed.

Except one bar, the Lonely Wolf or something. The only lights still on... and it turned out to be one of the coolest places you can imagine: a small, tasteful bar in a tiny town... the bartender went to University of PA... local people at the bar were friendly and happy. Two crazy local chicks came in and gave the bartender a CD of great old '70's stuff... second-string Motown, etc. I biught them shots but I think they were lesbians as they gave me shot afterwards foir my shorty ponytail. Bartender Ben was cool and we went outside to smoke... he told me a little about Life in Idaho...basically rural.

Next day
Same drill: beat the Maid out by bare minutes. I split and headed west ... further and further into the Idaho desert.
 Although previous places had bveen very hot, this was the first area that I would consider as desert. The highwhay went on and on and on.. and despite how small Idaho looks on a national map, riding across it was a monumental task.

I went past the Idaho National Laboratories, site oif the first ever nuclear reactor, and obviously there is still a modern nuke development program from all the seccurity signs near the entrances. This was in heavy, wide desert.

Long long long... endless stretches of isloated desolation.. and of course you have to play down thoughts of breaking down out there... it would drive you mad thinking about it. The motor continued to run strongly between 75 and 100 mph.. although there's been this everpresent vibration that I'm chalking-up to a worn chain.

Idaho is giant and dry. Horses and cattle graze in seemingly desolate places... I suppose they manage to make their way back to their barns at some point, but damned if I know how. Wide vistas of increasingly flat-topped mountain mesas... exhausting stretches of horizon-to-horizon road-scape.

Crater of the Moon National Park. En route. Paid four bucks to drive seven mile loop. Amazing how expansive an area that lava flow covers... my guess is 200 square miles. The signs said there have been repeated volcanic explosions over many millions of years... the last one only 2000 year ago, and they're expecting more. The lava fields go on for dozens of miles, as far as the eye can see.

Small cross-roads towns 40-50 miles apart. I pulled into one that had a little supermarket of sort for the locals.. combination supermarket/deli/gas station/repair shop. The girl behind the market register was suddenly beauitiful.. long braided blonde hair and clean-cut Anglo face... nice legs beneath those jean-shorts. She smiled nicely and I had a hard time walking away.. what was I going to accomplish, passing by this remote village, hmm... get an e-mail address??

On and On... twist the throttle and find the seating position of least resistance. The thing about this bike though, in comparison to a Harley (which I saw bazillions of), is that it is light and VERY fast and can lean hard into mountain corners... makes the chore of sitting on a sportbike for weeks at a time worthwhile.

Ahh... past the Sawtooth Mountains... desolate highway stretches, fifty miles at a clip...eventually I came out of the mountains at Mountain Home...near Boise.. and picked up the Interstate for the border of Oregon.

Once over the border I stopped at a rest area.. and it was like I'd crossed over into Elysium. The sun was setting low... the rest area had tons of soft green grass, and the highway became smooth and scenic and sensuosly curvy.

I stopped in a tiny gas station ten miles into Oregon and a full-bearded mountain man came out and together with his dentally-challenged pick-up truck buddy, we tossed the breeze... and these were heart-felt people... fully open and friendly.. no sign of suspicion or guile. Open hearted... that's how I would label the Oregonians so far.

Finally pulled into Baker City and scrounged for the cheapest hotel... expensive at $55. Sometimes you just have to take it... your ass and arms ache so bad.
Couple a beers in the Best Western lounge and then to bed.