Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back Down the Road - A Short List

There's always a lot of talk this time of year about making resolutions for the new year.  They are usually the same every year.  Exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking, build a flux capacitor and travel into the future, you know...the usual stuff.  Then there are those "lists" you see everywhere.  Best, Worst, Most, Coolest, Hottest, Funniest.  You get the picture.  Well, this is another list.  My selections for the highlights, and lowlights, of 2011.  And everything you see here is my own opinion based on nothing more than the way I feel at this moment.  How's that for objective?  Not very.  But  let's get on with it anyway.

Best Movie:  Cowboys Vs. Aliens

This movie was just mindless shoot 'em up action-packed pure hollywood entertainment, as long as you left your logic and intellect in a drawer.  As evidence please note the "authentic" pioneer woman shown above...complete with a layered hair style, perfect painted-on eyebrows, and just the right amount of red lipstick.  Oh, and the pistol slung across her hip is also a nice touch.  I will admit, though, I kind of like her style. Don't see too many women with this look standing in the checkout line at Walmart. 

Worst Movie:  Cowboys vs. Aliens
This movie was just mindless shoot 'em up action-packed pure hollywood entertainment, as long as you left your logic and intellect in a drawer.  hmmm...didn't I just say that?  Guess it applies either way.

Best Movie I Didn't See:  The Artist
Sure hope it plays somewhere in our area.  Looks like a great movie.

Best Book:  Radio Shangi La (Lisa Napoli)
A great read about a subject that interests me and that I have some history with.

Best New Music:  Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
Very cool album.  Give it a listen.

Top 10 Fails:  From our friends at 

1st Place - U.S. Congress
2nd Place - Westboro Baptist Church
3rd Place - Kim Kardashian
4th Place - Rebecca Black
5th Place - Charlie Sheen
6th Place - Muhammar Gaddafi
7th Place - Casey Anthony
8th Place - Jerry Sandusky
9th Place - Lindsay Lohan
10th Place - Anthony Weiner
I think they pretty much got it right.

Most Ridiculous Warning Label:

Best Win: Again from the good folks at
A tie .....

Best Day:  Any day when I can travel a few short miles and enjoy views like this....

Wishing you the best and brightest for 2012...and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 19, 2011

There's still time.

There's still time for you to make Christmas a little brighter for someone this year.  A wonderful way to do that is by being an angel.  I'm sure you've seen an "Angel Tree" during your shopping trips each holiday season...

...and, just like me, walked past without taking much notice.  It's not that we don't want to help.  Maybe you are like us and have your favorite charities that you donate to every year.  Or it's just that there are so many requests for help that you don't know which to choose, and wonder if it will really make a difference anyway.  Plus, it's so hard to choose.  I spent a lot of time this year looking at the cards on the trees before making my choices.   Some were for the usual toys...Transformers and Legos for boys, Dora and Barbie for girls.  But others made more of an impression on me.  Like the 11 year old girl whose tag said art supplies, or the 7 year old boy who was asking only for a pair of gloves.

So, if you can find the time today, and if you can find it in your heart, stop at that Angel Tree and look at the tags.  You may find one that touches you in a way that will make you want to spend a little extra this year on someone you don't know. It doesn't have to be much, $10 will go a long way in this situation.  Some of my earliest memories are of the wonderful holiday celebrations in our family.  There was a time when we didn't have a lot, but my parents always managed to give us "Christmas."

So, even if it's not a shiny new tricycle or rocking horse, I'm sure any small gift that you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Another idea is to make a donation to your local Humane Society.  Our furry friends could use a little help this time of year also.

Oh, and one more thing...consider sending out a Christmas Letter this year.  Not a full color, computer-printed letter.  I'm talking about a hand-written letter to someone who might not expect it.  Just to let them know that you think about them from time to time and that you are all right. If there's not time, surprise them with a phone call.  Who wouldn't be delighted with a call from an old friend or long lost relative?

Whatever you decide to do...act quickly...the hour is getting late.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We're going down the wrong road.

Recent headlines...

*A Miami mom was arrested and charged with trying to sell her 8-month-old son for $7,000.

*Police are looking for a woman who used pepper spray to keep rival shoppers away from merchandise she wanted.

*A donation-collecting volunteer jingled all the way to jail Saturday after police arrested him for allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars from Salvation Army kettles.

*A Detroit man was arrested for allowing his 9-year-old daughter to drive him around while he was drunk.

*Another "mysterious" flash mob of youths struck a Philadelphia Sears Store on Thursday afternoon stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise in a matter of minutes.

And these types of incidents are not limited to urban areas.  We've seen headlines announcing all manner of terrible things right here in our own small cities and towns.   So what's going on?  Bad things have happened throughout history, and there will always be bad people doing bad things. But, doesn't it seem that there is an overwhelming amount of awful news these days?  Is it because society tolerates it?  Are we becoming immune? Or, is it because so many more children are growing up without being taught simple basic values and responsibility?  It seems that I encounter more people in various situations that are just...angry.  Have you noticed that?  What are they mad at?  Do you wonder what happened in their lives to make so many people so unhappy?  

I know what makes me mad these days...politics.  Not enough to make me go out and pepper spray somebody at Walmart or organize a flash mob, but pretty mad just the same.  It's especially bad at the federal level.  You would think that with three-and-half million people in this country we could find a couple hundred of them capable of running the country efficiently, decently and honestly.  But, as John Belushi used to so eloquently say "....nooooo!"  Some of you will argue "But not my guy.  He's the good one."  Well I have news for you.  He's not.  If he was we wouldn't be in this mess.  They're all bums, and we should throw them all out and start over while there's still time.  Need some evidence?  Here's another headline...

*Congress has ignored efficiency recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services that would save $9 billion annually.  

And it's not just the elected officials.  Too many federal employees are stealing our money also.  Example...

*A recent audit revealed that employees of the Department of Agriculture diverted millions of dollars to personal purchases through their government-issued credit cards.

Maybe it's because they see their senator or congressman/woman getting away with it so they want a piece of the action.  Whatever the reason, I think we can all agree that it's getting out of control.

I've tried to avoid politics in these posts.  But I just couldn't hold it in any longer.  
Whew! I feel better.  Guess I'll call off that flash mob.  For now anyway.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slippery Roads Ahead

Okay, I'm glad it happened.  It should have happened sooner.  I've been waiting for a long time for it to happen.  I didn't want it to happen, but it was inevitable.  And now...finally...a snowstorm.  It's actually a relief to me that winter has arrived in all it's glory. Even as Mother Nature was teasing me and I was enjoying the warm weather that lingered so late in the season, I knew that winter was coming.  It was like an upcoming dentist appointment.  I tried not to think about it, but knew the day would arrive.  The feeling of pending doom would not go away.  But now there's a foot of snow on the ground and the roads are icy. So the tooth has been pulled and the cavity filled, but I'll still be a little sore for a while.  And even though I don't like winter, I don't really feel all that bad.  With all of the cold and dreary days and nights ahead, there is still beauty to be found.  Even in the bleakest of landscapes it's there. We just need to look for it.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Highway

Someone posted a comment recently on facebook regarding the "shennanigans" that take place around Halloween, and a reply followed that said "Halloween is for kids to dress up and collect candy. Period." That's like saying the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is only for bikers.  But, as anyone who attends the rally knows, there are a lot of non-bikers dressing up (or down as the case may be) for an event that comes around only once a year.  It's the same thing for many adults on Halloween.  A chance to be someone or some THING different for a change.  Like a pirate, zombie, witch, vampire or Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  Or a sexy pirate, sexy zombie, sexy witch, sexy vampire, or sexy Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  Are you seeing a trend here?  When did it become the rule, rather than the exception, for women to see who can come up with the sexiest costume?  Not that I'm complaining, but it sure seems there have been a lot more women in recent years dressing in very skimpy or suggestive costumes.  And I'm ok with that, IF they don't go too far, and don't try to wear something that...well...umm...doesn't quite fit their body type, if you know what I mean.  What I'm not ok with is the guys that DO go too far when they waer costumes depicting various exaggerated body parts.  I really don't want to see that lumbering down the street at 11 o'clock at night.  Although, the 7 year old boy inside me does let out a snicker or two occasionally.

Being the curious person that I am (and it hasn't killed me yet) I ran a Google search for the most popular current Halloween costumes.  Here they are in no particular order:

Lady Gaga.
Snookie. (Snookie? Really?)
Charlie Sheen.

It's good to see pirates, zombies and vampires still on the list.  There's something to be said for tradition. Most likely the reason they are still so popular is because they can be male or female, and the variations are limitless.  

On a side note - One thing I look forward to every year is a visit from my friendas at the local newspaper.  They come up with the craziest, most clever and outlandish costumes ever!  And they did not disappoint this year:
And, one final thing - A trubute to some of the worst costumes ever...courtesy of our friends at :

                                                Not good.  Do not attempt these.  Please.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Haunted Highway

It's coming soon, and if you want to make sure you have enough time to watch all of your favorite great scary movies again before Halloween you should get started right now.  For me, and most likely for you also, it has become somewhat of a tradition every year toward the middle to end of October to start watching those old (and some not so old)  spooky-gory-awful movies that we've come to love over the years.  For some of you, those old movies may bring back fun and fond memories of younger days and simpler times when movie watching seemed to be more of an event than it is now, and required perhaps a little more imagination than today's features where the gross-out factor runs pretty high. 
And speaking of "features," does anybody remember CREATURE FEATURES?  Now wait a minute.  Don't answer too quickly, because I'm talking about the original Creature Features broadcast Saturday nights at 9:30 on cable tv from WGN out of Chicago.  If you were born after 1970, you likely missed the first and still the best spook show series ever to appear on television.  I still clearly remember those Saturday nights in 1971 & 1972 gathering with a few of my friends in Louie's attic-slash-bedroom to watch shows like The Mummy, The Wolfman, and Creature From the Black Lagoon.  I couldn't wait for the new TV Guide to arrive in the mail each week so I could throw it open and check what was coming up that weekend.

So as a public service, I offer this list of movies guaranteed to fill your nights leading up to Halloween with chills, thrills and frights galore! 

The Wolfman.  Just be sure it's the original 1940s version starring Lon Chaney.  You might find yourself actually feeling sorry for him by the end of the movie.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  The two best versions are the Disney animated version from the late 50s...but we're not talking Mickey Mouse here folks...and the late 90s movie with Johnny Depp.  Can't go wrong with that one either...I mean c''s Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane.

Night of The Living Dead.  60s black and white original. Very disturbing. Very scary. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  This time I recommend the remake over the original.  Donald Sutherland was the best pod person ever!

King Kong.  The 1933 original for sure.  If you aren't rooting for the ape during the final 20 minutes of this movie you are one cold-hearted human.

The 'burbs.  Okay, so this is not really a "scary" movie but that scene with Art and Ray in the basement is classic.  (chanting) "I wanna kill...every one..."

The Sixth Sense.  I was one of the apparently very few who didn't figure out the ending in advance.  Did not see that coming at all.

Ghostbusters.  Again, not scary but it has "ghost" in the title and so many great lines.  "He slimed me."

Cat People.  From the early 80s, I think.  Some Russsian chick turns into a leopard and goes on a rampage.  Hey, it could happen.

It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  Proving once again that you're never too old.  

One more thing.  The Charlie Brown movie contains some good advice from Lucy.....

"A person's Halloween costume should always be in direct contrast to their personality."



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Random Road

Too cold to ride.  Too windy to golf.  Too lazy to mow.  It turned out to be one of those days off when doing nothing seemed like the right thing to do.  I had time to think about some things, though.  Nothing in particular.  Just some random thoughts and observations that came to mind and then wouldn't go away.  Kind of like those times when you get a song stuck in your head and you can't get it out.  The only way to clear my brain today seemed to be to write some stuff down.  So that's what I did.........

* Librarians are not very friendly people, at least while they are working.  They scowl and frown a lot.  I'm not sure if it's because they aren't very happy or maybe I just catch them on a bad day.  I can't ever seem to engage them in any form of conversation or get them to crack even a hint of a smile.  I'm usually pretty good at that.  I intend to investigate this theory more thoroughly in the future.

* All...not some...ALL career politicians are self-serving, conceited, controlling, clueless, arrogant, pompous phonies who care more about keeping their job and being cool than doing the right thing.  Two words: term limits.

* I wish I could write like this:

"I’d come from a long ways off and had started a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself.  I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else."
Bob Dylan - Chronicles, Volume I

"Time is but the stream I go fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains."
-- Henry David Thoreau

"I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down"
Joni Mitchell

"I didn't know the full dimensions of forever, but I knew it was longer than waiting for Christmas to come." 
Richard Brautigan

* Sometimes your best friends are the ones you don't see every day, or every week, or even longer.  It doesn't matter if they are in another town or even a thousand miles away, when they really are a true and trusted friend you just know somehow that they are thinking of you at the same time you are thinking of them. 

* It would be nice to still get a letter in the mail once in awhile.  Not an email or a text, but a real letter. Hand written on actual paper and placed in an envelope.  I keep promising myself I am going to write a letter to a few old friends, but then I wonder if they will think there's some underlying message or hidden motive, or just question my mental state.  So I don't. Maybe I'm overthinking it and should just go with my impulse.  But, I probably won't.

* The year 2012 will not be the end of the world.  But I do believe the winds of change are blowing strong. 

* The Geico TV commercial about people doing dumb things with smart phones is pretty funny, and sadly quite true.

There, that's enough for today.  I feel better now. 

                                                                                 - 0 -

Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembrance Road

Several days ago I was flipping through the tv channels during a pause in what was obviously not a very busy day, and noticed that on nearly every station someone was talking about the upcoming anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Everywhere were the horrific photos from that terrible day.  As I put down the remote and walked away I remember saying out loud to no one there "...this is too much. We need to get over it."   Now, after attending events honoring the 3,000 people that lost their lives on September 11, 2001,  I feel guilty about my thoughts of a few days ago.  I am really that shallow?  I understand now that we don't need "to get over it." We need to remember it every day of our lives.  We need to remember those that died that day, as well as their families and friends whose lives were forever changed.
One of the first things I noticed at the registration and line-up for the Remembrance Ride yesterday was the diversity of the group.  In attendance were men and women from all walks of life...young professionals to old hippies.  Plus clubs and organizations representing many interests and lifestyles...Hamsters to Sons of Armegeddon.  We all came to together in a common cause.
In a world filled with so much violence and hate, we need events like this to bring us together to remember, honor, hope, and pray that something like this will never happen again. That change will come. And that the world will be a better place.  Some day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sanctuary Road

Sometimes you just need to take a break. Get away.  Find a place to be quiet. To be still. To be thoughtful. My place for this is Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary in the Black Hills between Lead and Rochford.  You don't have to be religious or spiritual to visit.  In fact, you don't have to be anything except yourself.
I offer this short - and very amateur - video as what I hope will be an inspiration for you to visit this wonderful place.  And, I hope you find it magical, educational, interesting, inspiring, or any other word that may describe the experience in a way that will make it meaningful to you.
Before you begin your visit via the the following link,  there is a brief anecdote I would like to share.  As one travels along the paths there are benches placed at various intervals with notebooks, pens, pencils and crayons for anyone wishing to add a note, comment or illustration describing their personal thoughts.  One entry caught my eye and gave me hope that, in a world where sometimes you feel like your are being overwhelmed by terrible events and bad people, there is always a glimmer of hope for the future.  On this day that glimmer was provided to me by Heidi, age 5.  I took a picture of her entry in the journal but decided not to use it here out of respect for her privacy.  Besides, there was no way I could capture the pure honesty and sincerity of her comment in a photograph.  She had used the crayons to draw a rather fuzzy picture of the Earth, and right above the drawing, in a child's uneven handwriting, were the words "the world is neat."  It doesn't translate well in this context.  I guess you had to be there.  But if you ever are, look in the notebook located in the plastic container on the bench near the angel and child sculpture.  You'll see what I mean.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Road to Sturgis - What I Saw

Well, the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is history. I haven't seen the official counts yet but I'm certain the numbers are down from previous years. There just wasn't the same buzz this least not for me. But it was fun hitting some familiar and favorite places -

And, as a dedicated observer of human nature , I am never disappointed by the variety of sights to be seen during this time of year -

Their own private celebration...of something.

Love...rally style.

More "shiny happy people." 

I did notice more custom and classic style motorcycles this year -

The body paint seemed a little more artistic -

And some of the vendors went from trying to be overly creative to just getting right to the point -

Now, one final comment about Harley Davidson riders.  They just can't stand to be passed by someone on another brand of motorcycle! Don't get me wrong.  I have some good friends and relatives who ride Harleys, so this isn't a criticism or complaint, just a fact that even they will have to admit is true.  Several times this past week it happened to me, including once when I decided to have some fun with it and maybe offer a lesson in humility (although the point was probably lost on this guy).  It happened on my way to Deadwood.  I ride a Valkyrie F6  and blew by a Harley as we started up the hill leading to town.  It didn't take very long for Mr. Harley Davidson to catch up and pass me, and as he did I increased my speed to stay on his tail all the way to the final curve before the city limits.  Here's where I had an advantage, because being local I knew that right around the corner the speed limit dropped to 45, and I also knew there was often a city police officer sitting right there ready to nab anyone who dared break the law in their town.  So right at the corner I backed off, Harley rider kept going, and sure enough  BOOM there was a copper right there waiting - and he lit that Ultra Classic up immediately.  I didn't wave, gesture, or even smile. I just rode on by doing 45 in the left lane.  After thinking about it, I feel kind of bad about setting the guy up like that.  But I just couldn't resist the easy target.  We all know that the universe...karma...fate...or whatever other great equalizer might be out there...will see to it that I don't get way with it completely.  Payback is coming.  Not sure when or where, but I am pretty sure it will happen.  Hope I'm ready for it and that "they" will go easy on me.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

End Of The Road

And you read your Emily Dickinson
And I my Robert Frost
And we note our place with bookmarkers
To measure what we've lost                                                        (P. Simon)


Friday, July 29, 2011

Side Roads (Sturgis Preview)

With only a few days left before the roar and rumble of motorcycles overcome the normal rattle and hum of the Black Hills, it seems like a good time to offer up some suggestions for rally goers and non rally goers alike.  If you are a regular "rallier" I suggest you take a break this year from the usual hangouts like Full Throttle Saloon and Buffalo Chip Campground.  I'm not saying not to go to those places, because they ARE fun if you like that sort of thing (and I do like that sort of thing on occasion), just don't make them your final or only destinations.  There are so many other "hidden treasures" out there that most people completely overlook or don't give a chance.  And if you are not a "rallier" maybe this year you should consider getting out of your comfort zone and try something different.  Expand your horizons.  Live a little. These are all places where you can be a pirate but not worry about ending up with an eye patch, a hook or a peg leg.  So go ahead and dig up some treasure!

First stop - Stone House Saloon.   Located about 5 miles west of Belle Fourche, or about 30 miles west of Sturgis, this is actually an old stone farmhouse that is only open during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
You'll find beer, burgers and quite an eclectic and diverse clientele.  Bikers, cowboys, local businessmen and women, students, even a few Canadians passing through who think they've discovered some tourist attraction that wasn't on the map they picked up at that truck stop in Wyoming.  I'm pretty sure there are more than a few tourists who pull in and end up having more fun here than at the Cosmos Mystery Area or Flinstones Village.  AND...back again this year it's Pee Wee Moore and the Awful Dreadful Snakes playing some of the best hillbilly rock and country music you'll ever hear around these parts.

Get there early.  They only play during the day from Noon to 5.

Not much further west off I-90 between Spearfish and Sundance is Beulah,Wyoming, home of the Sand Creek Trading Post.  Last year they had a makeshift pool bar set up outside with some fun waitresses with great attitudes serving cold beer and smiles.  I'm hoping it will be the same thing this year.  This is another place where you'll find a slightly strange mix of locals and visiting bikers all getting along and having a good time.

Another "bar" experience you may want to consider is a trip to the Moonshine Gulch Saloon in Rochford, approximately 25 miles south of Deadwood via Highway 385 or follow the Rochford Road out of Lead.  To give you an idea of what to expect - a few years ago I stopped in to grab a beer and a burger, and wanting to know exactly what I was getting, I asked the rather shaky old-timer behind the counter what they put on their cheeseburgers.  He raised an eyebrow and said in a very authoritative tone "Cheese!" But don't mistake anyone's demeanor for rudeness. That's just the way it is at the Moonshine.

By now you might be wondering if I have any suggestions other than bars.  As a matter of fact I do.  It is amazing how many people come to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally & Races, but never attend an actual motorcycle race.  You should consider taking in a Jackpine Gypsies sponsored Short Track Race or Hill Climb.  They are held every day during rally week right off I-90 between Sturgis exits 30 and 32.

Whether you are into motorcycles or not, think about seeing an actual custom bike show or builder's exhibit.  The combination of art, engineering and design is something almost anyone can appreciate.  Check out the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in downtown Sturgis August 7th - 10th.  You will also find many custom bike builder exhibits at various locations around town.

And finally - go to a Biker Breakfast.  You'll find them at churches and senior citizen's centers throughout the Black Hills, and you don't have to be a biker to attend.  I've been told one of the best is offered up by members of the Spearfish Senior Center on 10th Street.  It goes from August 7th through the 13th, starting at 7 a.m. each day.   You may find something more than just breakfast friendly and interesting people who truly are glad to see you, and appreciate the fact that you showed up.  I plan on making the rounds.  Hope I run into you some morning.  Not too early, though.  I mean...after all... it is Rally Week.



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Festival Road

It was hot on Sunday.  It's hot every year during the Spearfish Festival In The Park. You can count on it, just like you can count on giant turkey legs, pork chops on sticks, waffle cones, giant corn dogs, peace sign lawn ornaments and lots of tie dye.  Oh, and the beer garden.  Can't forget about the beer garden.
We always enter the park the same way, walking in from 3rd Street to avoid the major traffic.  This route also takes us along the creek immediately as we enter the park, so our first experience is seeing the children playing in the shallow water just above the falls.  Who doesn't remember playing in a creek as a child?

We browsed all of the familiar places.  It was fun looking at the variety of dried flowers, etched mirrors, walking sticks, framed watercolors, oil paintings and photography.  It was also fun looking at the variety of people.  There were the usual suspects...Mr. and Mrs. Retiree moving slowly along the path. Young moms with their young children in strollers being pushed by young dads.  Old hippies.  And just about everything in between.
My favorite stone seller was there again, with all of her familiar stones and crystals. She also had a rather nice selection of magic wands this year.  But, none of them chose me so I had to leave empty handed once again.

I noticed an abundance of tie-dye items this year.   There were the skirts, t-shirts and bandanas that you would expect to some other, well, more "personal" items.

Actually, tie-dye underwear for 8 bucks is not a bad deal.

Birdhouses were a common theme.  You know, as you get a little older, you buy things you never would have even considered when you were younger.  The thought of buying a decorated bird house has never even entered my mind...until this year. And we got a nice one.  Roomy, easy entry, real cedar trim, great location.  And the rent is reasonable - only a song, and no deposit required.

And now the award for the Best Booth of 2011.  It goes to..."girl ran away with the spoon."  Hand made silverware jewelry and accessories.  Very cool rings, ear rings, necklaces and bracelets made out of old spoons, forks and knives.  Great idea! The artist is Erin Thormodsgard from Miles City, Montana.  Check out the website at  

Final case you are wondering...the photos are inspired by an article I came across at the Boston Globe online (, and created with a software program called Poladroid.

by the way - I'm sure the only time many people visit the Spearfish City Park is during the festival each year.  But, it really is an awesome place to just hang out any time.  So don't be a stranger.  See you there!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Road Songs

Recently I was riding in a car with a friend, whose name is being withheld to protect him from ridicule, and I couldn't help taking notice of the cd that was playing.  The first two songs were by Madonna and Neil Diamond.  Not that there's anything wrong with some "Material Girl" or a little "Cherry, Cherry" on occasion.  But, for driving music?  C'mon Bob (not his real name) - that is NOT road music!
So as a public service, here are some essential songs for your next road trip.  Hopefully this list will inspire put aside their ipod, mp3 player, XM or Sirius satellite radio for even just one day.
And if you do actually burn these songs to cd, I recommend you find a Sharpie and write on the label: "Best Road Songs Ever," because that's what they are.

RADAR LOVE  - Golden Earring  ("I've been drivin' all night, my hands are wet on the wheel")

ROADHOUSE BLUES - The Doors ("Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel")

LOW RIDER - War ("Take a little trip, take a little trip...with me")

HIGHWAY PATROL - Junior Brown ("If I write you out a ticket, then you'd better drive slow")

JULY, YOU'RE A WOMAN - John Stewart ("I can't keep my eyes on the white line out before me")

HIGHWAY 61 - Bob Dylan ("Tell me quick man I got to run - that way down Highway 61")

AGAINST THE WIND - Bob Seeger ("I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind")

HIGHWAY STAR - Deep Purple ("All right hold tight, I'm a highway star")

GUITAR TOWN - Steve Earle ("I love to hear the steel belts hummin' on the asphalt")

I'VE BEEN EVERYWHERE - Johnny Cash ("Listen bud, I've traveled every road in this here land")

SAVING GRACE - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers ("Running for another place to find that saving grace")

GUITARS, CADILLACS - Dwight Yoakam ("Now it's guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music")

FLIRTIN' WITH DISASTER -Molly Hatchet ("I got the pedal to the floor, our lives are runnin' faster")

RUNNING ON EMPTY - Jackson Browne ("Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels")

Feel free to add your own to the list.  But, don't even think about replacing any.  These are not negotiable.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Holiday Road

It's something I've wanted to do for a quite awhile. Take a long solo motorcycle trip and cover a lot of miles in a short period of time.  The 4th of July holiday weekend presented the perfect opportunity.  And, I had the perfect destination...St. Cloud, Minnesota.  Well, maybe St. Cloud Minnesota is not really a perfect destination.  But it's where an old friend from my radio days lives, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a "pop in."  Everybody loves a "pop in."  The plan was to leave Sunday and be back Tuesday evening.  That's over 1300 miles in two and a half days.  I was hoping my ambition did not exceed my abilities.
Things were looking up from the start when, less than 100 miles into the trip, I spotted a girl sunbathing on a platform in the middle of a small pond just a few hundred yards off the interstate.  I thought to cool it is that this chick is out there all by herself just soaking up the sun seemingly unconcerned with the traffic racing past, and paying no attention at all to the horns honking in appreciation.  It would have been one of those road trip memories to look back on occasionally and smile.  I said it would have been.  But, today's edition of the Rapid City Journal snatched that fond memory from me and smashed it into a thousand tiny pieces.

It was a mannequinn!  Nothing more than an elaborate hoax.  Look for it at mile marker 71 the next time you travel east on I-90 out of Rapid City, South Dakota.  


An observation:  Have you noticed that a lot of the old cool road names are being replaced by street numbers.  What was once Crooked Creek Road is now 177th Street.  Shuffling Duck Road is now 188th Street, and Mean Old Woman Road is now 284th Street?  How do you have a 284th Street 5 miles out of a town with a population of only 700?  OK, so I made up Shuffling Duck and Mean Old Woman roads, but you know what I mean.  Some things should just be left as they are.


After the first 400 wind-blown miles it was time to stop for the night and grab a bite to eat and a beer.  Luckily, my motel was right across the street from a rather inviting little place called the Red Eye Bar. 
There were a few motorcycles parked out front and some people outside talking and enjoying a fair summer evening, so this seemed like a place where I could just fit right in.  I walked over, and as I reached the front door it was blocked by some ugly dudes wearing vests displaying the name of their motocycle club.  To be specific - the name was "Sons of Silence."  I don't know how well you may be informed regarding motorcycle gangs, but the Sons of Silence make the Hells Angels look like Erik Von Zipper and the Ratz.   Now what was I going to do?  I was sort of committed.  I couldn't turn around and try to walk away for fear of hearing a raspy voice growl "What's wrong? You too good for us?"  So I just turned sideways, squeezed by and walked inside hoping not to find more of these guys and a bar fight in progress.  Much to my relief, there were only a few regular people scattered around inside and a very cool bartender who assured me there would be no trouble and proceeded to give me a 2 for 1 deal right up front.  Nice.  By the time I left the bar the group outside had dwindled and I was able to escape without incident.  Nothing more to see here.  Let's move along.


Another observation:  While pumping gas at a travel stop convenience store along the way, I noticed a family having lunch on the tailgate of their pickup which was parked on pavement in the hot sun.  At the intersection nearby was a sign that read "City Park 4 Blocks."  What were these people doing eating out of a cooler in the back of their truck with cool grass and shade only 4 blocks away?  Makes you wonder sometimes, doesn't it?


Minnesota is pretty.  Most of the towns I rode through were clean and looked prosperous.  Made me wonder why the state is broke.  Even the rest stops were closed.  At one point during the conversation with my friend I made a comment about how many lakes I had seen along the way, and he reminded me that the Minnesota state slogan is "Land of 10,000 Lakes."  He also commented on the fact that so many lakes in his state have water that is murky and green from all of the agricultural waste run-off, while our lakes in the Black Hills are crystal clear and clean.  It's true, and it's another example of how fortunate those of us are who live here.


It's fun to be a tourist, even when it's relatively close to home.  The 1880 Town is a tourist trap for sure.  But it's an awesome tourist trap!
A nice sight for a weary traveler.

The Train Car Dining Room was pleasant step back in time.

A scene you won't see in a city of concrete and steel.       


And in conclusion...Henry, South Dakota  is "Home of the Owls."  I saw it on a sign at the entrance to town.  I can picture the cheerleaders on Friday nights in the Fall " .....2 - 4 - 6 - 8. Who do we appreciate? Owls! Owls! Owls!"

Oh, one more thing.  I passed many roadside fireworks stands on this trip, but the one I remember was called "Kaboomski's."  Great name. 


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quick Takes

The next time you drive (or ride) by a place that causes you to say "I'm going to stop there some time," don't just say it - do it!  You might just find some huge ceramic pigs. Maybe even a pink one.

Antique Emporium of Deadwood.

Or, if you dig deep enough down in the box, you may just find that still sealed Star Wars Storm Trooper Pez dispenser you didn't know you always wanted.

On another subject...I have decided I like girls in hats.  Any kind of hat. Or cap.  I'm not sure I know the difference.  I've been seeing a trend lately, or maybe just noticing now where I didn't before.  In any case, girls with hats are cool.

I think I'll buy some fireworks this year.  It's something I haven't done in recent years.  No special reason to do it this year, other than you just never know when you might need a smoke bomb or a bottle rocket. Ok, so nobody ever really "needs" a smoke bomb or a bottle rocket, but they can be kind of fun to have around.

Went up to the storage shed the other day and brought home all of my old record albums.  Wow.  I had forgotten how many I still have.  Can't wait to get the turntable and Lux receiver (circ. 1975) hooked up again so I can play some records.  There's something about hearing those classic bands on vinyl.  It's crisp, clean, raw.  Not over-processed and with too much bass like most CDs and digital music you hear today.  I'm telling you - you've never been really in the groove until you've heard Cheap Trick, Jackson Browne or the Doobies at 33 1/3 rpm.

One more thing...I'm leaving Sunday on a road trip to see an old friend.  I plan on making a few stops on the way to take some photos and possibly pick up a few post cards.  (They still sell post cards don't they?) 1300 miles round trip with no air conditioning, no cruise control, and no radio.  Just me and a liquid cooled horizontally opposed 6 cylinder power plant that will do just fine against pretty much any run-of-the-mill common V-Twin out there.

Here's hoping for a a little adventure and some smooth sailing.  So Fins Up...and I'll see you on the other side!