Dear Ma, I Find Myself Lost Up in These Here Mountains

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Alexa, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
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    near the sun
    Dear Ma,

    It all started as any motorcycle camping trip starts. I accidentally—or perhaps purposefully—left a gate open after strolling about the back fields of my memory. Well, some of those memories wandered, like so many crazy-eyed goats, through the open gate and into my front yard. Dang it if they don’t love to eat the roses. Anyway, it was just a few days ago, three to be exact, that I was sipping lemonade on the back porch, watching the evening sunlight blaze like wildfire across the desert hills. And yet, dry red desert was not what I saw, for I saw a vision, a vision of green jagged mountains slashed repeatedly by boulder-strewn rivers as if a giant bear had dragged its sharp claws down the slopes. Then a breeze blew and yellow aspen leaves rained like gold coins from a piñata or like in one of those video games I sometimes play. Well now, I am a strong girl, good with a plow and resistant to the temptations of evil, but I am powerless against the glow of yellow aspen leaves. And once I started dreaming about riding my motorcycle up into the chartreuse mountains; started imagining sitting around a campfire, savoring the miles of moist black chocolate cake my tires had eaten up that day… smelling the sage brush oils drying on the cuffs of my britches; the gurgle of a stream washing away the city traffic echoing in my head; once I let those memories into the front yard of my mind, well, I became like a child licking a cake batter spoon—possessed!

    I took a long sip of my ‘shined lemonade to clear my head and then turned to Skinny Beans—you remember Skinny Beans, don’t you? He’s the one who saved your kitten from the hawk by pitching a stone at its head, which caused the raptor to fly crooked and get tangled up in an electrical wire and burst into flames and drop into your barn, which then burned down. I bet you remember him. Anyway, I turned to Skinny and searched his eyes to see if he might be having the same memory I was having, which usually happens just before we take to the open road.

    “Skinny,” I said, “Are you contemplating what I’m contemplating?”

    “I don’t know, Peanut,” Skinny Beans replied, stretching his legs out and scratching his beard. “Are you thinking we should pack up a couple of mules and head up into the mountains for a spell?”

    I smiled, took a long slow sip of my drink and then nodded.

    Skinny Beans stared up at the clouds racing across the sky. Then he closed his eyes and sniffed the air. A moment later, he turned to me and said, “I’ll go pick out a couple of fine steeds. You pack the provisions.”

    And that is how we decided it was time to get ourselves lost somewhere up in the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    Heading for the hills,
    Your Daughter, Penelope

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    #1
  2. BillUA

    BillUA Las Vegas, NV

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
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    Awesome!! Another one
    #2
  3. neppi

    neppi Long timer

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    Tauranga, New Zealand
    New bikes?

    cool

    Following!
    #3
  4. CopyCat

    CopyCat I am NOT like the others Supporter

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    Brilliant!! Following
    #4
  5. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    Seriously fine prose! Can't wait for more.
    #5
  6. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
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    Location:
    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    So glad you’re back, and I found it day 1.
    Let’s go eh!
    #6
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  7. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    Aug 12, 2009
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    E WA
    Outstanding!

    looking forward to good reading on these shortening fall days.

    Jathkajoe
    #7
  8. rihaha

    rihaha Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2019
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    127
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    Prior Lake, MN
    Waiting to hear the names of the steeds you and Skinny Beans are riding. Is the mule kicked cooler coming along for this journey? I do not see any rope skills on the luggage this time, just straps. Excited to follow your adventure. We are entering the season of the the white fluffy stuff and not the snortin kind and my steeds will be tucked in for hibernation.
    #8
  9. GotDammitDave

    GotDammitDave Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
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    Newport,NC
    after reading your last report Im deffinately in for this one..
    #9
  10. Don Pedro

    Don Pedro Does not work does not exist!

    Joined:
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    South of Germany
    Great bikes, great story - in again ...
    #10
  11. JLA49

    JLA49 Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
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    MISSISSIPPI
    I'm in.
    #11
  12. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
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    near the sun
    Dear Ma,

    Well, Skinny Beans did in fact pick out a couple of fine horses from the herd. For himself, he chose a snorty stallion KTM 500, and for me, a stubby little 250. I named my bike “Mike,” which is short for “My Bike.” I named Skinny’s 500 “Ripper,” on account of the mellifluous sounds that emanate from its tailpipe. They sound somewhat like the frightening rumbles that come from under the sheets on Skinny’s side of the bed after rattlesnake-and-baked-beans night. It’s not very silent, but it certainly is deadly—the bike that is, not Skinny Beans. He’s both silent and deadly. Anyway, that Ripper can rip a rut through the yard like a hog in heat.

    I went into the kitchen and pulled down a couple jars of pickles preserved in apple vinegar and ‘coon tallow—Skinny Beans’ favorite snack. From the root cellar, I fetched the last of the corn, which we’d been saving on account of it having a tad of smut reminiscent of iridescent purple eyeshadow from the seventies—one of the perks of living in Reno is that we do get to enjoy a bit of tasty smut on occasion. I packed the remaining tallow in tin paper and stashed it in a motorcycle saddlebag along with some smoked castrates wrapped in cheesecloth that Old Man Dobson brought over for us. He sure is a nice fellow.

    Packing luggage onto our bikes was, as always, a bittersweet event. It’s an unpleasant task done for the reward, sort of like putting on fancy clothes to eat good food in a city restaurant. Fancy restaurants require stiff fancy clothes, but fancy restaurants are the only places that serve foods Skinny Beans and I recognize such as snails, eel, frog legs and those giant red crawdads they import from Maine. I think they call them lobsters. Anyway, these fire-smoking, dirt-chewing, fine-blooded motorcycles are the racehorses of the herd, slim and agile and full of attitude like a couple of thoroughbreds, but picky about what luggage they wear. The KTM breed is pretty to look at and spirited to ride, but not very stout when it comes to carrying gear, so we had to pack light. My homemade tankbag fits just fine on the oversized fuel tank, but if I put a couple of milk crates on Mike’s flanks as I did on my Rebel 250, or a donkey-chewed picnic cooler like I did on my DR650, well now, Mike would surely have bucked those right off and then bucked me off for the insult and then trampled me over a few times to make its point. I am sure of it as I speak from experience. My bike is okay, however, carrying its own fuel tucked neatly to its sides.

    The only bags these horses agree to carry are highfalutin Giant Loop bags. They want nothing to do with my homemade luggage. We purchased some waterproof stuff sacks to keep our stuff dry since it will most likely rain, and I will most likely drop my bike in a creek crossing, which I am also sure of from experience, and I am not keen to sleep in a wet sleeping bag ever again. The sacks are a lovely bright yellow, which nicely matches my yellow jacket, orange bike and orange luggage, and which I am just tickled pink about because I am a girl, and I do love pink. Anyway, I stuffed my unmentionables into one of the dry stuff sacks, and then I tried to stuff the stuff sack into the Giant Loop bag. It did not fit no matter how hard I tried to stuff it. Skinny Beans gave it a go, and he too failed to stuff it. Turns out the dry stuff sack is actually larger than the horseshoe-shaped bag it’s designed to go into. Now, I might not be the brightest pig in the pen when it comes to such matters, but I find this confusing. Maybe the waterproof bags are meant to slip over the outside ends of the Giant Loop bags like prophylactics, I told Skinny. He gave me a funny look and laughed. In the end, Skinny Beans figured out to stuff the waterproof stuff sacks into the properly-sized original stuff sacks, then fill them with my lacy silky bits, and then stuff the whole sausage into the Giant Loop outer casing as if we were making haggis. Now my stuff will remain dry, as it is stuffed within a bag, within a bag, within a bag.

    I managed to find properly sized and shaped nooks for our sleeping bags and camp stove on the bikes, unlike on other trips when one or the other of these item was deemed “non essential” and crossed off the list for lack of space. This means I won’t freeze my niblets off during slumber, and I won’t have to eat cold grub right out of the can like some sort of hillbilly. I’m very pleased about this.

    We ride tomorrow at dawn.

    Hugs and kisses,
    Peanut

    P.S. You will be happy to know that I saw a rainbow, and as you know, a rainbow in the desert means blessed travels.

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    #12
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  13. Brokenhorse

    Brokenhorse Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2019
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Mountain west
    So glad you guys are sporting hunter orange during hunting season.
    There sure are a lot of wannabes in camo in our mountains now.

    Hope your mules get some good nightly grain for rewards of a good hard days work done well.

    Tell me about the take down rifles in the saddle bags, perhaps classic 45-70s or fancy Euro bolt .338s to match them pedigreed Austrian mules?

    Hope you got new sleeping bags made from those old damn mean grey farm geese. Remember when they bit my kid when he ask permission to ride on your farm?

    Skinny looks like he might need a double layer bag for warmth, get him a pamphlet on convection, or maybe it's conduction heat loss. Might save his life of a cold front blows in.

    Remember you MUST treat a mule like you should treat a horse, but surely you already know this to be true.

    Let me know if you need firewood or farrier work.
    #13
  14. HPPants

    HPPants Been here awhile

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    Count me in!!!
    #14
  15. RokLobster

    RokLobster Far from sanity Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
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    117
    Location:
    Mill Creek WA - Land of perpetual wet
    Hi Penelope and Skinny Beans! So glad to see the adventure is continuing. I got my popcorn and blanket, all tucked in and ready to follow along. So glad you are off a new adventure in the wild. :clap
    #15
  16. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    :lurk
    Looking forward to your RR
    #16
  17. Alexa

    Alexa I think I don't know

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    near the sun
    Dear Ma,

    Today was a glorious day of riding my motorcycle. From Reno, we headed west over Donner Pass—where those poor traveling folks had to eat themselves one winter, which was before they had candy machines at the rest stop—and then turned south to traverse oceanside of the crest along the Sierra Nevada Mountains. My bike and I covered miles of buttery smooth highways twisting and turning sweetly as if paved with spoons by angels (angels who ride motorcycles, but not those angels).

    I’m not sure Skinny Beans knows where he’s going, or if he’s just winging it off the cuff, but he’s finding the most remote and prettiest roads out here. One such road near Hell Hole Reservoir took us through a burn scar. The trees still stand, but I’m pretty sure they’re all dead inside. I felt sorry for the charred trees, but something about them made me feel right alive.

    In addition to the yummy twisty roads, the surface of the land out here repeatedly leaps up into ridges and plunges down into canyons somewhat like a throw rug after a hound pup tries to run across it but only succeeds at bunching it up. I think my favorite part of riding out here, though, is the large view, which skips so far across the granite ridge tops, I swear I can see the Pacific Ocean.

    Just past Soda Springs, we stopped to take photographs of one particularly deep canyon called the Royal Gorge. I stood at the precipice and wondered what it would be like to jump off the edge. It’s a sickness, I know. I imagined a time of forbidden love, a time when young lovers fated to be torn apart by their tribes or families were fabled to have leapt hand-in-hand into such bottomless canyons. In fact, on one of these mountain folds is a cliff popular with the rock climbers called “Lovers’ Leap.” Indeed, the pain of dying together would trump the death of a life torn apart by tradition. Skinny Beans put his arm around my shoulders, gazed out at my imaginary lovers and then gently pulled me back to our bikes.

    Our gang roster still sits at two members. We had a third member for a while, JerryCan Gerry, but he wasn’t fast enough of a rider to outrun the po po. We now call him JerryCan’t Gerry. We also sort of have another member, Old Man Dobson. He showed up one day on his palomino with pearl-handled pistols on his hips and a shotgun and rifle on either side of his saddle. He said he would like to join our motorcycle gang, but before he swore allegiance, he needed to know if we were the good guys or the bad guys. Skinny Beans assured him we were usually the good guys—which, he said, was a relative concept on account of there being all types of folks in the world. Anyway, Skinny signed Dobson and his horse up and showed them the secret handshake. That poor horse must have kept up with us for a mile or two. Old Man Dobson is now on the waiting list until he finds himself a proper motorcycle, and not his juiced-up mobile chair he says can do fifty miles an hour… in the whoops, no doubt.

    Guess what? Skinny Beans and I joined a cult. The members are all motorcycle riders and referred to as “inmates,” but they all seem to have their wits about them, at least for the most part, and definitely not less than us. The compound is located on the cyber super highway. Skinny Beans says we’re on our way there now. I sure do hope we find some fresh roadkill before we get there, for surely such a large group of folks share potluck suppers every night, and I don’t want to show up empty handed. If we’re not lucky in finding fresh meat, I suppose I could make a dish called “bowl of balls”—a Mongolian recipe I pulled off a documentary called “Long Way Round.” If it’s a large gathering, folks might have to share balls. But I don’t think anyone will complain, for they are the finest group of folks we know.

    All my love,
    Peanut

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    #17
  18. npie76

    npie76 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Central PA
    The writing on this site tends to be quite good, but this RR is different; I do believe that might make it ‘art’? I know, I know I’m waaaay behind...

    From someone incapable of producing art themselves, thank you Peanut and Skinny Beans for taking the time to bring us along for the ride :)
    #18
  19. magnussonh

    magnussonh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
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    171
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    Iceland
    Hmm. Me just notice website in Alexa's signature. Me go look there.
    Edit. Me like what me see.
    #19
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  20. Brokenhorse

    Brokenhorse Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2019
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Mountain west
    I knew Skinny is a good man.
    Around my country "Lovers Leap" means only one walks out, and sure seems simpler to get an annulment if you ask me.

    Careful around these new "friends".
    First thing is dudes with "JerryCan" names either run out of gas and want yours, or worse, they want you to go take a spin in the Ole' Willy's flat fender knowing when it breaks down it will give him plenty of time to help himself to a good 250 or 500.
    Tell him the Briggs and Stratton works best in a push mower to check his volitile temporment.

    Second thing is this Dobson dude is a fake spotted early.
    Distract him with roadkill stew and have Skinny smell his rifle or shotgun for fresh burned gun powder residue....bet there ain't any cause he's scared of em and is trying to have the "tough look".
    See, this Wannabe has too much bling hardware, and prolly no sweat stain on his hat, certified damned imposter.
    Didn't Ma tell you to respect the man with one gun cause he knows how to use it?
    Ole' Dobson is dumb enough to ride an elk colored horse in hunting season, yuppy city fool pretending all the way.

    Keep some recipes secret cause up on the Clark Fork River, the annual Testicle Festival got shut down cause too many crazies got a bit wild and you don't need that in camp.

    Be careful in God's Country!
    #20
    jwc and borderlinebob like this.