Monthly Archives: May 2007

Last nights bedroom under the full moon.



Esthetic Cravings


Esthetic Cravings.

In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” one of Robert M. Pirsigs’ deep philosophical books has some fantastic long deep thoughts he calls Chautauqua’s. Anyway, he described something I am now facing. There are the beautiful landscapes that spread out around you in a giant sphere, grand colorful, rich, vibrant. From the yellow and purple Indian paintbrush petals that form beautiful patches of color next to my campsite, or the vermillion cliffs, tan sands, and rough grey hues that make up just a bit of the Canyon at dawn. The problem is that to try to convey God’s art into a little square picture seems to leave me feeling like I am falling short in the conveyance of this grandeur and beauty to you.

There are the pictures you take and some do tell more than a thousand words could do to describe our world. There are the pictures you don’t take. The one I am looking for like the Historic Route 66 signs that pop up. Not that I couldn’t pull over and show you the sign, it is that capture of the sign & the bike & the road with the landscape. These signs pop up at the most undesirable photo spots, a bland freeway exit, after a long beautiful vista full of cows and farms in Missouri they would be next to some weeds and a small hill that show nothing. In Kansas the same they went by so quick the fields the rivers, then through Oklahoma how they did guide me though more than I ever had hoped to see of Tulsa ! Anyway I hope I can paint the canvas with the descriptive words that sketch the essence of what I am seeing, feeling, and trying to share with all of you.

Since I last left Baxter KS, I had a good breakfast a nice mom and pop place where most of the folks were older (hey just like home in Florida) real Americans are not the Nancy Pelosi Bay area lib bubble types at all. A middle age man and a boy walked in white cowboy hats, stripped cowboy shirts, and a clang or a jingle made me look? Cowboy boots with spurs were jangling on the young man. A True cow boy the first cow town! After Camping out last night in Amarillo I was thinking about when I crossed over the Red River. The great old John Wayne movie that depicted the Cattle drive, the original Hollywood YEEEEHAAWWWW!

Tulsa, then to Okalahoma City, yes just like in the movie “Elizabethtown” I stopped and saw the Federal Building Memorial it was extremely moving. The Survivor tree was maybe the most beautiful tree I have every seen. You know when you leave that there is no terrorism that could ever destroy our country because we are founded on deep faith.

On I rode and everything changed and then changed again,
Texas big sky country.
Amarillo big steaks, and music at the Big Texan road house a Route 66 landmark.
Then the waitress of course had the right place to camp.
Palo Duro Canyon a Texas State Park.
I just rolled out the ground cloth, the air mattress, one of my best friends my North Face Manatee sleeping bag and stuffed in the earplugs. I enjoyed a good nights sleep in the brisk air under the full moon. In the morning I woke up and I was in such beauty, here I think even the little frame I show you will provoke the imagination.
Off towards Albuquerque I ride.

The survivor tree, Oklahoma city Federal building memorial.survivortree.jpg
Pictures of Palo Duro Canyon balanced pliocene rocks I slept under.
Palo Duro Canyon from the CCC built Lodge on the rim.

Life begins when you hit the Exit ramp!



Life begins when you hit the exit ramp.

I am sitting here on a picnic table in Baxter Springs Kansas at the Spring River Park, camping only $5 a night!

Today was a bad day on so many levels yet I am still grateful to the God of my understanding for giving me these challenges to face. You just don’t get problems in life unless you need them, to learn from them, to grow.

First let me say today is one of my best friends Birthday.
So, Happy Birthday Shena Dickson! Wish Big! Birthdays are always a good day. I do miss Shena and my friends. There are so many sweet places to visit and see and somehow it could only be better if I had some loved ones along on the adventure. However the show must go on.

Ok so I was totally exhausted had a hard time getting to bed and a harder time waking up.
So yet another 11-ish start out of St. Louis. I know some part of me is driven and needs to get going, see everything, do everything, make time, get the mileage I need to make it to the Grand Canyon to meet Mom & Trent on Friday night. I am my Fathers son after all, but then again my Dad was always in the car ready to go while my Mom rushed to get out the door after doing so much for all of us, so I am a well balanced mix of drive and chaos.
Not to say that I didn’t learn Serendipity from the original John E. Henry, and I have found so many unexpected treats along the way I know he would love this kind of trip.

So the highlights I don’t want to forget about the bad day:
I checked my emails and there was one from the folks at church the good people that keep you informed of spiritual needs like urgent prayer requests. Sometimes these feel a shade away from gossip. But today the bad news was that our pastor Tom his son in law who just had a new baby last month has a bad cancer next to his heart that they can’t operate on and he will have to undergo some other chemo or radiation treatments, very troubling he is younger than I and just starting a family. Keep him in your prayers.

Luxury problems included,
Subway Club sandwich & Lemonade, good but sits like lead while you ride, I was full for hours.
My tush was not real comfortable today, until I finally gave in and took some Tylenol.
This is all just state of mind for the real kicker.

I looked real hard at the tires this morning before take off and noticed some light craging in the front down in the grooves. I worried a bit about the air pressure It was as recommended in the owners manual, but the master BMW mechanic said you could run as high as 42/46 front / back full loaded.
So at my first gas stop I pulled over next to the car wash to the air pump to fill them up a bit. I had to waive the attended down to get the air pump turned on from inside as they instructed. I had put the bike up on the center stand where it is up a bit and the wheels can turn, “usually” a very stable position. I could not reach the back stem so I put the bike in Neutral so I could turn the tire; usually the back tire is off the ground on the center stand. As I tried to turn the tire it wasn’t going so I used my shoulder under the exhaust pipe to try to tilt the bike forward onto the front wheel so I could spin the back one.
In one slow motion the bike did the moving right over onto the right side! It was so graceful! I immediately went in to calm catastrophe mode, while my BP went skyrocketing upwards.

I had dropped the bike!
The thing anyone with an 887-pound bike fears the most had just happened.
I quickly unhooked the backpack and the back Beemer bag, noticing that the mirror had popped off and was lying next to the curb. The side wings did their job and the bike rested on them no damage to the expen$ive side fairings.

A strong young guy in a red pick up truck stopped and ask if he could help me pick it back up.
There is a technique for lifting one of these up with your butt and legs by yourself, but rule number one in that routine is to ask for help before you try it.

It came right back up and the bike was in fine shape the mirror popped right back on not a scratch.
EXCEPT: My brand new XL highway J pegs that cost a small fortune to get and install the right one had taken the brunt of the fall and was bent up about 45 degrees, I bent it back down and it still worked the rest of the day. I am sure I can find a garage with a vice somewhere and get it back to par or near where it should be.

No I didn’t get a picture of the bike down it all happened to fast and some things are too terrible to look at more than once.

Needless to say I aborted the air in the tire and got back on the bike and headed down highway 44. Just trying to stay focused and not dwell on the accident, gotta keep moving on.

I-44 has basically replaced route 66 all the way through Missouri. You can see route 66 as a frontage road running next to 44 but it looked more rolling and full of driveways and local stores, I wanted to make time so I was on 44 cruising.

There were two very bad accidents today. They both shut down the road and the diverted traffic off 44 and down the access road and then back onto 44 down the road past the accident. Many people were just stuck on the 44 parking lots while the lifeline helicopter came and they cleared the remains of a twisted pickup.
Then I noticed the signs that said Historic Route 66 exit. So it was right next to 44 and you could jump on and off it.
I had noticed on the map that after Springfield there was an old alignment of 66 that ran straight to Joplin while 44 went farther to the South.
At first this delay and the parking lot on 44 seemed yet another thing that just couldn’t go right today.
And yet it was maybe the best thing that did happen, because then I found what I was looking for Americana along Route 66.

So I took the exit and jumped on 96 or old 66.
Life starts when you hit the Exit ramp!
The road was great there were cows, farms, trees, hills, and small American towns. Farm fields that had signs every 100 feet that together held Bible verses for travelers to read and reflect upon.
I feel like I just found the Mother road and I am excited to ride now, looking forward to the next discovery.
Soon I wandered through Missouri into Kansas route 66 cuts across the SE corner of Kansas before it goes south into Oklahoma towards Tulsa.

I stopped for dinner here in Baxter Springs at the landmark Café on the route, it was unexpectedly gourmet awesome! Steak tips Diane over penne pasta, with fresh fruit. The building that the Café was in had been a bank that was robbed by Jesse James back in the 1870’s they got away with $2,900 in loot the posse chased them down about 7 miles south of town along what is now route 66. They were headed for the lawless Indian country that is now Oklahoma. Jesse James and his gang were actually able to disarm the posse and turn them away.
The best was the waitress, when I ask if there was anywhere close to camp gave me direction to the river park. This beautiful spot where I now sit listening to the river in the moonlight. I always believe and have experienced the best camp spots are the ones that you get at a dinner scribbled on a napkin, with directions like turn left at the big tree down the dirt road just past the cattle guard.
Camping feels good, the air is crisp and cool, the bugs are not biting me so far!
God is good all the time.

Pictures of the parking lot along route 44 to go with the bad day.
Pictures of the Café along the Route, great find.

Cafe on the Route Baxter Spings KS (the first Cow Town), Once a Bank robbed by Jesse James.

Go West young man; Go West!


Go West young man; go west!

For years the Arch in St. Louis has been known as the gateway to the West.
With that in mind how could I not stop and check it out?
I arrived in St. Louis before 6 pm after getting a Noon start away from that fine Hoosier hospitality.
I cruised around down town and found a great little park by the river and enjoyed the shade and the jazz music for a bit.
Today’s ride was smooth like butter, even slipped in a Salad for lunch at the Cracker Barrel and rented a book on cassette to listen to along the way.
So I did my 300 miles across I 70 in about 5 hours of drive time and 6 total.
Now will be hooking into the Route 66 of old where the history comes to life. I have been told to look for the house shaped like a ketchup bottle. I am off to get some C & K BBQ that is very well known in these parts as the best of the local flavor.
Lots of sleep tonight and an early wake up call.

Picture of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri

Get your kicks on Route 66.

Get your kicks on Route 66.

Well as I say good-bye to Tod and Nancy and head out across the Ohio River Valley towards St.Louis today the weather report says there may be some scattered thunderstorms out there and temps around 78F.
At least I was able to test out my new rain gear at the track yesterday when the skies opened up.

What a race day!
It was like two Indy 500 races in one day, the first 106 laps red flagged due to rain, so we came back home. Then we found out from die-hard friends at the track around 6pm they were restarting the race. Almost 75% of the fans stayed through it all.
The second race was fast and furious, as the drivers obviously knew that they may not get to go a full 500 and every lap was going to count. Danica Patrick was on fire and so was the youngest of the Andretti family Marco. After a few spins and crashes we were in turn three and coming down the back straight away we saw a puff of smoke and then the bottom of Marco Andrettis car slowly flying upside down across the track at us, then hit by another car that came to rest on the grass right in front of us. We were right down below the camera that captured this highlight and were on every news stations race highlight clip. I have so much gratitude to have such outstanding good friends here in Indy!
With the rain and the action I was unable to go spend a lap with my friend Dan who was at the start finish line, or my little brother Rich who was working as a yellow shirt security guard at the winners circle. A great deal Rich and his wife Kris & her family donate there time to work security at the Indy 500, Formula 1, and Nascar’s Brickyard 400 the last few years with the money the all earn going towards the Columbus 12 year old elite cheerleading squads summer camp fund. They have been at the best spots to see the race each time. I bet they both have some amazing pictures and stories to tell.

Ok I am burning daylight now; got coffee will pack up and move on.

Picture of my Indy 500 race crew Nancy Duke, Jessie (her best friend), Tod Trafelet, and myself John M. Henry.

The doppler effect. Verrrrroooooommmmmmmm……….


There is nothing like the Indy 500 !!!

Hello Race Fans.
Ladies and Gentleman start your engines!

A great day my Friends Tod and Nancy live pretty close to the track so we were able to sleep in to almost 11 am today, after a night out at several race weekend parties the whole city grills out and celebrates the race.
It is truly the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” over 250,000 people are packed into the stands to watch, creating an amazing energy.
Jim Neighbors from Gommer Pile MC and the Andy Griffin show I know from reruns always sings “Back Home Again in Indiana” my last race was in 1992 and since then no matter where I have been living when I watch the race on TV and he sings that song it brings tears to my eyes. This year Jim was sick and unable to attend so the crowd sang it for him and wished him a quick get well soon.
For years since 4th grade the month of May in Indiana meant sneaking of to the track for a day of practice or when college came around the whole race weekend complete with staying out all night waiting to get into the infield at 4 am when it would open.
In the early days everyone would race in and set up vans with decks on top and palm trees, grilling and cooking breakfast. Some years it rained and the 4th turn infield turned into a giant mud pit for 4×4 to jeep and ladies to mud wrestle and that is the tame stuff.

Today the race was red flagged around lap 106 so with over 100 laps run they can have it be an official race and there will be no restart on Monday. But we came back to the house and grilled out and the latest word is they may restart around 6:30 pm if they can get the track dry. Dana Patrick a lady racecar driver has a strong following this year.

But, hey the delay gave me a chance to slip in a quick Blog this afternoon.

Picture from our seats in turn 3 looking down the back straight away on the first lap.