Covered Wagon Report Winter 2021

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Alexa, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
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    Dear Ma,

    So there I was, hyperventilating like one of those overly dramatic actresses in a horror movie. My right arm had somehow gone and threaded itself into a scraggly cliff-clinging shrub clear up to my shoulder. The remainder of my right side, specifically my hip and my leg, had been swallowed up by the same shrub or perhaps a close relative to it. As I was still somewhat astride my motorcycle—just tipped over in the bushes on the side of a cliff—my left toe tapped the gear shifter and stalled the bike’s engine. I held my breath—which wasn’t as difficult as I might previously have thought, considering I was hyperventilating—and listened for Skinny Bean’s motor. I thought maybe I heard a purr wrapping around the hillside, but the Idaho wind carries the voices of many ghosts… including motorcycle ghosts, which is what my poor bike was about to become—and I with it if I lost ahold of the shrub. I tightened my grip on “Shilo” (that’s what I named my bike, but this probably isn’t the best time to tell you that story, so we can save it for another time).

    I turned my head, trying to tune out the wind’s turbulent noise while catching the thrum of Skinny Bean’s bike. Last I’d seen him, he’d pulled Shilo and me out of a bush we’d gotten stuck in, and then I’d gone on ahead. Between remounting my bike there and bouncing off the trail here, I’d ridden the scariest section of trail, a series of stone steps jumbling down a razor-sharp ridge with cliffs on both sides. I’d made it through all right, but the stress of it had frizzle-fried my nerves something fierce and flipped on my hyperventilation system. My legs had gone right to rubber. My arms stiffened to wood. My vision narrowed, and then suddenly my bike had just scooted out from under me and off the edge of the trail quick as a colt bucks out from under a cougar. At least, that’s what I remember.

    Despite being face to face with the Grim Reaper’s sling blade, I noticed my breathing… or more specifically, my inability to. Each breath I attempted—choppy and shallow like the bad actress—failed to move the old air out and make room for fresh air. I figured my body was holding tight to everything it could at that point, including the old air in my lungs.

    I jiggled the handlebar. It had stabbed itself deep into the shrub like an ice pick into a glacier and was holding Shilo from slipping away. I relaxed my grip on her. As long as the bushes had deep roots and strong branches—and were friendly sorts and not the sort to peel my fingers off one by one—Shilo and I could remain affixed to the hillside indefinitely, a comforting thought. But if not…

    My morbid curiosity to see what I didn’t want to see forced my eyes to look down. Through the spokes of Shilo’s floating rear wheel, I saw the open hungry mouth of space, a steep rocky canyon a thousand feet deep. Past her rear tire, snow raced up the canyon like swarms of white bees, stinging my cheeks with tiny needles. The view past the gorge—and my imminent death—I imagined to be a reflection of my side of the canyon, minus a girl and her motorcycle clinging to the side. A craggy ridge with brown patches shaved into the rugged green forest of the Sawtooths repeated into the distance like a view of a mirror in a mirror. Through the soft filter of flying snow, I saw the dangers of riding such unforgiving land… and maybe even a bit of the vision of the first rider to cut the trail I was on. I wondered if he was still alive.

    Skinny Beans’ motor arrived on the scene first. I imagined his horror at finding me there stuck on the side of a cliff, the anxiety, the helplessness… perhaps even the need to blame himself for—

    “Hey there, Peanut. You stuck in a bush again? Good thing you tipped over here where it’s flat and not back on that rocky ridge.”

    I nodded stiffly and through tears leaping from my eyes, blubbered, “I thought I was going to die riding down that! And then I don’t know what happened! And then I thought I was stuck on the side of a cliff, but now I’m just stuck in this bush!”

    The bush and I released our tender embrace, and I pushed Shilo off of my leg. Just as Skinny had said, the ground was indeed mostly flat under me and only sloped away a little more than gently, but everywhere else, the terrain would really have gotten me going in a cartwheel, should I have wobbled off the trail. Anyway, I had survived riding a deathly scary section, but apparently, lacked the constitution for the exposure it presented and needed a rest in a bush afterward.

    Skinny Beans lifted Shilo up for me, and we rode on. A mile or more passed under my wheels before I could fully catch my breath and start to relax my arms and feel my legs again. A day or two passed before I could stop imagining what would have happened if I’d fallen on those exposed rocky steps… well, I probably would have been mangled and pretzeled like a rodeo clown with his back to the bull. And I probably wouldn’t have been able to write this letter… that’s for dang sure.

    Hugs and kisses,
    Peanut

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    #1
    chudzikb, staudio, hock2e and 11 others like this.
  2. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    Brilliant!!!
    #2
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  3. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
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    Hot damn @Alexa! I see Skinny Beans rockin' a katoom 2-stroke of some flavor and it appears you're on a Beta? Also a 2-stroke, or is that a 4-banger? My admiration for the two of you just grew, which is saying something as I've been mightily impressed with the rides you've done already. Being a huge 2-smoker fan myself and having one in the shop, I like to see you guys out ripping some single track.

    This mentions Idaho and since it's from your covered wagon, assuming you musta headed north east to explore.

    Can't wait for more :D
    #3
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  4. dlock5

    dlock5 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Awesome story
    #4
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  5. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
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    Dear @liv2day,

    Thanks for writing! I can feel your 2-stroke passion burning through the ether.

    Skinny Beans is on a 2020 KTM 150 XCW TPI tuned and suspended to "lay down the tracks and tear up the trails" like that Mr. Gordon Lightfoot fellow says in his song about the railroad. I ride a 2019 Beta 200RR 2-stroke. She's a beautiful Italian princess. The 2019 has a slightly smaller frame, and with my lower seat, we fit together just fine.

    Thanks for appreciating the rides we do! Oregon is a favorite place to ride single track as there are so many great trails there, perfect 2-stroke country. Indeed, we started this covered-wagon road trip in Idaho back in October and have been heading south since. We'll catch up to ourselves soon in the report.

    Thanks for riding along!

    Peanut

    P.S. We just found your Outback RR and look forward to reading it!
    #5
  6. RokLobster

    RokLobster Far from sanity Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    120
    Location:
    Mill Creek WA - Land of perpetual wet
    :lurk
    #6
    Alexa likes this.
  7. cidi

    cidi cidi Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    959
    Location:
    Fairplay, CO
    @Alexa thank you for your great RR. My wife and I just finished a week in Northern Baja camping (mostly) off 2 KatieM690s. I can very much appreciate the cold days / nights, wind and all of the efforts involved in keeping,staying, or becoming warm. The short days even in a covered wagon are sometimes hard on the soul. After all we are supposed to do this for fun, otherwise I should get paid :-).

    Truly enjoying your reports and look forward to more..
    #7
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  8. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
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    Dear @cidi,

    Thanks for writing! Your and your wife’s adventure to Baja sounds exciting! I remember Skinny Beans and I waiting at the border one windy freezing January night. We had to drive all the way to Puerto Vallarta to warm up. I’m guessing we probably didn’t miss too many warm sunny days by not pressing on southward after Fish Lake Valley.

    I can always rely on a motorcycle camping trip to polish up my rough spots and roughen up my smooth spots… but that winter motorcycle camping trip just left me rough.

    Thanks for riding along!

    Peanut

    P.S. I like your signature quote. I too like to live today the way I want to live tomorrow.
    #8
    cidi likes this.
  9. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
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    Dear Ma Crane,

    I sure do love my Peanut. Some men might find it difficult to express such a thing, and even though I feel this affection in the core of the thread of the fabric of my existence, I will admit that it stirs my gut a bit to express such a notion as I did just now. However, I am not a man who is afraid to say what I’m about to say… I love my wagon.

    I have a mighty fine wagon. It’s a six liter, one-ton covered wagon. From the outside, our “Little House in the Chevy” might not look like much for a man to be proud of—plain white walls and a touch of rust here and there and in some other spots you can’t see from here. I guess you could say that the wagon’s value lies more in what it can do for Peanut and me than in its visual splendor. If you were to look closely, you would see that this covered wagon is as strong and rugged as a team of diesel-drinking oxen, and that it has tires that are dang near knobbies and suspenders lifted a few inches. And as such, it can carry all of the comforts of our farm plus haul two dirt motorcycles on the rear porch, and it can carry all of this to a remote bluff overlooking the Black Rock Desert or to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

    Here, step on in. I’ll give you a tour…

    Set yourself down in the passenger’s seat and make sure the seatbelt latch clicks when you close it. It likes to stick sometimes, and then you suddenly get that free-air feeling like your pants have fallen down. But should that happen, do not worry, it’s just that your seatbelt has come unbuckled.

    So let’s pretend that we just drove several long hours up into the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho in this here wagon. We may have stopped for French fries a time or two along the way. And now we’re parked next to a creek running through an old gold-mining camp—now, don’t get too excited; all Peanut and I have pulled out of this creek with our pans is garnet sand, which does please Peanut considerably, but I know she has her heart set on finding some real gold one of these days.

    Well now, look a here, the seatbelt light is off. We are free to move about the cabin.

    Just swivel yourself right around to face the back of the rig, what Peanut and I call the “living part of the house.” We do all of our living back there when we’re not outside in the nature. If you look to your right, you’ll see Peanut’s kitchen where she films her sugar-free cooking show that she calls “Peanut’s Pickles and Pie Cooking Show.” And beyond the kitchen, in the back, is the den, which extends to become the sleeping quarters. The garage and workshop are across the hall from it. It’s really impressive what can fit in just 65 square feet, but that’s the thing about a box truck… it’s roomy.

    Well, make yourself at home if you like. Peanut and I are going riding now.

    Bye for now,
    Skinny Beans

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    #9
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  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    ^^^^^^
    Wow; that's an incredible capture @Alexa & Skinny Beans. I mean, seriously, what a phenomenal picture - great composition and the reflection of the water is perfect.

    Great to see the bikes parked on that ridge with some snow on one of the far peaks.

    If you think about it, be cool to see your covered wagon in a future posted too. Had a good laugh at the cooking show's title.

    Look forward to the next one.
    #10
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  11. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
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    Dear @liv2day,

    Thank you for enjoying that photograph of the pond! We've been enjoying it, too. The air was very still and made for a perfect reflection of the trees and colors. It was a treat to camp there, as the afternoon light was quite flattering to the natural beauty. And it's always a joy to camp next to clean water--we've "rinsed" in some murky waters a time or too.

    Skinny Beans says the pond might be from the hydraulic mining operation that went on in the old days there, or maybe part of the stream restoration that was done on the creek some decades later.

    Thanks for writing in and riding along!

    Peanut
    #11
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  12. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
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    Dear Ma,

    It snowed last night! The world is now as white as polished rice. The flocked trees cradle frosty bombs in their boughs, ready to drop on the back of our necks when we pass under, but Skinny Beans and I weren’t afraid. We love rolling around in the fresh snow as much as we love eating raw sea critters rolled in rice.

    As this is the first snow of the year, my equilibriums—mental and visual—are thrown off a bit. It’s winter now, and I have to readjust some things such as the thickness of my socks and how many. And I couldn’t just run down to the creek barefoot for my morning bath. I had to put on some sandals. But most of all, I have to readjust to the feel of the forest covered in snow. The purity of its soft surface is easily imprinted by my steps and as such makes me ponder my presence a measure more than when the ground is brown.

    As I commenced to making breakfast this morning, my mind might still have been outside frozen in the creek because I grabbed a bottle of “carburetor cleaner” thinking it said carburetor “creamer.” How does carburetor cleaner end up in the kitchen, you might ask? Simple. The kitchen counter blends seamlessly into the workbench counter. And since Skinny Beans is every bit a man when it comes to seeing the line between the two (or in this case not), I often find my barbecue skewers in the tool box and bottles of honey-colored oils in the kitchen. Anyway, “carburetor creamer” sounded like just the thing I needed in my tea to help me adjust to the new season. But do you know what? It wasn’t really what I expected. It tasted like burning.

    The carburetor creamer did inspire me to make a nice loaf of bread in the dutch-oven. It even cleaned the sticky dough right off of my hands. The bread came out crusty on the outside and light and airy on the inside. I think I’m going to keep a bottle of the carburetor creamer in the kitchen from now on as it’s very handy. I wonder what other garage items might work well in the kitchen? I have my eye on the drill. It could really take the work out of whipping eggs.

    After breakfast, Skinny Beans and I eagerly geared up. We unburied our bikes—still sleeping soundly all cuddled up under their blanket and a small pile of snow—and then tentatively rode out onto the slippery white stuff. I carefully followed Bandit’s tracks (that’s Skinny Beans’ bike) in the fresh snow, a dark ribbon pressed into the white powder like the fancy calligraphy found on wedding invitations. I think Shilo kept trying to read what Bandit was writing in the snow, maybe hoping for a marriage proposal, but all I saw was “SSSSS.” I told her that small-bore two-stroke motorcycles like Bandit are free spirits, and that she’d be wise to just enjoy her time with him, lest she wants a broken heart down the road.

    We crossed the creek and rode into the woods. It took me a mile or so of tight hands and stiff joints before I felt comfortable riding on the snow. Mostly, I feared the wet logs and the swiftyness with which I can discover myself to be on the ground. But once I relaxed enough to let my body and bike dance on the snow-covered terrain, I felt like I was riding in a fantasy world, maybe aboard one of those float-boats in the “It’s a Small World” feature at the Disneyland Park. The best part of riding in the snow—besides the riding part—is how bright the dark forest floor becomes. The landscape of the forest really opens up and shows its personality when covered in white. I find it to be serene and welcoming… provided one has a warm and well-stocked den to return to… or a similarly outfitted covered wagon.

    We rode the easier trails up the north face of the mountain, slipping on rocks along the creek and then delicately floating up steep sections. But near the summit, things started to get too steep and snowy for me, so we took fire roads back down. Sometimes riding something tricky the second time, such as backtracking a trail, is more difficult than it was riding it the first time (we’ll talk more about backtracking in a later letter as such a tender topic requires a campfire to discuss… plus a dash of humility, which itself will require a dash of spirits). The first time, I can convince myself (or at least I can convince Peanut Butter) that we can do it. But the second time… well, then we both know I might have been overly optimistic. Anyway, the trail down was one such instance where I knew how hard it would be, and I didn’t want to test my braking control on snowy twisty turns. In the end, I was thrilled that the roads down proved to be as much fun as the trails up. A bit of throttle with the lean, and the rear tire chewed into the firm granitic sand beneath the snow. Skinny Beans described the conditions as “slip ’n’ grip.” I described them as “uh oh! ’n’ phew!”

    Too bad, so sad, but the snow will freeze tonight, and that will be the end for riding here as I doubt the ice will thaw before spring, and I very much fear riding on ice. Even Peanut Butter won’t touch the stuff. Our tracks will remain in the snow like signatures in a guest registry until spring resets the year. The snowy ride was the perfect “good bye” to a lovely riding area. Tomorrow we head south.

    XOXO,
    Peanut

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    #12
  13. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

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    I got no fancy words like a bunch of the other fellows here. All I have is "wow". I guess two of them actually.
    Wow to the pictures.
    Wow to the words.
    Make that 3. Wow i'd love to try that bread with the carburetor cleaner sauce.
    #13
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  14. cidi

    cidi cidi Supporter

    Joined:
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    Fairplay, CO
    Why a great end to a fun report.
    Thank you for writing it up in such a witty way.
    All the best.
    #14
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  15. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
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    Dear @BrockEvan

    Thank you for enjoying our letters, pictures and bread with carburetor creamer sauce! You must like life spicy… which looking at your choice of motorcycles, you do!

    Peanut
    #15
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  16. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
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    Dear @cidi,

    Thank you for writing!

    I am very happy to hear that you are enjoying our report, and I am also very pleased to say that the snow merely chased us south to unfrozen ground. The adventures and letters will continue right here!

    We'll see you soon at our next stop—Kanab, Utah.

    Peanut
    #16
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  17. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
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    Nice oven spring on the bread! From one who knows...
    #17
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  18. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Dear @chudzikb

    Thank you for noticing my oven spring. Ma had the meanest oven spring in all the country back home, and I guess her oven spring sort of just rubbed off on me.

    Peanut
    #18
  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
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    Sherwood, Oregon
    Wonderful wrap on an excellent covered wagon report, appreciate you and Skinny putting in the time to make the rest of us inmates smile. Being a huge fan of cooking in a Dutch oven myself, I'm intrigued about the bread. I know it's possible to bake such wonders in them, but have never attempted such in mine. And I had a good hard laugh at carburetor creamer...burning indeed :lol2 :lol2 :lol2

    If you two find your way up the PNW way during the spring or summer months and want to explore some fun single track and 2-track out in the north coast range; let me know. Finally took my little 2-smoker out last Saturday for some fun; the pics below are perfect examples of the variety possible in a short woods rip (hope you don't mind me posting).

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    #19