Leica M-A with self timer

Leica M-A, 35 Summilux ASPH (11874), self-timer

This is the first, and only, Leica M-A on planet Earth with an integrated self timer. The timer mechanism and lever are original replacement parts for an M2, made in black chrome in the 1980’s – despite the M2 itself never being available in black chrome.

Leica M-A, 35 Summilux ASPH (11874), self-timer

IMO, the M-A is the perfect camera simply because it is a fully mechanical rangefinder, completely devoid of electronics, manufactured today. A modern mechanical camera in the electronic/digital era. Built in the style of the M3, M2, M4 with that stripped down, knowledge based approach to photographing in mind. Simple. Tough. Old school. The fastest cameras in the world if you know what you’re doing.

I’ve owned this camera since early 2016 and I’ve shot just shy of 500 rolls of film with it. Perfect, perfect, perfect. It’s just… every once in a while I wished it had a self timer. And now it does. Thanks, Don!

The images above are just garbage-y iPhone snaps of the negatives on a light table. Proof of operation. Here are some photos of the camera’s transformation:

DECADE PROJECT UPDATE

JANUARY 21, 2022

The ten years of shooting for this project ended on New Year’s Eve, with me half undressed in the cold, getting hit in the face with whipped cream pies. The End.

Ten years of obsessive picture taking and documentation complete. Based on my best estimate, over 80,000 frames in all (Ok: exact estimate is 83,891). A ridiculous, excessive number of photographs. But I stuck to the plan, conformed to the rules, and now the decade is behind me.

The hard work lies ahead for 2022: EDITING.

I plan to work through the edit sequentially, meeting (or corresponding) with editors in order, beginning with an early February session with Beto (2012 Editor), then moving through the edits for each year of the book. Conservatively, I assume this work will last well into the fall, but I will post occasional progress reports here.

GOALS/PLANS:

BOOK. Whether self published or not, the end product of this photo adventure will be a book.

PARTY. Ideally, some kind of book release party toward the end of the year, maybe even some pictures on the walls.

When the book is ready and/or there is an event to announce, I’ll be reaching out to everyone with the details. If this ends up being a self-published kickstarter, pre-order sort of affair, I’ll email around the details. If, through some fortunate turn of events, some more legitimate outlet presents itself, I’ll share those details instead.

Anyway – the work is beginning. There will be something to share before the end of the year.

Stay tuned if you wish.

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 13

Amazing color image courtesy of ryan schude.

JULY 1, 2021 – CHICAGO, IL TO PITTSBURGH, PA

492.8 Brutal Miles

[START OF AUDIO]: All right. It’s July 1st. Holy fuck. I’m somewhere in Ohio [inaudible 00:00:10]. The entire day has been rather [inaudible 00:00:27] The rainstorm in the morning was wonderful [inaudible 00:00:33] breakfast, coffee, lunch. It’s delightful. Went to a car wash, blasted the bugs off the front of the bike and left town. But once I left town the entire trip descended into a relentless pain in the ass. Traffic in Chicago. Lunatic drivers in the city. Stop and go traffic…

Once made it out of the city and headed toward Indiana it was nothing but fucking WIND and fucking TOLLS. Tolls that don’t accept credit cards but [inaudible 00:01:22] Wind. The fucking wind, fucking wind. Wind, wind, wind, and then more aggressive-driving assholes. I stay out of the way and whatever, and ride carefully but it was irritating.

Also – I’ve been hydrating like crazy today, as I had become accustomed to doing this in the west. It’s been 80-something degrees every day, 90-something in some cases. Anyway – you drink a lot of water is the point. Everybody warns you to drink a lot of water. You don’t want to get dehydrated. It can happen. You may not realize it’s happening because you’re on the bike. Today, I kept up the hydration but it was only 70 degrees. So instead of perspiring and sweating it all out, I’ve had to stop and piss somewhere between 60 and 150 fucking times. Anyway, I may not have mention this but it has been windy. There has been traffic. There have been, a lot of not just traffic, but a lot of vehicles on the interstate, overall. Congestion. Just for mental breaks to calm my nerves and also to fucking piss like crazy, I’ve stopped a lot today. Incredibly hard to make progress and cover some miles. I never really got into a groove. It’s been super irritating. Wind. Traffic. Tolls. Endless pissing.

West Giveashit, Indiana. Home of the Mike Pence Tornado Minivan Motherfuckers.

Also – this happened once before maybe in Nevada or Idaho or something… that the SENA comms on the fucking helmet went out. I think there’s a hard reset somewhere, but I can’t get it to work. So, I’m not listening to music. I’m not listening to the nice Garmin robot woman who’s been in my fucking head telling me where to go. Just the sound of wind in the helmet and the incessant swarms of tractor trailers and psychotic drivers trying to break the sound barrier in their minivans. I’m stopping a lot – like every 50 miles, every 20 miles, even, and anytime I need to take a piss, anytime I see a rest stop, really. Honestly, tonight – every time I see a rest stop I’m pulling over. Fuck it. I’m stopping for just a few minutes each time just to keep my head – and that’s what I did right now. Just got some gas and now I’m just taking a break. Just trying to clear my head, breathe, and relax and not let the hours of frustration today break my spirit.

I’m going all the way to Pittsburg. I don’t think it’s quite 200 miles away. It might be 150 or so. I’m going to get there. If I have to stop a dozen times, two dozen times, I’m going all the god damned way to Pittsburgh. I’m probably going to get there after 2:00 in the morning. I’m not tired. I’m actually wide awake. A break [inaudible 00:03:58] respecting the fact that it [inaudible 00:04:11] I feel like today is a bad day of motorcycling. I think maybe part of the equation is that I’m moving through the center of the country, heading east where it’s maybe more densely populated. The interstate is more densely packed, for sure. Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy all day, too. It continues to be windy now. Nerve rattling wind. Fuck the wind.

I’m repeating myself, I realize. There are lots of trucks on the road. Other than trucks hauling their shit you have drivers who are there in the center lane and in the left lane [inaudible 00:05:04] 80, 90 miles an hour. It’s just a bit much. I’m very much looking forward to the next milestones [inaudible 00:05:15] [inaudible 00:05:24] The first milestone is in a hundred miles from here. That’s when I get off of Interstate 80 and onto I-76. The second milestone, which I’m really looking forward to… it’s a big milestone in the trip.

East Killmenow, Ohio.

Today, tonight – I get off this fucking interstate that’s taken me all the way out of Chicago through Illinois, all of Indiana and will take me through all of Ohio. I at least get to– Well, it won’t take me through all of Ohio. It will almost take me all the way out of Ohio. Anyway, once I diverge– divert rather, onto I-76, I’m heading toward Pennsylvania. Then crossing the Pennsylvania border I think will be a moment of great internal celebration, then of course the third milestone for the night will be arriving in Pittsburg itself.

I’m getting into my fucking bed. I have not mentioned him yet, but Peter is what I’m calling him. Peter is named after Peter Sellers, and he is a British man who has been LIVING IN MY HEAD and coming out of my mouth for much of the journey this whole time. He has a very soothing manner and he talks me through the experience. He has been my guide.

I don’t know if this is an indication that I’ve lost my mind or whether it’s actually an indication [inaudible 00:07:31] miles [inaudible 00:07:41] or so. I’ll be getting back on the bike in a moment, getting back on Interstate 80 [inaudible 00:07:52] for that and then Pete will take control again to help me through the next miles until I divert onto I-76, the first of three celebrations ahead. [END OF AUDIO]

[START OF AUDIO]: 4:10 AM July 2nd. I’m at a Wyndham downtown in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I fucking made it. That was the hardest day. I’m looking at a river, the Allegheny, I think, Three Rivers Stadium, and a rather empty downtown. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh before and I am struck by how big it is. It feels as big or bigger than Philadelphia, and I thought the opposite was true, but perhaps it’s the delirium and relief and exhaustion distorting my senses. Philly must be bigger, but Pittsburgh appears huge at the moment.

This is a big city. Whatever. I’m here. I’m grateful to be here. Delighted to be here. My checkout isn’t until 1:00 PM. I’m going to sleep. I’m so fucking happy. I have a valeted bike which just means that I parked it against the front of the building by the valet’s window. The Pigeon is safe. We did I think just shy of 500 miles, just shy, one and a half or two miles shy, and all of those miles were HARD MILES all caps. I’m just going to plug in my phone and my helmet, I’m going to brush my teeth, I’m going to draw the shades, put the thingy on the door, and sleep. [END OF AUDIO]

[START OF AUDIO]: An addendum. Just a few minutes later. As I undress, just noting that it got cold. When I stopped at my last rest stop, fuck, my body– I went into the handicapped stall again and put on my thermal pants and my puffy jacket, which involves taking off the motorcycle pants, the boots, the whole thing. Did that and then came out and I went into the 7-Eleven that was part of the rest stop structure. I got a $2.49 bean and cheese burrito from the grab-it-and-go case.

I will say, I sat there in the food court by myself, like the only human being on earth. That bean and cheese burrito was the best thing I ever ate in my life. I was so hungry and cold and I think, unbeknownst to me, ravenous. It was so fucking good. Then I had warm clothes on and I knew that it was just the final stretch, and it was. [END OF AUDIO]

Sweet, Glorious Pittsburgh, PA.
Pittsburg as viewed from the windless safety of a hotel room.

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 12

JUNE 30, 2021 – Minneapolis, MN to chicago, IL

Pidge in front of 7th Street Entry – note the WALT MINK star

RECORDED EAST OF MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MN

[START OF AUDIO] What is it? June the 30th, give or take. I’m about 30 miles, 35 miles, 40 miles east of Minneapolis. My stop for the evening will be Ashley and Travis’s home in Chicago. By the way – when I was in Pasadena, I went to Sammy’s Camera and bought a couple of SD cards and some Energizer AA batteries, and last night, I installed those brand new batteries in this audio recorder and they were dead. Here I am at a truck stop east of Minneapolis, and I got new AA batteries and we’re back in business.

Yesterday was a glorious ride, all business. I stayed in a hotel in Minneapolis, met a couple of people this morning, and photographed them on the bike. Names, for the record: his, Courvoisier, just like the cognac, and hers: Chevy. They were stylish, they were cool, they were awesome, they sat on the bike, I took their photos both with the Leica and the Rolleiflex. Then I stopped by First Avenue on my way out of town, took some photos of the bike outside the venue with the Walt Mink star in the background. I felt like that was a must to do. Not a lot of photos yesterday because it was a day of travel and that’s pretty much going to be the plan for the rest of the trip.

Chevy & Courvoisier

I have… not a map… but I have plotted a route home. This new, purposeful, get-home, get-to-a-destination approach rather than ride until you feel like you’ve had enough took me– it’s a four-day, four-bullet point adventure. Bullet 1 on the list was Minneapolis, Bullet 2 is Chicago, Bullet 3 is Cleveland, Bullet 4 is Brooklyn. The mileage is pretty… I was going to say conservative, which it isn’t, but it’s doable. All of the days are in the 300+ range. That’s not true. Yesterday, it was 460. Today and tomorrow are in the 300s.

I think my plan will just be honestly for the first time [inaudible 00:03:05] set an alarm, get up early, hit the road early. Admittedly, some mornings I’ve just been up, puttering around, having coffee, like today, not really getting going in earnest until noon. Here I am having started at noon and I’m already pulled over and I’m only 35 miles into the ride. Whatever. Anyway, I wanted to check back in with the audio recorder. I’m going to keep it in the trunk and if I pull over after 200 miles or whatever, maybe I’ll bust it back out and record some more updates. Otherwise, that’ll happen tonight or tomorrow. Okay. Bye. [END OF AUDIO]

RECORDED IN CHICAGO, IL

[START OF AUDIO] [clears throat] June 30th, 11:36 PM Central Time. (The past few entries have all been Central Time, by the way.) North Magnolia Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Ashley and Travis’s house. I got here around 8:00 PM, did about 415 miles today, give or take. Glorious ride, another day in which the destination was the thing. Not as many photographs. 200 miles, and then a stop, then 200 more miles here. The end. The Pigeon is parked in their garage. Tonight, I have a guest bedroom and guest bathroom all to myself. I am happy, and The Pigeon is happy. We had Thai food and a couple of beers, shot the shit for a few hours. It was wonderful. Played with their dog Violet.

Garaged in Chicago.

Tonight, at some point, their cat will come back to the house, but I will be asleep when that happens. Just sitting on the back deck now. In the distance to the– I think it’s to the Northeast — there’s some lightning. It rained here heavily, I think, shortly before I arrived. It was not raining at all while I was riding. There was a fair amount of evidence of a heavy rainfall, deep puddles, and so on. Lots of steam, the air was particularly fragrant. Anyway, not much to report but that I am here, I made it. It was a lovely ride, another day in which the motorcycling itself was the activity that mattered.

I have amended tomorrow’s itinerary. I’m not going to stop in Cleveland. I am going to shoot past Cleveland and attempt to stay in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I think A, why stop in Cleveland? B, Pittsburgh is a weird, cool place. Also, I think it will be more palatable psychologically to wake up on the last day in Pennsylvania, and know that I am riding home rather than waking up in Ohio and having to get all the way home from there. Just a little bit closer, a little bit less daunting a final day. A little bit of an extra push tomorrow, which will reduce the mileage on the final day. Hopefully, I won’t arrive home too terribly late and therefore I won’t be too exhausted in the morning when we leave for the lake. Anyway, that’s the update.

At the Car WaRsh.

This morning in Minneapolis, before I departed, I photographed a couple whose names were Courvoisier and Chevy. They were super nice, and I sat them on the bike and took their photo. I think probably I already mentioned this, now that I think about it. Anyway, they were great, just making sure I noted it. Tomorrow will be another day entirely on the bike, just eating up the miles, interstates pretty much the whole way. Hopefully, arrive in Pittsburgh safely, find a place to stay. Then my next and final stop will be in Brooklyn, New York, where I live, believe it or not. [END OF AUDIO]

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 11

JUNE 28, 2021 – JORDAN, MT TO BISMARCK, ND

RECORDED IN BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA

[START OF AUDIO] [zipper zips] I am at the Wyndham Hotel, room 308, Bismarck, North Dakota. Woof. Let me not start with woof. It was a glorious day.

I left the Garfield Hotel after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in about 47 years. Ate breakfast back at the Summit Corral with my bike buddies, then left town. Beautiful weather, empty roads, glorious. Was briefly delayed when the two-lane road was cut down to one lane to allow for construction, so I was stopped at a red light waiting for the pilot car to come back – the car shuttles between red lights at either end of the construction zone, leading vehicles one way, then the other. So, I sat there by myself for some time and then another BMW motorcycle guy showed up. He and I talked for about 10 minutes while we waited. Then, we followed the pilot car over gravel and dirt and were on our way.

Mark.

Then – just a beautiful day of riding, really in my comfort zone. I’ve finally adopted the correct riding position for the bike, and so now riding on it at fairly high speed, irrespective of wind, curves, whatever, is fairly effortless. I think at the outset I was riding too upright, so I was getting knocked around by the wind more than necessary and encountering minor issues that vanished once I corrected my riding position.

Once I put my body in a more aggressive position, which I did initially to combat the wind, I realized this is how you’re supposed to be seated. Eating up the miles and traveling faster is easier. Intimidation and fear have dropped away. Again, not that I don’t respect the danger, but I’m no longer trepidatious in terms of my handling of the bike. Crossed from Montana into North Dakota, beautiful scenery the whole way.

I stopped at the sign announcing one’s arrival at North Dakota. There was a woman, and I assume her two daughters, also pulled off the road by the sign taking photos. I photographed them, they photographed me in front of the sign, and then I took off while they were all still pointing their iPhones at each other.

Then, however many miles farther down the road, there was another= scenic vista, so I decided to pull over again. The same crew pulled over behind me eventually, so we did it again. This time, I sat the two teenagers on the bike, took their photo. Then I placed a call to Michelle and I put the call into my helmet.

Then I got on the bike and got back on the road. After we had talked for about five minutes, I asked her, “How do I sound now?” “The same. Why?” I’m like, “Because I’m on the highway.” I realize this is not New Technology, but I admit it really knocked my socks off to engage in a phone conversation while zipping down the highway on a motorcycle.

Then I got to Fargo– not Fargo, Christ almighty. I got to Bismarck and I figured, “Okay, I’m done for the day.” Got a room at a Motel 6. Huge mistake. It’s a dirt hole. They do weekly rates, so there are a lot of full-time residents. The room smelled like an ashtray. Literally 100 cigarette butts sprayed outward from the room’s door, forming a fucking lung cancer delta on the pavement. Again – some bathroom damage. This time the door to the lavatory was smashed off the hinges and shoved into the tub. There were people, the Down and Out Crew, sitting around in folding chairs outside their motel rooms eyeballing me. I wasn’t worried… wasn’t concerned for my personal safety. I was worried about the bike being picked apart at three in the morning or waking up to simply find it gone, hauled off in the bed of a pick-up or whatever. Went across the street to Paradiso to eat dinner and regroup.

Estaciando en el paraiso

I decided maybe I would just muscle through and go all the way to Fargo, which is another 180 miles. Fuck it. I just got Bad Bismarck Vibes and decided I wanted to keep going.

I booked a hotel in Fargo over the phone, having dialed whatever 800 number came up when I googled lodging in Fargo (mistake). Then: a total pig fuck ensued. I’m on the phone with someone. It’s a same-day reservation. Was I sure I wanted to make the reservation? Yes. I figured I’ll be there by midnight or maybe 12:30, but whatever, I was feeling good, sure let’s do it. Then I asked a question since I am arriving after midnight, “Will there be someone at the desk? Just making sure.” She said, “Oh, hold on. Let me check.” She checks. Gets back on the phone, “Yes. Someone can wait. They’ll wait until 12:15. This is quite the courtesy blah, blah, blah.” Anyway, whole bunch of horseshit.

Bottom line is they were saying that if I arrived after midnight, it would essentially be a second-day arrival and they would have to rebook me for a second day. I was like, “Oh, okay. In that case, I probably shouldn’t make the reservation, because there’s no way I’ll be there in time.” She says, “Well, we’ve already made it. Your card has already been charged. Let me connect you to the cancellation department.”

Needless to say, while I ate my Mexican food sitting at the bar, I was on hold with no one for a half-hour. Hung up. Tried American Express, there’s nothing they can do so I’m fucked. What I realized in talking to American Express is that when I Googled the stupid fucking hotel and clicked the contact phone number, the contact phone number was not for the hotel, it was one of these thirdparty.com hotel booker fucking services, so I fucked myself.

That was just an oversight because I was tired and hungry and had just left the meth hotel. Needed something so I just didn’t check – was not vigilant. Instead of calling the desk at the place in Fargo, I got this fucking internet hoteldeals.com shithole place, so I fucked myself. Talked to Michelle, “What the hell do I do?” She booked this Wyndham jam and booked it while I talked to American Express. Now I’m here, in Bismarck still, but the room is clean and I spared myself another 180 mile leg just to flee the city.

Anyway, that’s the end of the report. A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful day. At some point earlier in the day I stopped– what is it– The Enchanted Highway. I don’t exactly know what this is, but I saw a sign for it. I don’t know if its– I’ll figure it out. I saw the sign, pulled off. “Maybe I’ll take The Enchanted Highway instead of the interstate for a while.” I ended up just pulling off.

Enchanted Highway

There was a huge sculpture on a hilltop across on the other side of the interstate, so I went over there. Took some photos. Took a break. Very pretty. Then: “All right, I’ll just get back on the interstate.” I did. Got to Bismarck, you know the rest.

Highlights included photographing those people, breakfast with the motorcycle peeps. I had lunch in Glendive, Montana, which, it’s spelled Glendive, like endives or ahndives. I saw a sign that said, “We believe in Glendive” which leads me to believe that’s how it’s pronounced. Lunch in Glendive. It was like a little– whatever I took a photo. I can’t fucking remember. The name’s Sonny’s maybe? I used the drive-in. It was also murderously hot as fucking balls. Anyway, lunch. More riding. Photos of that woman and her kids. I met some people at the statue.

“Sonny’s”

A woman photographed me. I photographed her. While I was hanging out, a couple from California showed up in their BMW. I photograph them. They used to live in Fort Greene. That was a fun little meeting, I didn’t get their names. Anyway, it was all glorious until I rolled up here and fucked up my lodging. I will note with some humility that this flies in the face of what I was talking about yesterday.

When you fly by the seat of your pants, arrive in a place and just figure it out, talk to people. Sure, sometimes that works, and then nights like tonight suck. I still maintain what I say about internet services being a drag. I don’t need Yelp to tell me where to eat. Likewise, tonight, it was accidentally booking through an internet company that fucked me out of $100. You live and you learn.

My last thought for the evening is, it occurs to me the time is ticking down. In the morning over breakfast, I’m going to have to establish a more aggressive and more purposeful itinerary to get home. I only did 330 something miles today. I feel like I’ve got to double that. Fewer stop offs. It’s like ride. Eat. Get gas. Ride. Get gas. Take a break. Drink a Gatorade. Ride. I have to cover more miles. That’s all. I don’t want to be bleary-eyed and crazy and exhausted and ride while compromised, but at the same time, I’ve got to get my ass back back to Brooklyn.

I’ll take a look at that tomorrow. Rather than just going until I feel like I’m done, I think tomorrow I will need to set a destination – with a hotel in mind, and set a fairly aggressive mileage goal. See if I can make that the plan until I get back to New York. [END OF AUDIO]

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 10

JUNE 27, 2021 – GREAT FALLS, MT TO JORDAN, MT

RECORDED IN JORDAN, MT

Pete and Rita. [Rolleiflex 3.5F, Fujifilm Acros 100]

[START OF AUDIO] Beep. June 27th, 9:40 PM Mountain Time. I’m in– [drops recorder] God damn it. How’s that? Better? Good– Jordan, Montana. Showered and about to sleep even though you can still see light outside the window. Updating the book. A fair amount to cover, if I’m inclined to cover it. What’s going on? I’m trying to find the fucking page. Hold please. [silence] 268.2 miles today. Reset the odometer, the trip odometer.

Today equals… 268.2 miles, which means that’s seven- Can I even do arithmetic right now? Total since Pasadena is– Five and two is seven. Three and eight is 11, carry the one. Sorry, I don’t have this written down. I’m just looking at it all over the place. Oh, God. Hold on. I just can’t even– It’s on two different pages. It’s a giant pain in the ass. I can’t even remember the individual numbers right now. 1,973 point 2, is that right? No. See? It’s 1,973 point FIVE, and I’m adding to that 268.2. Much easier if you can just look at it on the same page. Oh, my God. Wow, 2,241.7 miles. This is riveting audio…

Okay, so cutting to the chase. Today was my best riding day. Best day, period. Maybe the best day. Don’t know. Got up early at the rally because it was so loud – forklifts, motorcycles, dumpsters being opened, closed, filled, moved. The sun was cooking my tent, so I was up and about, and recovering and stumbling into the morning, and got out onto the road fairly early. Just got a couple of snacks and some gas, and hit the road.

I think… I haven’t checked. I think, but I don’t know for sure. It doesn’t matter, but I think I may have selected the Adventure Mode on the Garmin GPS, which may explain why I was only on I-15 south for like 10 minutes.

The rest of my day was spent riding through Montana on very– The road alternated between straight and hilly, and gradual snaky S-curves all day long. I was, for the most part, alone. At times, completely alone. This is with 360 degrees view to the horizon, just alone. It was like an over-the-top motorcycle commercial. The one thing I had to contend with was the wind. The wind has been fairly em-effing considerable for the past four days.

I made what is probably an obvious discovery which is, if I actually lean forward aggressively, tuck my head below the windscreen and relax, not only is it easier to deal with the wind, you just cut through it. I’m talking about 20-40 mile an hour lateral gusts of wind. Once I got into the groove, I was cutting through that shit like an unemployed, middle aged butter knife. Again, alone in the middle of– I don’t even know what to call it, prairie and rolling hills? We don’t have words for this sort of terrain in Brooklyn. It’s beautiful.

At one point– just a couple of details. At one point, there was a– I think it was a jackknifed trailer up ahead in the road. I didn’t get up to it because the sheriffs in some town had the road blocked off. Myself and maybe four vehicles were diverted off the road onto neighboring farmland. I was riding in formation with four SUVs over farmland – rolling grass and dirt with parallel tire tracks through it, which was pretty wild.

At some point while– I think it was on route– I don’t even know if it’s called “route”. Montana 200 is the road. I passed the sign for a lake – a six-mile detour, and I took it. It was probably the highlight of the day. Gravel road – a very slow six miles. Made it to the lake and rolled down a gravel track to the sand. Found a stone to shove under the side stand and parked the bike next to ancient driftwood. Shot a roll of film on the Rolleiflex. Took some pictures with the Leica. Ripped off my clothes, put on my bathing suit, and jumped in the water.

Managed to get the bike out of the sand, and back up the track, and left. On that six-mile detour through gravel, I saw wild antelope which was pretty amazing. Oh – earlier, when I pulled off to consider taking the gravel road to the lake, a big SUV– that’s not true. I think it was a big old Ford pickup. It was. It was a red old Ford pickup– rolled up next to me, and the guy poked his head out of the window. He’s probably 60. He poked his head out the window and asks, “Did you try it?” I said, “I’m thinking of trying it.” He says, “Road’s pretty good this time of year. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“Okay.” I said, “Oh! If I go down to this lake… can I swim in it?” He says, “You can do anything you want in it.” I said, “Well, I want to swim in it.” He underscores his point: “This is Montana. You can do whatever the Hell you want.” Whatever the Hell I wanted was to swim, so I swam. Took photos. Amazing. Left. Got back onto the gloriously paved road 200. Again, tucked into a little bullet. The wind was insane, but I made incredible time, and I arrived here in Jordan. As soon as I got to Jordan, the speed limit signs tell you that a town is coming. It goes down from 70 to 55, to 45, and then when you’re in town, it’s 25.

Once I got into town, I saw a car up ahead pulling into a restaurant. My plan was, eat something, stay in this town if I could. I pulled into a restaurant. The restaurant was fucking amazing. It was packed with locals, obviously. The owner-proprietor guy was super nice. I had chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, fat toast, a glass of ice water with crushed ice, a glass of coke with crushed ice, and for dessert, I had a small chocolate shake.

The Summit Corral. Jordan, MT.

When I was paying for my meal, I asked the guy if there was a motel around. He says, “Hold on.” He yells back to a guy in the kitchen. Guy in the kitchen comes out. He yells to the guy in the kitchen. He says, “Are there any rooms left at the inn?” He goes, “Yes, let me give a call. Hold on.” He calls. He says, “Yes, there’s a room.” I had to drive a quarter of a mile to a flashing light to the Garfield Hotel, which was built in 1902. I’m here. It’s awesome. Some other BMW people are also here.

Garfield Motel. Jordan, MT.

Today was a perfect day. Early start. Terrific riding, including some challenge which I overcame and learned to dominate. I still respect the shit out of the wind and will be careful. I feel like even though it is not my style, if I can be said to have one yet, it’s not my inclination to go super fast and have an aggressive posture. I’d rather just sit upright and putter around. Learning that being aggressive in response to lateral wind is actually effective and safe. It was terrific to learn. [pause] See, the air conditioner in here turns off intermittently to conserve energy, and then I become self-conscious that I am talking to myself, and that someone outside the door might be able to hear me. Anyway, I lost my train of thought. End of story.

Good morning. Good food. A great side adventure. Oh, I totally forgot! The first part of my day, when I was riding, I can’t remember whether I was 30 miles into my ride. Yes, that sounds about right, 35 miles in, got out of the rally, got on the road. Put a little distance between myself and the event, and then was thinking about food and coffee and breakfast. Stopped at a place, there were also two people there, Pete and Rita. We shot the shit for close to an hour. I had a grilled cheese with ham at their recommendation. I took photos of them with the Rolleiflex. That was great. Then they said, “Enjoy the wind!” so I enjoyed the wind. I completely forgot to mention that. It’s been a long day.

I’ll write down the names of these places in the book. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant from dinner. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant from lunch. I also can’t remember the name of the lake, but I will write those things down. I’m going to put this in the book right now. I’m going to go, “Name of breakfast,” oops, “breakfast place with Pete and Rita.” I’m going to write = underline. Then I want to say, “Name of magic lake = underline,” and then I’ll write, “Name of dinner spot in Jordan, Montana = underline,” and I’m just going to write at the bottom, “See audio diary. By see, I mean listen to.” Okay, that’s it for the book. I’ll write those names in red.

Spoke to Michelle. I’m on a double bed. At the other end of the room there is a twin bed. On the twin bed is all manner of shit. My riding pants, my shorts, my jacket, the shoulder sling thing I keep the iPad in, the plastic case that holds this audio recorder, the Rolleiflex, my CamelBa– It’s not actually a CamelBak, but the bladder water pouch thingy, my free Nickelodeon bag full of wires and shit, my helmet which is being charged, my iPhone which is being charged, and my camera battery charger which is currently charging one of two batteries. On the TV stand, my glasses, my watch, who knows what else. On the floor, the trunk, my bathing suit, my boots, my filthy fucking underwear, and socks.

Whatever. I’m tucked in, I’m done. It was a good day on the machine. Tomorrow morning I get to go back to the restaurant where I had dinner because, at the restaurant where I had dinner, which is affiliated with this hotel, I have a voucher for breakfast, which goes from, I think, 7:00 to 11:00 or 7:00 to 10:00. I’ve already showered and feel great. I’m going to sleep the sleep of kings. In the morning I’m going to pack the bike, go feed myself, and try to do a little more than 300 miles tomorrow, I think. I’m not going to crunch the numbers now or look at the GPS or do any mapping or anything. I think I want to average 350 miles a day. If I average that, I think I’d get home early, which is what I would like to do. Anyway, I haven’t exactly crunched the numbers. Why do I say ‘exactly’? I haven’t crunched the numbers.

Oh, the only other thing I wanted to note is GPS. My method is the following. I have put in my destination as the apartment in Brooklyn. I entered the address. I tapped the button “Go.” The GPS calculated and did whatever the hell it does. I’m just following that route. I haven’t previewed it. I haven’t looked at the turn-by-turn blah bitty-blah. I’m not sure what the route is. It’s not that I don’t care, but I like the idea of being constantly surprised and letting the route unfold rather than saying, “Okay, after I do x hundreds of miles to get to such and such city, then I have 400 miles to get to the next blah blah blah.”

For instance, today, at some point on the GPS, Bismarck popped up and I was like, “Bismarck? Cool.” I’d rather have it be a surprise and just pay attention to the road rather than thinking like, “Okay, today I’m covering this many miles and by the end of the day, I will be in such and such.” I just know that the route gets me home in time. I think I put the slider on the low end of Adventure so that I’m not exclusively on fucking interstates. Anyway, tomorrow, I may tinker and take a look.

Today was a joy. I had no idea what was in store for me when I hit “Go,” and I just did what the GPS told me and had a glorious day. I made one spur-of-the-moment deviation, which was amazing.

This is now the last thing. I just want to note that this is how I like to travel. I’m not advocating unprepared, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants craziness; I have money, I’m being conscientious. I have a GPS. I have a phone. And I know, in general, where I am going, et cetera. But I prefer taking it as it comes rather than strictly adhering to rules or schedule. It just sucks all the fun out of it. In every respect, today was the reward for that approach. The route was a surprise and it was good.

I pulled off the road to take a break. I passed a place that looked cool, so I turned around and went in. It was great, and I met nice people. Got back on the road. Followed my GPS just did whatever it told me. Had an amazing day on the bike, then decided, “Maybe Jordan is where I’ll stay. That sounds about right. I’m approaching 300 miles for the day. This seems cool.” Saw a restaurant. Again, there are some trucks parked outside. There’s a motorcycle outside and people are eating there. Pull in. Meet people. I asked one person if there’s somewhere to stay nearby. It leads to a room. The room is perfect. Breakfast tomorrow will be perfect.

Candel’s Byway Café.

I guess from my point of view, imagine the alternative. You have a strict itinerary. You won’t eat anywhere without asking fucking Yelp what it thinks. You’re not finding a hotel unless you’re using TripAdvisor. It’s also fucking aggravating and so full of shit. Instead, go where the moment takes you. Stop somewhere that looks interesting. Talk to the people you find there and let the day unfold like that. Now, this isn’t an earth-shattering approach to things. I suppose now it’s old-fashioned. You roll into town. You talk to somebody, “Hey, is there a place near here to do x, y, or z? God, I just prefer that to whipping out a phone and asking some algorithm where I ought to spend my fucking day, it’s embarrassing. Anyway. What a nice day. [END OF AUDIO]

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 9

JUNE 25, 2021 – JACKPOT, NV TO GREAT FALLS, MT

RECORDED NORTH OF JEFFERSON CITY, MT

[START OF AUDIO]: Okay, this is it. It’s 11:20 PM on the 25th. Mountain time. I left Butte en route to Great Falls. This is the last stretch of road before arriving at the rally. Over the last hour or so, I began talking to myself on the road. This is like the boss level of the ride so far. It’s night. It’s dark. I’m on the interstate. The road is fairly wiggly through… not mountains, but foothills. It’s on the colder side. inexplicably began talking to myself in a British accent to coach myself through the stress. But, I did the first 50 miles of 150, so I have a hundred left and then I arrive, so that’s it.

I just wanted to note this moment because I was definitely talking to myself and I definitely feel a little bit frazzled, a little bit on edge – not calm at all. So, I stopped at this rest stop north of Jefferson city to take a leak, have a drink of water, and take a mental break. I was feeling pretty tweaked, but then I realized – and then told myself – “Hey, you already did 1/3, so only 2/3 to go.” Slow and steady. I should be at the rally hopefully by 1:00 AM. Okay, cool. Bye. [END OF AUDIO]

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 8

JUNE 24, 2021 – SPARKS, NV to JACKPOT, NV.

RECORDED SOUTH OF ELKO, NV.

[START OF AUDIO] Apologies for the wind noise. I’m trying to protect the microphone. June 24th, it is. God damn it. Hold on. [inaudible 00:00:21] Under 100 miles south of Elko, Nevada. [unintelligible 00:00:33] the first half of the day. Then I stopped for lunch. Got gas. Talked to Michelle. Got back on Route 80 which up until that point had been very chill. Once I left my lunch spot… well, there’s weather moving through here. I got drenched a couple of times, which was really nice, actually.

After I moved through a couple of those cloud systems it got incredibly windy. I was just fighting to keep the RS in the lane. During the stretch of straightaway where there were no cars around me, I couldn’t keep it in the lane. I got pushed out by a sustained gust of wind, pushed just over the lane divider. I can’t tell what speed these wind gusts are but it’s considerable. Despite all my leaning and effort I just couldn’t do it. I clicked on the hazards and pulled onto the shoulder. Exited at the next exit, which was like a quarter of a mile away.

Now, I’m just standing here. The rain has stopped, but if I look [inaudible 00:01:56] weather. I was making really good time to Great Falls. Now, I’m just debating whether I sit here and wait a little longer and get back on the interstate or [inaudible 00:02:15] more scenic roads. I’m not sure [inaudible 00:02:32] worth noting this moment. Yes, it was a different kind of thing. It was a different kind of fear. It was active. I was fighting to keep [inaudible 00:02:48] update later. I will have decided which route to take by then and I’m going to provide an update. [END OF AUDIO]

RECORDED NEAR INTERCHANGE OF I-80 & RT 93 // NEVADA

[START OF AUDIO] Okay. The time is just about 9:15 PM on the 24th, still. I did it. I got, I think, to the end of my time on route 80, Interstate 80, aka the road upon which I went to war with the wind. Stuck with it, did it. Done. Now I am at whatever exit off of interstate 80 takes you to route 93, which is what I’m going to take into Idaho. I stopped at a Love’s to use the rest room, just took a piss [burps] and I put on my HEATTECH pants, and I busted out my Patagonia puffy just to layer up because I’d rather be a little too warm than freeze my ass off.

I still feel good, so I’m going to keep going. I don’t know what this route 93 is like. I’m just going to take it and go until I feel like I’ve had enough, and hopefully find a motel where I can sleep. A note: About 10 miles in the distance – I’m staring at it right now -in the foreground we have a garbage can, an underpass, a sign for Flying which I guess is some sort of gas station, and a casino. The “I” is out of the word casino, so it says “CAS NO”. In the distance, five or six, seven miles away: mountains, and peeking at me above the mountains just now, two thirds of a gigantic yellow full moon. [END OF AUDIO]

RECORDED IN JACKPOT, NV

[START OF AUDIO] All right, I’m going to multitask. I am in room 219 at the Barton 93 Casino Resort. My room cost $71. I took Route 93, hence the name of this place. After suiting up at Love’s… the road is two lanes, one lane in each direction. 70 MPH speed limit. I mostly had it to myself. Moonlit, no lights, nothing, and occasionally traffic coming the other way. Semi-trucks and local pickups with their brights blaring and occasionally cars going in my direction from behind, and I would let them pass.

I also stopped at some point to take– just, I think the second longest piss of my life. The first being the one that I took at the hospital in Rapid City in 2004, no, 2002. Following a 70-mile ambulance ride. I pissed 850 milliliters of piss that time, which I know for certain because I urinated into a plastic hospital jug with measurements marked on its side (“Oh, you really DID have to go,” said the nurse.). This time I don’t have a volume for you, but I feel like I pissed for like three minutes straight in the dark, pummeling the gravel, four or five feet below the road’s surface, beyond the shoulder in the underbrush.

Took some epic photos in the dark. Waited a little bit. Hopped back on the bike and I was thinking of going as far as Twin Falls, but then as I neared Jackpot Nevada, I thought I should probably stop for the night. I stopped at– oh, what’s the place across the street called? The place across the street has an amazing name, but they were full, so I came here. That’s it.

Let’s do some real time notation. I have not written in my book since the night of the 21st. I’m going to see if I can go backwards. Each time I’m just going to say– For today, I’m going to say, “See audio diaries.” I’m writing this as we speak.

I’m going to note the trip odometer as of tonight, which was– Let’s turn on the camera and consult my photograph. That’s the sound of the camera hitting the table. Let’s see. Boop, boop, boop. Here it is. Okay, the trip odometer is 375.7, which means since I first got the bike, I have done 1375.7 miles. Now I have to go back to last night when I was still at the Nugget and enjoyed The Day of Nothing because of GPS, et cetera.

The day I spent at Sierra BMW. Doop, doop, doop. Going through the menu looking for my photo of the odometer. Aha. Now, I took a picture of the odometer in the evening and it said 936.8, but then I bonked around Reno, so the trip odometer was actually– I’m writing, “Odometer.” It was… actualmente… 947.5. Now let’s see if I can figure out what it was the day before. Unclear. I think I took that photo. It would have been 920 or 921 or something. Aha, here it is. 921.8 trip odometer. 921.8.

I’m going to write for June 22nd, “arrived Sparks Nevada, Nugget Casino ‘Resort.'” Resort should definitely be in quotes. June 23rd will be, “Day of Sierra BMW GPS saga.” Now if I go to today, I will say, “Buffeted by wind and rain. Interstate 80 wanted me dead.” I wrote, “dear,” dead. Then I’m going to write, “Rolberto’s. Not Roberto’s. Rolberto’s for lunch. Love’s for bathroom change into additional layer.” Oh, God, layers, “Route 93 into Jackpot.” It’s literally called Jackpot. “Jackpot, Nevada. Sleeping at Barton’s 93.”

Now, yesterday. Was it yesterday? I can’t remember, “Enjoyed,” I’m back on the 23rd, “Enjoyed brief low-speed night ride through Reno. Dinner in Rosie’s cafe inside casino.” I’m going to put what I ate. “I had French-Toast with fruit, two scrambled–” Honestly, between you and me, it was more than two, “two scrambled eggs, two sausage links. Multiple glasses of ice water.”

That’s all I can remember. I’m here. I’m safe. I’m here. I think even if I don’t get an early start tomorrow, I will arrive at the rally tomorrow. Let’s see if that works out.

[00:10:39] [END OF AUDIO]

MOTORCYCLE DIARY PART 9

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 7

SPARKS, NV – JUNE 23, 2021

RECORDED IN SPARKS, NV

[START OF AUDIO] Okay. 11:33 PM, Wednesday, June 23rd, Sparks, Nevada. I have to go to sleep, so I will try to make this brief, even though I’m making up for a few lost days. I am behind schedule, which is totally cool. This was a possibility. I’m okay with it. My priority is safety and not overdoing it. Man, so much to recount. How about working backwards?

Earlier this evening, I was downstairs in the casino at a bar, watching the Atlanta Hawks play the Milwaukee Bucks, and the bartender and a patron were having a conversation. If there’s any doubt that you are in America, and in the West, let this conversation of theirs be proof that you are. Take a wild guess. Employ stereotypes, don’t try very hard, wing it: What were these guys talking about? If you had to guess, a $100 bill for you, if you get it right. Yes, you’re right. They were talking about their– the bartender’s AK-47 and the caliber of munition it used. The patron then compared it to his AR-15, and then they segued from assault rifle ownership and specifications, to the outrageously high price for goats.

Goats, goat prices are going up, guys. I don’t know if you knew that, but I know that now. We’re talking over $150 for a goat. There are goats in the parking garage here. No shit. Lots of goats in the parking garage, two levels below my motorcycle. Actually, they’re sheep. I believe there was some sort of a rodeo happening. Okay, moving backward in time. Fuck no, that’s too hard and it’s too late. I left Pasadena, went to Sequoia. I made it. Did I even talk about this already? I don’t know.

Got to Sequoia at night. Miraculously, found my small campsite and the little number 87 pegged to a stick, found it, rolled in, set up camp, slept. Holy shit, did it. I’ve taken a wiggly road into the national park, found the turnoff for the Azalea campsite, where I was staying. In the morning, top of mind was, pack up, get out of there, find coffee, have breakfast and get on the road.

Azalea Campground, Site 87

The attraction, of course, is the General Sherman tree, which is the largest, I believe, tree in the world, or it is possibly the oldest living thing on the planet. Really wanted to see it, but I felt that I had probably passed it by, and so, I thought, “I can always come back. Maybe this is not the time.” I thought, “Okay. Well, I’m going to pull out of this campsite and keep going on the road I was going on.”

The Sherm

Worth noting, no cell service whatsoever, nor did I have a park map. So I kept going on the road that brought me into camp. Long story short, that road goes nowhere. I think I went maybe 25 miles out of my way, or in the wrong direction. Ultimately, found somebody to ask – a guy who was working at the one small convenience store. This is on a road, a wiggly road in the middle of this aggregation of national parks.

He said, “Oh no, no, man, you’re going the wrong way. This is the– If you go a couple more miles, it’s what we call The End of the Road.” I doubled back, another 25 miles back, started sweating that I was going to run out of gas.

I stopped at the entrance to– I’m just basically going to rattle off everything I can fucking remember before I pass out. I stopped at an outdoor area. Was it a trail head? The starting… I guess trail head speaks for itself. It was the trail head for a cavern. I ate a Cliff Bar there and drank a bottle of foul Starbucks coffee milk, and asked the woman working there how far to the next town. It’s like, “Where is the next town?” She answers, “There’s no town, there is no town.” [chuckles] I was like, “Okay. There is no town.”

There are two locations to mention, there’s the trailhead for the cavern where I ate a snack and many miles back was the market attached to a lodge where the guy told me I was approaching the end of the road. Somewhere between the two I had passed a very small, rustic, remote gas station slash ice cream stand. I learned it was my only option for fuel. Period. So back I went again, after departing the cavern trail head and pressing on for another 15 miles – in the wrong direction. Again.

Doubled back. Passed the cavern again and headed in the direction of the lodge, hoping I’d read — reach — [chuckles] Jesus, I’m so tired. Hoping I’d reach them before running out of gas. They have a sign posted in one direction that reads, “Warning, ice cream ahead.” I kept my eyes peeled for that sign while intermittently checking the low fuel light in the instrument cluster, which of course was lit in piss yellow. I delighted when I saw that ice cream sign. I went to that place, got gas, thank God. I was almost almost empty. It was amazing.

You roll in and roll over the wire that dings inside the garage. This was a common thing in my childhood. You drive onto a gas station’s pavement, and they have these wires laid out. You roll over and it goes ding, ding. Then, the guy inside knows to come out and pump your gas. I actually did that for the first time in 20 years. I was like, “Oh, shit. The ding-ding rope.” Went over the ding-ding rope. Guy comes out, and the gas pumps are like 19– I would say, 1940s era, big clear glass, cylindrical gas containers at the top of old, steel or iron pumps. He pre-fills it. Pumps or primes it by hand, and we chat a bit. Anyway, the long story short is that instead of waking up at the Azalea campground, caffeinating and feeding myself and pressing on, I spent the entire day in Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Worth noting again: No cell service, few human beings, just riding from one end of each canyon to the other on the bike. I did this because I’m a fucking idiot, and didn’t know where I was going, but I learned subsequently, that what I actually did was, I rode Kings Canyon from one end to the other, which is a noted motorcycle route, so that was beautiful and amazing.

Once I realized early on in the afternoon that I was fucking not going anywhere, I embraced it, and decided, “Well, I’m on vacation, this is what I’m doing.” I spent probably 10 hours on the bike with breaks here and there, sweating, working, practicing. It was great. The end.

I finally made my way out of the park, and all day long I was keenly aware, the entire fucking day was that it was my first– It was the first full day after departing Pasadena, and I had no service, no contact with the world beyond the bike and the national park.

Of course, I had told Michelle that I would text her at the end of each night, and if texting was not possible, I would send an email – and that email would sit in my outbox until it would eventually send whenever I reached a service area again. Needless to say, spending almost the entire second day with no cell coverage of any kind, no Wi-Fi anywhere, of course… I realized the whole time like, “Okay, every hour that goes by, she, and possibly Micah, and possibly some of my friends, possibly my parents are starting to think, ‘Hmm, maybe he died on the first day.'” So – a day that ultimately evolved into an unplanned all-day practice day in Motorcycle Heaven was colored by the knowledge I was most likely worrying the Hell out of a handful of concerned parties.

Finally, I got out of the park! I headed back down the road, like the whatever it is, like the county road that leads into the park from the south that I had come in on the night before [NOTE: E. Kings Canyon Rd, aka 180]. I saw a filling station. “You know what, I’ll pull over here. I think I have service again, now that I’m out of the park. I’m going to make some calls.” I pull in into the lot and in the parking spot next to me: another 2002 BMW 1150 RS. I can’t fucking believe it.

Troy and his 2002 R1150RS, with Pidge

Dude comes out with a six-pack of beer. Troy. We talk for a bit, take some photos. And I had been looking across the street. There was a place that maybe… I was like, “Maybe that’s lodging. Maybe I can just stay there.” (My ambitious goals set at the beginning of the day eventually crystalized into: JUST GET OUT OF THIS PARK AND FIND A PLACE TO SLEEP.) I had gotten out, stopped at this place, met him.

I eyeballed this place across the street as I was getting off the bike. He’s like, “We’re staying just across the street. Come have a beer, man.” Me: “Oh, wow. I was just wondering if I might find a room there.” There were no rooms there, but his wife, Caroline, called her friend or someone, and they recommended a motel that was five miles down the road.

I called them, got their last room. I hung out with Troy and his wife. We shot the shit, had one beer, talked about motorcycles and traveling, and life in Philadelphia, and different rides and motorcycle gear. It was very, very nice. It was a welcome respite after a very long and very, very hot day, which, while enjoyable, was imbued with a little bit of stress, because I didn’t know where I would ultimately end up, and I knew that Michelle was probably worried.

Troy and Caroline + 2x BMW R1150RS’s

After, I puttered down the road five miles to the Squaw Valley Motel. I will probably for the rest of my life regret not getting a photo of the purveyors of this establishment. Husband and wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, unclear. I instantly got Harry Dean Stanton in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me vibes – except they were about 30, and a couple. Perhaps that’s uncharitable.

Outside Room 8, Squaw Valley Motel. California.

I feel like those two are going to be there until they’re 70. Anyway, it was very “interesting”. The room was great because it had walls and a door, and a clean bed, and a shower. Even though one of the shower doors was off the rails, literally had to pull it out of the shower unit and lean it against the wall, and [chuckles] didn’t care, showered. The end. Survived.

The next day, what did I do? I left there. [chuckles] Yes, I don’t know. I left there and headed toward Reno. First to Sacramento, and then to Reno. The plan was just, like, get on the route generally and start heading in the direction of the rally, generally. Then, I would like, I ride fairly slowly, blah, blah, blah. Man, so much has happened…

Same spot after some life saving sleep.

By the way, I’m aware this isn’t an emotional accounting. I’m saying nothing with respect to state of mind – the bliss, stress, fear, relaxation, meditation: the actual experience of doing it – it’s just, I went here, I went there, I went there. Honestly, at the moment, I can’t remember, but I came into Reno at night over– I took I-80, and I went over Donner Pass, ultimately, I guess. Needless to say, that was a bit of a nail-biter.

It’s long, winding inclines up over, up to the pass, I guess, and then back down, two lanes with Reno desert driving speed people, and Californians, who are accustomed to the freeway, and long haul truckers, and me. There was a lot of white-knuckling in the dark, but I made it. Oh, right. Anyway, yes, fucking scary shit. Stopped at In-N-Out Burger at some point, too– Oh, right. I stopped at In-N-Out Burger somewhere on the way here, before I did the big stretch that led into the night and over that pass. I had departed Sequoia, ridden wherever the fuck north.

I decided post-Sequoia that I needed a GPS unit, because I didn’t want to be cut off like that. Again, I was also– We were having other issues, the fucking phone overheats in the sun, even though the bike is moving, and whatever, blah, blah, blah. It was the desire to head north, hook up with the route to the rally, and find a GPS unit that led to the decision to come to Reno, and stay here, because here in Reno– I apologize.

I’m actually in SPARKS, Nevada, which is adjacent to Reno. The BMW dealer, Sierra BMW is also in Sparks. Anyway, they had the GPS unit. I talked to them. They confirmed it could be hooked up to my bike, which is 20 years older than the technology we’re talking about, but it wasn’t a problem blah, blah, blah. But, I was not going to be able to get to Sierra BMW before they closed at 6:00.

My plan was, “Fuck it. I’ll get up there to Sparks/Reno and spend the night, and in the morning, I will get up, go get the unit and be on my way.” That’s what informed the decision. Then, that evening, the ride from In-N-Out Burger in Some Place, Some State, USA to the Nugget Hotel that I’m sitting in right now, was at times, glorious, and at times, terrifying. The end. Anyhow – my plan was to get up super early this morning or somewhat early and– Oh, like just to get my shit together, have some coffee, have breakfast, and then get to the dealership when they open at 9:00, conduct my business, get in and get on the road.

What happened instead? Woke up crazy early, checked the clock. Where the fuck am I? Oh, right, I’m in a hotel in a place. What time is? Crazy early, before 6:00 I think. I was like, “Okay, but I am up. Let me just lie here. Why not lie here? I want to see how I feel.” Boom, fell back to sleep. Blackout curtains, hotel bed, air conditioning, woke up at 10:00. Got my shit together, checked out, brought shit downstairs, dealt with the valet yada, yada, yada.

By the way, the guy who I think runs the valet desk, like valet and bellhop service is a imbecile/penis, but a guy who works with him, Brian, is the guy who came up here and got my shit for me this morning, and he saw the bike cases and the helmet. We started to chat. Sure enough, he too, like every fifth person I’ve talked to, owns a bike or owned a bike. He owned two. He owned the predecessor to my bike, the 1100 back in the day, and then he had another one, yada, yada.

Brian at The Nugget Casino Resort Hotel

Came down, saw the bike, flipped out. Nice dude. There’s been a fair amount of that happening by the way. Boop, boop, boop. Yes, I just wanted to, you know, mention Brian. I took a photo of him. Nice guy. Then, went to the BMW dealership. Sure enough, they had the thing. They had the thing for me. I bought the thing. They were kind enough to do the actual splicing of the electrical that needed to happen. Popped it in.

I came back here. Got my shit from the valet, loaded up the bike, called Michelle, had some water, had a lunch. Whatever the fuck I did. I was like, “All right.” It’s 2:00, it’s 3:00 but whatever. No big deal. I’ll ride until 8:00 PM. It will still be light out and wherever I am, I am. I started, got onto I-84. Then, the GPS went dim, I was like, “The Hell?” The screen was dim. “What gives?”

Anyway, got off the interstate, pulled off. Found a place to pull over, checked, and sure enough, GPS is not getting power off the battery at all. Fuck. Went back to Sierra BMW. Again, they were awesome. Lots of troubleshooting. What the fuck? Ultimately, they agreed to do the service for free, brought the bike into the garage. This involved taking off the fairing, taking off the gas- lifting up the gas tank, so they could get underneath and access the battery, and do all the shit.

The Pigeon at the doctor’s office, with other patients

Anyway, they did all that. It did take a while. I basically spent the bulk of my waking hours at that dealership today. I started to get, I think wrung out from standing around on the sun, going back and forth, lugging luggage upstairs and down, dealing with the hotel, and so on. I just called it. I said, “I didn’t want a repeat of what happened the previous night, rolling in somewhere I’ve never been before, at night, at 80 miles an hour with semi-trucks bearing down on my ass.”

“Fuck it. I’m staying here again, Nugget it is.” The end. I am here at The Nug. All good. Helmet transmitter talks to the GPS. The GPS is great. It is powered by the bike. Everything is gravy. I’m going to get into bed now in the air conditioning and sleep. All good. Tomorrow, I try again. All I’ve got to do is get up, get on the bike, and head North. Take my breaks every two hours, drink water.

NUG LIFE

When I get tired or when I get bored– Not bored, when I get tired or wrung out, or too hot, where I’ve just had enough for the day, that’s where I will stay. Honestly, the rally starts tomorrow, Thursday. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Honestly, if I don’t get there until Sunday, if I don’t get there at all, it’s totally fine. It would suck, but it’s fine. My only priority is stay safe, keep going, see where I end up.

I’m trying to be present and appreciative of what is happening in the moment. Nothing has gone according to plan, to the extent there was a plan. I met Troy and his wife. I talked to a lot of great people. Everybody at that BMW place was awesome. I’m in a weird casino tonight for about an hour. I just left the hotel on the bike, no agenda. As far as I can tell, all the speed limits here in town are really low like 20, 25 in some places.

There was the thunderstorm earlier this afternoon. It rained, it cooled down. I didn’t have anywhere to be. There was no stress, and so I just putted around Reno at 30 miles an hour on fairly empty streets at night. It was really nice. That’s what my day ended up being, and it was great. Tomorrow, I set out. Whatever, unless I don’t.

There was something else. Oh, last thing. When I first got to Sierra BMW and talked to the guys about what I wanted to do, and what I had outside. I think the owner, like the senior dude there, he was helping me out a lot. He came outside. He says, “Let me see.” He came out with me and he looked at the bike and he went, “Ah, now, that’s a really nice old scooter.”

We were chatting a little bit in the sun, and then he looked at the odometer and he said, “Oh, 57,000 miles. It’s just a teenager.” [chuckles] I thought that was cute. That’s it. Every single day I’ve been meaning to get my hands on this recorder because, A, I enjoy doing it. B, I wanted to try keep a record every day. So much is happening, but I just haven’t been able to.

“Just a teenager.”

Just so exhausted and fully consumed by the travel itself. Yes, I’ll revisit this particular topic at a later time when I am not exhausted, but I want to talk about the motorcycling itself. God, it’s so all-consuming and incredible in a way that I was not prepared for, and in a way that I don’t at all recall from my first experience with a motorcycle back in the early 2000s.

It takes priority over photographing, sightseeing, the landscape. Some of the photographing and some of the audio recording and everything else, they have to be secondary, because the motorcycling itself is The Thing. Anyway, I’m safe. I am in bed. I am behind schedule. It’s all good. [END OF AUDIO]

MOTORCYCLE DIARY PART 8

MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 6

JUNE 22, 2021 – squaw valley, ca to sparks, nv

no audio recorded.

Recollection is hazy. I know I woke up at the Squaw Valley motel in the morning and made it to the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, NV by that evening. Some of this is discursively addressed in the next meandering entry when I pick up the recorder late at night and attempt to recap the days I failed to capture on audio. For now: some delightful images of both the places I stayed.

the morning looked like this:

Squaw Valley Motel. June 22, 2021.

Some motorcycling ensued.

and night time looked like this:

Nugget Casino Resort Hotel. June 22, 2021.

MOTORCYCLE DIARY PART 7