Monthly Archives: April 2013

Grand and Glorious Ride – Day 11 –Durango to Monticello, Utah

The day was filled with changes in scenery, weather, and states. It began warm with dry rugged high mountain forest and ended the same. In between I experienced high mountain plateaus, high plains desert, just plain desert, rocky canyons, cool temperatures, warm temperatures, HIGH temperatures, clear bright skies, overcast skies, some drizzle, and a cloud burst.

After a hearty Grand Slam at Denny’s it’s off to Four Corners via Mesa Verde National Park. It was 30 miles to the park entrance. The ride began like most on this adventure, gorgeous. There was soon a stumbling block. There are two seasons in this part of the country, winter and Road Repair. We were in the midst of road repair.

10 miles down the road construction required several miles of one way traffic. Ordinarily this wouldn’t cause more than a 10 minute delay. Not today, once all the cars and trucks came through we continued to sit. After ten minutes, I got bored and walked across the street and watched a second string of vehicles come our way. What is going on? More time passes. We learn the cause of the delay when a couple pedal bicycles towards us. At first angry, I realized that bicyclists have to get through the construction zone.

My visit to Mesa Verde National Park deserves a separate blog. Look for it tomorrow.

From Mesa Verde it was ninety miles to Four Corners, where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all touch. The wind was dreadful. At Four Corners another biker told me; “They call this Four Corners, because the wind is coming at you from all four directions.”

The monument is located on the Navajo Nation. They charge $3 per person to visit. Around the monument were no less than 50 Navajo vendors.

Two bikers parked next to me, one wearing a HOG Patch from Brunei. HOG is for Harley Owners Group. He is the HOG Chapter President for Brunei, an oil rich country on the island of Borneo. He and his buddy rented Harley’s in San Francisco to ride to New York.

4 Corners #1

4 Corners #2
Leaving Four Corners I head into Arizona on US 160 to US 191. It wasn’t long before the clouds began getting ugly and I got a few sprinkles. With lightening off to my left and right, I stopped and suited up. The rain stopped. 50 miles further along, I got out of the rain gear. Instead of packing it away, I tied it behind my seat. Just in Case. Until I got to Monticello, Utah there were rain chimneys visible all about, but I seemed to turn just in time to miss them.

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Grand & Glorious Motorcycle Ride Day 10 – Second Installment – On to Durango

The scenery on 285 and 160 was spectacular but difficult to enjoy with the traffic. There are little towns and homes all along 285. One of the mysteries of the universe is where all the thousands of “Snow Birds” go when they leave Arizona for the summer. Now I know, they go to US 160 in Colorado. I passed one RV Park where there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of RVs parked ever so close together and with only a narrow lane between rows. I don’t believe it possible to pull one out or put one into the rows without moving dozens. There was not a single shade tree in sight. For a hundred or so miles along 160 there are endless RV parks, fishing camps, rafting companies, and hunting lodges. All seemed full. Even with all the distractions, I was glad I took this route.

I bet you all thought you had heard the last of Jim Bob and his exploits. Well on that eventful ride in 2009, we were Four Amigos, JAK Kennemore, Larry Eade, Burny Matthews and me. All retired cops headed out to D.C. to honor fallen comrades. All except me from OPD. I retired from San Leandro PD. I had lunch at a small place on US 285 at US 50. 23 miles east on US 50 is Monarch Pass, Colorado at 11,312 feet. We crossed the pass in May, 2009; it was 22 degrees and snowing. The coffee shop at the summit was covered in snow, with a tunnel dug to the front door.

As usual, Jim Bob was doing his Alpha Biker thing. As we other three prepared to dismount our steeds for a photo op, Jim Bob rode away. Not a word, he just left. We looked at one another, none of us had a clue, but figured we’d skip the photo op of a lifetime and follow Jim Bob. When we finally got clear of the snow, we had ice on our clothes up to our waists. Finally stopping for fuel, Jim Bob told us; “The snow plow operator told me I should get off the mountain, so I left.”

Asked why he didn’t communicate with his three amigos his typical Jim Bob response was; “You’re big boys.” Not sure what that meant.

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I had lunch near the intersection of 285 and 50.

I was wearing the last of the non-Harley T-Shirts I brought along to wear and discard. I never throw away a Harley T-shirt. I began to wear my new Harley Ts.

About an hour out of Durango, Colorado, I took a hydration break. I called ahead for a room. Yelp gave me a list of a half dozen motels. I called Best Western, $189 for a single. No thanks. Next on the list was an independent motel. A call got me a room, with free WiFi for $54.

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From one of the scenic overlooks.

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Looking back up from the valley floor.

Until I reached Durango, the only wildlife I saw was a turkey. Whoop Dee Do!

In Durango I saw two deer happily munching away alongside a city street. Pulling into the motel lot, I saw a D.E.E.R. As I maneuvered across the uneven and steeply sloped parking lot, a big D.E.E.R. came running in my direction. It crossed not twenty feet in front of me. Can you imagine the catastrophe had I collided with the D.E.E.R. and wound up in the hospital?

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Grand & Glorious Motorcycle Ride – Day 10 (First Installment) – Fort Collins, CO to Durango

I had a rough night at the Best Western in Fort Collins. Right after I went to bed I started itching, ankles, elbows, and nose. When I got to Durango I picked up some cortisone. The pharmacist said it would stop the itching. Nope it didn’t work.

In 2009 while on a ride to National Police Week in Washington, D.C., I woke up with identical bites. I was covered from the soles of my feet to my waist. It was so bad I wound up in an ER in Asheville, North Carolina. Bugs always get me. If ten people are in a line and one person gets bug bit, that’s me.

These “bites” forced me home early. I called Kaiser, “You need to get in here right away. You probably had an allergic reaction, not bites.”

When I saw the Dermatologist, he said; “It’s probably an allergic reaction, but I really don’t know what it is.”

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I got to Thunder Mountain H-D in Loveland, Colorado at 8:15 a.m. for an oil and filter change. They had me back on the road at 10:15 a.m. The largest dealership I’ve ever seen, this picture does not do it justice.

In addition to this building, they have an amphitheater that seats several hundred. And yes, I did buy another T-Shirt. That made three. I didn’t know what to do with my collection of Ts. Somewhere in the vicinity of 150, my wife has this selfish idea that her Hope Chest should not be filled with Harley T-Shirts.

Riding gave me plenty of time to think about all those T-Shirts. I came up with a plan. I had quilts made for my children. I managed to get quilts made for all four in time for Christmas.

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Above is the personalized quilt I had made for my son Paul. It is a combination of Harley Ts and shirts from his life. I especially like the Isla Guadalupe T. It is from a Great White Shark Dive the boys and I went on a few years ago.

Before reaching Denver, I had the bajeebers scared out of me. Trying to keep up with a LOL (little old lady) driving a Prius at about 85 MPH, a tractor with an empty flatbed trailer tried to drive over me. It took me back to the 2009 ride to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. In Arkansas another LOL warned me and my three OPD buddies to be careful on I-40. She said “those darn truckers think they own the road”. She was right. Not quite into Tennessee a tractor with an empty flatbed blew by me. I wonder how fast he’s going. I tried to pace him. At 100 MPH he was still pulling away, I decided it wasn’t important enough.

I got around Denver and headed south west on US 285. It was as attractive as the maps suggested. What I didn’t know was just how popular US 285 and US 160 are. I was in traffic for at least 200 of the next 300 miles.

The day was far from over but time runs short. I’ll finish Day 10 in a few days – See Installment #2.

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Grand & Glorius Motorcycle Ride -Day 9 – Spearfish, SD to Fort Collins, CO

My day started at 6:45 a.m. when a loud thunderclap woke me. Happily there was only one, and it rained less than an hour. Long enough to get soaked riding to a coin operated Laundromat, where they had raised the laundry rates for bike week.

Back at Motel Kozy I checked out. I hoped Spearfish Canyon at 9:20 a.m. would be traffic free. It wasn’t, but at least traffic was lighter than later in the day. Spearfish Canyon is one of the reasons I came this way.

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The first 10 miles was wet and slippery from the rain. While ambling along at 30 MPH, a squirrel ran in front of me. I had a split second to make a choice; “Do I swerve to miss ‘em, or go straight on?” Swerving and hitting the brakes would have probably resulted in going down. “Sorry squirrel.” I ran over his tail. I ruined his day, but he survived the encounter.

Spearfish Canyon is on US 14A. 20 miles up the canyon it dead-ends at US 85. A left turn takes you to Deadwood. On a whim, “why not go right, I’ve been to Deadwood a dozen times. I’ve never turned right. I wonder where it goes.” So a right turn it was. US 85 took me to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

US 85 was a great ride for about an hour and then it turned bad. The temperature was a cool 80.

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This was taken 20 minutes before it turned bad.

Not long before this picture, I saw movement ahead on the right. I’d been going about 50 MPH because the ride was so nice, slowing wasn’t difficult. The movement was a fawn, (D.E.E.R.). As I approached it took a step towards the roadway, I slowed even more. It turned back towards the woods, then it turned back toward the road and me. I was down to 10 MPH and almost upon the critter. It jumped up, turned and ran into the woods. I continued slowly for about 100 yards. When you see one deer, you often see a second. Where is Momma D.E.E.R.?

Spearfish 3

Here is a shot after it turned bad.

The temperature was 100+ the rest of the day.

I saw several groups of antelope. I left cruise control on 75 for about 200 miles. Stopping in Lusk, Wyoming (You don’t ever want to visit Lusk) for lunch I pulled out the maps. I saw that Fort Collins, Colorado is not far below Cheyenne.

The maps showed that once out of Denver, I could ignore the Interstates for days. I wanted to visit Four Corners, where Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico all meet at one point. I could stand in all four states at one time. Added fun would be crossing the Continental Divide at least two more times, and a couple of scenic highways. It was 450 miles so I could make it in two days of easy riding. God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise as my dad often said.

After lunch, the ride to Cheyenne took two hours, but I had to stop twice for water, plus drinking the bottle I had on the bike. Gassing up in Cheyenne, I guzzled two bottles of water. I had a hard time staying hydrated. Checking in at the Best Western in Fort Collins, the clerk handed me a bottle of water. It was gone in two gulps.

I called the local Harley-Davidson dealer about an oil change. They got me in the next morning. Usually I get an oil change every 5000 miles, but this had seen some pretty heavy riding conditions. My good buddy, Larry Eade, sent me a reminder to change the oil, thanks Larry.

I planned to turn north on US 191 after Four Corners. This would take me through Moab. Then it would be I-70 until I reached Salina, Utah. I always call my Granddaughter Salina, when I go through Salina. From there US 50 would take me to Reno where I’d take I-80 home. The entire trip ended up being 4,500 miles, less than what I wanted.

US 50 across Nevada is called The Loneliest Road in America. Trust me it is. I’ve ridden it west to east twice. This was my first east to west trip. Crossing Nevada, you stop every time you see a gas pump. There are very few, and it tests the limits of my Ultra. Last time across, there were stretches when we went upwards of 20 miles without seeing another vehicle. If you think about it, one realizes that there was probably 40 miles between the two vehicles.

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Jim Kennemore – OPD Leather God

Jim Kennemore – OPD Leather God.

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Jim Kennemore – OPD Leather God

J.A. Kennemore 1980
Jim Kennemore – 1980

Some have wondered about JAK aka Jim Bob aka James Kennemore. He’s a great friend, albeit much older. We met in the nineties, when I hired him at Frasco Investigations after he was referred by a mutual friend. Jim had been retired from Oakland Police for a number of years by then. When Jim retired, his wife insisted he get a job. He resisted and held her at bay for years. Finally Sue put her foot down, get a job or else.

When Jim came in for an interview, I wanted to talk about Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Jim said, “I want a job, but I don’t want to work.” His wish was to tell Sue, “I got a job, now get off my back.”

I won’t claim that our relationship was a marriage made in heaven. We both got something out of it. I got a buddy who is a great story teller. Jim told Sue he had a job. He told me, “I don’t want to work more than three hours a week.” I can’t imagine what he told Sue.

Most days I rode my DynaWideGlide to work. It wasn’t long before Jim wanted to get a motorcycle. Once again Sue put her foot down, “No way in hell are you getting another motorcycle.”

In 2001, my wife got me a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic. It was a Peace Officer special at a reduced price. The Ultra was the second motorcycle Cathy gave me. The first was a bored out, customized Honda 750. It could get to 115 mph in a minute.

I had to get rid of the DynaWideGlide. I made Jim a foolish offer he couldn’t refuse. Cathy had a fit, “you gave the bike away to Kennemore”. She still reminds me what a fool I was. Jim on the other hand whined that I was screwing his eyes out. I didn’t pay any attention to either of them. I had a great new bike. I still have it.

The Ultra will probably be my last motorcycle. Whenever I get dreamy at a Harley Dealership, Cathy is ready. “You will be buried on your Ultra.”

What is a man to do?

A few years later, I had to return from Sturgis by air. Jim rode the Ultra back. He was hooked and got an Ultra of his own. I often wonder what he told Sue.

We have a couple of extended rides planned for this summer. I’ll tell you about our plans later.

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Brown Water Run

Brown Water Run.

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Brown Water Run

HPIM1756

Most of you have not heard of the Brown Water Run (BWR). It began twelve years ago and has become a perennial favorite. No one has made all eleven rides. We had maybe six riders the first year. This year we have 24 confirmed and it is still 85 days away. The BWR is a bunch of guys having a good time on motorcycles.

Over the years, many strong friendships have developed amongst a group of people meeting for the first time on the BWR.

DAY 1 – Friday, July 5, 2013: We’ll meet at Zac’s, Dublin at nine. After a leisurely breakfast we mount up for a ride to Santa Cruz and then south on SR-1 to Morro Bay. For some it will be a 230 mile day, for others 350 or more. A group will be coming up from Arizona.

Day 2 – Saturday, July 6, 2013: We’ll have some great riding and some not so great. Leaving Morro Bay we ride to Atascadero and over the coastal range to Button Willow, a great ride. This stretch of SR-58 is a well-kept secret. Many think of 58 as a miserable, boring, waste of time ride. They haven’t ridden this stretch.

Across the central valley, we’ll pass Lake Isabella on the way to US-395. This part of the ride has mixed reviews. Once on US-395 we’ll go north to Bishop finishing off the day with about 350 miles.

Day 3 – Sunday, July 7, 2013: This will be a fun day as we cross the always spectacular Tioga Pass (El. 9943) and down into Yosemite Valley. The fun has just begun.

This is a TWO-PASS day. After leaving Yosemite we’ll head toward Sonora and Highway 49. A short ride brings us to SR-4 and then it’s up and over Ebbetts Pass (El. 8736). We’ll spend the night in Carson City, Nevada. We’ll cover 300 miles.

Day 4 – Monday, July 8, 2013: This will be a short day for some. The biggest decision will be where we have breakfast.

After our morning meal, folks will begin to split off. A few will stay the night at Lake Tahoe, some riding further into Nevada, others will start back to Arizona. Most will take a scenic ride back to Sacramento and the Bay Area.

I am turning the ride into a 2000 mile “Business” trip. As I fancy myself a writer, I’ll ride to Las Vegas where later in the week I will attend the Public Safety Writers Association’s Annual Conference. Maybe there will be a prize for one of the pieces I’ve entered into the PSWA 2013 Writing Competition. I’ll take a leisurely two day ride stopping to write each afternoon. I’m finishing up a Tale of Robbers and Cops, and working on a new novel about an Anti-Gang Unit in a large, fictional Arizona City.

***

Once this is posted, Jim “JAK” Kennemore will be anxious to give you some historical facts. Let me head off at least a couple of rather embarrassing incidents. I have not completed as many Brown Waters as JAK. In 2003 and 2009 I left early. Below are pictures that tell the tale.

2003 Stop

To the left is a Forest Service Road we rode west from Merlin, Oregon. It was a terrible ride. The only bike that had trouble was a Honda. None of these riders were happy with me.

Accident Scene

Yes that is me a mere thirty minutes later lying alongside the road with six fractures. It was about an hour before the first emergency vehicle arrived. JAK was busy taking photographs

.Medevac

The medevac took me from near the Oregon Coast to Medford. I am claustrophobic and my nose was inches from the helicopter’s roof. It was no big thing; the EMT pumped me full of Morphine.

In 2009, I repeatedly suffered from a septic Gall Bladder. Over 90 days, I had six hospital stays until one of the visits resulted in emergency surgery. On the BWR I had an episode while at a BBQ in Minden, Nevada. Barry Chall tried to take me to a medical facility. That didn’t work so after a call to 9-1-1 I was in an ambulance. The following morning another ambulance took me to Hayward.

JAK will undoubtedly fill you in on other Crash Cramer exploits. I hold the dubious honor of being the only Brown Water Runner to be medically removed from a Run, not just once but twice.

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Day 8 –Hardin, MT (Little Big Horn Battlefield / Custer’s Last Stand) to Sturgis, SD – 290 Miles – 8.6.2013

No day is complete without a visit from Jim Bob. Day 7 he got a brochure for the battlefield museum at Exit 514. 8:00 a.m. we are running down I-90 when we pass a sign for the Little Big Horn Battlefield, Exit 509. Jim Bob kept a-going. We get to Exit 514. No battlefield.

The folks at the motel had told us of a good restaurant across from the park. No restaurant or park in sight. Wearing a sheepish grin, Jim Bob took off on the frontage road. He saw ‘his’ first road kill of the day, a horse. Now a horse is pretty good sized. Jim Bob pointed but I didn’t see a horse. Maybe the horse is with the brown bear Jim Bob saw a few days before.

Back at Exit 509 we find the battlefield and restaurant. The restaurant sits about 20 people, the gift holds a couple hundred. After the slowest service ever, we got our food. JAK was happy, not I. My over medium eggs were broken and hard. The hash browns were not exactly cold, but close. All is forgiven because the coffee was excellent.

Cathy and I ate there with son Jonathan about 30 years ago. He was 10. He never stopped talking not matter how much we cajoled, promised or threatened. One time I offered him $10 to stop talking for 10 minutes. He didn’t last 5 minutes. I kept the $10.

We asked the manager about road conditions heading east. I told him; “I can take either I-90 or US 212. 212 looks shorter and more interesting.”

He said, “212 is quicker and a better ride, but it was closed yesterday by heavy smoke.”

I beg to differ. The road was closed by fire. Only two miles east the fire had come down and jumped 212.

After eating we went to the battlefield. Our Senior Park Access passes got us in for free. JAK had never been to the battlefield, this was my third visit. It has changed over the years. The first time I visited was probably 35 years ago. Then it was mostly good soldier, bad Indian. Now the presentation is more evenly matched with an explanation from the Sioux’s point of view. They and their allies were cheated and mistreated.

The battlefield is on the Crow Indian Reservation. They conduct bus tours, we should have taken one. We heard a young Crow Indian speaking. He pointed out where events had taken place. If I ever visit here again, the tour will be a must do. The Indian warriors who died here have much newer and nicer monuments than the soldiers.

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Afterwards we got gas at a gigantic gas station. All they had was unleaded regular. Before I got to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, I had to fill two more times with unleaded regular.

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JAK and I part company

JAK rode to Casper, Wyoming where he stayed in a very upscale Best Western, with bar, restaurant, pool, and laundry. His rent was $105. I stayed in Motel Kozy, Spearfish, South Dakota for $118. I didn’t have any of those amenities. I had cinder block walls and a bar next door full of noisy bikers.

US 212 is an excellent two lane road, wide and well maintained. For most of the 235 miles I was on it, my cruise control was set at 75.

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The first burned area, only two miles from the restaurant, was still smoldering. It stretched for six miles. The fire had jumped the road in a few places. Over the next 60+ miles, I never went more than five miles between fresh burns. Most of the farm homes were islands in a sea of black. The firefighters worked heroically to save them. I saw only one burnt to the ground. I heard that about 60 homes had been lost.

The temperature never dropped below 100.

I got to Spearfish, and changed into shorts and a tank top. I had to show off the tattoos. Without JAK to nag me, I put the helmet away. I held my speed to 80-85 for the ride into Sturgis.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally begins the first Monday in August. This was the first day of the rally and my sixth or seventh visit. I usually arrive when it is in full swing. Things were a little subdued compared to what I’ve experienced. The population of the town is about 8,500. During the rally they expect at least 500,000 bikers to pass through.

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At least ten blocks of Main Street are for motorcycles only. Bikes are parked on each side of the road and two deep in the center. Side streets are set up the same way.

I got an “I rode mine” patch. Many haul their bikes in trailers; I’ve been guilty of that sin.

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I walked around until 7:00 p.m., ate nasty food, visited the Jack Daniels site and had my one drink. It was 95 degrees. When I got to Spearfish the sun was blocked by clouds. It was still 90.

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One heck of a mystery!

My friend, Julie Royce, was an Assistant Attorney General in Michigan where she prosecuted doctors who violated their oath to do no harm. Many of her cases involved over-prescribing for profit. She has used her experiences to create the background for a fictional tale of murder, greed and betrayal.

I had the pleasure of being a Beta Reader for her thriller, PILZ. An avid mystery reader, I am hard to please. PILZ had me from beginning to end, a great story, a great mystery.

PILZ

Published earlier this month, it is available on Amazon. I encourage you to order a copy today.

You can learn more about Julie at:

http://www.jkroyce.com
http://www.jkroyce.com/blog

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