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Photo by Gary Burgess from his Arctic adventures ... Read Part 1 of On the Road with Gary below
May 12th Edition
In This Issue:
The Little Weather Quickie for the Greater Charlotte Area
for Week of May 12-19, 2015
Wednesday 85h & p-cloudy, Thursday 81h & p-cloudy, Friday 82h & 30% rain, Saturday 83h & 60% rain, Sunday 85h & 60% rain, Monday 88h & 50% rain, Tuesday 88h & 60% rain (as per www.intellicast.com on 05/12/15)
Last week's Boo Boos...!
No, guys, that isn't "boobs" in the title; it's boo-boo's. In other words, errors.
That's what last week's magazine was plagued with - some technically-inflicted boo boos. And I'd like to apologize to Tim "Slick" Shatley that the boo boo monster hit his debut story in The Carolina Rider Weekly Magazine. Drat! Most sorry, Slick. We failed ya, man. And so a do-over this week. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you missed him last week or if you missed the part of his story that got gobbled up by the boo boo monster, please welcome (back) Tim Shatley as a new writer to the pages of our publications. A fine writer, we look forward to hearing more from him.
The errors did not, of course, end with Tim and another bit of our mag was missing last week. Did you notice what? Gimme a shout if you found the missing piece and I'll mail you a TCR Tuff!
When I was a kid, family and friends would show up at the house periodically with slides from their travels. There'd be coffee perked and cookies baked readied for the screen to go up in the living room and the slide projector to click click click through the most boring entertainment a kid could hope for! My parent's had their own slide shows at times too when their travels took them to places of interest to the aunts and uncles. "Uggh!," grumped my inner child thoughts.
There were also these things called Travelogs that were held at Ovens Auditorium. They were a grander scale of the home slideshows .. and somewhat like the National Geographic movies we saw at school. I actually liked the Travelogs ... really liked them. But I think that's because there was a lot more production and more info to keep my interest.
Thankfully, Gary Burgess is more Travelog and much less the boring living room slide projector! Gary tells about his trips with a slice of humor and apple pie as he rides across our country and beyond. His photos spread a great flavor on the toast and jam of his travels and his personal sharing bring up issues we've all crossed or might cross if we ride far and long enough. He warned me that his detail-rich writing might best be shared in small bites rather than a full plate. And so this week we begin following "On the Road with Gary" and start with the most important meal of the day.
Wash your hands and get to the table!
I'm on Facebook ... "friend me!"
EDITOR'S NOTE: We put out a call for women who ride to write about their ride ... and here's what a couple of devoted and long-riding ladies shared with us! Thank you, Diane and Germaine. Your stories amuse and inspire us as we recall our own riding lives!
I have been riding since 1974. My first bike was a Yamaha 125 street and trail bike. Never did trail riding but took the safety course at Midlands Tech and just knew that was the bike for me....but it didn't take me long to realize I needed a bigger bike. So I got a 1975 Yamaha 500. My bike was just 5 days old. When riding to work a power line broke from a school building. It landed right between my handlebars and my headlight. It was a live wire that packed quite a punch. It melted holes in the metal frame of my bike. Did over $700.00 worth of damage to the bike. It did a whiplash, I went one way and the bike went the other. Needless to say I took flight over the handlebars and slid a good ways on the asphalt. Had a lot of gravel in my elbows, bruised and sore but no broken bones. I do believe the good Lord was on my buddy seat that day. I was wearing a helmet. My accident was on the 6:00 news. Freak accident they said!! LOL
I did not hesitate to ride again as soon as SCE&G bought me a new bike, same as I had. I love riding. It is a passion for me. Back in the seventies not so many women rode motorcycles. I remember back then when I would stop at a stoplight and a car would pull up beside me, they would look over, look away and then take a second quick look and I could see them utter the words "It's a Woman!"
That still happens today. Though the words have changed a bit to "It's an Old Woman!"
July 16, I will be 70 years old. I have been riding motorcycles for 40 years. I now ride a 2006 Harley Heritage Softail Classic. I have ridden lots of miles through the years. I enjoy riding in various local charities and love riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have always ridden my own motorcycle. I have never rode "bitch" and not likely to start now…lol!
I Want to Ride a Motorcycle!
MY decision / MY commitment
I learned “how to ride” correctly in a safe environment, and from certified instructors
It was a July, sunny, hot, humid morning in Charlotte, NC when I arrived at the school where I was to learn how to ride a motorcycle taught by state certified instructors. Sweating profusely while carrying gloves and helmet and wearing high top boots, heavy jeans and long sleeve shirt, I was both scared and excited. The last thing I wanted was to make of fool of myself, you know, like dropping the bike or running over someone’s toes! I didn’t want to be a “girly girl” that could not handle a bike. But since I have always been a klutz, I chose the smallest bike available for this (first) important class – a little, red 125cc Honda.
Taking baby steps to learn the riding basics, we initially just sat on the non-started bikes with kickstands down and learned how to mount / dismount, sit on and stand up with the bike, noted where the starter button, kill switch, turn signals, brakes and clutch were located and how to work them – the meat of the ride. Then we took turns just pushing each other on still non-started bikes while in neutral gear, for the rider to get their first feel of the bike without the engine vibration shaking their last nerve. We then started the bikes and used the kill switch to off them quickly. Later in the class, we learned how to steer at lower speeds and then to press on the handlebars at higher speeds (to deflect the tires) and turn without steering (very similar in concept to bicycling). Most of the riding exercises on day 1, as I remember, were executed while in the first two gears – slow riding – until we learned to handle the bike in various ways. We did also practice shifting gears at proper speeds, getting up to 3rd gear maybe once, then downshifting and braking properly, oh yes, and how to “pick up” a dropped bike.
FAILING the course (1X) may have saved my life!
Taking the class a 2nd time that fall, my confidence was up a bit as I knew what to expect. I chose the 250cc Honda and did a lot better. Heck, I was now the “experienced” rider in the class for beginners. I could answer questions asked and help some of the other ladies when I could. We had 2 male instructors that time and they were just as hard on us as the females in Class 1…. It was their job to teach us right (like marine boot camp), so we could stay alive on two wheels and stay OUT of the trenches. I passed that time, yea! And then….my “open road” learning curve BEGAN!
PASSING the course (1X) only begins a Lifetime of Learning
I waited out the winter and looked for a deal on a used bike. My husband felt that this whole bike thing would just pass as I phased thru pre-menopause. But then I asked him ...
at the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy
Since as far back as I can remember, motorcycling has always intrigued me. I had a dirt bike for a short time when I was a kid, hell, if you could call that little putter a dirt bike, and that was the only experience I ever really had on two wheels that involved a motor. Riding kind of ran in my family. My dad used to tell stories of his younger “rebellious” days about his misadventures on two wheels. My aunt had a Fat Bob and my uncle, when he grew tired of “ridin’ bitch,” bought himself a Sportster. Any time I brought up the idea of us getting Harleys of our own, my father would simply reply, “I’ve had enough stitches to sew up that pair of Levi’s you’re wearing. I’m done with it,” though I suspect it was just as much about what the neighbors would say if they heard those loud pipes breaking up the silence of their Saturday mornings. And so I put all this “motorcycle nonsense” on the backburner. But when the road calls long enough, it’s damned hard not to answer, or at least hear what it has to say before you slam the door in its face.
With this in mind, I figured the New Year was as good time a time as any to get around to unfinished business, and decided it was time to get my endorsement. Besides, I was fresh out of grad school with my first “big boy” job teaching high school kids the finer points of mathematics, and I was slightly afraid all this newfound responsibility would make me a boring asshole. However, those lectures of making textiles and broken bones that my dad gave me as a kid lingered on and I decided it probably wasn’t the best idea for me to go about this on my own. It’s not like putting together chip core furniture from Wal-Mart where “I sure as hell don’t need no damned instruction book;” there was a little more at stake here. So I signed up for the first course that came available, the Harley-Davidson New Rider Academy at Harley-Davidson of Charlotte.
The course started on a Thursday night, and I had at least an hour and a half drive to Charlotte in rush hour traffic, making this the perfect opportunity to sneak out of work a little early and hit the road. I’m glad I did. I had just enough time to eat a Colorado Omelet from the IHOP beside the dealership before the class started. If you haven’t tried it, I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you are a fellow meat enthusiast. But I digress…
I walked into the classroom with just enough time for some idle chat with my classmates, and what a band did we make. There was me, a high school teacher, a few retired vets, one active duty vet looking to get an endorsement before he shipped out to Italy, a couple of people from India who wanted to get back into riding here in the states, an older fellow who had bought a Heritage and promised his wife he wouldn’t ride until he had taken a safety course, and an App State grad who… hell, I don’t remember what he did if I’m being honest (sorry, Baxter…). The point is, outside of that class we would have never crossed paths, and even if we had I doubt we’d have found any common ground. But here we were, because of this “motorcycle nonsense” that had brought us together. The call of the road is some powerful shit.
Quickly after, it was time to get the show started. The first instructor to speak was Jon Pendleton, a veritable mountain of a man who from that first time he opened his southern mouth I could tell was my kind of people. The other was Amy Hope, the very image of the quintessential biker chick and one of the friendliest people I have had the pleasure of making acquaintance with in my life. That first night was spent in the books, but my mind kept wandering to the back of the room, towards the fleet of motorcycles we would be riding that weekend. That next day was quite easily the longest day of work that I’ve ever had to endure.
Saturday came and I got to the dealership and was greeted by a beautiful sight: that bunch of bikes sitting out on the range with the engines running, warming up for the day ahead. I remember grabbing the front brake lever, swinging my leg over the bike and standing it up. Damn, was I ready! Then came the instructions: with the bike cut off and in neutral, push it down the range to the start position. I learned a very valuable lesson here: pushing a bike is not nearly as fun as riding a bike. That’ll be in the back of my mind when it comes time to service my bike or fill up on gas.
Very soon we were up and riding. Within 45 minutes I came to a stop and dropped the damn thing, toppling to the pavement. Jon walked over and said, “You know why that happened? Your handlebars weren’t square when you stopped.” That’s a mistake I wouldn’t make twice (at least in the course, but I’m pretty sure that lesson will stick. Wounded pride heals slowly). That first day of slow speed maneuvers and such wore me the hell out. The instructors had warned us that we’d be sore the next day, but I’ve got a habit of not believing something until I’ve tried it for myself. Like the Monkees, I’m a believer now. By the second day, we were covering things like cornering, swerving, quick stopping, etc. I found that already the nerves that had me shaking in my boots that first day (though I wouldn’t admit it then, and wouldn’t be too keen on y’all sharing it now) had up and disappeared. There wasn’t time to be nervous, we had shit to do!
Man, what a weekend. Between the things I learned in that classroom and the skills I learned out on the range, I had motorcycle knowledge leaking out of my ears. I went from not sitting on a bike in years to confidently (perhaps even overly so) weaving through cones with a shit-eating grin on my face, and building skills that I may have to call upon one day to save my life, or at the very least save me some stitching. But I think the most important lesson I learned is this: I haven’t even scratched the surface. As riders, there’s always new stuff for us to learn and skills to improve. There will always be new roads, new friends, and new stories. This is just the first step, the first twist of the throttle. And I can already tell, I’m in for one hell of a ride.
Tim “Slick” Shatley
On the Road with Gary- Part 1
Let's start from the beginning ...
Breakfast on the Road!
What sorts of people do you meet at breakfast while on your trips?
There is much truth to stopping at the place with all the cars. I have spent 2,500+/- nights in hotels primarily from working in 8 countries and 30 states as an engineer.
When you ride a motorcycle you have the chance to study the countryside and establishments. You can sense weather and good places to eat. Eating is part of the adventure and you are not on a necessary schedule.
I break the trip up and eat sometimes as soon as I see a good place. I might be on the road at 8 AM or earlier but typically it is 8:30 or after. I have a target of eating breakfast sometime before 10:30 so I have 100 + miles to cover and find a good place.
Most places in the remote areas serve a good breakfast. It is their big money maker and almost all offer a Hungry Man / Big Boy / Big Man / Trucker’s / Farmer’s / Hunter’s, etc. breakfast sometimes for a very good price. This breakfast will generally hold me until 7 to 9 PM when I typically eat dinner. In Canada breakfast often includes beans and a greater variety of meats including Canadian bacon.
You will find these places in the middle of nowhere and typically 100% of the people will be locals. Many of them will have traveled very little as they have to tend to their farms / small businesses. (Some I think don’t want to miss anything in their home town.) Most will tell you where they have traveled to as they often want to relate to you and your travels. It is generally one big trip for them. In Alberta it was a trip to Vancouver, BC (guy in black T shirt below) on his Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle. He sold the bike as it was too hard to turn around despite living in the middle of nowhere and not down town Tokyo.
More Meals & People
"In remote areas you better be there by 8 if you want to eat dinner."
In Alaska I met Jack Gustafson from Glennallen as I had corresponded with him. To him the best view of Anchorage was in the rearview mirror as it was too big, too crowded, etc. The population of Anchorage is 300,000 and the land area is almost 2,000 square miles. Charlotte is 1,000,000 and 300 square miles.
I had lunch at a restaurant overlooking a stream in Anchorage while the Honda shop changed my tires. I arranged the deal prior to leaving and felt somewhat pleased they were only $600 installed or only $100 to $200 more here in Charlotte for Dunlop Elite’s.
The key is to sit near the most interesting people and nod but do not speak to one of the “table leaders” as you sit down. They know you are not from there and although curious they are apprehensive. This begins to break the ice. Saying something nice to the waitress (waiter) and asking a question will help confirm that you are interested in their part of the country.
It is interesting to listen to their discussions as often they stay and talk with each other long after eating. Often essentially everyone in the restaurant is invited to listen. Once you speak – you have them speaking and asking questions - again the key is not speaking to them too soon.
You can find out a lot from them as to what to see and do, roads to take, things to avoid, etc. Normally you want a 40 to 55 year old male as they will have the most relevant experience. You will have 55 to 85+ year olds that can add value but sometimes the information is dated.
The last place you want to stop is where there is a tour bus as you will have 20 plus people looking over your motorcycle asking questions and telling stories. Time is precious and you do not want to be rude or waste too much time answering questions with people that have time to kill.
While under the Mackinaw Bridge I could not avoid a tour bus and a 70+ year old black lady wanting to sit on my bike and have her picture taken. A 65+ year old “chuffy” lady deciding she wanted her picture also - only realizing that it is not that easy to get on a motorcycle. My bike has a back rest so you just don’t swing your leg over the saddle – it is more like raising your leg in a folded positon.
I did have a late breakfast, albeit, almost noon in Alaska with a gentleman that lived across the lake in the middle of nowhere. He came to “town” which was just a combination gas station / small grocery store / diner / post office. He would cross the lake in boat or sled depending on the time of year. He was about 70. He bought two large bottles of reconstituted lemon juice and nothing else - as he lived off the land. In much of Alaska, if you dig a cellar you have both a refrigerator and freezer depending on the depth and time of year. If you have electricity leaving a light on will generally provide you with a refrigerator year round according to Roger Bliss – Wasilla, AK.
This gentleman said when he got too old to care for himself, he would sit outside and let the bears have him just as he had had them. He was not boasting, but was just a matter of fact, as he enjoyed his life in isolation with nature. Although sincere, I wondered when the day came if he would follow through with it and whether God would consider it being part of nature or suicide.
Traveling early in the morning to often past dusk provides you with 12 +/- hours a day to reflect / to think of your life and the lives of others. Their words come back to you. You also realize you are seeing so little. It would have been a highlight to my trip if I wished I could have visited “Mr. Bear” and see his cabin. Family / work / etc. keeps you from taking the time.
I had breakfast in a campground behind an RV. The owner had bought a 2013 Wing after retiring - having rode Harley Davidson’s as a police officer in LA and was eager to have me stay. We had a beer and watched baseball on the side of his RV – one of three big screen TV’s. The next morning I had warm Danish and coffee waiting for me. I stayed behind their RV I could not find a camp ground that wasn’t full and had been misled by various locals in attempting to find one.
I gave him some things, one of which was a tour guide of the Budweiser Factory – which they were somewhat aware of and decided they would go, especially after learning that Merrimack, N.H. was one of only three places with Clydesdales.
I also had breakfast in Denali that as I camped behind an RV as the park was full – except for tent camping in which you had to park and walk three quarters of a mile from. I left them with guides and nice stuff that I picked out of the trash that morning in the Post Office. I mailed a box home to lighten my load and again could not see these items going to waste. I chose things that I thought the RV people would like.
Just as I could not fit everything in the one price box – I envisioned others simply throwing away what would not fit in their boxes. The people I stayed with, welcomed my gifts. They lived in their RV year around with their daughter getting their mail. I could tell they were rich – one of the sweaters was very nice and I could only think about this rich lady wearing a sweater pulled from the trash as she genuinely liked it. Since they would not take money – I left them with some travel books that I had bought probably from the library. He welcomed the “25 cent” guides. I stayed there as I need to drop off my things, secure a place to stay and still make the last Denali Bus Tour.
On my way to Albany, NY I had breakfast and lunch at rest stops in which charity groups bid for the chance to offer food and drink during the ‘Holiday’ weekend. The Boy Scouts in Pennsylvania had a nice selection of 24/7 food, drink and conversation accepting any donation. The Lions did a good job in New York. I found out that the Lions collect glasses for the metal such as gold. I always wondered who was wearing my donated glasses and how they could match the prescription with the person. With numerous charities competing for this fund raising opportunity most were lucky to work one or two Holidays a year.
In Beaverlodge, AB I had chance to have high tea in the Visitor / Welcome Center. My wife is into tea and I wish she could have been there. They even had the American Flag flying to welcome Americans. The Building above the beaver’s tail is where you could have tea – free.
Traveling affords you chance to visit cities with interesting names. Many of these names reflect the area that they were named after such as Beaverlodge. My Gold Wing has taken me to interesting places such as Burgess Junction, WY where I had lunch at a soda counter, with dry goods behind my swivel chair. A veterinarian tried to encourage me to attend the upcoming rodeo in Cheyenne. Cheyenne, Cody and Calgary are some of the World’s top rodeos. I have been to all, just never had time for seeing the Stampede’s.
Other cities include Chicken, AK (Population 7) was an interesting lunch. The food was good but limited to what they had. If you ever traveled to Chicken you know the roads are a challenge. I was fortunate to climb a “torn up” section of road with loose soil / gravel and undulations that would ground the belly of the Wing. (I have a belly pan on my Wing for such.) I do not think I could have safely negotiated it had I been going downhill. Chicken got its name as the locals could not pronounce or spell the state bird – ptarmigan.
In Dawson, YT I had dinner with the only other Gold Wing rider I met (in the extreme north) at Diamond Tooth’s Gerties.
That is him trying to take the garter off the smiling young dancer. She worked cruise ships and other venues during the off season or the other 9 months of the year.
Most of the town was shutting down the next week or essentially the first week in September. Dawson is nice in that you have welcome centers for both the Yukon and the Northwest Territories right across the street from each other. There they advised me not to try and run the Dempster Highway as one poor fellow had fallen three times the day before and the weather forecast was for 14o F and snow. As much as they want you to visit both Territories as the Dempster spans both of them, they don’t like to see you get hurt. Later I wondered if my Wing would start in 14o F.
The Gold Wing rider was from Florida and had spent the last 22 months working in the Middle East. He realized he could save on Federal Taxes if he spent the next two months out of the US. When he crossed the border he was asked what we all are asked – “Where are you going and how long will you be staying?”
I helped him carry his stuff to his room and we agreed to meet for dinner after he downloaded his photos / videos. I stayed in the Bunk House where the room was small, there was no heat and the bathroom was communal. His was at an old saloon hotel where he had TV, heat, desk, and bath. Many of the city blocks had dirt roads and it rained while we were eating. The rain lasted till the next morning. The parking lot of the Bunk House was close to the highway so I did not have to slip and slide as I headed out to hopefully try to run the Dempster.
In Fort Liard, NWT there wasn’t a place open for breakfast. The attendant where I bought gas from (again being on empty and needing it desperately), told me of an Indian that sometimes served breakfast and / or lunch in his home and / or lunch trailer. Locating the Indian I found out that he would not be cooking and it would not be until I made it back to the Yukon would I have something to eat i.e. 2 PM +/-
This gas station was in the center of town. This consisted or one corner being an empty lot with 2 huge buffalos resting, an Indian Tribal Council Building, a store and then the gas station. The Station was to open at 7 AM and the attendant, a young Indian girl, ran to open the store as it was a few minutes after and I was there. I sensed that my 5+ gallon purchase would make for an even better day. With town only being a few blocks in either direction albeit it a few more blocks going north and a few less going east or west, you don’t drive to work – you walk.
Getting ready to pump gas, the Buffalo decided to walk over and see me. I reached for my camera that I keep hung from a lanyard around my neck only to find out that the batteries dead. As I reached for my other camera in my breast pocket an Indian in a pick-up truck drove the buffalo off and ran them out of town. Needless to say I was disappointed and when I went back in the station where I expressed my disappointment. The attendant, said he was the local crazy (every town has one).
In Broken Bow, NE I stopped to hydrate and maybe have a hot apple pie, small fry or hamburger, I sat next to a family that traveled 50 miles just to eat at the McDonald’s. Three generations were there and their young boy of 5+/- thought kept sneaking looks at me. He was first shy but as I was leaving he said he was going to an astronaut and ride motorcycle like me. Now that gave me thought for the rest of the day.
The North has more ethnic restaurants as the South was more of a blend of nationalities. I had lunch with my sister and brother-in-law at City Hall in my home town of Bay City, MI on my return from the Arctic. Again the food is near and dear while being very wholesome and good.
Bay City’s South side was Polish, the North Side German, the West Side French and the East Side Irish.
On my return from Quebec it was guys breakfast and then night out with Mike Buda the former Mayor and my sister’s husband. We had breakfast at Krzysiak’s for their buffet that my Dad enjoyed. Mike growing up in the South End along with being the former Mayor for 3 + terms was in his element. The Cute Young Lady was also enjoyed her food with Mickey and Minnie.
In the evening we went to the Old Great Wall Buffet, also a favorite of my folks, while my sister went to TOPS.
In St. Albans / Spring Hill WV I had lunch with Ken Tyree overlooking the Kanawha River and above a motorcycle repair shop. Ken will talk your ear off and at one time almost everyone knew Ken as he was nonstop 20+ hours a day. Ken is the only rider that I have rode Gold Wings with to both peninsula states.
With no restaurants open in Derby Line, VT I found a good place - Rest-o-Coq just north of my border in Stanstead, QC. This was my second “bean” breakfast and here I left AAA Guides and Welcome Center Information with someone specifically interested in the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire of which I had every brochure.
It was also my second time for having baked beans for breakfast. The first was at an American Legion Breakfast in Weare, NH. It was essentially my only choice for breakfast as I was on back road highways in the middle of nowhere.
I was lucky on my return from Quebec to have pie and coffee just before The Texan closed with John Tippman a high school buddy. The Texan opened in 1969 or the year we graduated from High School and was a fixture to Friday / Saturday night cruisers or five years earlier than Arnold’s Drive-in and the sitcom Happy Days.
LOOK! in the online Gallery for tons of photos from my Arctic Journey! 200+ pics now and more to come!
Coming up next in Gary's "On the Road" Series: Motorcycle Safety Gear
HOG Happenin's Happenin'
So it's the 10th year of Lincolnton's big town event and once again The Carolina Rider will be present and accounted for. The organizers of HOG Happenin' say they've been very busy getting ready for the downtown BBQ and Bikes happenin' that happens every year on a weekend at the beginning of June. We've enjoyed the hometown flavor as well as the smell of smoldering meats that waft through the air beginning on Friday as the Kansas City Barbeque Society-Sanctioned NC State Championship Barbeque Cook-off gets underway. On Saturday there are motorcycles parked up and down main street - some part of the show, some just folks coming for the festivities. They've got a poker run, bike show, and bike games .. and there's usually a burn out contest somewhere in town ... just follow the burning rubber!
The BIG RIDE 2 will be set up to enjoy the whole deal at HOG Happenin' June 5-6. But first, on to Maggie Valley next weekend for Mopar and Hawgs.
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