Detroit to San Diego, Zen and the art of motorcycle negligence,

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by vermin, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. barnboy

    barnboy Adventurer

    May 17, 2007
    Germansville, PA
    This is friggin' fantastic, and much more enjoyable than work.

    As an aside, I bought an old run-down farmhouse a few years ago, complete with a Swing-Away opener bolted to the pantry. That sucker sealed the deal.
  2. scumshine

    scumshine Hershey bar & a brick

    Sep 9, 2003
    8 miles from Graceland
    The other cube people around me are reading this over my shoulder. You are our hero, a dim glimmerin Bevis bulb of light.

    Pray continue...
  3. moterbiker

    moterbiker Gypsy diver

    Oct 17, 2002
    BOAF Caves, NC
    Reading this sure beats working. Great report!
  4. Ritalin Boy

    Ritalin Boy Petroconsumptivitius

    Sep 16, 2003
    Rhode Island
    I'm wondering if I should find a PC800 and set it up for the next Iron Butt Rally.

    Great stuff.
  5. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Nov 8, 2004
    In my natural state
    The thread is great, the title is sublime. Want to abandon the bike in my yard?
  6. JasonH

    JasonH Been here awhile

    Jul 5, 2005
    McKinney, Texas
    I knew as soon as I saw a picture of that bike that I was going to enjoy this one. :D
  7. vermin

    vermin unrepentant thinner

    Jan 20, 2007
    Your kind words are appreciated they are however aimed at ahendepe
    not the teeming vermin that I try so desperately to morph into through the process of high plains asphalt ribbon transmogrification.

    As the effects of the near perfect transmogrification slowly erode it becomes harder to feel the vibe necesary to continue the report.

    I had a hard day in the cube as weasels ripped at my flesh from 7am
    till 4pm. I tried to continue the report but it stank of steelcase office furniture, spread sheets, white boards, and lotus notes meeting notices.

    I should be able to get my mojo back soon and continue. Probably this weekend.
  8. Mr. Huero

    Mr. Huero HÖÖSK-ËË

    Nov 30, 2005
    Our hope is that your super powers return and you can continue the writings of this excellent adventure. Great job.:clap

    NEVERLOST Banned

    Aug 26, 2007
    Broomfield, CO and Venice Beach, FL
    On your map you don't have any lines running to Florida. Everyone in Michigan has lines running to Florida :wink:
  10. vermin

    vermin unrepentant thinner

    Jan 20, 2007
    Originally Posted by NEVERLOST
    On your map you don't have any lines running to Florida. Everyone in Michigan has lines running to Florida

    When our original goal of hitting all 49 states was being attempted we where involved in some chicanery as far as just hitting the corners of states or dive bombing into the edge of one. Kind of like the indians would "count coup" or just take the scalps of their defeated foes. Florida was of victim of just such a raid. Big bad biker buddy bruce, chip, fat bastard and myself tapped it on the way back from nawlins a coupla months (or a year)before katrina hit. We hit Penssacola. It was nice to have seen the coast before it got smoked. I remember thinking how in the hell are they gonna keep that big pirate ship gambling casino intact in a hurricane. Apparently they aren't.
  11. vermin

    vermin unrepentant thinner

    Jan 20, 2007
    Vermin woke up again at 3am put bandaids on the weasel wounds and continured

    The transmogrification is completed.

    Drifter and I sit in the grass and eat corn and beans out of a can, next to on upscale grocery store near Aspen. This doesn't draw any negative attention so we linger. I have become lethargic, the sky is perfect, the grass is perfect and I have that nice I wanna nap sensation wash over me. I have a reluctance to leave that is hard to describe. I finally figured it out. Up until now everything we had seen I had seen before I knew what to expect. This placed me in the role of knowing loving father/tour guide. It is a comfortable role for me. But once we head west on I-70 we would be traveling into the unknown and the unseen. I had also planned on staying near greydog bus lines so that god forbid something happen to Cack we would be able to take the license plates off and hitchhike to the next bus stop. But now we where leaving "The Grid&" so to speak.

    Enough introspection. Roll now. Head west on I-70 toward Grand Junction. "I have never been here before" , words I can't remember saying in a very long time. The cool part is we are sharing each vista and blast of heat and cool looking cloud formation together as equals for the first time. I am still a little more equal than him because I still have aholt of the rudder and the atlas but none the less it is all new to me. As we descend toward Grand Junction along the Colorado river things start to heat up. I like heat because I am a 165lb pencil necked geek and I shiver from September to May every year. So out here you get good and hot down to your bone marrow. If I could bottle that up I would be rich.

    To be honest at the time I thought the scenery around Grand Junction was fabulous but the ensuing assault to my eyeballs through the Southwest left the memory kind of dimmed down.

    We stopped and laid in more nice grass in Fruita CO. it is starting to cook real nice at this time. Memory escapes me but it was probably in the low hundreds. Fruita like a lot of small towns is proud of their enormous fiberglass animals.

    Barneys love interest


    We headed west into Utah it was an uneventful but certainly pretty trip, nothing fell off or broke..

    I know we are in a desolate area because we pull into the town of Cisco, Utah that was significant enough to make the small size atlas but as far as I could tell the place was abandoned there were several houses and businesses but there where no people or cars. No sign of life.

    Cisco Utah


    We had just come 50 miles from Fruita and had 45 to go to get to Moab, and this was the only town on the map, glad I got gas. The only vehicle I saw in this stretch was a dang school bus, I thought there goes one expensive kid because the nearest school had to have been 40 miles away.

    Road outta Cisco


    The next stretch of road into Moab blew my mind. We followed the Colorado river for 45 miles descending deeper and deeper into beautiful red rock canyons on a twisty road with no cars. Pinch me I am dreaming.

    The term breathtaking is become cliché but about once every five miles I would come around a corner a see something so beautiful that it would literally make me catch my breath. Color me impressed.



    Dewey Bridge



    I am purposely being vague about routes and route numbers because I believe in the soul of a trip and if this report gets one person off the couch and head into the great unknown I would prefer it to remain unknown and to be honest my best experiences tend to happen after the plan goes seriously awry. In other words leave quite a bit of slop in your schedule. With my adventure buddies the only planning we really do precisely is generally the departure time.

    Another excellent adventure tech tip is to agree in advance that everyone does exactly what they feel compelled to do. It is not uncommon for us to leave the house with six or eight guys have that group break up several different ways and then reconvene in miscellaneous locations. We do try to pair up as there is a element of comfort and safety in that. On the other hand I have had some dang good times alone.

    Now that I am thinking about lurkers and Noobs that might want to take this type of travel up I would like to impart one piece of safety advice. I have nearly killed myself on these contraptions with my own stupidity on 4 occasions. They all had common elements.

    Now come in close campers so you can hear.


    Your wits and senses fade after a long day in the saddle. On the freeway you don't really need either but on a two lane the wage of sin is wadding your skeleton through the grill of a Kenworth.

    I digress

    Now that the tranmogrification is complete Vermin and Drifter have no need for modern conveniences and set up camp on the Colorado river under this sandstone cliff.


    We eat a canned food dinner and sit in lawn chairs out in the desert and watch the sun go down and the moons light illuminates this cliff.

    Cliff picture.


    Another day well lived.
  12. vermin

    vermin unrepentant thinner

    Jan 20, 2007
    Could someone post the moab picture thread I don't know how to find it and my pictures stink
  13. vermin

    vermin unrepentant thinner

    Jan 20, 2007
    Day number I don't know

    Rise and shine.Today is an off day or should I say a non linear travel day. I cook up some breakfast gruel. We leave the tent where it is, as we will sleep there again tonight.

    I am as good a cook as I am husband.

    Vermin attacking the food supply


    Drifter prepares for whatever may come his way.


    Vermin and his limozeen go to town.


    We are going mountain biking. We rent mountain bikes from Poison Spider Bike Shop they were great guys, and go up into the slick rock trail. It is a two mile climb out of the canyon Drifter looses his enthusiasm half way up. It is a good life lesson, if you want to get to the good stuff sometimes you have to keep going long after the fun has died and it becomes painful.

    The slickrock is way cool and worth the trip to Utah itself. I have heeded the warnings about dehydration and death and carried water bottles and 2 70oz camel backs. We needed every bit of that water.

    The scenery was beautiful


    Drifter at negro bill canyon learned a good life lesson about perseverence.


    Vermin learned a good life lesson about clotting.


    We did some riding and some walking. It was hot, probably 90-100, but not unbearable but I could definitely see how easy it is to die out there.

    We returned the mountain bikes to Poison Spider Bike Shop they where great.
    Thanks T.J.

    In the afternoon we cruised around on old faithful. How much gas do I have? Lots I think. We retrace our steps up the Colorado for a ways and turn right up the cathedral/castle valley (I can't remember the name) for quite a ways. It is in the blazing hot temp. range.

    Weather Rant Warning
    In Michigan they trump up the heat by adding to it with a heat index in an attempt to make people more miserable than they already are. Which brings me to another rant. In Michigan they make great sport in the Winter of "wind chill factor",
    Which for those of you in the South means freeze your ass off index. They do not pull this out until no one in their right mind is even outdoors. This means that this is how cold it feels to the bare skin as the wind dissipates heat faster. This particular data is relevant only to naked people. As long as I have lived in Michigan I have never seen a naked person, or even one in a speedo outdoors in the winter (with the exception of a Finnish sauna takin' friend who shall remain Karl with a K). This leads me to conclusion that the weather guy is just trying to make us more miserable than we already are. Well I have news for you there is plenty of misery in Michigan to go around no need to add to it with the damn weather report. It is like subtracting points from a Detroit Lions game to highlight how bad they really suck.
    Rant Over

    Where was I? Oh yeah desolate highway don't need much water because we are on the motorbike and drank most of it on the slickrock and don't really know how much gas is in the bike.

    Female relatives please avert your eyes for the next section,


    I have no photographic evidence of what transpired next, thank god.

    We see a beautiful scene of red rock monoliths shooting for the sky we pull a coupla hundred feet off the desolate road for a photo op and possible short hike. As I near the monoliths the bike falls out from under me, crashes to the left and traps my left foot.
    I do a high speed inventory of how screwed I am, freak out, and kick the seat with my right foot and snatch my left foot out from under the bike. Dang close call.
    Drifter is intact and doesn't appear to be too shaken by our situation. Apparently there was a wash that the blazing sun obscured from view as I was staring up at the monoliths instead of where I was going. I am less screwed than I was .5 seconds earlier but I still had a significant physics story problem to solve.

    What we know.

    1) Verman=49 year old, 162.5 pound pencil necked geek, with the strength of a 13 year old spelling bee champ, with a bad back and a hernia.

    2) Drifter=13 year old spelling bee champ

    3) Cack=2.5 metric tons of smooth hard to hold on to ABS plastic and household waste. One side is brightly illuminated by 105deg desert sun and the other is quite dark.

    It wasn't looking good for our dynamic duo. I used a little psychology on the boy. I said "ok, pretend we are both large strong men and pretend if we can't get this bike up we will die out here in the desert". Boingo the bike came up.

    After 10 minutes of zip tie surgery to the dangly left mirror we leave.

    Things are looking up. This will remain a subject of good natured ribbing in years to come rather than a helicopter search and rescue.

    We continue down the road and up into the mountains the view from the mountains is good.


    We meet two English guys on the overlook that are doing a two week vacation of the southwest on Harleys that they rented in Denver.

    I personally enjoy English guys they seem to have a reasonable level of contempt for all carbon based life forms. We latch on and ride along with them for company I am sure they don't want.

    We motor on choosing to ignore the bridge out signs as it probably means bridge closed to cars for some pothole patching that we can weasel around. We soldier on, how many miles since Moab? 70 +/- 20 how much gas do we have? Come to find out the bridge is actually out, the english guys hurl a few expletives and we turn around. I now have the situation that if I go all the way back the way I came I may run out of gas in the desert but if I go down this interesting dirt road it should cut the trip in half and I make it back no prob. Dirt road it is, good bye bitter englishmen.

    Another key to excellent adventuring is to make your bike do things through raw skill and nerve that it was never intended to do.

    So I spent the next hour picking my way down off a mountain on a deep sand and gravel road with my 2.5 metric ton bike, which was designed to ferry women to work in freeway traffic. The road dumped us out at the entrance to the slick rock trail and we cruised right into town pretty as you please.

    Pulled up to get gas and met this pretty lady.


    All she wanted was some affection, but could I give it to her? No of course not I was too wrapped up in my own selfish needs. She turned her head sighed and laid back down on the seat. The moment had passed and I lost the opportunity for dog love from a parishiltonhund.

    Drifter and I took a nap. After waking up we had canned food dinner and headed up into arches national park for the sunset.

    Obligatory natural beauty photo


    As we where dismounting in the viewing area of delicate arch, amongst the rabble, a young guy struck up a conversation and pointed out how our trip was like Pirsigs in zen and the art of motorcycle maintainence. It made me wonder, what came first my desire to ramble and include my son or the book. I know that when I read the book originally as a teen it resonated deep in me. I reread the book this summer and it still makes me want to be a better person and focus on "quality" in everything I do.
    I tell the guys girlfriend that the only difference between the books main character Phaedrus and myself is that I am neither brilliant, tortured or insane, she looks at my bike and there is an uncomfortable silence.

    Before this trip my friend gatorjane also noted the similarities between Phaedrus' journey and mine, the only difference is his insurance covered electroshock therapy.



    Much wisdom was offered at this mans counter during the 70s, 80s, and 90s at his hardly Davidson scrap yard in Detroit, it largely fell on deaf ears.

    He became so disgusted with primates in general that he vanished. I consider it an honor that he told me where he went.

    As the sun went down all the winnebagos headed out. We just laid out in the desert without talking and watched the full moon come out.

    Good night
  14. Loud Al

    Loud Al .

    Aug 16, 2005
    Just North of the 45th parallel, OR

    That is the funniest thing I've ever read in a ride report.

    :rofl :rofl :rofl
    turnbyturn likes this.
  15. ctfz1

    ctfz1 been there

    Jul 8, 2006
    Waterbury, CT, USA
    PC800s change radicalize behavior over time. Why becomes why not becomes lets becomes now. Usually involves faster quicker but apparently sutler disorders are possible.:eek1
  16. IDScarecrow

    IDScarecrow Long timer

    Mar 9, 2006
    PNW Inland Empire
    I literally laughed out loud when I read that; my wife looks over at me and asks "what?" I pause. Nah, it is too hard. I reply "it would take to long to explain." She rolls her eyes, but it is true. I'd have to explain Z and the A of MM, your story, show pictures of your bike . . . . I have to try to keep my laughter to myself next time.
  17. vermin

    vermin unrepentant thinner

    Jan 20, 2007
    The next day

    We wake up, pack up. Goodbye Utah hide out. These two nefarious drifters will miss you.

    My plan is going off without a hitch. On my normal trips I would have a knot in my stomach by now and nothing but Missouri and Illinois to look forward to but as we are headed into the great glorious unknown. My state of excited play continues to be on 11. I did my loose mileage cipherin' and naught carryin’ before we left and reckoned that today was a movin’ day.

    Look mom no hygiene.


    We had run through and soiled all our store bought cloths so if we were going to be encountering humans we had better practice some hygiene. So we loaded up, strapped on all our provisions and headed into town.

    We hung out down town and did laundry in the laundry mat it was a nice mellow morning nobody in the laundry spoke English mainly a German couple and some Mexican based lady folding a big pile of napkins. Nice enough people.

    I didn’t realize how funky I had become until I took a little bird bath with paper towel in the laundries bathroom and put on a clean set of socks and drawers. God they felt good.

    I told Drifter, the worse a situation gets on the road the better it feels when it stops. I am afraid that this discomfort/relief cycle is missing in today’s children’s lives. The phrase “it’s all good “ cropped up recently and it bothered me. I think my main problem with that state of mind is that it robs the kids of the chance to grow through conquering adversity. It’s not all good, and in order to be great you have to understand how bad it can be. Having said that I have run Drifter through the paces and I haven’t heard one complaint yet, this boy is made of good stuff.

    Anyway, cleaned up, packed up and rollin. For the first time we are going South in a serious fashion. We head down the highway and get sucked in to a tourist trap. It’s ok as we haven’t really gotten any souvenirs for the loved ones.

    This joint was low maintenance


    As with any tourist trap they are proud of their fiberglass animals


    This place upped the ante and had a scrap iron bull


    And a jeep with scrap iron tires



    There aren’t too many roads out here so if you are curious get out a map.

    We blow by signs to the canyonlands national park and I realize that the little planning I did as far as returning from San Diego was a mistake as the entire rest of the trip should have been investigating this area. I rationalize that they are just red rocks and canyons and we have seen plenty of the former and are headed toward the mack daddy of the latter, so I manage to justify my decision.

    The scenery on the main highway is nothing to sneeze at.

    You can’t throw a dead cat around here without hitting a scenic erosion.


    We move on South into another high plateau


    Somewhere up here I notice Shiprock N.M. to the southeast, which is pretty amazing since it is I don’t know how far away. Maybe as far as a hundred miles. If one of you local GPS heads wouldn’t mind running up that road apiece and tell me how far you can get away from Shiprock and still see it. I may have been as far north as Monticello.

    We keep cruising down a long stretch and my mind starts to wander. How did my drifting get started? I remember as a preteen scouring local maps for cool looking adventures and then executing the trip on my ten speed “English Racer” with a couple of buddies. My passion for travel immediately rekindled the drifting gene in my dad and we spent many days on bicycles seeing what is over there. He carries on to this day. The first thing he did upon retirement was ride his bicycle from Seattle to Detroit. I’m calling that Titanium Butt Association. A lot of these Iron Butt Assoc. boys are keen on a thousand mile day on a Goldwing but that is breakfast at tiffany’s compared to a hundred mile North Dakota August day with a headwind on a bicycle.
    Anyway I like to share this time with my children the same way my father shared his with me. The lessons I learned on those trips, guided me through some turbulent times and are ones I carry with me today. Thanks Pops.

    Rant warning
    That was a time when people did not live in mortal fear of their neighbors. Around that time the Motorcity (Murdercity) was still smouldering from the race riots, the Oakland County child killer was on the loose, John Norman Collins was stacking coeds up like fire wood in Ann Arbor, we even had a local serial killer killing lovers parked on back roads. These were all real threats but a practical precaution was to go with a buddy. The risk to life and limb has remained constant but the fear has exploded at an exponential rate. Who is profiting from our fear?
    Rant over

    The rest of the day is uneventful just some casual very hot traveling. We met a nice guy on a GS in Blanding he was a busy boy, 2 jobs, he was cruising from Rapid City to Flagstaff for a stress reliever. The type of people on GS’s also seem to be the types that work so much they don’t get to use them. A little advice from the Vermin, work less, buy a 1985 Honda Nighthawk, bungee on some Samsonite, and spend the remaining money on campsites in Belize.

    Mexican Hat Rock


    Monument Valley


    The rest of the day is unremarkable. We hole up in the Tuba City Taco Bell to cool off from the heat of the day. It is near 110deg not lethal but when you are from the arctic circle you have to make adjustments. This is pretty much an 100% impoverished Native town, Hopi, Navaho? One really pretty woman in professional attire came in with her twelve year old daughter. The little girl had a Pantera shirt on, I guess Dimebag Daryls appeal was universal he didn’t deserve to die that way.

    The little girls subdivision


    I have a fair amount of anxiety about my childrens chances in this evolving world I can’t imagine the early despair that must come in when you are raised in Gods cat litter box with few prospects. These are exactly the images I want burned in my boys mind.

    We dodge thunderstorms across the desolate land and end up at the Grand Canyon at dusk.

    It was surreal at the east entrance lookout almost no one spoke English they were all Europeans, Asians and South Americans on vacation very few from the U.S.A.. I guess the one benefit of having your currency loose value is it makes it affordable for people from other countries to vacation here even though you can’t.

    Scenic horned varmints


    We pull into the campground and set up the tent.

    Good night
  18. Vance

    Vance On my meds...

    May 25, 1986
    Mulegé, Baja Sur
    SlipChip likes this.
  19. nelgallan

    nelgallan oilfield trash

    Jun 2, 2004
    back on the platform
    that is a study in profundity if i've ever heard one.





    :clap :clap

  20. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer

    Oct 27, 2005
    Enjoying this immensely; thank you for posting your ride. Sometimes I read these posts and it seems motorcycle travel has become about 14,000.00 motorcycles and several thousand more in goodies. You are a perfect antidote to that. And I'll overlook the crack about male nurses.