KINSHIP, FRIENDSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, SOAK MY WEARY BONES RIDE
Back in America the Beautiful.
After 2 years of hoping for US visas for Donna and Priam with no luck, it was time for me to go alone. It had been nine years since I donned the shores of the USA and there are people I needed to see.
One of the things I miss most is riding a large motorcycle on the open road. So, to make this pilgrimage I needed a bike. I found buying a bike from a foreign country a challenge as many fear international scams. I was hung up on more than once. I finally found just the right bike, my first Harley Davidson, arranged for the owner to hold it for me. Sister Vickie picked me up at the airport, went straight to the bike and bought it. So began my epic ride.
The Fellowship ingredient started with attending an AA meeting with an old friend, great to see two old notorious hooligans now living in sobriety. Being back in my hometown was the first time I was around people who knew me back in my drinking days, a real eye opener.
My sister, brother and friends have a nice campsite at Ocean Shores and were all headed there for the holiday. Vickie road with me on the familiar path to the ocean. It was on this holiday ride we had done nine years ago I first noticed the remarkable lack of motorcycles on the road, one tenth what I used to see, guess bikers are getting old haha.
Family all seen and enjoyed, time to dig up old friends. First stop was near Portland Oregon to see Dave. We went back to high school both involved in the love of horses. It was Dave who introduced me to my first wife. Last time I saw Dave was at a Dead show over twenty years ago. He has a nice house and big lot surrounded by farms, very peaceful. We had a real outdoor BBQ, caught up and off I wen the next day.
I had several shorter route options to get to my next stop, but chose a longer route over White Pass. I was now getting used to the Harley and had a wonderful ride. I stayed a couple days in Chris’s luxurious Yakima house. Visit and shopping over, packed up and off I go.
Next stop was another fellowship reunion, the Alky Angels International Campout. I had attended this event nine years ago as well. The site is in a lush RV park in Winthrop, Washington a favorite town to visit. I had the extreme joy of doing a couple rides with the club around scenic Winthrop. There is nothing like riding in formation with thirty other bikes, a total thrill. We ascended on a small AA meeting in mass and were met with open arms. Twenty years ago all the folks rode to the event and camped in tents, nine years ago a few RVs showed up towing the bikes, this time most came in massive fifth wheel RVs bikes in tow, only a few of us still tented, again just getting older I guess.
I bid the Angels a found farewell and headed east across the great state of Washington. Stopped in Spokane and had a lovely dinner with my dear friend Brenda, her hubby and 97 year old mom. Then up again across northern Idaho.
I stopped at a local diner for breakfast on the north shore of Lake Pend Orielle, saw an old timer there who said he was a native. I told him my maternal grandmother was born not far and asked if he knew the family. Well it turns out one of my distant cousins had run off with his girl friend fifty years ago! He still seemed to hold a grudge haha.
Time to soak the weary bones and what better place than a town named “Hot Springs Montana”. I got a room in an historical resort, Symes Hot Springs and plunged into the 110 degree hot pool, oh the joy. Worked my way down the two cooler pools and repeated the process.
One of the few things lacking in the Philippines is good fresh beef, cows don’t thrive in the tropics so all is frozen and imported. I had a massive thick, juicy steak dinner, it was sublime.
Next day a morning soak and off to get a picture of a buffalo for Priam. No problem the local said, just “down the road, turn right” well just down the road was over fifty miles! I learned to as for more specific directions.
One of the main missions of this adventure was to see my dear cousin, Roger, who is a full care facility in Billings Montana. I was raised with Roger being my older mentor. Much of who I am came from him when I was young. He gave me my first motorcycle ride on a Honda 305 Scrambler, a big bike back then. He gave me a pile of 60s rock albums plus a collection of folk music and the book “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, all influences that guided my path. In that pile of albums was my first Grateful Dead experience, a life changer for sure.
Roger’s daughter lives close by and graciously offered me a place to stay. I got to know her husband and my youngest relative, one and a half year old Robin. They have a beautiful life and family, true harmony and love. It was a compelling experience as our family is not prone to happy marriages for young people. While visiting I got in another AA meeting in the dregs of Billings district, good to see real AA at work.
Time for another soak, a hot 4-hour ride took me to another historic resort, Bolder Hot Springs, set in a hundred year old building, this was once the hot spot of Montana society, Glen Miller played there! This place has geothermal steam bubbling out of the ground that is piped into a steam room, oh the joy. There is a very hot indoor tub and a nice outdoor pool with a picturesque view of the surrounding mountains. Upon recommendations I rode into town and had yet another epic steak dinner. All meals in Montana have huge portions, a great place to eat.
NICE STEAM ROOM GEOTHURMAL SOURCE
when riding along i spotted a typical western site, a small local rodeo, pulled the Harley in as quietly as possible and stopped to watch, this “Lil cowboy” said it all
Now I was heading into the mountains more, took the scenic route along the river, truly spell binding beauty. As I went over the mountain pass it drizzled rain and got kinda cold, brr. I warmed up as we headed back down, and the sun came out. Stopping at Haven Hot Springs resort now in Idaho. The owner came out to welcome me, I pitched the tent and headed for the pools. Three sections of different temperatures, just want I needed. This is a place of once great stature that Covid destroyed, the restaurant, café, and grounds suffered from lack of use but the owner was really trying to bring it back. I had the place to myself, soaked until after dark surrounded by spectacular scenery.
The terrain on the next leg changed radically, from mountain passes following incredible rivers to high desert and prairie, all in one long ride. The most spectacular ride yet. Now in Oregon and back in Pacific time, I stopped at the small historic town of John Day.
John Day is a typical pleasant smalltown, the Ace Hardware walls lined with big game trophies, even a cougar. I found an AA meeting there, really great home group that warmly welcomed me, so good to have the fellowship wherever I go.
Two days exploring the area, hosted by a bubbling Indian couple at a local motel, and off again. I had a day to kill before I was to be in the next place, took the very scenic route through Monument Park, lined with stunning rock formations then leading up a picturesque valley to the bustling town, 160 people, of Spray. I found a remarkable camp site next to the river, pitched the tent and went in for a plunge, so nice on a 100 degree day! Awoke to a sunny morning, bathed in the river, bid my new friend happy trails and off again on another splendid road.
Next stop was a small town in central Oregon, the terrain changed to desert and gran fields. I rode into the small horse ranch to find my old horse shoeing classmate, Chuck. It had been fifty years since seeing him although he found me on Facebook a few years ago. Chuck had remained a horse shoer and rodeoed all these years only recently retiring, he is the real deal, a real cowboy. Like me he had weathered a series of tumultuous marriages finally landing a good one. His bride, Jan, truly fit his style, so happy for them. Chuck took on the young neighbor girl as a student in ropin’ and ridin’, we watched her work on barrel racing. Later we fired up his forge and “get it hot and hit it”. Forty years later I still could swing a hammer, well sort of.
Packed up the bike, waved good by and headed out on the last leg of this journey, back to Chris’s Yakima house. Originally I planned on visiting dear old friends in Las Vegas, but the idea of 4 days of riding in over 100 degrees changed my plan. I cleaned and polished the bike, treated the full tank of fuel and separated my clothing leaving the riding gear on the bike. I was conflicted with emotions, ending such an incredible trip and yet the strong desire to go home and see my loved ones.
So ended my American Adventure, put nearly 3500 miles on the Harley, saw four states all with breathtaking scenery. Most important connected with old friends and made so many new ones.