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June 27, 2012

Street Photographers


Posted by Rob Kiser on June 27, 2012 at 12:08 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 18, 2012

Environuts are soooo stupid

"Federal prosecutors accuse Rodney Hailey of Perry Hall of selling renewable fuel credits even though his company, Clean Green Fuel LLC, did not produce any renewable fuel. Instead, prosecutors say he pocketed the money and bought Ferraris and other luxury cars, as well as tractor-trailers, homes, jewelry and computers."

Like, who didn't see this coming?

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 18, 2012 at 1:42 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 16, 2012

2012 NWNW Mileage

Looks like I drove roughly 2,150 miles in 7 days. Not a bad way to kill one week.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 16, 2012 at 9:57 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 12, 2012

Map of 2012 NXNW Motorcycle Ride

View Larger Map

Here's a fairly accurate map of the path I took from Denver to San Francisco on a Honda XR650L Enduro.

The letters on the map indicate places where I spent the night. I was on the road for for a week or two, depending on how you count. I started the journey on the evening of Friday June 1st. And I rolled into San Francisco on Monday night, June 11th.

But I split the trip into two parts. On Tuesday June 5th, I parked the bike in short-term parking at IFRA and flew from Idaho Falls to San Francisco, returning the night of Friday June 8th to resume the journey.

So, I dunno how long I was on the road. Sort of depends on how you look at it. A week. Two weeks? Somewhere in that general vicinity, I'd say.

I don't camp when I ride. I stay in the cheapest motels I can find. My reason for this is that, when I've ridden all day in a driving rain, certain that I'd have to have fingers amputated due to frostbite, I need a warm shower at night. I just can't imagine pulling over, pitching a tent at night in a driving rainstorm, and thinking..."OK....I've got a lighter, now if only I could find something that wasn't soaking wet I'd start a fire."

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 12, 2012 at 8:09 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Stranded in the Owyhee Desert

I'm back in the office now, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around what went wrong out in the Owyhee desert of Southwestern Idaho.

I tried to drive from Arco, Idaho to Mountain Home, Idaho, a distance of 146 miles. But I didn't make it. I ran out of gas and coasted to within 2 miles of Mountain Home.

View Larger Map

The problem is that I'm not clear why I ran out of gas. In theory, I get about 40 mph, and on a 4.7 gallon tank, I should be able to go 188 miles. So why did I run out of gas in less than 146 miles?

Part of the answer is that Saturday June 9th, a massive thunderstorm moved through the area with 60 mph winds. I battled heavy winds and scattered rains as I crossed the desert, at a temperature of around 48 degrees F. I thought that I would lose my hands they were so cold, but once I ran out of gas, I warmed up considerably.

However, if the high headwinds dropped by mpg down to 35 mpg, I should still be able to go 164.5 miles. Instead, I was only about to go approximately 142 miles, which still isn't right.

So, my brain sits here and tries to understand what went wrong in the Owhyee desert. And, this isn't the first time. I've questioned that tank for some time. I've never really been happy with the math. I very nearly died in the Punta Prieta desert in Baja California a few years ago. So, I've had some issues with this mysterious Clarke 4.7 gallon desert tank for some time.

But today, I finally think that I've solved the mystery.

The tank hangs across the frame of the bike, with two lobes extending well below the frame. The frame on the left has a gas pet cock on it, which leads to the carburetor. The lobe on the right, not so much.

I called Clarke today and asked them what was the mechanism to get the gas from the right side of the tank to the left and the answer was that riding the bike sort of splashes it over. So, I think that's what's happening to me. I'm riding on-road, not off-road, and the gas isn't splashing over to the left side of the gas tank.

I assumed that, when I ran out of gas, I ran out of gas. I never bothered to look in the tank. I'm now thinking that, if I'd layed the bike down on the ground, on its left side, then the gas in the right half of the tank would have flowed across, allowing me to continue on my journey.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

June 11, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 7: 'Shady Cove to San Francisco'

Date: Monday June 11th, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer
Morning Odometer Reading: 25,939.8
Evening Odometer Reading: 26,431.3
Miles traveled: 491.5 miles

Approximate mileage from 3 day trip from Idaho Falls, ID to SF, CA is 1,321 miles.

Above: Shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, looking SouthEast from the Marin Headlands, with San Francisco in the background. Stopped to pull the plates off the bike before heading into the city and snapped a few shots while I was at it.

Update: I am alive and well and drinking beers at Amante in North Beach, San Francisco.

Above: Farm along the Rogue River near Shady Cove, Oregon.

Above: Farm along the Rogue River near Shady Cove, Oregon.

Above: Vineyard near Rogue River, Oregon.

Above: U.S. Highway 199, between Crescent City, California and the Oregon border.

Above: U.S. Highway 199, between Crescent City, California and the Oregon border.

Above: Mural in Crescent City, California.

Above: Just south of Crescent City, California. The Pacific Ocean, at last !

Above: Mural in Eureka, California.

Above: Mural in Eureka, California.

Above: Mural in Eureka, California.

Above: Irrigated field along U.S. Highway 101, just south of Eureka, California.

Above: Shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, looking SouthEast from the Marin Headlands, with San Francisco in the background.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 11, 2012 at 11:10 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 10, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 6: 'Crater Lake Oregon'

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully on the banks of the Rogue River in Shady Cove, Oregon.

Date: Sunday June 10th, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer
Morning Odometer Reading: 25,566.8
Evening Odometer Reading: 25,939.8
Miles traveled: 373.0 miles

GPS Data:
Trip Odometer: 366 miles
Max Speed: 87.4 mph
Elevation:1,412 ft
Max Elevation: 7,115 ft
Total Ascent: 14,435 ft

So tired there are just no words.

I'm in Shady Cove, Oregon on the banks of the Rogue River

This morning, I got up and there was a guy cooking breakfast on a Coleman stove next door to me in the motel parking lot.  It wasn't a nice motel.  Hard cars for sale in the lot. That sort of place.

Turns out, he was going camping, but ended up too tired or something and ended up crashing in the motel.  He'd been to a lot of the same places I'd been, as far as National Parks and all.

It seems like this was in Burns, Oregon.

Get up. Tighten the chain in the parking lot.  Lube the chain.  Hit the road following route US 20 West for Bend, Oregon.  I try to explain to my sister that there aren't a lot of gas stations out here.  It's not like I'm passing a lot of them up, they're just not there.  Very desolate out here.  Very remote.  

Somewhere east of Bend, Oregon, I start noticing that there are more raptors than I've ever seen before in my life.  They're on every telephone pole I pass.  Immature bald eagle. Mature bald eagle.  Red tailed hawks.  You name it.  They're everywhere.  I dunno why.

Eventually, I roll into Bend, Oregon.  Not sure where to go, of course.  Only I roll into town and start poking around.  Find a cool little section down by the river with a park and stop for at the Bend Burger Restaurant, I think. 

Some guy has a bike and I try to talk to him, but he sort of "big leagues" me and ignores me, which is very unusual.  So be it.  I leave him alone.  Eventually, he spots my helmet and then he's like.."Oh, I didn't realize..."  Then he tried to be more friendly.

Another dude pulls up on a Harley with his wife.  They're down from Portland, I think.  They're a lot of fun and I sit and talk to them for too long.  

Bend is just the dreamiest little town you could ever imagine.  The parks on the side of the river remind me of Boston.  Way cool place to hang out.  Eventually, I blow out of there, heading south on US 97.  

I take the Diamond Lake road west, then south to Union Creek.  At Union Creek, I ask everyone I can find if Crater Lake is open.  If they sell gas.  People just look at me like I'm insane.

"Oh...I haven't been up there in years.  I don't know if they're open. Or if they sell gas."

And I'm like..."seriously?  It's 23 miles away?"

But no one has any clue.  Finally, I just decide to drive up there and see.  The road is open.  They sell gas.  These people are complete morons.

Very cold up there.  Mosquitos like you've never seen before.  Trillions of them. They're still trying to plow open the road around the lake, but I can get to the edge of the crater and snap some shots.  It's so large it's just beyond belief.

Roll back down through Union City, Prospect, keep rolling down towards Medford.  Hope to get there before it gets dark.

Cross a large lake called Lost Creek Lake, which is just insanely large.  Stop and take some shots. Rolling south (and west) on US 62, now following the Rogue River. 

It's getting close to dark and I really don't want to hit a deer tonight.  I pass a dead deer with some buzzards (turkey vultures) on him and I say "that's it, I'm stopping."  

Pull into the little town of Shady Cove and decide I've gone far enough for the night.  Stop and shoot the people fishing in the Rogue River for Chinook Salmon.

Above: Immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) between Hampton and Brothers, Idaho along U.S. Highway 20.

Above: Mature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) between Hampton and Brothers, Idaho along U.S. Highway 20.

Above: Unidentified flower in Bend, Oregon. This is a fairly large flowering bush that grows wild all over northern California.

Above: I tried to explain to my sister why I ran out of gas. "There are no gas stations out here. It's a desert."

Above: Unidentified mountains south of Bend Oregon as viewed from U.S. Highway 97.

Above: Unidentified mountains south of Bend Oregon as viewed from U.S. Highway 97.

Above: Unidentified mountains south of Bend Oregon as viewed from U.S. Highway 97.

Above: Unidentified mountains south of Bend Oregon as viewed from U.S. Highway 97.

Above: Rogue River waterfall, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Entrance to Crater Lake National Park, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Ascending to the rim of Crater Lake. Still solidly snowed in on June 10th, 2012.

Above: Crater Lake, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Crater Lake, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Crater Lake, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Crater Lake, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Crater Lake, Klamath County, Oregon.

Above: Chasing the setting sun on Crater Lake Highway.

Above: Lost Creek Lake, Jackson County, Oregon.

Above: Lost Creek Lake, Jackson County, Oregon.

Above: Lost Creek Lake, Jackson County, Oregon.

Above: Fishing for Chinook Salmon on the Rogue River.

Above: Fishing for Chinook Salmon on the Rogue River.

Above: Flower in Shady Cove, Oregon.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 10, 2012 at 10:20 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

June 9, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 5: 'The Lost River, The Oregon Trail, & Goodale's Cutoff'

I am alive and well and resting peacefully on the banks of the Silvies River in Burns, Oregon.

Date: Saturday June 9th, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,115.3
Evening Odometer Reading: 25,566.8
Miles traveled: 451.5 miles

So this was a big day mileage wise. I'm totally wiped. No Wifi internet access. Sucks.

Got up this morning an left the hotel early.  Usually, I sleep in but for whatever reason, I got out of there fairly early.

No real plan, of course.  Just loosely to follow US Highway 20 west out of Idaho Falls.  It's not really the way back to San Francisco, but I doubt that anyone that's followed me so far is suffering from any delusions that I'm really trying to drive the bike to San Francisco.  Idaho isn't even between Colorado and California.

So I follow US 20 West.  It doesn't look pretty up ahead.  Lots of scattered thunderstorms.  I check the weather forecast with my iPhone.  It shows nasty thunderstorms in Boise, so I decide to head there.

Now, it's not like I have proper rain gear.  I have some battered Frog Toggs I bought last summer, that are basically beaten to threads.  Plus, my mom gave me a thin set of rain gear at Christmas.  So I have that also.  But, when you're driving into a monsoon, it's not comforting to know that everything you're wearing costs less than $100.

I pass a guy on a BMW GSA 1200 headed the other way.  He's probably laughing at me.  Has all of his super-cool matching raingear on.  Like anyone with a brain would have.

At Goodale's Cutoff, I stop and seriously ponder turning back.  A smart person would.  Just take US 26 back Southeast, hit the interstate, and drive to San Francisco. 

But not me.  I believe that, once you start turning back, you'll always turn back.  I'm not out here because I wanted to be safe, secure, and comfortable.  I'm here because I wanted an adventure and I decide to drive right into the heart of the storm.

Now, I should mention that it's freezing.  By freezing, I mean it's 48 degrees F, with 100 percent humidity, and a 75 mile per hour headwind.  So, I'm getting blown all over the road.  It's freezing cold.  And will be raining on me very soon.

I put all of my expensive gear inside the Givi case to protect it from the rain and I just sey "oh what the hell lets go for it" and I drive towards the heart of the monsoon that's coalescing before me.

One thing I notice is that it's fairly arid here.  Both side of the road a basically sage brush, which means that this area doesn't see a lot of moisture.  Sure enough, I notice that it's only raining on the mountains, and not on the fields.  Basically, the road weaves between the mountains, and also between the thunderstorms.  

It looks like I may not even get wet! Yippee!!

I've done some calculations.  At 40 mph, with a 4.7 gallon tank, I should be able to go about 180 miles on a tank of gas.  I decide to push it a little.  So, I pass a gas station 44 miles after I've filled up and I decide to keep going.  

The land around me gets greener and greener and eventually, it starts to rain on me.  Predictable, really, since the place is so green now.  I should have guessed.  

So, it's raining on me pretty good.  Hits my throat somehow while I'm driving, so I just lean over the handlebars as low as I can. Try to touch my helmet to the speedometer.  The winds are blowing me around pretty good.  And it's raining on me.  I'm cold.  Very cold.  My hands are so cold I think I may get frostbite.  I'd love to get out of this weather.  How much further do I have to go?  My immediate goal is to get to Mountain Home.  Then, past that, I'd like to make it to Boise, possibly, before dark.

The bike hits reserve at 128 miles and I go into a panic.  I'm not going to make it to my intended gas stop at Mountain Home, Idaho.  The bike cuts out completely. Kaput.  I roll down the pass, but then stop when the ground levels out.  Now that the bike has died, it quit raining for whatever reason.  And since I'm not moving, I'm actually much warmer.  So, I'm glad that I'm not wet and freezing any more.  But it sucks that I'm not mobile any more, obviously.

It's not good to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere.  In this case, I was fairly close to the town of Mountain Home.  A matter of miles.  But I didn't feel like walking, so I called a tow truck to bring me some gas and he did.  He ran me out about 2-3 gallons of gas and dumped it in the tank.  Charged me $40 and drove away.  It was well worth it, IMHO.  Beats the hell out of walking.

So then, I take off again...and gas up in Mountain Home.  As it turns out, I was only about 5 miles from the interstate.  Brilliant.  I feel like that idiot that died in Into The Wild.  He was about a mile from a ranger station and never knew it.

Gas up and take off on the interstate.  I decide that I'll go ahead and try to pick up Bend Oregon and Crater Lake on this trip.  So, to do it, I'm going to have to make some serious mileage today.  I decide to hit Boise.  At Boise, I decide to go to Ontario, Oregon.  At Ontario, I decide to go for broke and get to Burns, Oregon.

I gas up at Ontario, and then decide that the reason I ran out of gas was due to the headwinds making my gas mileage so bad.  I decide to push it again on the gasoline and see if I can't run out of gas twice in one day.  

To make it into Burns will be about 130 miles, right about the same distance I ran out of gas earlier today (some people never learn).

By the time I get to Drinkwater Pass, I begin to realize that I'm going to run out of gas twice in one day, something I've never done before.  Maybe I should get a larger gas tank.  Or a larger bike.  Or a larger brain.

I find a gas station in the middle of nowhere, but it's closed of course.  So I keep plodding along and somehow, I coast into town on fumes and decide I've had enough adventure for one day.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 9, 2012 at 11:21 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 8, 2012

Carmel Blue

My life is sort of hard to follow. It skips like a needle across a tortured LP. I dunno what to make of it. It's quite confusing at times.

This morning I wake up and realize my alarm didn't go off. Because I don't work on Fridays, so I don't have it set to go off on Fridays. So, I get up and get cleaned up at the flat in North Beach and I try to think about tonight. The plan is that I'll fly into Idaho Falls tonight.

So, I look at the things in the flat and try to imagine what I need to take with me. The flat looks roughly like the inside of a poorly maintained commercial garage. Morotcycle battery charger. Motorcycle batteries. Starters. Broken mirrors. Chain oil. Engine oil. All of this in my closet. Or laying about the room. Bits and parts of bikes that i own, or once owned.

I try to think about what I need in Idaho tonight. Hmmmm. I left chain oil and engine oil in the Givi case on the bike. I'm good there. Gloves and helmet are in my office at work. I grab some cameras, laptop, iPad, some clothes, and hit the street. Unsure of when I'll return to the flat in North Beach.

I walk into work, taking a slightly different path every day. It's about 17 blocks to work. Takes me about 20 minutes. But I like to stop and shoot along the way, so it usually takes me a little longer. Today, I noticed a store as I passed by - it's named 'Carmel Blue', presumably named after the color of the Pacific ocean in the town of Carmel.

At work, the little girl starts sending me IM's. I've given up on her so many times I've lost count.

"Why are you here?"

"You mean, like in the philosophical sense, or..."

"No. I mean. You don't work on Fridays why are you here?"

"I have to go get my motorcycle tonight."

"You fly to Colorado tonight?"



"That's where the bike is. Then, I'll drive it back here."

Probably, next week I'll fly to Hawaii. That's what I tell myself. Idaho. Nevada. California. Hawaii. Sounds like a good plan.

I get into work and they want to know if I got paid.

"I dunno," I stammer.

"You don't know if we paid you or not?"

"Uh...no...not really."

"Dude...the invoice was for like ... twenty grand!"

"Uh...yeah...I dunno....my admin handles all of that stuff for me," I lie. I dunno what else to say. It's to embarrassing to admit that I'm incapable of balancing a checkbook.

"When will you be back?"

"I dunno. I mean, I have to go get my bike...and...I'll try to drive it here. It's 840 miles though. So, at 300 miles a day, that's three days. Maybe I'll be back Monday night?"

"OK. So we'll see you on Tuesday?"

"Prolly so. That sounds about right. Then I have to go to Hawaii."

"For how long?"

"I dunno...just for a couple of weeks I think. My daughter hasn't been in almost a year..."

NXNW - Take 2

So, I'm going to take another swing at getting the bike out to San Francisco.  I have roughly 840 miles to go in 3 days, which won't be easy, but it's doable.

Not really sure of my route yet, but I'm leaning towards leaving Idaho Falls on US 20 West.  I saw way too much of Nevada last year, so I'm going to try to avoid Nevada, to the extent possible.  

I brought a different helmet this time, as I can't stand the persistent problem I have opening my visor on the other helmet.  It's what I like to call "over-engineered", meaning it has way too many moving pieces and predictably, doesn't work right.

I got up this morning and seriously pondered going to the DMV to get my license plates straightened out.  But, fortunately, reason prevailed.  "Like...I'm just going to pull the plates as soon as I get to San Francisco.  What's the point?"

I lightened my load significantly for this second leg of the trip. No tripod.  Left one of my backup cameras.  Left one of my lenses.  

Dunno how much difference it will make, but I want to make good time.  I want to get that Big Red Pig moving.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 8, 2012 at 12:54 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 7, 2012

Hey! Colorado! You left your scarf!

Question: What do you do when you find a women's scarf on the sidewalk on the way to dinner?


Step 1: Add scarf to "homeless-person-looking ensemble" and commence photo shoot near flowering tree. NOTE: It is also important to know what type of flowering tree... in this case "Bottle Brush" (RK1.jpg)

Step 2: Remove scarf during dinner while chatting up the bartender about your crazy cross-country motorcycle adventures and 'pretend' to leave it behind when you walk out the door.

Step 3 : Bartender chases you down the sidewalk to return your scarf because, and I quote, "I noticed you wearing it when you walked in because it was so ridiculous".

Step 4: Re-commence photo shoot. (RK2.jpg)

Rob Kiser Tag Line: I don't always look homeless and wear women's scarves, but when I do, bartenders chase me down the street.

Well played my friend!


Posted by Rob Kiser on June 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Chinatown Loquats (Shut Up and Dance)

Chinatown Loquats

Last night, I stop by the Apple Store to interrogate the "geniuses". Now, I'd argue that a genius, by definition, doesn't work at any store for $11 an hour, but let's leave that for now.

My iPad 3 keeps shutting down while I'm listening to music. So, I want to ask the geniuses why that is, exactly. Why is it that I pay $800 for a tablet PC that's supposed to be so user-friendly that even a woman could use it, but somehow I can't even get it to perform as well as an iPod.

What Apple tells me is that they're going to wipe the thing clean and reinstall the O/S, losing all of my data in the process. I'm like...seriously? You can't back my data up?


I'm like what about the old "It Just Works!" slogan? Maybe y'all should change that to "If it doesn't work, we can't possibly make it work without throwing all of your data in the trash?" Maybe you should change your slogan to that. Or maybe "iPad 3. Like an $800 iPod that automatically shuts down every 7 minutes." Maybe that could be the new slogan?

So, I leave the dimwits at the genius bar behind and start walking home down Stockton Street, through the tunnel, through Chinatown and I see this one-eyed Chinaman selling some strange fruit on the sidewalk in Chinatown. I start to walk by and I'm thinking..."hold the phone...gimme some of those."

"What these are?"


"I can taste one?"

He digs around in a cardboard carton of these yellow-ish plum-sized fruits and hands me one. Most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth.

"Where these come from?"


"Yeah. Go ahead and set me up there."

So he hands me a big shopping bag full of them for $10 and I go on my way.

Now, I'm like the Johnny Appleseed of Loquats. I make it down to North Beach, and suddenly the Asians are replaced with Italians and I stumble into Avante, my favorite haunt.

"Blondie...try one of these. You know what they are?"

"Yeah. These are loquats. I grew up in Sacramento."

"Like where in the hell have I been? How did I not know about these?"

"I dunno. Can't help you there."

But everyone else I show them to has no clue what they are. Never heard of them. Not sure what they are or how to eat them.

Shut Up and Dance

Now that I don't have a motorcycle, I have to walk into work. This is not an altogether bad thing. I've learned a lot about my neighborhood by not racing through in on one wheel, terrorizing the hood.

This morning, I discovered a white cat that lives in the neighborhood grocery store and found a bakery I'd never noticed before.

The city is essentially, a canvas, and the creative people treat it as such, pasting enigmatic stickers on every conceivable surface. This particular morning, I spot a sticker that says "Shut up and dance". There's now way of knowing who put this sticker here, or why, but it does make one wonder. Who has that kind of time on their hands? What is the real message? Why would someone do this?

Every morning, as I get to market street, I stop by this one Oriental lady selling cut flowers and interrogate her on her flower cart. Now, the flower lady is a tough nut. She's hard to crack, this one. Always, I stop and shoot and show her my photos, but she just can't be pleased. She would never say one of my photos was good, and she always has her reasons, real or imagined. So, I've taken her on as a client, of sorts. And every morning, I try to stop and learn something new about the flowers, and try in vain to take a photo that she might deem worthwhile.

So this morning, I stop by and, as a peace offering, I show her my bag of loquats. She gets a gleam in her eye like a crack addict.

"Here...you know what these are?" I offer.

Like tossing walnuts to a squirrel.

She's digging through the bag, going through them like a woodchipper.

I take one, but it's kind of tart.

"They're kind of tart," I admit.

She gets this devilish grin. "You have to pick the ones that have a suntan," she explains. "These are the ripe ones here..."

Aha! So, that's what I'm looking for. Sure enough, she was right.

"Also, they cure a sort throat."

Eventually, I cut her off and hobbled into work, glad to have found a friend on market street.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 7, 2012 at 11:52 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 5, 2012

The City by the Bay

The Fox and the Bottle Brush

After work, Jack and I go out for drinks at Umami in the Marina.  We're walking to dinner and find a scarf on the sidewalk.  Has all kinds of crazy things on it like a fox and some pheasants.  I just put it on like I own the place because, something there is that I've learned about the city.  In the city, nothing matters.  The city is a jungle where you have to try to stand out from the crowd.  You have to try to get attention.

I mean, I'm always self-conscious, wandering around, worrying about whether I should be wearing jeans, khakis, or black pants.  I don't really know.  I have no fashion sense, of course.  So, I'm stumbling through the streets of the city, self conscious to a fault.  And then, I look around and see a homeless guy pushing a shopping cart full of trash through the crosswalk, head held high.  And a guy standing in a little crack in the city, hustling for change.  Babbling nonsense to the trees and anyone else that wanders by.

And I think...why is it that they can live here, uninspired, but unafraid.  Proud of the nothing that they have.  The things that they don't deserve and will never have.  Homeless people, prancing up and down the sidewalks, proud as peacocks.

And then me, the one person that arguably has the right to be proud.  I was in 4 states in 4 days on a dirt bike and not 4 small states that you see back east.  4 of the big states that they have out west.  

So, I decide to put on the scarf, and I'm walking through the marina with a silk scarf around my neck like a WWII pilot.  I mean, you really have to sort of admire me, in a pathetic kind of way.  You have to admit that, I'm one of the craziest people that you know.  Who does that?  Who drives to the airport and parks their dirt bike in short term parking to fly to a different timezone?

Walking through the marina now with this ridiculous scarf around my neck because, honestly, what different does it make?  I don't really care any more.  I'm not trying to impress anyone anyway.

We walk into this sushi bar and Jack orders the sushi, which is fine with me.  Like, we're not holding hands or anything, but I promise you I don't know shit about ordering sushi.  I did 18 years in Mississippi and I never tasted a fish that wasn't deep-fried until I was probably 30 or so.

So we're sitting here hitting on the waitress named Jen.  I'm showing her shots of my trip on the iPad.  Just being silly really.  But she's cute and fun and talks to us.  Jack assures me that she's hitting on me and I'm like seriously?  Are you retarded? Or are you just trying to humor me?

So we go to leave.  We close out our tabs and leave the place and we're walking home and just laughing because Jack is, honestly, as cool as the other side of the pillow.  And we're stumbling down the sidewalk and I'm like..."seriously, Jack.  Isn't San Francisco just the coolest city on the planet?"  And there's some racket behind us and seriously  eventually we stop and turn around to see what's going on, and it's the bartender running down the sidewalk towards us with my scarf in her hand.

"Hey...Colorado! You forgot your scarf!?!" and she hands me the scarf.

I'm like..."We found it on the sidewalk on the way over here" I laugh.  Like, please don't think I really would wear this crazy thing.  And Jack and I are laughing so hard we're about to choke.  

Freaking hilarious.  I love this city. :)

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 5, 2012 at 11:34 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - IFA to SFO (Millbrae Train)

Flying to SFO from IFA. Leaving bike at airport in idaho. Fly back Fri night to resume westward journey.

Tires nearly bald. Will try to get them changed this week while i'm in SF. Bike running fairly well, but not great. Wont run over 80 mph for some reason. Not clear why.

Update: I'm in San Francisco
Day 5 - Millbrae Train

Yesterday, I woke up just outside the south entrance to Yellowstone.  Well rested, I checked out of the hotel around noon.

Head north into the park, past Moose Falls at Crawfish Creek.  Yellowstone is just breathtaking, of course.  I'm like rolling through this stunning landscape, but this is hard for me.  I mean, I live in Colorado.  So, it's beautiful and breathtaking, but a lot of it has a familiar look and feel to it also.  I've been here before, of course.  And parts of it I remember.  Part of it I don't.

I stop and shoot when I feel compelled to shoot.  But landscape photography has never been my strong suit.  I'm not clear that my landscape photographs will look any better than the overage tourist's photos.   And I'm seldom going slow enough to use the long lens.  Mostly, I'm just shooting landscape postcard type of photos.

I come to a patch of Yellowstone where it was obviously burned out some time ago.  And you see that it's been a long time since the forest burned.  Most of the trees that are still standing are long dead husks.  Relics of their former beauty.  But all around them, the new trees are growing up in their stead.

This place is timeless.  Truly remarkable, inspiring, timeless beauty.  You see here that, nothing that man does really matters.  I mean, not in the long run really.  The tree-huggers are all running around like chicken-little screaming that the sky is falling...global warming...climate change...the coming ice age...whatever fear they're peddling on any given Monday.

But really, the earth isn't something that we're capable of breaking.  Not in the long run, any way.  On a time scale of millions of years, you see that, eventually, the earth will forget that we were ever here.  Whatever perceived sins we have committed will scab over and heal in the blink of an eye.

It's presumptuous - even conceited - to assume that we could really affect the earth, in the long run.  

This is the closest I get to believing in what most people would call a religion.  Looking at Yellowstone makes me think that maybe there could be a God.  You don't feel that way living in San Francisco, really.  I mean, when you live in the city, it's just such a rat-race.  For me, it's hard to look at the madness in the city and think that someone is up above looking down, and sanctioning our existence on some higher level.

But here, the idea seems at least more plausible.

Continue reading "NXNW Motorcycle Trip - IFA to SFO (Millbrae Train)"

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 5, 2012 at 5:52 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 4, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 4: 'Beaver Dick Brown'

I am alive and well and resting quietly on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho Falls.

Date: June 4, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,911.5
Evening Odometer Reading: 25,107.9
Miles traveled: 196.4 miles

GPS Readings:
Trip Odometer: 152 miles
Max Speed 76.1 mph
Elevation: 4,701 ft
Total Ascent: 4,246 ft
Max Elevation: 7,418 ft

The gps batteries appear to have died before i left yellowstone. So, this is the reason that the GPS mileage is low, I think.

I'm so tired I can't even keep my eyes open. Very windy and smoky outside. Must be a forest fire nearby. Looks like there are some fires burning in Pocatello, Idaho. Very windy here. And dry. Hope they get them put out.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 4, 2012 at 7:39 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

June 3, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 3: 'Saratoga to Yellowstone'

I am alive and well and resting quietly in a cabin on the shores of the peaceful Snake River, just outside the southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Date: June 3, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,558.8
Evening Odometer Reading: 24,911.5
Miles traveled: 352.7

GPS Readings:
Trip Odometer: 347 miles
Max Speed 88.3 mph
Elevation: 6,854 ft
Total Ascent: 15,409 ft
Max Elevation: 9,454 ft

Note that there is a discrepancy between my GPS mileage and my bike mileage because tonight, I rode for about 15 miles without the GPS unit.

GPS Tracks:
Follow my path online with contour maps, satellite images, etc.
Day 3 GPS Tracks


NXNW - Day 3 - Saratoga to Yellowstone

I awake in the morning and decide that I have to change my oil.  No more putting it off.  The problem with changing your oil on the road is that a) you have no place to do it and b) it's messy.

I figure it will be better to change the oil in Saratoga, Wyoming, than in Yellowstone National Park.  So I'm not putting it off any longer.

So, I'm trying to think of the best place to do it.  I've changed it in the motel parking lot, and it's usually not pretty.  Usually looks like an Exxon Valdez-grade oil spill by the time I'm done.

Plus, the plates are expired and my driver's license is suspended.  So, you don't want to draw a lot of attention to yourself.  I decide to hide the bike behind the dumpster across the street at the gas station.

This actually works out really well because there's a lot of stuff in the dumpster I can use to collect the used oil...boxes, cartons, etc., plus, lots of rags etc.  

Plus, the dumpster provides fairly good cover from the curious eyes of a small town.  

So, I hide behind the dumpster and change my oil and it actually ends up being not nearly as messy as it normally is.

Of course, as soon as I pull up to fill up the front tire with air, the Saratoga Police pull up to the little gas station and I'm sure that they're there to arrest me.  But somehow, they just don't pay me any attention.

People are driving ATV's (four wheelers) through the streets of town without helmets.  Somehow, and I'm not clear how, but somehow this little Wyoming town has police that don't seem to be intent on raping the citizens.

My plan is to make it somewhere close to Jackson or Yellowstone today.  Take off out of town heading North.  Take I-80 west about 20 miles to Rawlins,.

At Rawlins, I decide to ask the guy at the gas station how far it is to the next town.

"I'm taking Highway 287 into Yellowstone," I explain.  "How far to the next town."

The guy looks at me like he's not sure, which is surprising to me.

"Well...which way are you going?"

"I'm taking 287."

"Hmmm.  Well, it's over a hundred miles to Walden," he starts.

Now, I'm not sure if the guy is retarded or a genius.   But if the guy at the gas station isn't sure how far it is to the next town, then you'd better gas up.

As I'm gassing up, I decide to fix the issue with my gas tank vent hose that caused my engine to die yesterday.  My new theory is that, if something hoses you one time, you shouldn't let it hose you again, in the same manner, in any event.  I want to prevent the problem from happening again.

My assumption is that I'm basically about to leave civilization behind.  Probably will be rolling into some massive desert.  So, I top off the tank, and buy some more water for the trip.

Highway 287 is basically one lone tar snake.  If you don't know what those are, theyre' the little squiggly black lines on the concrete roads where the road crews fill the cracks with tar.  For a car, they make no difference.

For a motorcycle, they make what should be a pleasant ride into a nightmare.  They move your bike right or left unexpectedly, so you try to avoid them at all cost.

Wyoming basically has their own trade winds, and I'm riding them as I go north on 287.

This part of Wyoming is basically a desert.  Some parts are primarily Sagebrush.  And some parts are full-on Moab-type desert.  

I've crossed a few deserts on my bike and they're always the most dangerous.  If you run out of fuel or break down, then you could end up in a life or death situation very quickly.  I've learned not to take desert crossings lightly.  I always take lots of food, water, and gas.

So I start rolling north and eventually, I do come to alll of the little towns he mentioned.  By the time I roll into Lander, WY,  I've driven roughly 160 miles.  My goal for the day is to drive about 330 miles, so I'm about half-way there.

I'm beginning to think that 300 miles is too far to ride in one day.  The winds are strong.  Face is dry and sunburned.  Lips are chapped.  Stop in Lander, glad to be alive and eat lunch.

Two guys pull up on bicycles.  Lock them and and start to go inside.

Where you're from? I ask.



Exit 88.

You rode that here from New Jersey.


So, every time you start to think that you're cool, someone is always standing right behind you doing something 40 times harder.  Or so it seems.

Fill up with gas in Lander, WY and head out of town on the Tar Snake Highway (287).

After I've gone 230 miles, I realize I only have another hundred miles to go and I'm so happy to reach this milestone.  Riding through the desert isn't all that much fun today.  I'm tired. Bored.  Not a lot to see out here.  Not as exciting as I'd hoped.  Fairly monotonous.

I've crossed the continental divide so many times I've lost count.  As I get closer to Jackson, Wyoming, I realize that I'll have to backtrack to the south about 30 miles to get there.  I really want to go to Yellowstone, so I change my course to head north towards Yellowstone, instead of backtracking down to Jackson.

When you're on the road on a motorcycle, you spend a lot of time inside your own head.  Why am I here. Where am I going?  When should I go back to work?  Do I really have time to go to Canada?

These are the questions that I ask myself.  I've second-guessed my trip so many times I can't say.  But I've talked to other riders and plenty of riders cut their trips short, go home, and regret it.  The wise people on the road say "go live your dreams...go to wherever it was that you initially planned to go...don't wimp out...do it".

So, I'm not sure where I'll end up, but Yellowstone seems like a good place to try to get to tonight.

When I get to Teton National Park, I start asking if I can find a place to stay.  Dude gives me directions to the Flagg Hotel, just outside the southern entrance to Yellowstone.  So I make a beeline for this place, wanting to get off the road at all costs.

In the Teton National Park, the speed limit is 45, which is excruciatingly slow.  But, I don't want to go to prison, so I'm driving the speed limit.

Now, I have the police and all forms of authority for many good reasons. Or so I've onvinced myself.  But now, I'm in a situation where I have to obey the law in order to stay out of jail.  And now, this makes me think.  How is it that I got to be this old without realizing that, if I just obey the law, I won't have the authorities pushing me around all of the time.

I'm counting down the miles until I get to my motel and driving excruciatingly slow.  Finally, I get there.  But the only rooms they have for rent are private cabins for $180 a night.  Fine. I'll take one.  I'm so tired I could die.

Check in. Get a shower.  Feel much better.  Decide that I'd better go shoot until it gets dark, so I find a gravel road through the Targhee National Forest and a moose standing in the middle of the Snake River eating grass.  Stop to get some photos of the moose.

Then into Yellowstone to shoot Moose Falls with the tripod.  Then back to the hotel for dinner and drinks.  Finally go back to the cabin and collapse.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 3, 2012 at 10:02 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

June 2, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 2: 'Man Overboard'

I am alive and well and resting peacefully In Saratoga, Wyoming, just east of the Snowy Range.

Date: June 2, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer:
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,375.0
Evening Odometer Reading: 24,558.8
Miles traveled:183.8

GPS Readings:
Trip Odometer: 208 miles
Max Speed 88.3 mph
Elevation: 6,816 ft
Total Ascent: 13,565 ft
Max Elevation: 12,164 ft

Note: Was trying to figure out the discrepancy between bike odometer and the GPS mileage for today. Discrepancy is for the distance that I rode in the tow truck with the bike in the bed of the truck. About 25 miles, apparently.

GPS Tracks:
Follow my path online with contour maps, satellite images, etc.
Day 2 GPS Tracks


Wow. Where to begin. There just aren't words to describe what happened today. But I'll try.

Oiled the chain in the parking lot.

Basically, head out this morning...probably closer to noon. Scattered thunderstorms are moving across the continental divide. Someone told me about some spotted owl chics in a nest if I went in through the Highway 34 entrance...that I'd see some baby owl chics in a tree near some cabins if I went in through the Highway 34 entrance.

But, in the morning, I'm looking for gas and some park stickers, so I head for the main entrance. Now, what can I say about Estes Park? I dunno. It's touristy. Like, they've tried to control the development, but in my mind, it's not much different than Cherokee, NC.

Blow through and find a gas station. Fill up with highest octane gas they have. Bought a quart of oil, and checked the oil in the parking lot. Needs to be changed, but it isn't low. Figure I'll deal with it tonight. (Slacker). Forget to check the front tire pressure.

Stop at the visitor center for a couple of RMNP stickers, slap on the bike so everyone knows how bad-ass I am, and then head into the park.

Stop at the main entrance and dicker with the guy on getting an annual pass, etc. End up with just a day pass for a bike for $10. Roll into the park. Decide to take the Highway 34 fork to the right to see a part of the park I don't believe I've ever seen before. Nice views. Find the owlets. Scads of people taking photos, but the birds are high up, and no one has a good angle or the right lens. Just morons clicking away with shitty cameras, and I move on without taking a shot.

Turn around and head back towards the main road.

Storms are threatening the entire park. Spotty thunderstorms seem to be converging and I wish I had more sense. Don't know why I didn't get across the Continental Divide earlier today when it was nice. What was I thinking?

Continue reading "NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 2: 'Man Overboard'"

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 2, 2012 at 11:25 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 2: 'The Best Made Plans...'

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft agley.." - Robert Burns - 1785

Date: June 2, 2012

Plan is today to go through Rocky Mountain National Park, over Trail Ridge Road, drop down into Granby/Grand Lake area...up and over Rabbit Ears Pass...down into Steamboat Springs (I've never been there...don't ask)...and then end up in Saratoga Springs, as my old riding buddy Steve is on the road also, as it turns out, and we're meeting for drinks there tonight...God willing and the river don't rise.

I've been on the road enough that a lot of the trip is little didactic rituals. You learn what you have to do every night to make the trip safe and enjoyable. Clean the helmet visor. Clean the lenses. Charge batteries for cameras, ipad, iphone, and laptop. Copy the photos off the cameras onto the other gizmos. Back the photos up to an external hard drive. Upload photos. Download GPS tracks. Upload GPS tracks.

In the morning, everything has to be ready to roll again. Cleaned, charged, and ready to roll.

Yesterday, the only maintenance I did to the bike was to change the air filter and lube the chain. I need to change the oil, but I think I'll wait and do it tonight in Wyoming. I'll check it when I fill up this morning.

I hate to get out of bed. Really I'm a horrible slacker. Sleeping in a hotel room is nice. Make me wish I had sheets on my bed in Colorado. I have to remember to get a sticker for the bike that says RMNP. Hopefully, I'll end up with a lot of cool stickers on this trip. Can't wait to get back into Yellowstone. Wish I'd brought the big lens but the truth is, it's just to big to take on the bike.

The cameras are tested in the morning like this. Verify the time is correct. Lens is cleaned. Lens cap attached. Battery is charged. Camera has no photos in it to display. This is the camera test.

The gear is all meticulously, not because I'm neurotic or overly organized by nature, but because I can't find anything if it isn't organized. It's the only way to go. I'm hauling a lot of gear across the country. Scads of chargers and cables and everything has it's little place on the bike so that it can be found as needed.

Checking out of the hotel room is a ritual that should be discussed ad nauseum. The trick is to get out without leaving anything behind. Socks. Chargers. iphones. Etc. My trick is to get everything packed onto the bike, and make one last pass. The goal of the last pass is to check everywhere...under the bed, in the bathroom, in the closets...in the refrigerator. The goal is to find something you didn't expect to find. Only then can you leave the room, satisfied that, in all probability you've left nothing behind. The reason for this is party to find items you may have forgotten, but also, and possibly more importantly, the reason is that, when you're in Wyoming tonight and wondering where the iPhone is, you don't wonder if you left it in Colorado. You know you didn't leave it there, because you checked. It must be somewhere else.
OK. That's it. I'm getting up. Gas up. Drive in RMNP. Buy a sticker. Slap it on the bike somewhere. Try to shoot some flowers, then up and over Trail Ridge Road. That's going to be a COLD ride. That's one reason I'm dragging me feel (rationalization). Yikes.

Fortunately, I've got my cold weather gear from Circle 7 Outpost and Provisions. The coolest store on the planet. Hopefully I'll get some decent shots today. Rough guess is I'll cover 180 miles. Didn't get much shooting in yesterday as I go away so late.

Will check back in tonight, if all goes as planned, I'll be on the west side of the Continental Divide in Saratoga, Wyoming.

Until then.

¡Buen viaje!

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 2, 2012 at 10:10 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

June 1, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 1: 'Dodging Bears'

Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the shadow of the continental divide in the mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado, just outside the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Date: June 1, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer:
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,281.0
Evening Odometer Reading: 24,475.0 24,375.0
Miles traveled: 94

GPS Readings:
Trip Odometer: 94.8 miles
Max Speed 81.1 mph
Elevation: 7,551 ft
Total Ascent: 9,680 ft
Max Elevation: 9,328 ft

GPS Tracks:
Follow my path online with contour maps, satellite images, etc.
Day 1 GPS Tracks


Somehow, I manage to drag myself out of bed at 8:00 a.m., which pretty much never happens because I'm such a slacker.

The generals say that "You don't go to war with the army you wish you had, You go to war with the army you have."

So, to me, this means that I'm not going on the road trip with the ideal configuration. I'm going on the road with what I have. Now, I have a load of little goodies that I wish I had...Pannier mounts, Canon panniers, GoPro cameras, etc.

I go online and order everything I wish I had, so that I'll have it for the next trip. But I won't have it for this trip. I am OK with this. This is the army I have. Not the army I wish I had.

I pack up an iPhone 4S, an iPad 3, a bluetooth keyboard, a laptop, three cameras, three lenses, 3 GPS's, Bose headphones, my passport, a .45 caliber Colt M1911, and some cash. I don't like going on the road without some walking around money. I hate leaving the country without cash. I just won't do it. And if I have cash, I figure I'll carry a pistol. So don't plan on robbing me. That would be a bad move. I'm a good shot. Ask Mark.

Then I made up this long list of tasks to do today. Things that I absolutely have to get done or I won't be able to enjoy my time off. Mailed the title of my bike to a stranger in Seaside, California. Payed the rent in San Francisco. Paid the mortgage in Colorado.

Called and set up trash for auto payment as they didn't pick it up today. Turns out it was due to Memorial Day. Whatever.

Then I raced down the hill to do a trillion little errands. Dropped off the Tahoe to have the driveline balanced, since those idiots at Emich Chevrolet screwed it up so royally. Somehow, they got it so that when you drive down a perfectly flat road, it bumps and humps like you're driving across a cow pasture. Thanks guys. Thanks for that.

So now, I have to trailer my bike down the hill so that I can drop off the Tahoe to get the driveline balanced, and then I'll drive my bike home. So, I'm trailering the bike down the hills and somehow, I end up near Wadwsorth and Highway 285. Police are everywhere. Thick as thieves. Of course, I'm freaking out. The plates are expired on everything. Tahoe. Trailer. Bike. Everything.

Cops. Firetrucks. Ambulances. More cops than I've ever seen at once in my life. Fish and Fur. Sheridan City Police. Jefferson County Deputies. You name it. I'm ready to jump out a window. Call Robert and he tells me it's a police funeral. Go figure. I'd love to know how much taxpayer money they blew on that little event. Unbelievable.

Go take some money out of the bank because, if you get too much in there, it's not a good thing. You think it's your money, but I've found out otherwise. So, when I get above a certain threshhold, I start drawing down the account because I don't trust the banks. No sir.

By the time I get all of my little errands done, it's about 7:00 p.m. So, I've got maybe an hour of daylight left, right? And this sucks, because I wanted to leave this morning. But it is what it is. I'm finally all packed and ready to go just as the sun is starting to set but I'm not spending another night at my house.

The problem with doing all of these tedious little chores is that, at the end of the day, you've really just done a bunch of tedious little chores. And there's no end to them. You could spend a lifetime just running the chainsaw, cutting up fallen timber, mowing, weed eating, refilling the bird bath and bird feeder. But that's not what I want to do with my time.

Jennifer left for New Mexico today. I don't want to be here at the house all alone. I want to hit the road and finally, I figure I've done enough chores and I just decide to bolt. And if it's nearly dark, then so be it. I'll get as far down the road as I can manage.

Now, ostensibly, the purpose of this trip is to drive the motorcycle from Colorado to California, since my bike in California bit the dust halfway between Big Sur and San Simeon on the Pacific Coast Highway (3 miles north of Lucia) a week or so ago.

But, in reality, this is a little mini-vacation because my path from Colorado to San Francisco is anything but straight. I actually plan to go through Canada on the way. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Canada's not between Colorado and California. But that's the plan, in any event.

I call Bob but he's down the hill so I roll over to Bud's house and ask him to take some photos of me for posterity's sake. Like, I don't delude myself into thinking that my little adventures are not without risk. They're clearly risky. But it's the only excitement I get in my life, and it's not something I'm willing to do without.

"Bud...come take some shots of me before I leave!" I call out to the group assembled on the deck.

Bud comes down and graciously agrees to take a few shots.

"Where' ya headed this time?" he asks.

"Canada," I reply.


"Because I can."

For me, that's really all there is to it. If I'm able to drive a dirt bike to Canada, then why not try it? I mean...we're all going to die one day. There's no other way out. It's my personal belief that the meek shall inherit nothing. All I know is that I've never been to Glacier National Park and everyone I've ever talked to that's been there says I have to go. So I'm going. That's all there is to it. Plain and simple.

I roll out of dodge and sort of imagine the path I'll take. I have a bunch of GPS technology with me, but I'm not gong to need it for today. My goal is to make it to Estes Park, but I could probably drive there with my eyes closed.

Take the new Central City Parkway, also known as the Million Dollar Highway because it cost some crazy amount of money to blast a road through the hills. Central City and Blackhawk are both old mining towns turned limited-stakes gambling towns. The road from Idaho Springs invariably led into Black Hawk first, instead of Central City. Central City couldn't stand this, so they blasted an insane road through the mountains that came into Central City first.

I'm going this way because it's wider and safer and I want to get on up the road a piece. I've seen this area so many times I could drive it blindfolded.

Trying to make good time, so I'm shooting from the saddle. Now, this amused my buddy Doug to no end. He couldn't believe that I do this. But basically, I just let go of the handlebars, and shoot through the lens, while I'm driving down the road. The trick is to try to keep it close to a normal (50mm) lens setting, which is what the human eye sees. If you get to far away from this, it's hard to keep from driving into oncoming traffic or from driving off the shoulder, because your perspective is totally distorted.

Stop on the side of the road to snap a few pics and a guy pulls over and asks if I'm OK. I'm like..."Dude...thank you very much for stopping. I'm fine, but I greatly appreciate you stopping to check on me." In California, no one would stop. Not even other motorcyclists. I was shocked.

I give him my contact information which I've printed up for the trip as I always do. I don't know if people care about my little peregrinations or not, but I sort of like to give them the opportunity to stalk me if they're so inclined. I meet the nicest people on the road, so it seems a simple thing to offer.

I head up the scenic route called the "Peak to Peak Highway". Originally, it was supposed to go all the way down south, past Mount Evans, to connect with PIke's Peak. But they never finished the southern leg of it, and now they never will, of course.

Sun setting.Temperature dropping as I roll north. I didn't layer up before I got cold because this is my strategy. I want to get cold before I start putting on my heavy gear, otherwise I end up sweating like a pig for the first 30 miles or so. But now, sun setting. Getting colder. Much colder now. Road appears to be wet and slick.

Stop to shoot the sun setting behind the continental divide. This is the part that frustrates me. Why do I toss so many days into the trash? Why am I not out here more often? What makes us think it's OK to trade these sunsets for television shows, late hours at the office, or naps? How is that a fair trade?

Try to apply what I've learned from Ansel Adams to get the contrast just right, but it's hard to do with the bright sky and dark mountains. I'm not able to get the shots I want. But it's fun just to be here trying.

Getting darker. Getting colder. Now, I can hardly see. It's not safe to drive at night. I'm fully cognizant of this fact. I don't like to drive at night. But I do want to make it to Estes Park tonight, so I keep on. Once I get past Nederland, it starts to snow. Now, this really sucks. The road is already wet. And the night is black as coal. My coon-hunter headlight does precious little to illuminate the road obstacles and now I'm about to hit an elk. He's so close I can smell him as I pass, but somehow I miss him. Dunno how. Only missed him by a few feet.

Slow down to about 45 mph. Still 30 miles to get to Estes Park. Slow dangerous route through the mountains. WHere are the other cars? WHy am I the only one on the road tonight?

Now, something moving on the right shoulder. The fuzzy blur moves across the road right in front of me. Large black bear lumbers across the road, from my right to left. I pull over and stop. Try to get a photo, but it's too dark. The flash illuminates his eyes as he watches me, but the autofocus won't work, so I move on.

Cold wet road. Probably should change my riding gear now. But no. Must keep driving on. Slowly. Cold wet mountain road. Animals are really moving tonight. Light snow falling. This is insanity. Finally, I see the lights of Estes Park and I can't tell you how glad I am to see them. Way down below, scads of little lights. Now, dropping down, switchbacking down Colorado 7 into the valley below. So relieved to be back in civilization. I dunno why I do this to myself. I truly don't. Exhausted, I check into the first little motel I come to. Then go for drinks at "Ed's Cantina". I'm like...seriously? "Ed's Cantina?" Wow.

They say the generals are always ready to fight the last war.

I pick up some snacks and drinks on the way back to the motel so I don't die of dehydration / starvation like I almost did on the Pacific Coast Highway a few days ago.

Go back and crash in the motel. So tired I cannot say and I only drove 94 miles today. Why do I do this to myself? Why can't I just be normal like everybody else?

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Continue reading "NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 1: 'Dodging Bears'"

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 1, 2012 at 8:12 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink