< Motorcycle Experience 1974

Mom and Dad

Barb Phillips

Lila Ashby

Arlyn Fisk

Stan Fisk

Mike Preslar

Debbie Tarr

Randy Ashby

Jerry Ashby

Danny Ashby

Jack Ashby

Dale Fisk

Dana Kellerman

Venus Zook

Mandy Miller

Sweet Evie

Luna Belle

Onion Soup

Poetry

Odds & Ends

Trivial Stuff

I took my first cross country motorcycle trip in the summer of 1974. You must know that I had only owned my motorcycle since March of 1974 and in early May I crashed it into a pickup truck with a camper top and broke my right leg. I was in a cast for 4 weeks and taking therapy for another four weeks just so I could heal enough to go on this trip in the first place. My leg was still very weak and I could not put my bike, a 500 Honda, on its' centerstand by myself yet. But I was determined to take this trip and I had to be healthy enough to do it in July because I worked for Caterpillar at the time and the vacation time was fixed. So with no more than 300 or so total miles of experience on a motorcycle and a bum leg, I decided to cross the country alone. I carried $300 with me for a two week trip, boy for 1974 prices today, a small pup tent, no rain gear, one change of clothes and a lot of enthusiasm. Following are the entries in my journal while on this wonderful journey.

July 12, 1974 - Friday

It finally began about 10:00 PM on the evening of Friday, July 12, 1974. Me and my bike out to see the states travelling together. 18,735 on the odometer. 3.2 gallons outside Madison, Wisconsin, $1.80. Rest stop 20 miles north of Madison.

I donít really know how I want to record this episode in my life but I think Iíll just take it daily and see what happens. I shall surely make this journey slowly, - I want no accidents nor hurried experiences. It should be a pattern for all my life to go slow and easy with no anxieties about having to accomplish anything save for that which I do accomplish. Tried to nap on the bike but canít. The stars are shining brightly, I think Iím gonna like this trip.

July 13, 1974 - Saturday

Slept on bag at rest area and up at dawn. I really dug taking a nap on the bank of the Mississippi on the Minnesota side across from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The morning sun was warm but not hot. The scorching heat came before noon and 100-110 degrees was common. My arms are roasted from the ball of fire.

Spent a couple of hours at the Honda shop in Rochester, Minnesota getting a new clutch cable and trying to get an air filter. Picked it up finally at Austin along with gloves -my hands are so terribly sore- and a bubble shield for my helmet. Minnesota law requires a helmet which is really a hassle. Always afraid to leave it with the bike but donít want to carry it around.

I waited a good part of the day hoping the sun would pity me but I ended up in Fairmont, Minnesota campgrounds 480 miles from home. Here I took a dive into the lake and promptly found out it was only a foot and a half deep, scraping my nose and forehead and stomach. Shit! Then I quickly stepped on a bee to make it complete. Burnt arms, scratched face and stomach and a bee sting on my foot. One highlight: I met Terry Anderson, a fine chic from Pipestone, Minnesota. A farm girl with all the trimmings.

Later met Ed and Chris from Toledo on a 450 Honda on their honeymoon heading for Yellowstone. And another guy whose name slips my memory who had some pretty good pot. Heís heading for Chicago from Seattle to take training in the Navy, riding a 500, 1972 Honda just like mine only green. We all rode into Fairmont, had some good food and beer and a real good time.

July 14, 1974 - Sunday

Awoke around 8:00 to a light rain but it soon stopped and as I headed out the skies cleared and scorching heat returned. Made 400 more miles and am camping in the Badlands in South Dakota. A very nice lady from Seattle came to my table at the lodge here and gave me some ointment for my sunburn. Sheís a nurse and her son left recently on his bike heading for Maine.

Two fellow campers on a Yamaha and a BMW bullshitted awhile and a man travelling on an 850 El Dorado with his old lady. The dudes are from Ames, Iowa going to Seattle and the man from Ft. Scott, Kansas heading to Yellowstone originally but his wife wants to go home, she likes air-conditioning. I think sheíll win out.

Viewed a filmstrip and a movie of the Badlands.

July 15, 1974 - Monday

Said goodbye to my friends and set out about 8:00. Stopped at Wall Drug and bought Sue a jade necklace. Trucked on through the Black Hills stopping at Cedar Rapids and Mount Rushmore and lo and behold, I see the 850 El Dorado at the mountain. Hit Newcastle, Wyoming at 1:00 and had my first Coors of the trip. Was fine just sitting on a corner downing a quart.

Had my first trouble outside Buffalo, Wyoming when I ran out of gas. A 69 mile stretch of road with nothing, nothing on it. Saw no buildings, towns, people and few cattle, maybe 4 or 5. Coasted finally to the exit ramp and in town had to tear out the gas bowl and clean it all out. It was stopped up and not releasing the petrol. Since I was at it, I cleaned my points and plugs to complete my mechanics. I tightened the chain out on the highway while I was biding my time.

Camping now in the city park with the same dudes I spent last night with. Seems fate has it for us to cruise together. Long live Adolph Coors. Paul and Denny are really friendly dudes sharing their stash with me!

July 16, 1974 - Tuesday

Breakfast at he Busy Bee downtown and off trucking with Paul and Denny. Slept like a champ after the Coors and smoke we shared last night. Hit drizzling rain through the Big Horn mountains but soon as we hit the other side the sun came out and it was a perfect day. Stopped in Worland at a Honda shop and Yamaha shop for Denny. Stopped gas bowl from leaking and put a new one on.

We took the ride from Big Horn mountains to Worland at 100 but my bike is running shitty. Cruised through Cody, Wyoming and stopped at Buffalo Bill Dam. Passed through Emblem, population 10. Finally hit the East Gate of Yellowstone at 6:00 and we set up camp on someoneís reserved site. Seems reservations are necessary now but the people (from Los Angeles) were nice and let us stay the night. Changed plugs and points and hope to set the points in A.M. Darkness fell. Had a number by the lake and at the beach the view was spectacular. Doesnít look like Yellowstone or the Rockies.

Roasted hot dogs with the Los Angeleans and slept outside tent to view the myriad starts populating the skies. Sure would like a bath! 20,232 on odometer.

This day Denny almost got massacred by a gas truck on Highway 16.

July 17, 1974 - Wednesday

Paul and I scrambled eggs for breakfast. Changed oil and Denny set the points and timing but bike still chugs around a little. I guess itís the altitude. Got a campsite at Grantís Village where the mosquitoes practically carry people away. Saw many geysers and hot springs including Old Faithful which was a rather awesome display but also a bit disappointing.

We took a 1.2 mile hike into the woods to view Mystic Falls, a very nice waterfall running from the Firehole River. I finally got my shower and really took advantage of it. About 25 minutes worth and also washed my pants and socks.

Later we sat around the campfire with some people from Missouri. Two dudes who had been travelling 2 Ĺ weeks through Victoria, Canada and Washington in a little Opel with no tent. Sprinkled rain off and on through the night.

July 19, 1974 - Friday

Up early at Gallatin National Forest and into town for coffee. Said a sad farewell to Paul and Denny as they headed out to the earthquake sites then towards Hellís Canyon, Idaho and Bob and I set south on highway 20. Will seem strange touring without them now that weíve kinda grown attached to each other but our ways must part. Exchanged addresses so weíll probably meet again.

As for Bob and I, we rode steady, stopping only to put bolts on his manifold and fix a broken fuse wire and for food at Pocatello, Idaho. Pulled in to camp at United Campgrounds Lagoon outside of Salt Lake City and spent hours at the nearby amusement park hopping on and off rides.

Hereís where I met Mickey Schulz from Springville, Utah, a real fine girl and I hope to visit her at home tomorrow. A 1:00 AM shower put the topper on the day and a late chat with a fellow camper from Albany, New York. I hope to find out some more about Mormons who are so prevelant in Utah. They seem to have such very strict rules and a controlling hand on all the affairs of the state.

July 20, 1974 - Saturday

An early morning shower and goodbye to Bob as he trucked west on I-80 towards San Francisco. Ate breakfast at porkyís in Salt Lake City and stopped at Springville to see Mickey. Has a chat with her then I went downtown Provo and bought a pair of boots at the Hike and Bike shoop for $40.

Spent awhile at the city park drinking beer and met Jim and Carolyn and their daughter Becky and, oh yes, Che, their white poodle. Such very nice people they were, too. Invited me home for supper which I jumped at and Carolyn washed my clothes even! Sat around and talked for awhile as the rains came hard but short. About 5:30 I left exchanging addresses and stopped by Mickeyís again but no one was home at the 300 year old house.

Finally started trucking for Vegas around 6:00 and made 180 miles til the rain stopped me under the viaduct at the intersection of I-15 and I-70. Slept real fine, though, and contemplated all the things the Mormons have control over especially in Utah County where Brigham Young University is. 21,019 on odometer. Also my bike got washed earlier today, wheeee.

July 21, 1974 - Sunday

Awoke from the viaduct and shot for Zion Park and cruised it fast. Drove through 100 degree plus temperatures from Zion to Vegas, 169 miles, and it roasted bumps on my right wrist where the skin had peeled. Took a shower at my campground (VIP on Boulder Highway) and called Sue and Venus from Pizza Hut in afternoon.

Met tom and Kevin from El Paso and San Diego and had a bunch of numbers with them til we cruised to the Strip in their VW and walked and walked and walked. Came back to camp and I went back down to the strip and hit the Silver Slipper, a Hughes Casino. Played the slot machines and saw the 12:30 show with Allen and Rossi, a couple of horny fÖers. Practically got lost going back to camp and stopped in an all night record shop and listened to some music for awhile. Called Sue again at 3:00 and no dice on Sue Drakeís address in Albequeque. Finally to sleep and at 3:00 AM it is still 86 degrees, Whew! 21,380 on odometer.

July 22, 1974 - Monday

Sped at about 8:00 AM. Coffee at Boulder, then speeding along to the Hoover Dam. What a big dam!!! Supplies so much electricity! Adjusted chain and put quart of oil in at Kingman, Arizona. 300 miles to Grand Canyon and just 12 miles away it poured and I got soaked. Gassed up in park, got in free because the lady felt sorry for me in the storm, and then it hailed. Ran into the cafeteria and drank half a dozen cups of coffee, ate and tried to dry out for hours. Couldnít get Sueís address in Albequeque so I guess Iíll stay here awhile.

Camped for free again as friendly people let me set up camp at their spot. Met John and Eddie from Chicago and Lisle and they got me ripped. Went to cafeteria night spot, the Yavapai Lounge, and listened to dynamite Blue Grass music band, Dr. Pepper. Great! Ate popcorn and pipe got really broke in tonight. Met OíToole and Will from Boston. Really Boston people, too. Crashed under starry skies very late. Amen. 21,690.

July 23, 1974 - Tuesday

Spent a very peaceful day up here at the canyon riding on their shuttle buses to the West Rim and drinking beer and eating sandwiches in front of the General Store watching it rain. Took a nap and began reading the Tolien Reader. Got lost in the woods back of campgrounds trying to find a shortcut to the cafeteria.

Met Stephanie and Joe from southern California on bus and later at the hoedown at cafeteria. Dr. Pepper played again and I just canít believe how good they get into their music. Ate hot dogs with Eddie and Don, a father-son combo touring on Honda 500 and 350 from Florida. Later Bill from Minnesota on a 550 pulled in and set up camp an we talked and toked on some has before watching that good ole Blue Grass Music. Bees here are terrible. Canít decide where to head to next. Wish I had 3 months instead of 2 weeks.

July 24, 1974 - Wednesday

Up and going late. Coffee at café. Stopped at Lookout Point, Mather Point and Desert View. Met Gary from Modesto, California on his 1200 Harley and we rode hard together through rain in the canyon and heat on the road. Saw dinosaur tracks and bought an Indian vest at Cameron. Passed Four Corners and stopped at Cortez, Colorado for much needed beer. Gary is following 3 hitch-hiking chicks trying to get one on his back. Pulled into Mesa Verde Park and rode beautiful road into the campgrounds. The countryside changed from reddish rolling clay fields to whitish sandy hills and mountains as we crossed from Arizona to Colorado with about of mile of New Mexico in between. 300 mile day. 21,985.

July 25, 1974 - Thursday

Todayís writing is actually being done on early Saturday morning at the close of Fridayís riding. Took a morning shower and we had a horrendous breakfast, trying to boil some eggs. Toured Mesa Verde Park and saw several of the 700 ruins of the Pueblo-Hopi cliff dwellings. Very interesting. Caves were ingenious and vacated around 1300 AD. Discovered in 1888 by two cowboys chasing cattle.

Left and raced the rain to Durango. There we ate and spent a very long, dull two hours waiting for Gary to get propane and oil for his Harley. Wanted to leave him but couldnít bring myself to do so. Left there at 4:00 and put in 200 some miles by 9:30 - hard riding! Went over Wolf Creek Pass (10,850) and Le Veta Pass (9,416) before a needed beer in Walsenburg followed by supper and finally sleep at Dakota Campgrounds. 22,300.

July 26, 1974 - Friday

Up early, 7:30 or so, showered, breakfast again at Rambler Restaurant and goodbye to Gary, exchanging addresses. That began a grueling day which was spent entirely on the scooter. Before it ended, about 2:30 Saturday morning, I layed down 738 miles of treacherous highway. All I had in my head was to ride and make it home, sweet home by Saturday night. Ears are ringing and Iím trying to wind down now. Am somewhere in Iowa. Shit! 23,038.

Passed a truck driver at about 70 and he flashed peace sign then signalled as if to slow down and 2 miles up the road there sat a state cop ready to catch me if I hadnít heeded his warning. Nebraska doesnít like hitch-hikers on their Interstate. The reflectors on the side of the road stand 26+ to a mile. I figure theyíre spaced about 200 feet apart.

July 27, 1974 - Saturday

Slept about three hours then set out again. Last day. Drove 70 miles, ate a great breakfast and 30 miles then the rains fell. For over 100 miles in Iowa it rained and I was cold but kept chugging to finish the race by the end of the day. Beat the rain to Davenport then I had it made. By Spring Valley, Illinois it was sunny and I took off my shirt for the last 70 miles. Pulled in the driveway at 5:00 speedometer reading 23,478. 440 miles today, 4,473 for the trip and ľ of that was done in these last two grueling days. But it was all worth it and I would do it all over again the same way if I could.

Peace and Ciaou!