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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by fletcherguitar, Dec 6, 2019.
More good stuff there Fletch
Good people are out there, and for some reason they find you! All in all, not a bad thing.
Boots in the sand, head in the clouds, seafood on the plate.
The earth may be washed away, but the Pacific Ocean carries on just fine.
Forty-miles from the Pacific Ocean, high in timber country, on the side of some pretty danged impressive mountains there is a wash out. No less than ten feet deep. Cuss, moan, whine. Reroute.
My own fault for using an unofficial track. It simply wasn’t accurate. No need to name names. I’m sure there were good intentions. And, it was fweee.
Darkness was near as I finally navigated around the wash out and through the forest and into Port Orford, Oregon.
After thirty days on the road, my riding boots finally left their mark on the sandy beach of the Oregon coastline. The wind was blowing. The ocean was blanketed by a timid fog no sailor would welcome. I was reminded of my own long sails, long ago, wearing light weight boat shoes and T-shirts. Standing there on that October afternoon, the sun already beneath the western limit, those once cumbersome boots felt as light and easy as the blowing sand filling in their mark.
What had begun years before as bold temptation while sipping coffee and watching a yellow DR650 ride into the parking lot, had turned into a quiet celebration on a serene seashore far away from the man I used to be.
In that coffee shop because of life's changes, I had felt the need to understand. To assign a name to feelings, reasons and every step, both good and bad, I had taken during my life.
Today, as I rode through the forest, I glanced down at the GPS and laughed out loud. It too had been trying to assign a name to each and every route along the life of the Trans-America Trail.
“Driving on unpaved roads.”
On this trip, most roads have no names. Nor do they need one.
Marilyn, for the first time in a month, directed her front tire Eastward, where she and I were pleased to find parking beside a warm restaurant where seafood is a religion and the beer is cold.
I take a moment to tip my helmet visor the man whose imagination put the whole thing together. Sam Correro. I cannot comprehend the dedication and effort such a task entail. Thanks Sam. This beer is for you.
Over five thousand miles. Two motorcycles. Two pair of gloves. Two flat tires and too many memories to count. The Trans-America Trail covers a huge expanse of country. If one is not careful that expanse becomes an overwhelming blur. Riding slowly and enjoying the scenery is far more difficult that I had imagined. Time constraints are real. The goal of the Pacific Ocean is like a huge magnet, pulling bike and rider westward until its cold blue waters mark the end of westward riding.
If I measure the success of this ride by having reached the Pacific Ocean, I will never connect the pieces of a fifty-nine-year puzzle which enabled the ride in the first place.
Standing in the sand I feel the sea breeze run through hair that is far longer than my business days would have allowed. I also feel the winds of tumultuous change finally beginning to calm. I’m struck with the impulse to turn the bike east and do the entire thing in reverse.
Sometimes, a GPS won't lead you to a paved road, but it sure will help you go on one hell of a road trip.
On the last day of my ride, I awoke to cats’ feet. Dusty prints left on the seat of the motorcycle sometime in the night.
I was immediately reminded of Evander, a cat who used to own me.
In 2005, I was living on the island of Saba, Dutch West Indies, during that time, I was befriended by a very wild cat. He was a fighter, the tip of his ear, long gone. I named him, of course, Evander.
Though his territory was limited, he defended it with limitless ferocity. He was my wary companion. Sleeping with one eye open on the porch of the century old cottage I had the good fortune in which to live.
When my time came to leave the island, I did the only thing I could do. I brought him back to the states, where he slowly morphed into a seasoned old yard cat. But still he defended his territory.
In December, 2012, I lost him under sad circumstances.
I will never know if the cat leaving those prints was missing the tip of an ear. But I do know that Evander was reminding me remain wild and free.
I miss you, my friend.
Since Riding Marilyn across America, I no longer suit up in shining armor to save those women in castles high. A simple protective dual sport pressure suit will do just fine and I don’t dive in head first.
And I haven’t lost the wonder. In fact, I’ve noticed that there is far more of that emotion than I had ever dreamed.
The experience of riding the T.A.T. proved to be the inspiration for another long dirt ride, The Continental Divide Ride. Stay tuned for a book of that name.
After completing the Continental Divide, Marilyn also changed. The Suzuki DR650 has a new owner. Marilyn has morphed into a red Honda XR650R. She has explored Moab, Utah and Creede, Colorado. She’s even visited 3 Step Hideaway where she felt right at home.
I’m sure another journey awaits.
As I write these words, almost five years have passed since the unknowing importance of my T.A.T. ride. During those years I’ve moved to Arizona, played music gigs in pubs and restaurants and somehow have managed to remain retired.
During retirement, I’ve also discovered that a relationship is substantially more rewarding without that restricting armor.
While trying and mostly failing to learn to ride a quarter horse well enough to enter an event called “Cowboy Mounted Shooting”, I met a riding instructor named Samantha. Five days a week, I struggled to maintain balance while trotting the horse with one hand and pretending to shoot a balloon with a black powder blank with the other. Mind you, Samantha, and others, gallop the dang horse doing this.
An odd thing happened during all that trotting. Each day, as we sat talking about riding technique, bits, reins, farriers and falling off, (me not her) I discovered that I would rather listen to her talk about horses and riding and life in general than any person I had ever known.
There was no one I needed to rescue. Nothing I needed to do at all. Based on my past experiences, this struck me as impossible. So, of course, I denied the attraction and denied our obvious feelings for each other for a full year, during which I took off on another long motorcycle ride and resolved myself to the road. And, I bought another small camper.
One day, sitting beside a fair to middling trout stream in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, I received an e-mail.
“Do you have time to talk about a business offer someone is making?”
It was Sam. She didn’t mine me calling her Sam. I hoped.
Playing hard to get, I waited at least fifteen seconds before replying.
“Sure, want me to call?”
Of course, she had already figured the entire thing out before we spoke, but I had to admit just how much I had missed her voice.
The only gentlemanly thing to do was to drive to Arizona and talk about this business deal in person. Besides, I needed another lesson. Falling off the horse had wounded my pride.
I almost suited up. Shining armor would make a nice touch. Or would it?
Samantha seemed to accept me just fine without it. She did then. And she does still today.
There are times when I feel the need to rise to her defense in that shining metal, but she always has a way of being thankful for the inclination while reminding me that she can handle the situation just fine.
The Circle Closes
As my dual sport motorcycling gained momentum, both during the Trans-America Trail ride and later during the Continental Divide Ride, I periodically checked in to Mark Sampson’s web blog to read and to learn. But I still hadn’t met him.
During October, 2019 I happened to be in Moab, Utah, riding Marilyn throughout those outstanding trails. Sam was with me, riding her own lowered WR250R. On a whim, I looked at the web site of 3 Step Hideaway. Turns out there was to be a gathering just ten days later.
I sent Scott and e-mail, “Got room for two more? We will be in our camper.”
“Come on. And, we are throwing a surprise party for Mark.” Scott wrote.
“Want some entertainment?” I asked.
“Heck yea.” He replies.
And that’s how I came to meet Mark Sampson.
I was there to play guitar and a few classic songs. But more importantly, I was there because of Mark. And it was a way of saying thank you to Scott for all of his assistance over the last few years.
Turns out, Mark has been hiding another talent, in addition to his riding exploits. He plays a mean guitar. The difficult Dire Straits, “Sultans of Swing” flew off his fretboard as easily as he rides downhill off camber turns on slick gravel.
After dinner, several people who he has swayed towards riding dirt roads stood to speak. Each had their own story of reading Mark’s blog and how his words and photos had inspired them to go explore on two wheels. Their words encompassed the Utah evening like a glowing tent at the end of a long day on the dirt.
Or in my case, a comfy hotel.
Be it a tent or a hotel, just five years earlier, I would not have had either at the end of a long day on even longer dirt roads. Nor was I playing music for anyone other than myself. On this night, I celebrated Mark and Scott and Samantha and all those who attended and indeed everyone who takes a chance to learn a new task not knowing what direction it may take them, be it down the street or across the country, or around the world.
My ride on the Trans-America Trail may be complete, but it will never be over. The memory of its expanse continues to be a reminder of what is possible. My reasons for riding its vastness are also gone but they too will never be forgotten. Like a forest service map with dotted lines and broken arches, old reasons and old inclinations take us where they may.
I took my own set of old inclinations along for a fifty-five-hundred-mile jaunt and buried most of them beneath the dusty tracks of a motorcycle name Marilyn.
Great RR, Fletch. Glad to hear you're getting your bearings! I heard an old-timer's comment about a story another fellow was telling, "It's a thin slice of ham that doesn't have two sides". I'm sure whoever threw you the curve ended up with the losing hand. Set your course to wherever and leave the past in the dust. Blessings and good luck.
Jeff, I am totally humbled by your words.
Thanks for the story....may see you soon...
The AZ border is getting closer in me and Debi's travels.
"...remain wild and free."
Well written, a lot of your soul to be found in those words. Who knew there were women you could get along with? Hold on to your unicorn!
Thanks for this great event you took us along on.
You are an incredible writer and do hope you throw up another ride report.
Sounds like you found yourself an ideal riding partner too.
Last weekend I watched "The Misfits" movie with Monroe.
I entered this thread and see Marilyn, cowboys and horses again. Nothing fades in time
What a great RR, thank you for the stories and entertainment. Also thank you for the bits of wisdom I have gleaned from reading your words. Carry on, keep riding, and best of luck wherever the road or trail may take you.
Really enjoyed this.
The saying everyone makes it to their destination, really hit the mark.
My son took a hard hit in Colorado last year on the TAT. I had to put my dad hat back on and call it the end of our trip.
Thanks for taking us to the finish line.
His memory of a treasured father who always has his back will be revered long after the dust of the t.a.t. settles. The t.a.t. is temporary. Your and his relationship endures.
Come on over to Arizona. We will put you and Deb on a horse. We have two. One takes quarters. I ride that one.
Gracias por este magnífico relato.
Tenemos una edad similar....pero yo aún no he hecho La TAT.
As I enjoy the comfort of a leather chair quietly cornered along the northern wall of Starbucks in Sun City Arizona, my mind wanders Southward. It was 40 degrees here last night. Im sure its warmer in Baja.
Marilyn sits quietly in a carport two miles away, leaned on her kickstand, suffering the indignity of inaction.
My e mail notification dings. Someone read of her travels and kindly expressed an affirmation.
So, id like to say thank you to all who have read these posts. AdvRider is a huge resource for us all. Me, I'm reading of southern routes.
Just came across your post yesterday, and boy, do you have a penchant for writing. Love the penmanship, the way you told your story, and your travels! Definitely an inspiration to many more that will follow in your footsteps, to blaze their own trails. Thank you for sharing.
I agree completely.
Me and Jeff finally got to ride together........near Patagonia AZ along the border.
He rode my Himalayan and I rode my Honda rally