Saturday, May 31, 2014

-30- for WT

Wendell Trogdon was city editor of The Indianapolis News in 1967 and, based on recommendations from Executive Editor Fremont Power and reporter Mike Brooks, hired me away from the Tipton Tribune in January of that year.

I was a member of The News staff from Feb. 6, 1967 until the paper ceased publication and I became an Indianapolis Star staffer on Oct. 1, 1999.

I was saddened to learn that Wendell, who lived in Mooresville, Ind., died Thursday at the age of 84.

Here’s a thoughtfully written obit from The Star:

Wendell was born July 23, 1929 in Heltonville, Indiana to Wesley and Edith (Cumming) Trogdon. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by siblings, George, Wayne, Mary, and Nora.

wtrogdonNEW053014_20140530He graduated from Heltonville, High School and he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Franklin College in 1951. In 1969 he was selected and attended Stanford University for a year as a National Journalism Fellow. During the Korean War Wendell served in the U.S. Army working in the Counter Intelligence Corps for three years; upon returning to Indiana he began his 38 year newspaper career. His first newspaper job was with the Logansport Pharos-Tribune in 1954. He then worked in the Agricultural Information Department at Purdue University.

Wendell joined The Indianapolis News in 1957 as a reporter, serving as a city editor, then news editor, and retiring as managing editor in September 1992. He was known to push the staff to do stories that made a difference. He cared deeply about the city and the state, and everyone that worked for him understood and respected his passion. In 1974 he began writing "Quips", a brief daily commentary on the events of the times that ran on the front page. In the same year, he started writing "Those Were the Days", based on his growing up in Southern Indiana during the Depression years and World War II. Through the course of his career, he won numerous state awards for journalism, including "best column" and "best feature".

After retirement Wendell continued to write about his beloved Hoosier state, authoring 27 books, traveling every nook and cranny of it with his loving wife, Fabian, by his side. Many of his books focused on life in Southern Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s.

Wendell was also a great family man. He was married to Fabian (Lannerd) Trogdon in 1954, living the majority of their life in the same home in Mooresville, Indiana. He was the father of three grown children: Tamara Bailey of Eminence, Deanna Trogdon of Plainfield and Jenell Hadley (Jerry) of Noblesville. He also had four loving grandchildren: Travis Kersey, Kayla Hadley, Maggie Hadley and Wesley Hadley. Additional survivors include sisters, Nellie Mikels of Bedford and Martha Black of Bloomington; a special brother, Ken Speer of Edinburgh.

He had a lifelong love of the outdoors and spent countless hours working in his yard planting flowers and fighting the ever present moles that lived all around it. When he wasn't writing or gardening, he could be seen walking the four or five miles from his house to the Mooresville Town Park a journey which he did almost every day. Wendell was a member of the Mooresville First United Methodist Church for more than 50 years.

Wendell lived a full and blessed life, accepting the many accolades given him with quiet humility, a trait he learned from his father and passed to his children. His passions for family, journalism and nature are legacies that will live on through the many people he has touched during his life.

Friends and family will gather on Monday, June 2, 2014, 4 to 8 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church, 900 Indianapolis Road, Mooresville. The funeral service will begin at 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in the church. A graveside committal service will be held in his hometown of Heltonville on Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m., in the Mundell Christian Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or to a favorite charity. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Carlisle - Branson Funeral Service & Crematory , Mooresville. Visit to share a favorite memory or to sign the online guest registry.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Lisa is 10 years old!


It sure doesn’t seem like 10 years ago that Maria and I drove straight through the night from Colorado to Cincinnati to be on hand for the birth of our first and only grandchild.

Yes, Lisa Ellington Flora is 10 years old today and she continues to be a source of joy and pride for us.

I shot this iPhone photo of her with her iPad when I visited Steve and Nicky and Lisa last September.

Lisa was born with a cleft lip and palate and has endured several surgeries, with more to come. Through it all, she’s maintained a sunny disposition and a quirky sense of humor that reminds me very much of her great-grandfather, my dad.

Lisa is, without question, the wisest, smartest (they’re not always the same thing), most clever and most beautiful 10-year-old I have ever known and I’m so proud that this amazing little Force of Nature carries the Flora family name.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Well, that settles it


I was planning on riding to Barber Motorsports Park at Birmingham, Ala. today for the four-day BMW Riders Association rally.

But the Weather Channel radar shows rain showers streaming up out of the Gulf of Mexico – a circumstance that would keep me in and out of rain all the way to Birmingham.

And rain is in the forecast for Birmingham through Sunday.

And I am loathe to spend about $200 on gas, food and admission to rally in the rain.

So I’ll have to pass on yet another rally this spring. I’m now setting my sights on the BMW MOA rally in Minneapolis in July.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

As bright as the day I bought it


I bought this high-viz Fieldsheer mesh riding jacket at the 2009 BMW MOA Rally in Johnson City, Tenn. and have worn it every summer since then.

The rationale for the color choice is obvious – when you ride a motorcycle, you want to be as conspicuous as possible so you don’t get run over. Lots of riders wear similarly colored jackets.

But it was beginning to show its age. It had accumulated five riding seasons’ worth of dust and dirt and the color had lost its snap. It was turning a sickly lime green and had become a little embarrassing to be seen in.

The care instruction tag says you can launder the zip-in taffeta liner, but not the outer Chinese-made garment. That admonition kept me from washing it for the last couple of years.

I decided yesterday to chance it and run it through the wash. If it fell to pieces, then so be it. I mean, who the hell makes a motorcycle jacket that can’t be cleaned?

It has CE armor in the back, shoulders and elbows which I removed before tossing it into our top-loading Whirlpool, setting the water temperature to Cold and adding a half-measure of the Tide+Febreze that I just reviewed for the Amazon Vine Program.

Not wanting to press my luck, when it came out of the washer I put it onto a plastic hanger and let it air dry.

Except for a couple of stains, it looks as bright as new. So much for Fieldsheer care instructions.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seems like just last summer

Recycling another motorcycle trip story

It's time to post another trip story, this one from 1997. I began keeping a journal of my trips several years ago, making a point of sitting down at day's end – or over breakfast the next morning – to record the details of the day. Here is what I wrote in 100 pages of my journal in July, 1997.
Day 1 – Friday, July 4, 1997
Carmel to Salina, Kans.
Miles for the Day: 700

Here I am, sitting down to dinner at the end of a 700-mile day – and the first day at that – feeling surprisingly fresh and free of discomfort.
I might have been able to make Hays or Goodland, but that would have meant pitching a tent in the dark or paying for a motel, so this will do nicely.
Last night, I did a pretty thorough job of packing so there was little to do this morning but eat breakfast, shut down the apartment and load the bike.
I'd toyed with the idea of riding out at dawn (5:21 a.m.), but it didn't seem like such a great idea when the alarm went off at 5. I finally got up about 5:30 and managed to come very close to my original planned departure time of 7 a.m.
I rolled out at 7:03 a.m. with an odometer reading of 89,175 on my 1991 BMW K100RS.
The complicated electronic arrangement of Walkman and radar detector fed through the Boosteroo amplifier to my helmet headphones was disappointingly weak, due largely to the placement of the Bass Monster headphone speakers in the foam lining of my Shoei RF700 helmet. When you're trying to get a sound system to work properly in a helmet, over earplugs, there's no substitute for having the speakers up against the ears.
I resolved to tinker with the system over the next few days. In the meantime, I'd just have to settle for music and speech and radar detector bleats that were slightly louder than a thought.
I left in sunshine, but felt increasingly chilly as I rode west on I-70. I stopped at the KOA at the east edge of Terre Haute to pick up a KOA directory, used the restroom and put the liner into my jacket.
I encountered more cloud cover as I rode into Illinois, but found no rain.
Heeding part of friend Pattie Dick's warning, I skipped I-270 around St. Louis when I arrived at 11:30 a.m. I took I-70 through the downtown, encountering little of the holiday traffic she'd warned me about. I slowed on the Mississippi River bridge for traffic, which gave me a chance to snap of a photo of the Independence Day crowds around the base of the Arch.
Lunch was a Wendy's salad on the west edge of the St. Louis metropolitan area. I studied the KOA directory and decided to make for Salina, Kans, and phoned a reservation to their answering machine.
I was able to listen to tapes almost all day – usually with some clarity, but still too faint for my liking.
I was feeling some seat discomfort by 3 p.m. when I stopped at a Missouri rest area for free coffee from a church-run trailer.
I chatted with a Suzuki Katana rider from Lawrence, Kans., who was headed home from Texas and Florida and with a Harley-Davidson rider from Daleville, Ind.
They left a few minutes ahead of me and I hoped to catch up with them, but couldn't manage it.
I gassed about 20 miles east of Kansas City and phoned my girlfriend (now my wife) Maria – exactly 500 miles from home. I also noticed that Topeka is half-way between Indianapolis and Denver. How depressing.
The rest area coffee break and two aspirins seemed to erase my seat discomfort and made the rest of the day's ride easier.
This being a holiday weekend, there were lots of police out and my radar detector saved me several times.
Just east of Riley, Kans., I noticed a field of grass ablaze on the south side of the interstate with no fire fighters yet on the scene.
About 20-25 miles east of Salina, I was passed by a local on a Japanese bike with Vetter bags and Windjammer fairing. He wore jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap and had his legs splayed out on the highway pegs as he blew past me. I saw him again, just short of my Salina exit, where he was getting a speeding ticket and a lecture from a Kansas State Trooper.
I arrived at the KOA about 7:30, set up camp and rode down to the Mid-America Inn. I'd discovered this place a few years ago and enjoyed their Kansas-style barbecue.
The moveable type sign outside announced the business was under new management. I mentioned to the waitress that I hoped the new owners kept the barbecue on the menu, because I chose to stop at Salina for it.
She asked where I'm from.
"Indianapolis," I replied.
"Is that in Kansas?" she asked earnestly.
"No. Indianapolis, Indiana," I said, trying to hide my incredulity. "I rode 700 miles from there today."
She must have been impressed. I heard her tell the cashier that I came all the way from Indianapolis for their barbecue.
Unfortunately, the ribs offered up by the new management were disgustingly fatty and dinner was a supreme disappointment.
I returned to the KOA after topping off my gas tank and riding a couple of miles to make it an even 700 for the day.
Back at the tent, I read a few pages of Ted Simon's "Jupiter's Travels" while listening to the Salina Fourth of July fireworks in the near distance. Ted had phoned me out of the blue about six weeks earlier, saying he was on a nationwide tour promoting the new American Edition of the motorcycle classic and could I set something up for him in the Indianapolis area for Wednesday, July 23.
I agreed and booked a large lecture room at the Carmel Clay Public Library, also arranging for him to stay with fellow Indianapolis BMW Club members Tim and Linda Balough.
The sky was cloudless and the night promised to be cool. I discovered my earlier repairs to my inflatable camping pillow were insufficient – a minor inconvenience.
Day 2 – Saturday, July 5
Salina, Kans. to Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Miles for the Day: 626

I awakened about 4 a.m. and briefly considered getting up. I dozed again and a little after 5 a.m., was awakened by voices in the campground. I decided to get moving and beat the rush to the showers – a habit learned through years of rallies at campgrounds with inadequate shower facilities.
I was the only person in the showers and reached for my Pack Towel at 5:15 a.m.
By the growing daylight, I packed and loaded and rolled out of the KOA a little after 6. I stopped at the Amoco by the interstate and boosted the air pressure in my tires from 37.5 to 42 psi. I noted that the oil level was at the dot in the center of the sight glass.
I fired it up and got onto I-70 west.
The rising sun flashed in my right mirror and painted the world with a golden light. The retroflective strips on the road picked up the light and threw it back as I rode through the cool morning air.
I thought about plugging in my electric jacket liner, but decided the day would warm soon enough.
I stopped about an hour later near Wilson at the Bear House Restaurant & Truck Stop.
Five local farmers were chatting about their neighbor kids' fireworks last night.
An autographed wartime photo of Bob Dole hung on the wall above what appeared to be a letter from the former U.S. Senator from Kansas.
Back on the road, I found the Walkman made it much easier to deal with Kansas.
At 9:08 a.m. the odometer rolled over 90,000 miles. In honor of the occasion, I wicked it up and rode the 90,001st mile at 100+ mph. This has been a truly remarkable machine and I look forward to seeing the odometer roll past the 100,000-mile mark. (I retired the bike six years later with more than 160,000 miles on the odometer.)
I gassed just inside Colorado and phoned BMW of Denver to check on the availability of accessory sockets. I'd discovered earlier that one of my sockets was no longer delivering power to the radar detector – not a problem in warm weather, but it could be a nuisance once I needed the other outlet to power my jacket liner and gloves.
They had the parts in stock and gave me directions to their shop from I-70.
The rest of eastern Colorado was pretty much a blur. I worried about storm clouds ahead, but the road turned away from them. The weather held and it was nice to see the tower and museum of oddities at Genoa has a new coat of red paint.
I grumbled through an 18-mile one-lane construction zone near Strasburg, but took heart that I could finally see the Rocky Mountains through the haze on the western horizon.
Coming into Denver, I noticed the old Stapleton Airport was gone, replaced by the big circus tent-like structure northeast or town.
I found the BMW shop, bought two sockets and was headed back to my bike when I noticed the new 1200cc BMW cruiser. I tried the seat and promised myself a demo ride sometime soon. I took three photos, saddled up and rode west on Evans, north on Federal and west on Sixth Avenue to Indiana Street where I gassed and booked tent space at the Steamboat Springs KOA.
I picked up I-70 again and followed it up into the mountains.
It's always a thrill to sweep up into the mountains from Denver, past Buffalo Bill's grave and Chief Hosa into Idaho Springs.
It became uncomfortably cold as I approached the Eisenhower Tunnel.
I decided to ride the four miles up to Loveland Pass and stopped at the foot of the pass road to put in the jacket liner and don gauntleted deerskin gloves.
I felt more comfortable than I had expected in the tight switchbacks and sweepers, recalling earlier years when my first taste of mountain riding pushed all of my acrophobic buttons.
I paused briefly at the summit where it was spitting snow before I headed back down.
I rode through the tunnel and down to Dillon where I picked up Colo. 9 north of Kremmling.
I had found warmth again, but kept the liner in until Kremling. I stopped by the same mountain lake where I had photographed the bike a few years ago and shot the same picture – this time, making sure I had the Panorama feature switched off.
I stopped at the Dairy King in Kremmling for a soft serve and to shed the liner and heavy gloves.
This ride from I-70 to Steamboat was a delight. The colors were vibrant in the clear, dry air and the smell of sagebrush was so strong and dusty it caught in the back of my throat.
A few miles north of Dillon, I watched a hang glider pilot soar and swoop before landing at the edge of a lake, just as I rode past.
I crossed the Continental Divide at Rabbit Ears Pass and noticed there were patches of snow about.
I descended to the warmth of Steamboat and rode through to town to the KOA. Because I had phoned ahead, they gave me the last tent space short of overflow camping. This was one of their biggest weekends of the year and space was at a premium.
After pitching my tent and changing into my blue denim shirt, I pulled the bike up to the birdshit-stained picnic table to work on the accessory socket.
Testing it with the radar detector, I found both of the already-in-place sockets worked fine. What the hell?
I tucked my $26 worth of replacement sockets into the tailpiece against the day when one of the old ones quits.
I rode into Steamboat for dinner at BW3. The waitress – when she finally noticed me in my booth – was unfamiliar with O'Doul's. Fortunately, the bartender was more knowledgeable and I was soon on my second bottle.
I concluded the restaurant is run by kids barely over 21 and the lack of service shows it.
As I was getting ready to mount up at curbside, a couple of Harley guys from Wyoming pulled in. They were dazzled to learn I'd just left Indiana yesterday morning.
Heh, heh.
Back at camp, I noticed the cottonwood season was in full swing and the air was full of the little white seed pods. The breezes piled them up like light little snow banks at the edge of the road.
I managed to fall asleep, despite a cannonade of fireworks I was certain would ignite my tent and incinerate me and my stuff.
Day 3 – Sunday, July 6
Steamboat Springs, Colo. to Twin Falls, Id.
Miles for the Day: 567

The brightening of my tent walls signaled the coming dawn and roused me from my warm sleeping bag into a 40-something-degree morning about 5:15 a.m.
As usual, I was the first into the showers, but I lost the race to get my stuff packed and loaded before the sun cleared the mountain.
I found myself struggling with the chore of stuffing my tent and had to re-do it after it realized I'd forgotten to put the pole sack into the stuff sack before jamming in the tent and fly.
Riding into town in the chilly 6:30 a.m. air, I found the Mexican restaurant recommended by the KOA staff as the best place for huevos rancheros. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn't due to open for another hour.
I'd noticed a couple of Gold Wings parallel parked in front of a cafe up the street, so I headed there.
The riders turned out to be a couple of old guys from south of Oakley, Kans., who had ridden over from Craig that morning.
They were ill-dressed for the cold, so I recommended they take Colo. 131 south to I-70 instead of snowy Rabbit Ears Pass to Kremmling on U.S. 40.
I decided to go for warmth and donned my electric gloves and Turtle Fur balaclava, plugging in the electrics.
It turned out to be overkill and I stopped a short time later to unplug the gloves. At Craig, I stashed the controller and heavy gloves.
By the time I got to Dinosaur, I was ready to shed the liner and go for the light gloves.
A short distance west of Craig – just when I had decided the empty straight road and light sage brush meant I could wick it up to 100 or so – an antelope strolled out onto the road ahead of me. I braked and hit the horn, but he seemed pretty much unimpressed and, only after he'd cleared the pavement, did he break into a sprint.
I'd seen a couple of freshly killed deer between Steamboat and Craig and decided this was not the morning for serious speed.
My radar detector – plugged into the questionable socket – saved me from a cop in a sporty little white car west of Steamboat.
When I stopped at Dinosaur to shed clothing, I noticed all of the streets are named for dinosaurs. I snapped a picture of the bike next to a fenced-in concrete dinosaur of dubious scientific accuracy.
Utah was hot and blasted-out looking. I felt my spirits sag as the temperature rose and I slogged on through the morning.
I gassed at a Chevron station at Vernal within view of the Dinoville Motel's pink brontosaurus and its companion Tyrannosaurus Rex across U.S. 40. The motel dinosaur looked great in its new coat of paint, applied by the MTV Road Rules kids.
I think I recognized the spot, on a curve west of Vernal, where Tim and Linda Balough and I spotted a guy walking along the south side of the road, playing bagpipes on a cloudy afternoon in July, 1986. I've always regretted not stopping to learn who he was and what he was doing there.
I continued to work my way west through the morning, stopping at a gas station east of Park City for water and aspirin. I found myself talking with a guy who said his mother lives in Mooresville, Ind. He drove an aging land yacht, accompanied by a teenage girl and a miniature Doberman and gave me directions to take I-80 east to link with I-84 west.
Eventually, after passing a dozen or so crawling campers in canyons, I got to I-80 and I-84. I gassed at Ogden and reserved a room at the Twin Falls, Idaho, Motel 6.
I headed north on I-84 and almost immediately lost the plastic bottle of spring water I'd just bought for $1.16.
It was hot and I was feeling tired and jangled as I pressed on north.
I stopped for water at a rest park in Idaho and was accosted by Ken Kent, a carpet installer headed home to Boise on a Kawasaki 750.
He asked to ride along with me and we endured the battering of the west wind together all the way to Twin Falls, stopping about 44 miles east of Twin Falls – me for gas and he for coffee.
I found the Motel 6 easily and phoned Maria.
Dinner was down the street at Jaker's served by a pleasant blonde named Susan who had just moved to Twin Falls from Boise.
Day 4 – Monday, July 7
Twin Falls, Id. to Portland
Miles for the Day: 563

I got my 5 a.m. wakeup call from Tom Bodette and flipped channels on the TV for awhile before getting up.
I got onto the road about 7:30 a.m., consoled by the fact that it was 6:30 a.m. where I was headed.
It was another perfect, cool, clear morning and the sun made rainbows of the fine spray from crop sprinklers along the south and west side of the road.
There had been no shortage or road kill on this trip and I was struck by the fact that I have seen or smelled skunk road kill everywhere I have ridden in the U.S. and Canada. Obviously, the skunk is a very adaptable, successful animal to have such a wide range. Well, maybe no too successful in terms of traffic, though, but no worse than others.
I gassed at Boise and had a cup of coffee. I tried to call my son Sean at home in Portland but he had just left for work.
The bike, as usual, was running nicely and I find it hard to imagine any other machine performing so well with more than 91,000 miles on the odometer.
The speed limit in Idaho was 75 mph and I was surprised to see it drop to 65 when I crossed the bridge into Oregon at Ontario. The traffic pace remained the same and I got no ominous signals from my radar detector. I supposed the police were back to normal strength now that the holiday weekend was over.
I gassed again at Baker City, mildly annoyed that the Chevron attendant had to hand me the nozzle in conformance with Oregon law.
I stopped at the rest area just north of Baker City and phoned Sean at work, getting a review of directions to his house.
In due course, the interstate angled west and I stopped at Pendleton for a Wendy's baked potato and frosty for lunch.
The Columbia River came into view and the road descended into the valley, which became the Gorge.
At my last gas stop of the day, a guy in a Volkswagen microbus solicited my help for a push to get out of the Chevron station and back onto the road.
The weather continued clear and I had glorious views of the snow-clad cone of Mt. Hood south of the river.
About 22 miles east of Portland a movement to my left caught my eye and I turned to see a raven gracefully descending to perch atop a roadsign post.
The traffic picked up as I entered Portland, but it being the start of the afternoon rush hour – 4:30 p.m. – most of it was headed the opposite direction.
I found the 43rd Street exit and connected with 42nd Street to ride directly to Sean's place. The key was where it was supposed to be and I let myself in to call Sean and Maria, also touching base with my mother.
Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant a few blocks away.
Fatigued and relaxed by Mexican beer, I hit the sack about 9.
Day 5 – Tuesday, July 8
Portland to Olympia, Wash.

Sean left early to pick up a rental car - a white Neon.
Sean and I climbed the hill north of his house for breakfast – an oddly made version of huevos rancheros for me, with way too much black beans.
Back at the house, I did a load of colored shirts and underwear while we got the rest of our stuff together to explore the Olympic peninsula in Washington.
We were ready before the laundry was and I spread the shirts out in the back seat to finish drying. I left my white socks and a handkerchief tumbling in the dryer.
Our first stop was the REI store where Sean bought a water bottle and I bought a light pile jacket, since I had nothing for conventional – non-electric – warmth except my jacket liner.
We stopped at Kelso, Wash., for a Taco Bell lunch and to visit a Target across the street for socks, batteries and razor blades.
We were in rain the rest of the way to Olympia and bagged it early at the Motel 6 in Tumwater.
We bought a newspaper and drove to a theater to see Men in Black.
We explored downtown Olympia and had a couple of slices of pizza at a grunge pizzeria downtown before returning to the motel to drink beer and watch TV.
Day 6 – Wednesday, July 9
Olympia, Wash. to Klaloch, Wash.

We got off to a leisurely start, having breakfast in a '50s theme diner in Tumwater
before setting out to drive counter clockwise around the Olympic peninsula.
We followed Wash. 112 along the north shore, stopping for lunch at a little restaurant at Clalam Bay before pressing on to Neah Bay at the extreme northwest corner of the 48 contiguous states.
We tried to follow the dirt road to Cape Flattery, but gave up when we came to a section that was flooded.
We were in and out of rain all day.
Turning south on U.S. 101, we entered Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest and took a damp 1.8-mile walk through the forest.
We decided against camping there, instead driving south to the South Beach primitive campground at Klaloch.
The soil was very rocky and we were forced to hammer our tent pegs in at a very shallow angle with a rock. Our campsite was on a bluff overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific.
Sean whipped up a tasty dinner of tuna and Raumen noodles that we washed down with warm Rainier beer.
A rain squall blew in from sea and forced us into the tent with our dinner.
It rained off and on through the night – particularly around 1:30 a.m
I slept lightly but it was a wonderful experience to camp by the ocean. The temperature remained warm – mostly in the mid-50s – and the tent worked well to keep us and our gear dry.
Day 7 – Thursday, July 10
Klaloch, Wash. to Portland
Total Car miles: 726

We were up at daybreak and packed a very wet tent before heading south in search of breakfast.
We paused to check out the Native American village of Queets in the Quinault Indian Reservation. We found an aging black Labrador retriever guarding the main intersection One house had a pickup truck in the driveway covered with crows. It looked like a scene from “The Birds,” and I wondered if the owner of the home was named Many Crows.
After taking some photos, we drove on south to JJ's Cafe at Quinault.
The place, run by an Indian, is kind of a community center for the village. The owner was playing some kind of dice game with some of his regular male customers at the counter.
The waitress brought us coffee, looked at me and asked, “You scream?”
Sean and I, realizing she had slurred together the question, “Use cream?” exchanged knowing smiles, suppressed the impulse to scream and answered accordingly.
A couple of guys touring on bicycles came in a few minutes later and took a table next to ours.
After breakfast, I decided I'd had enough of driving around in the rain, so we headed home to Portland.
We stopped at REI where I re-activated my 23-year-old membership and bought a red Outdoor Research water bottle holder, a compression stuff sack and a re-usable exothermic hand warmer.
When we returned to Sean's, we lunched on left-over chips and dip from the previous night's dinner and hung my tent to dry in his basement.
I took another shot at fixing the air leaks in my camping pillow and wrote some postcards.
We went to an Italian restaurant for dinner, followed by a trip to the Baghdad Theatre to see the Prince classic, “Purple Rain.”
Day 8 – Friday, July 11
Total Car miles: 726

Sean and I went to breakfast at Wive's Tales and then drove out U.S. 26 to the Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood – 5,900 feet up the 11,245-foot slope.
The parking lot was nearly filled with cars and vans of skiers and snow boarders.
We met one large contingent of students from Taiwan who had never seen snow before.
Back at Sean's, we assembled a CD rack, I did laundry and began packing for the ride out tomorrow. I used a couple of small chunks of Styrofoam cut from the CD rack packing material to re-position the Bass Monsters headphones within the foam liner of my helmet, in hopes that snugging the headphones up against my ears would improve the volume and fidelity of the Walkman/radar detector sound.
I have about 1,000 miles to cover from here to Palm Springs.
I discovered I was down about a quart of oil and added the quart of BMW oil I'd brought from Indianapolis.
Sean drove me to an auto parts store where I picked up a quart of Castrol GTX 20W50.
After dinner, we watched the first half of a videotaped biography of German director Leni Riefenstahl, then went to bed.
Day 9 – Saturday, July 12
Portland to Los Banos, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 711

I was up at 4:50 a.m. and had the bike loaded by 5:30. Sean made me a cup of coffee and we chatted until it was time for me to go. I said my good-byes and fired up the bike exactly at 6 a.m.
I got onto I-5 and found my headphone adjustments of the previous day made an enormous difference in sound quality. I listened effortlessly to National Public Radio's Saturday Weekend Edition program as I rode south out of town.
I made an abortive exit at Salem in quest of an easy-off/easy-on restaurant for breakfast. I returned to I-5 minutes after a southbound van pulling a trailer flipped the trailer and hurled debris across a concrete divider into the windshield of a northbound car. The car driver was sitting by his car, holding his head in his hands, and his wife was standing by his side as southbound traffic attempted to creep past the van and trailer. I considered that my mistaken exit a few minutes earlier may have saved me from being there when the crash went down.
I stopped a short time later for breakfast at a McDonald's at Cottage Grove. Minutes after getting back onto the interstate, I came upon another accident scene in the southbound lanes where an injured person on a gurney was being loaded aboard an ambulance. Once again, it appeared my decision to exit had saved me from being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Then, again, on I-5 north of Sacramento, a Honda Accord I was following shredded a left rear tire. The car veered onto the median and I swerved right and missed most of the rubber debris. Even so, I felt something bounce off of my right knee.
Earlier in the morning, the weather was cool enough to require electrics.
South of Shasta, descending from the mountains toward Redding, the temperature rose sharply into the 90s.
I bought a bottle of water at a gas stop some 22 miles north of Redding and was pleased to find the Outdoor Research bottle carrier from REI worked fine.
I used the water to soak my T-shirt a couple of times to remain cool as I pressed on into the afternoon heat.
I stopped near Redding and made a reservation at what I thought was the Los Banos Motel 6.
I stopped for dinner at a McDonald's south of Tracy, then rode the last 57 miles to Los Banos.
When I arrived at the Motel 6 – the same place I'd stayed in 1986 when I was headed to Burbank to visit my Mouseketeer friend Doreen Tracey – I discovered I'd mis-read the Motel 6 directory and made a reservation at the Lost Hills Motel 6, several miles further south on I-5.
The Motel 6 desk clerk canceled the erroneous reservation and gave me a ground floor room at Los Banos.
I phoned my friend Carol Slack for last-minute directions and left a message for Maria.
At 711 miles, this was the longest day of the trip so far.
I went to bed about a 9 p.m. and was awakened a couple of hours later by a call from Maria saying she had confirmed our reservations for the following week at the West Wind Lodge in Monterey.
Day 10 – Sunday, July 13
Los Banos, Calif. to Palm Springs, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 383

I got my Tom Bodette 4 a.m. wakeup call, dozed for a few minutes and hit the shower, energized by the prospect of dealing with the Los Angeles freeway system.
I truck stop convenience store and a Denny's were within easy walking distance, so I bought a map of the L.A. freeways and had a raisin bran breakfast before returning to my room to pack and load.
When I started the engine just before 6 a.m., I noticed my 100-watt high beam was dead. Since the low beam is stronger than most motorcycle high beams and it was working fine, I elected to put off repairs until tomorrow. With Conspicuity vest and clear goggles, I hit the road as the glow on the eastern horizon heralded the coming dawn.
I watched the sun creep over the Central Valley fields to the east of the road, gently giving color to the mountains on my right.
When I stepped out of my room this morning, I was reminded of the warm nights I'd experienced more than 30 years ago in U.S. Air Force basic training in Texas.
My headphones and radio were working very well and I was nicely entertained through the whole ride.
I gassed about 60 miles south of Los Banos and rode out the tank for 195 miles until I was well into the mountains guarding the north of the Los Angeles basin. It was one of the few times in the trip that I've ridden any serious distance with the red fuel warning light glaring at me.
I found the Foothill Freeway – I-210 – and followed it through light Sunday morning traffic to I-10 and east thorough San Bernardino and Redlands and into the desert heat.
I'd made the acquaintance of Carol Slack on America Online a year or so earlier. We found we had much in common, since we were both born on July 14, 1945. Consequently, we decided to celebrate our birthday together.
I reached Carol's place at 11:30 a.m. and she buzzed me through the gate to the covered parking area.
Maria's birthday parcel had arrived at Carol's place and I phoned her to tell her I'd arrived and received the package. She insisted we open the box, which contained delicious Mark Allen chocolate truffles from Lebanon, Ind. – well-packed and unmelted. Amazing!
We ordered a Domino's pizza and hung out until mid-afternoon when we went to Blockbuster Video for a couple of Wallace & Gromit movies, then on to the theater to see "Contact."
Dinner was at the Blue Coyote Grill, where I had margaritas and salmon steak.
We crashed about 10 p.m.
Day 11 – Monday, July 14
Palm Springs, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 20

We rode the bike to breakfast at Elmer's Pancake and Steak House, then went in search of an H-4 halogen 100-watt headlight bulb. We finally found one at a Yamaha dealership. The heat was incredible and we were forced to shed our jackets to survive, but it was good to get the headlight problem solved.
We rented "Desperado" and watched it, then celebrated our shared 52nd by riding to dinner at the Blue Coyote.
After dinner, we played a couple of games of Trivial Pursuit and retired.
Day 12 – Tuesday, July 15
Palm Springs, Calif., to Monterey, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 518

I was up seven minutes before the alarm was to go off at 4 a.m. and had the bike loaded by 4:35 a.m.
It was surprisingly (to me) hot – mid-80s – and the parking garage made it seem hotter because of all the heat impounded and radiating from the concrete.
Carol and I chatted over coffee and said our good-byes.
She opened the parking lot gate for me and I rolled out into the warm pre-dawn darkness at 5:08 a.m.
The sky was beginning to lighten by the time I joined the stream of westbound traffic on I-10.
As soon as I crested the pass at Banning, the temperature dropped about 15-20 degrees and I soon stopped at a gas station to put the liner into my jacket. The attendant came out to chat and observed that mine was only the second BMW motorcycle he'd ever seen. I decided against commenting on his powers of observation.
Back on the freeway, traffic continued to build and slowed to a crawl somewhere around San Bernardino. I sat in line briefly, then a motorcycle shot past along the line separating the far left lane and its neighbor to the right.
I watched closely, noticing the car drivers seemed to be cooperative. After another bike flashed past, I gingerly eased into the “bike lane” and headed past the slowed or stopped cars and trucks. It got a little tight in places and I took an occasional break by easing back into a lane, but over the next several miles, I figure I saved myself a half-hour or so.
I was listening to an L.A. FM radio station and it was fascinating to correlate the traffic reports with what I was observing and with my limited knowledge of the freeway system.
Sometime after the 210 swung west, I got into the Ride Share lane and it was clear sailing all the way back to I-5.
I gassed a short time later and rode over the mountains, stopping for breakfast at Grapevine at a Denny's.
A California road map from the Shell station across the street convinced me to take Calif. 46 west to U.S. 101 at Paso Robles.
Along the road to Paso Robles, I saw signs indicating this was the highway were James Dean died.
I decided one dead Hoosier was enough and made a point of surviving all the way to Paso Robles.
It felt good to get back onto El Camino Real and I relaxed into the ride up to Salinas. I found the connector route to Calif. 68 and was soon riding past the Toro Place Cafe and Laguna Seca Raceway.
After a little road-addled fumbling, I found Munras Avenue and the West Wind Lodge at 1:40 p.m. When I checked in, I was pleasantly surprised to learn Maria was already here.
As I dropped the sidestand in my parking place, Maria emerged from the room to greet me with a very welcome hug and kiss.
We did a brief soak in the motel hot tub, then set out for Maria's first visit to Calif. 1 and Nepenthe.
I needed gas, so we rode to the Arco station, just down the street.
It was one of those ubiquitous California “Pay-before-you-pump” places, so I sent Maria in with my VISA card and tried to pump some fuel. I pulled back the “foreskin” on the anti-fume nozzle, flipped the pump lever and, waiting for the clerk to turn on the pump, locked the nozzle into its full-on position.
Maria returned to say this was a “cash only” station. I was low on cash and decided to give the guy a $100 traveler's check.
Back at the pump, I lifted the nozzle, flipped the pump lever and – forgetting I'd left the trigger locked on – shot a quick $1.69 worth of premium all over the bike, onto Maria's gloves and into my open helmet.
Freaking out and sliding around on the now slippery concrete, I retrieved my traveler's check from the clerk and we rode off.
I could feel the chemical burn from the gasoline starting on the back of my head as we rode down to Carmel Valley Road and a Union 76 station.
I was relieved to see they had a credit card pump, but when the pump read the magnetic data strip on my VISA card, it flashed a message for me to see the attendant.
Inside the station, I found him on the phone to Citibank. He handed me the phone and the girl on the other end verified my full name and my mother's maiden name.
She explained that I had several gas charges lately and a $400 Monterey motel charge and wanted to be sure it really was me using the card.
In no mood to appreciate the merits of Citibank's security policies and still off-balance from the Arco debacle, I tersely explained that I was on vacation and that's why I had the card in the first place and should I take my business to a credit card company that could deal with people who take vacations?
I also was low on oil, so we rode into the nearby shopping center and an auto parts place where I bought a quart of Castrol and put about two-thirds of it in, pitching the rest.
After a little more confused searching, we found our way back onto Calif. 1 southbound.
The Carmel Highlands were in fog – it was about 4 p.m. by now – but it was still a glorious ride and we were soon in bright sunshine.
The lower cafe at Nepenthe was closed, so we went upstairs and had a wonderful dinner seated outside and facing the sea.
I had salmon steak freshly caught in Monterey Bay and Maria had a shrimp and scallop salad.
Nepenthe was the perfect cure for the weirdness of the last hour and it put me back into good spirits.
The ride back was one of the most amazing I've ever had. The fog was rolling in and every bend in the road brought a new fantastic scene: fog spilling into a sun-filled valley to our right or plumes of mist welling up like geysers over the cliffs to our left.
We got back to the room happy but very tired – we'd both been up since well before dawn and Maria, especially, was running on empty.
Day 13 – Wednesday, July 16
Monterey, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 2

We took our time about getting up, then hiked down Munras to Denny's for breakfast.
After Maria finally contacted her kids, we walked down to the harbor where we watched a sea otter preening himself in the water just below the harbor master's office.
We strolled west along the shore, stopping to explore some of the shops at Fisherman's Wharf and sharing a peach frozen yogurt cone.
We continued on through Cannery Row to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where we spent about three hours marveling at the world class displays of marine life from the microscopic to the huge.
Walking back, we took a wrong turn and added maybe a mile to the mostly-uphill journey.
We were pretty worn out by the time we got back to the motel, collected new pool towels and fresh apples from the office.
After a soak in the hot tub, we flopped down for a nap.
We rode the bike back down to Fisherman's Wharf for a huge seafood dinner at Rappo's Restaurant at the end of the pier.
We rode back to the motel, watched a little TV and bagged it about 9 p.m., very full and very tired.
Day 14 – Thursday, July 17
Monterey, Calif. to Morro Bay, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 274

We were up early and rode out to the Toro Place Cafe for breakfast. After breakfast,
the spent a few minutes examining the art of a woodcarver who had set up shop just west of the cafe. His forte is carving bears and other creatures from old logs. His work was quite good, but neither of us had any place at home for such big stuff.
After topping off the tank at an Exxon station near Laguna Seca racetrack, we returned to Calif. 1 and headed down the coast. The light fog soon yielded to sunshine and we stopped frequently to admire the colors, examine the plant life and take pictures.
We stopped at Nepenthe for drinks and a large chocolate chip cookie.
Downstairs at the Phoenix gift shop, Maria bought me a Nepenthe denim shirt for my birthday.
Advertised construction delays at Gorda turned out to be just a stop-and-go pause as we continued down the coast.
Glancing down and to the right on the last tight switchback south of Ragged Point, we were startled to see a semitrailer truck on its side in the ravine – a grim reminder of why you seldom see big trucks on the Big Sur stretch of Calif. 1.
We made quick work of the 40 miles of sweepers north of Morro Bay and began looking for lunch.
Bob's Seafood was closed for remodeling, so we chose the Galley for its view of the harbor and Morro Rock. Lunch was cheerfully served fried shrimp and clam strips. We watched the gulls and pelicans swoop and dive in the afternoon sun from our table by the window.
After lunch, we visited a nearby gift shop were Maria bought a ring for her daughter, Morgan.
Standing by the bike, Maria was suddenly splattered by pelican poop. It caught the right shoulder of her leathers, a dab on the top of her head and splashed onto the tank, fairing and handlebars of the bike.
She got some paper towels from the gift shop and we cleaned things up as well as we could before gassing and getting out of town.
The ride north went quickly because traffic was light and Maria was getting more into leaning into the turns.
We stopped at Lucia for iced mocha and iced tea before riding on north.
We reached Carmel and the beach near Point Lobos in time to dance with the surf and watch the sun set on a near perfect day.
After changing out of leathers, we walked down to the liquor store and picked up a six-pack of Pacifico beer, a bag of Tostitos and some jalapeno cheese dip for a few hours of television watching.
Another splendid day!
Day 15 – Friday, July 18
Monterey, Calif. to Soledad Mission and back
Miles for the Day: 118

We returned to Denny's for breakfast this morning and ran into two couples on matching white Honda Gold Wings from Tennessee.
After breakfast, we headed down Carmel Valley Road. About 10 miles down the road from Calif. 1, we gassed and shed our jacket liners.
As we rode south, the road plunged into twisty canyons, following creeks and over-arched with ancient oak trees.
I felt as if I had been transported back to old Spanish California as we rode mile after mile in the dense woods, seeing only the occasional car or pickup truck.
We passed an isolated ranch with curious-looking signs requesting, “Please avoid newts crossing the road.”
A little further down the road, a sign advised: Cattle Guards Next 11 Miles.
Eventually, the road climbed out of the canyons over vast brown grassy hills, affording vistas that opened onto mountains and valleys for miles.
The road was designated G16 and, on an impulse, I turned right at a bridge and followed G17 toward Greenfield past fields of grape vines flying silver ribbons, presumably to frighten birds away from the ripening fruit. At Greenfield, we picked up U.S. 101 and rode north a few miles until I saw a sign directing us to Soledad Mission.
I exited and we found the mission a short time later west of the main highway.
We found a BMW K75 parked in the mission lot, belonging to a couple who were also out for a day ride.
It was becoming a warm day, but it was comfortably cool inside the thick adobe walls of the restored mission, originally founded by Spanish padres in 1792.
After exploring the mission and marveling at the Virgin Mary dressed in black lace, we lit a couple of candles and returned to G17. We followed the road north and west through more agricultural land where farm workers were packing lettuce from the fields. We also passed a large field of cultivated cactus, speculating that it might be destined for the distillery.
We picked up Calif. 68 just west of Salinas and returned to Monterey and the West Wind Lodge.
We changed clothes and rode down to Fisherman's Wharf for a delicious dinner of seafood provencal at Ablonetti's followed by ice cream cones for dessert.
Even though it was a low-mileage day, these were quality miles.
We gathered up our dirty laundry and spent about an hour at the Del Monte Shopping Center laundromat, then capped the evening with a soak in the hot tub.
Day 16 – Saturday, July 19
Monterey, Calif. to Lucia and back
Miles for the Day: 122

We rolled out about 9:30 a.m. and headed down Calif. 1 for one last coastal ride.
It was chilly and foggy and delightful.
We passed a large herd of Herefords on the plateau sweeping down to the sea just north of Big Sur. In a corner of the field were a couple of herdsmen, dressed as cowboys – one of them wheeling his mount in clockwise circles as we flashed by.
We gassed at the BP station at River Inn, paying a stunning $2.30 a gallon for 92 octane premium.
Then, it was on to Nepenthe where we arrived moments before a large contingent of the California Pantera Club, out for a Saturday morning drive. Intent on beating the car club crowd, we hustled up to the Cafe Kevah, where I had an omelet and Maria had a tostito and we fed sourdough toast to the Steller's Jays and the crows on the cafe deck.
Returning to the bike after browsing the Phoenix, we noticed a 1991 pearl silver K100RS with an Indiana license plate parked in the center of the parking lot.
We searched the premises and, on the upper restaurant deck, found John and Kim Simpson from Bloomington. We were surprised to learn that, not only did he and I share the same first name, but he has silver hair and is a journalism graduate of Indiana University. Adding to the coincidences was the fact that John had ridden out and rendezvoused with Kim, who flew to San Francisco. They were heading to San Diego, where they would fly home together. The plan was for John to fly back and September and ride the bike home via a southern route.
I also noticed he was fighting the same exhaust system problems that plagued my bike for several years. The original weld where the header pipes meet the muffler had broken and been welded, only to break again on this trip.
We chatted for several minutes, then left John and Kim to finish their food and headed south.
We stopped a couple of times to take photos, finally drawing rein at Lucia for drinks and a $3 chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookie.
John and Kim showed up presently and I shot a picture of them slowing for the Lucia cafe parking lot.
We passed another pleasant half-hour in conversation, during which time a Honda sport bike rider from Santa Cruz joined us. Eyeing our nearly identical bikes and Indiana plates, he couldn't believe we'd only just met at Nepenthe.
Finally, we took our leave and headed back north, stopping a couple of places for Maria to get pictures of me on the bike with the coastline features in the background.
We paused at the beach near Point Lobos for Maria to collect a baggie of sand for her son Austin, then found ourselves in s-l-o-w stop-and-go traffic, stretching all the way past Carmel Valley Road.
After several minutes of crawling, we were passed by a Harley rider on the berm and followed him past scores of cars to the open freeway.
Back at the room, I called a Yellow Cab while Maria changed and we packed her leathers.
The cab arrived within minutes and I followed it to the airport, catching up with Maria halfway through the terminal.
Our plans for a leisurely pre-flight dinner evaporated when the desk clerk at American Eagle recommended strongly that Maria take the plane that was ready to leave (about 5:45 p.m.) rather than wait for her scheduled 7:30 p.m. flight.
We hustled her to the gate and she was off to Los Angeles, Chicago and home.
I rode back to the West Wind Lodge, read some of Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels, watched some TV and ordered a pizza and Diet Coke from Domino's.
I left a message on my home answering machine for Maria to call me when she got it, presumably about 5:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Day 17 – Sunday, July 20
Monterey, Calif. to Lee Vining, Calif.
Miles for the Day: 302

I slept fitfully – partly because of the late-night pizza and probably in anticipation of the ride home. I got up at 6:15 a.m. and Maria called about 7:30 from my place.
I loaded and checked out, topping off the tank at the Union 76 station at Munras and Soledad. I wanted to check tire pressures but their pump had the wrong style of nozzle.
I rode out to the Toro Place Cafe for a light breakfast and got onto the road in earnest a little after 9 a.m.
I rode east to Salinas, then north on U.S. 101 past Hollister and across I-5 near Los Banos.
My route took me through Merced and I topped off the tank at Mariposa, heading toward Yosemite National Park on Calif. 140.
I entered the park at the Arch Rock Entrance and traveled east down the Yosemite Valley, past Bridal Veil Falls, El Capitain and Yosemite Falls, getting a glimpse of Half Dome before I doubled back in heavy traffic.
It was slow and hot going up Big Oak Flat Road, stopping to use the restroom and buy drinking water at the start of Tioga Road.
I was surprisingly wrung out by the time I exited the park and arrived in Lee Vining. I gassed at the Chevron Station at the north end of town, then stopped at a restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner.
While there, Dave Gluss from the Bay area rode in from Death Valley on his R1100RS and joined me. We traded stories and chatted awhile and I decided not to try to ride into Nevada this late in the day.
I ended up spending about $75 for a room at the Gateway Motel overlooking Mono Lake.
After resting awhile, I rode down to the Chevron station to check tire pressures – both exactly 42 psi – and to take a closer look at the lake. I determined later that this is probably where I parted company with my fancy-schmantzy BMW digital tire gauge. Riding without saddlebags or tank bag, I stuffed the gauge into my jacket pocket and it apparently worked its way free during the ride to the lake and back.
Once back in Lee Vining, I walked across the street from the motel to the Mono Lake Information Center to learn a bit about the geology and history of the lake.
I was pleasantly cool this evening, probably because the altitude of Lee Vining is about 6,700 feet.
I hope to get deep into Utah tomorrow.
Day 18 – Monday, July 21
Lee Vining, Calif. to Green River, Utah
Miles for the Day: 694

I was up at 5:30 a.m. and, after an unsuccessful search for the post office and an open restaurant, rode out of town about 6:30.
Concerned about deer, I rode slowly and cautiously through a long wooded section of Calif. 120 and an amazing set of dips guaranteed to get a bike airborne at any speed over 70 mph.
Because of the hour and the altitude, it was cold and I stopped after about 30 minutes to connect the thermostatic control to my electrified jacket liner.
I found the stretch of U.S. 6 where I set my earlier speed record of 146, but found I could only manage 138 or 139 (indicated) with camping gear on the back.
I gassed at Tonopah and had a breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs while perusing a Las Vegas newspaper.
Riding out of Tonopah, I noticed the school nickname is “the Muckers,” a reference to the town's mining history.
Traffic was heavier than I expected and I took longer than anticipated to make Ely, even though I did some stretches at 120+ mph.
I stopped at the Ely post office to buy stamps and write a few post cards, then gassed and headed out of town.
After a few minutes on the road, I realized I was on U.S. 93, headed north to Wendover, instead of U.S. 6/50 eastbound for Utah.
I doubled back, losing 47 miles, and picked up the right road.
A few miles out of town, rain forced me into my rain suit for the first time on the trip. Fortunately, it was a very localized shower. In these wide-open spaces of Nevada, I could gaze out across a vast valley and see five or six separate rain showers watering the desert.
When I stopped to doff the suit, I noticed I was low on oil and added about two-thirds of a quart of Castrol.
I droned on through the afternoon, fighting savage crosswinds from the south as I approached the Utah border.
I gassed at Delta and, after having a fruit smoothie, decided to make for the Motel 6 at Green River.
Noting the absence of services between Salina and Green River, I topped off at Salina before getting onto I-70.
It had been a few years since I came this way and I was amazed anew at the fantastic red and bronze towers of sandstone flanking the road all the way to Green River.
I stopped at a vista point 18 miles west of Green River to photograph some particularly striking buttes and towers ablaze with the last rays of the sun.
Dinner was cheese enchiladas at the Tamarisk Restaurant just up the road from the Green River Motel 6. It was a long day with a spectacular finish.
Day 19 – Tuesday, July 22
Green River, Utah to Hays, Kans.
Miles for the Day: 695

I woke up earlier than planned and made the acquaintance of Wayne and Fran Connor, a Harley couple from Port Charles, La., who were in the room next to mine.
As we loaded our bikes, I suggested Ben's Cafe for breakfast and they decided to join me, rather than ride on to Salina for breakfast.
Connor is an engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad and he and his wife were headed west on a pair of Harleys they trailered to Denver.
I finally got onto I-70 about 9 a.m. and headed east into the brilliant rays of the morning sun.
Near the Colorado border, I passed an Airstream motor home pulling a pickup truck with a Gold Wing in the bed of the truck. I chuckled at how some people make travel so complicated.
I entered the canyon of the Colorado River at Grand Junction and rounded a curve to see a slab of rock had fallen into the right lane from the face of a nearby cliff. A highway worker was frantically waving traffic into the left late. About 50 yards beyond the rockfall was an old Japanese car with a smashed windshield, leaving me to ponder if the two things were related.
A little further on, the country opened up into a wide valley and passing clouds painted their shadows on the southern faces of the escarpment.
I gassed at Rifle and pressed on, locking onto an Eagle County FM station most of the way to Vail.
As I rejoined the freeway at Rifle, I noticed a couple of Harleys in my rearview mirrors. I settled into a comfortable pace of 75 mph and watched the two bikes close the distance. Presently, the two riders swept past – a man and a woman, both in T-shirts and bare-headed. The woman's medium-length blonde hair snapped furiously in the windstream and I marveled at how anyone could put up with that kind of wind noise and pummeling for more than a few miles.
Apparently satisfied to have passed me, the couple dropped about 5 mph. I slowed and rode in staggered formation with them for a few miles, then wicked it back up to 75 and blew by them with a wave.
I gassed again at Frisco, bought a fresh bottle of spring water and phoned Maria at work to let her know I was less than an hour from Denver.
Interstate 70 through Denver was very rough and the jolts, coupled with the temperature rising into the 90s soon had me cranky and cursing.
I stopped for gas again at Limon and lunched on a Wendy's pita. I called in a reservation for a room at the Hays, Kans., Motel 6.
I checked in about 9:20 p.m. and phoned Maria, also checking in the Tim and Linda Balough to confirm that Ted Simon knew how to get to the Carmel Clay Public Library for his lecture tomorrow night.
Day 20 – Wednesday, July 23
Hays, Kans. to Carmel, Ind.
Miles for the Day: 792
Total trip Miles: 7,090

I'd set the alarm on my watch for 3:30 a.m., but ignored it and slept a couple more hours.
I was packed and loaded and on the road by 6:30 a.m. as the eastern sky brightened.
Somewhere west of the first Wilson, Kans., exit, I saw a coyote preparing to cross my lanes from the median. I wondered if he had the savvy to get safely across the highway and through the fences.
I entertained myself listening to country music on KHAZ, the Hays FM station.
I knew at the outset that the radio and helmet speakers would be a godsend on today's long slog across the plains and fields of the Midwest.
About 10 a.m., it was getting hot and steamy and I stopped at the Lawrence, Kans., service plaza on the Kansas Turnpike for a Hardee's breakfast of coffee and a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit.
As usual, the view of downtown Topeka from I-70 gave the impression that the city is empty – little traffic and few people in evidence.
A local jazz station made the sometimes-hectic ride through Kansas City almost pleasant and I soon settled down into an afternoon drone through Missouri.
I gassed near Columbia and bought a fresh bottle of spring water, realizing that part of my fatigue and discomfort in previous days was probably due to dehydration.
St. Louis was a nightmare of 92-degree heat and construction as I rode I-70 thorough town, rather than the northern bypass I believed was even more clogged with construction and traffic.
As I negotiated the approach to the Mississippi River bridge about 3 p.m., the odometer rolled over 96,000 miles. I patted the gas tank as I would the neck of a horse and spoke a few words of gratitude and encouragement to this wonderful machine that has been a continuing source of fun and adventure for me for the past seven years.
I stopped for a late McDonald's lunch about 47 miles into Illinois and was soon back in the saddle.
I gassed at a familiar Shell station at Effingham, secure in the knowledge that this tank would carry me home with a comfortable margin.
I crossed the Indiana line exactly at 6 p.m. and soon recognized the familiar acrid stench of summertime Terre Haute, with its creosote plant and other aromatic industry.
I noticed the truckers were running 85-90 mph and, assuming they had good information about police patrols, joined their convoy all the way to I-465 around Indianapolis.
I dropped my sidestand in my carport at 7:25 p.m.
Realizing I still had plenty of time to make Ted Simon's lecture, I unloaded the bike, showered and changed into more civilized clothes.
I arrived at the library about 7:50 and found about 50-60 people in attendance, including about a dozen Indianapolis BMW Club members.
During the break, I introduced myself and had Ted autograph my copy of his book.
I was delighted at the turnout and gathered that he was pleased, too.
Afterward, Ted joined Tim and Linda Balough and Archey and Theresia Shearer and me at Dooley O'Toole's for drinks and munchies. Maria had arrived at my apartment, so I phoned her and she joined us at the restaurant.
It was a delightful cap to a long, but rewarding final day of the trip.

April 13, 2001: There's a tragic footnote to this story. I received the following e-mail this afternoon recounting the deaths of Wayne and Fern Connor:
The Connors were part of my Harley Family from Baton Rouge. We were members of the Harley Owner's Group, and Fern was recently elected President of the Ladies of Harley group there.
I have very sad news to share. Wayne was tragically killed in July 2000 when a truck ignored signals at a railroad crossing that his locomotive was crossing. He was thrown from the locomotive and died shortly thereafter. I now live in Houston so one of my Baton Rouge Harley family members phoned with the news. I drove from Houston to attend the wake.
Yesterday evening, April 12, 2001, I learned from my same friend in Baton Rouge that Fern died from injuries she sustained while riding her bike in South Louisiana. She failed to negotiate a curve and crossed the oncoming lane of traffic and made contact with a road sign. Her children were with her when she passed, and now, she and Wayne are together again.
Your website was interesting, and I loved the picture that you placed on there of Wayne and Fern. After getting the feeling that you were the kind of person that looks at strangers as friends you haven't met yet, I thought you might appreciate the update.

The egg hunters


It was Easter, 1952 and we were waiting to be turned loose to hunt Easter eggs.

The structure in the background is probably the shelter house at the Delphi City Park on the east end of town.

I have absolutely no recollection of this event, but I was obviously there because I’m the third boy from the left in the front row. I’m talking to Jack Klepinger and I clearly remember his cool Confederate kepi. I also remember the green-and-white cap I’m wearing in the photo.

The first kid in the front row is Robert Bowen and the kid to my left holding a basket is Terry Lamb. That’s feisty little Chuck Martin in the striped sweater and suspenders, ready to charge.

This was the spring of our first grade year and two years before I got my first pair of eyeglasses. I thought I could see OK, but discovered a whole new world when I got glasses in the third grade.

Everyone in this photo who is still alive is in their late 60s.

Monday, May 26, 2014

He just loves to sell guns


This is Don Davis, the most famous gun dealer in Indiana – maybe in the whole Midwest.

I shot this photo to go with a story I wrote about his business – I think sometime in the mid- or late 1970s – across County Line Road from the Greenwood Mall south of Indianapolis. At that time, he was selling more handguns than anyone else in the state.

I used a 35mm wide angle lens on my Pentax Spotmatic, taking advantage of the lens’s extreme depth of field, and got as close to the muzzle of the revolver – - it was either a .44 magnum or a .357 magnum – as possible so as to make it look huge.

Don loved the photo and ordered several prints. He used it in his advertising and when he opened a store on the northside of Indianapolis, his signage included an artist’s rendering of the image.

Don had a series of TV commercials in which he grinned at the camera and said, “I don’t want to make a lot of money, folks. I just love to sell guns.”

If you love guns and the Second Amendment, the commercials were a bright spot in your TV day, made even sweeter by knowing he was offending all the right people.

I bought my first pistol – a Charter Arms .38 special – from Don.

I was in his northside store one day when he took me to the range in back and handed me a 1911 .45 that had been custom accurized and set me up with a 1” bullseye paper target at 20 feet.

I had never fired a 1911 semiautomatic pistol before. The only one I had handled belonged to an Army Air Forces bombardier whose daughter showed to me when we were about 6.

I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger, expecting to miss the 6” square target completely.

To my amazement, when we reeled the target in, there was a bullet hole dead center in the middle of the bullseye. I couldn’t have centered it any better if I had held the target up to the muzzle of the gun.

Don closed his northside and southside businesses and now has a store at 3807 Lafayette Road in Indianapolis, just south of the Lafayette Square Shopping Mall. He claims to have the largest inventory in America.

Check him out at

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Not guilty, said the Hamilton County Superior Court jury


Here’s Ruth Pearson, 37, a Carmel housewife in the midst of a lengthy trial for the murder of her husband, John Pearson.

I shot this photo of her and her attorney, Duge (pronounced like Doug) Butler, descending the steps of the old Hamilton County Courthouse on June 9, 1976.

Mrs. Pearson, a breast cancer patient, was acquitted. If she’s still alive, the would be 75.

If you believed her testimony, her husband was abusive and probably needed shooting, but she didn’t do it. Authorities said he was done in with a .22 caliber weapon. I don’t believe anyone else was ever charged with his murder.

Friday, May 23, 2014

46 years ago this spring


From Wikipedia:

In early March 1968 President Lyndon Johnson asked Indiana Gov. Roger D. Branigin to run as his stand-in during the Indiana Democratic presidential primary. Branigin agreed and campaigned earnestly as a Hoosier candidate representing Hoosiers. When Johnson announced he would drop out of the race on March 31, Branigin decided to continue his campaign, hoping to control the state's votes at the Democratic convention in Chicago later that summer. Despite a hard-fought campaign and early leads in the polls, Branigin lost the Indiana primary to Robert Kennedy. Branigin earned 238,700 votes compared to Kennedy's 328,118, but he came in ahead of third-place finisher Eugene McCarthy.

Someone in The Indianapolis News City Room decided to see how many phrases could be squeezed out of a Branigin bumper sticker. Here’s the result. I like Gin Brain.


Here I am at work on a news story that spring. I was 22 years old, newly married and a new father. I looked pretty new, didn’t I.

Notice the typewriter, children. It was a mechanical writing device that preceded the computer and wrote directly onto paper.

Dora’s obsession


Some kind of burrowing animal – moles, voles, groundhogs, etc. – has dug a huge labyrinth of tunnels under the back part of our 1.23 acres over the past three or four years and some of it is in the fenced area ruled by Jack and Dora.

Jack isn’t interested in subterranean intruders, but Dora is obsessed with them.

I watched her yesterday afternoon, standing motionless and staring intently at the ground about 10 feet inside the back fenceline. Then, in an instant, she started digging furiously and poking her head into the excavation.

I hoped to see her pull out one of the varmints, but it eluded her. Then she studied the ground to her left and dashed over there to dig again.

It would be great if she could catch and kill whatever is burrowing out there, but she’s wrecking the yard in the process. It’s become a real challenge to carefully navigate this rutted wasteland with my lawn tractor and I have to be vigilant not to let the mower blades chew into the uneven ground.

One of our neighbors deepened the drainage ditch that runs along the road next to his property and there are three or four sizeable piles of dirt left. I’m thinking about offering to take a few wheelbarrows full to fill in some of Dora’s holes, but I figure she’d just re-dig them.

At least her digging is focused on hunting rather than escape since we strung the electric fence wire. I’m happy to report there have been no escapes or escape attempts in the month since the fence went hot, so I don’t have to feel the need to kennel Dora whenever I leave to run errands.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Two steps forward, one step back

I have a Garmin NĂ¼vi 1350 that lives in my Lexus and it complained about having outdated maps when I hooked it up on Sunday.

It came with lifetime maps, so I fired up my Garmin Express and told it to update the GPS.

Naturally, these things can never go smoothly. Garmin Express told me the GPS had insufficient memory to handle the new map package for the Continental 49 U.S. States and Canada and asked me to choose a regional map selection.

It also told me I could load the entire U.S./Canada package if I installed a 4GB microSD card.

So I installed an 8GB microSD card and the GPS sees the card and all is well. Except it now only speaks in a male voice, having deleted the female voice I preferred.

Garmin Express lets you add voices, so I can always go back and fix that.

I also bought an 8GB SD card for my Garmin Zumo 550 in hopes that I could achieve the same map capacity.

But Garmin Express apparently can’t achieve a seamless mapping interface between the Zumo and an SD card, at least not without a lot of tweaks that I haven’t yet figured out.

So I loaded the SE U.S. selection for the time being. I fiddled around and, for some reason I can’t recall, tried to re-load the SE U.S. package, which generated an error message.

I also added a bunch of MP3 music files to the new SD card.

So when I headed out for the post office and town this morning, my Zumo kept shutting down about the time it was loading maps and seeking satellites.


I hope to remedy the problem by changing the map selection to the SW U.S. and going back to the old 2GB SD card. The installation is in progress right now. If it corrects the problem, I’ll change back to the SE U.S. package, since I’ll need it soon to ride to the BMW RA rally in Birmingham, Ala.

LATER: Yup, that fixed it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In the moment


Here’s a beautiful photo of 2½-year-old Sean thoroughly enjoying a spring afternoon at Holliday Park in Indianapolis in 1970.

What joy!

(Click on the photo to see it larger.)

Monday, May 19, 2014


I’ll probably ruffle some feathers here, but I only know of a couple of my high school classmates who look at my blog and they’re not who I’m writing about.

I’m a member of a hometown nostalgia Facebook group and I am absolutely appalled by the borderline illiterate quality of posts being put up by supposed graduates of my high school.

It goes beyond the simple gaffe of trying to form the plural of a noun with an apostrophe, far beyond.

One woman who was in my class can’t write a simple declarative sentence without a spelling or grammatical mistake. Not. One. Sentence.

Another who ought to know better posts so carelessly as to leave out words and suppose that her readers are clairvoyant.

Yes, I realize that I have the advantage, having made a career of putting words together properly. But Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ! Some of these people have the communication skills of a second-grader.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Flora family portrait, 1970


I rediscovered this portrait of my parents and their dog Snoopy this evening.

It was the spring of 1970 and dad had just picked a bowl of strawberries from the little patch he cultivated in the back yard. He turned 60 in March and mom was a few days short of her 55th birthday.

Dad was still working as an independent insurance agent and Realtor with an office on the north side of the courthouse square. Mom, a Registered Nurse, was still working in Dr. George Wagoner’s office.

Snoopy was a sweet little female pup I gave them five years earlier just before I went off to Air Force basic training. Got her from the Lafayette Humane Society.

She was a free range dog in an era when such things were tolerated. Several neighbors welcomed her into their homes for treats and naps. One neighbor, Ralph Melin, took her on car rides when he went downtown for errands.

She hated my harmonica playing and howled in protest until I stopped.

Remembering when AM radio mattered

Dick Summer picWhen I was a kid in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, Dick Summer was one of my favorite radio personalities.

Summer had the 9:15 p.m. to 1 a.m. slot, Mondays through Saturdays on WIBC, the major AM radio station in Indianapolis.

He did his nightly broadcasts from a booth high atop Merrill’s Hi-Decker, a drive-in restaurant on East 38th Street across from the main entrance to the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

I posed a trivia question about his show the other day on an Indianapolis nostalgia Facebook group, asking anyone to name the piece of music Summer used to open his show every night.

After 21 hours and a few wild guesses, I finally relented and gave the answer: Buddy Morrow’s version of “Night Train.”


Saturday, May 17, 2014

It’s Armed Forces Day!

Flight 1499, 3703rd BMTS, Lackland AFB, September-October, 1965

In honor of Armed Forces Day, I finally got a decent scan of my USAF basic training Flight 1499 group photo, which is too wide to fit on my Canon flatbed scanner.

Turns out my Brother copier-FAX-scanner is big enough using the "ledger" scanner setting.

There were 65 of us, not counting T/Sgt. Wiggins, one of our two Training Instructors. The date was October, 1965 and the place was Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas.

I’m in the second row, sixth from right. If you click on the photo, you can probably see an enlarged version of it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Still angry after nearly 17 years

dadiuThis is my dad on Christmas Eve, 1994.

He was living at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center in Delphi, Ind. at the time. He was in failing health and my mom was no longer able to care for him at home.

Dad was a big Indiana University basketball fan. He thought Bob Knight walked on water, especially after I got Coach Knight to send him special greetings on his 77th birthday in March, 1987 at a time when Knight was preparing the Hoosiers to win the NCAA championship in New Orleans.

I bought him this deluxe I.U. jersey for Christmas in ‘94 and I think he liked it.

Which makes me doubly pissed off because we discovered someone had stolen it when we cleared out dad’s things following his death in November, 1997.

What kind of lowlife dirtbag steals an old man’s jersey, even if they took it after he died?

The experience soured me on the St. Elizabeth facility in Delphi. I’m glad mom didn’t have to be there and could spend her last few months at Hoosier Village in Zionsville.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The wedge guy


I don’t remember his name, but his daughter Jackie worked at The Indianapolis News and was married to Mike Davis, also a Newsie.

He ran a business in Centerville, Ind., just west of Richmond, that made wood wedges – the kind that get pounded into the business end of hammer, hatchet and axe handles to keep the metal parts from falling off.

I did a story about him and his business for The News sometime in the 1970s and shot these photos. I should have had the worker take off his hat so we could see his face in the photo.


The company had been in business for several years because I found a classified ad for it in a 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics online.

I figured it was time to blog these photos after I noticed I have a recurring visitor from Centerville. So far as I know, this guy and his daughter are the only people I’ve ever met from Centerville.

(BTW, it’s hard to beat daylight through a window for shooting environmental portraits.)

Happy 13th Anniversary to us!


Maria and I were wed 13 years ago this afternoon by Boone County Clerk Lisa Garoffolo in the rotunda of the Boone County Courthouse in Lebanon, Ind.

It was only fitting, since Maria has a passion (and I used that word rarely and only when I think it’s appropriate) for quilting, that we were married beneath the Boone County Bicentennial Quilt that hangs above the rotunda.

She is the loveliest, wittiest, smartest, most intuitive, strongest woman I have ever known and the only woman who really gets me. She can ride motorcycles, shoot guns, yank rattlesnakes (baby ones, that is) by the tail, write prizewinning stories and editorials, shoot prizewinning photos, manage a newsroom full of eccentric journalists or a classroom full of ADHD sixth-graders, survive years of misogynistic abuse from men not fit to run a newspaper, and still charm me with my mother’s recipes for ham loaf and pumpkin pie.

She impresses me anew every. Single. Day. And I think she kinda likes me too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Better late than never


Here’s the Mother’s Day photo I couldn’t find on Sunday.

Easter Sunday, 1947.

Tempus fugit


This is one of three photos I posted this morning on a Lafayette, Ind. nostalgia page on Facebook recording tornado damage to a couple of gas stations on North River Road on April 27, 1994.

Although it seems like last month, I was mildly shocked to realize that was 20 years ago.

That realization of the passage of time has been my constant companion the last few weeks as I root through my photo archives, looking for negatives and slides that might be of interest to one or more of the Facebook groups where I post my finds.

Twenty years! And many of the images I’ve scanned recently go back nearly 50 years. How the hell did I get to be so old and why don’t I feel old?

Having nearly 69 years of experiences in my database goes a long way toward explaining why I have a little trouble relating to the problems and concerns of 20-somethings. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, wore out the t-shirt and threw it away.

Accidental brilliance


This shot of women on a downtown Indianapolis street after a summer rain shower has an accidental brilliance to it that eluded me when I shot it back in 1967.

It might be a stretch to compare it to something by Henri Cartier-Bresson, but that’s the kind of feeling it evokes for me.

I was relatively new to 35mm photography in the mid- and late-‘60s and frequently felt compelled to just point my camera at something – anything – and press the shutter button. When I looked at the negatives later, I never bothered to print these pictures because they were spur of the moment things that had no meaning for me.

Now they do.

There are scores of them, scattered among rolls of film of my wife, my kids, my dog, things that meant something to me at the time.

Now, nearly 50 years later, these are the gems I’m mining my archives to find johneditingand my heart does a little dance every time I peer through my Mamiya loupe on the light box and find one.

Maybe I made so many of those seemingly random photos because I was a small town boy living in a big city with interesting things to see and record all around me.

They seem to be clustered around the period from 1967 to 1975 when I was shooting a lot of black-and-white film and processing most of it myself, but there are plenty of these images in the myriad boxes of color slides and envelopes of color negatives that continue up to the early 2000s before I transitioned to digital photography.

Sadly, since then, they’re not to be found.

Is it because I delete these “throwaway” shots on the spot or is it because I’m more disciplined about what I shoot? It’s ironic that I’m so much more careful about what it shoot now that I can put hundreds and hundreds of images on a single memory card, compared with my willingness to snap off a random shot here and there when my camera could only shoot 36 frames before I had to reload.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to have them and share them with an amazingly appreciative online audience here and on Facebook. I only wish I had shot more of them.