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Two Wheel Tales

Slow Cruiser

The Long & Winding Road AKA

Emu's 6 Week Tour

Look Here For Raymond's Version Of Events

Slow Cruiser

Part 4

Meandering with Purpose: Metropolis

There are several mythical cities that inspire the imagination. Probably the most famous is the lost City of Atlantis. Atlantis has stirred the imagination for many generations and the search for Atlantis will always continue. Enter the 20th century. The modern icon of mythical cities would have to be Metropolis. For here, man's imagination can take flight. For Metropolis is the home of Superman! Scholars for centuries have been and will, search for evidence of Atlantis existence. Raymond and I found Metropolis and a larger than life Superman. We also discovered that some college tuition's are wasted. Nestled quietly in the southern tip of Illinois, on the North Shore of the Ohio River, just west of I-24, sits Metropolis.

On June 16th Raymond and I decided to change our planned ride to Arkansas and headed west and North to find Metropolis. Like any motorcycle expedition worth its salt, we meandered south to poke around Kentucky on our way to head north and complete our impromptu quest. Around 3 PM we crossed the Ohio River, turned left and followed the signs pointing the way to this modern mecca of blue tights and red underwear being worn on the outside.

Now, you have to picture this: Two motorcycles sitting at the only traffic light on the way into town, loaded with T-Bags, duffel bags, tents, sleeping bags and miscellaneous items all strapped onto the bikes by bungee cords and cargo nets. Not to mention one Ontario license plate, one Florida license plate, and this being the state of Illinois. Enter one Chevy, windows down, with two ambassadors of our future within. The Chevy comes to stop beside Raymond. The occupants look like college kids. The passenger leans out the window and asks "Where's the giant Superman statue?" Raymond looks at me and rolls his eyes. He then in a grand gesture with his arms, laughing the whole time, brought all our luggage to the attention of Mr. Observant. "Do we look like locals?" We told them there would probably be signs up ahead. They thanked us and drove off. Around the next bend was a billboard with an image of a flying Superman and a big "Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman!" We stopped to get pictures and as we looked across the street, discovered the two college kids had multiplied to four. Their girlfriends in a second car were parked by the sign. Mr. Observant steps towards us and asks "Is this it?" Again Raymond handled all inquiries. Raymond pointed to the little sign just above Mr. Observant's head that stated : "Giant Superman statue ------>" Again Raymond's new best friend thanked him and off we rode the search of the elusive giant Superman statue. Okay, I have to admit, we did the wrong turn thing in this small town and eventually had to ask a real local citizen where the statue was. (Of course, we are ambassadors of the dumb old past! Getting lost and asking dumb questions looks good on us!) Eventually we pulled around the town's courthouse and entered the small town square. There, in full living color, blue tights, red boots, trunks and Cape with hands on his hips, stood a 30 ft. Superman!
And our college buddies, who came running up to greet us.
As we started to take pictures of the bikes in front of Superman, the two girls were standing between Superman's legs, each with one arm extended up with hand cupped offering Superman lots of support! Mr. Observant seeing that we were about to take some shots, tells the girls to move. "No no" says we, laughing at a rather unique photo opp. "Girls please, stay where you are and hold that pose" (when I get the pictures captured from the video,
I'll bump this post and add the pictures)

Superman is mounted on a pedestal just like a real monument in any town square. The inscription at Superman's feet reads "Truth, Justice and the American way". As we read this, a prisoner in handcuffs, was being led out of the courthouse to a waiting sheriff's car. This took place under the shadow of Superman. We thought that was kind of funny.
Across the square, which is actually kind of round, is the Superman Museum and gift store. There are also strategically located phone booths and cut board likenesses of Clark Kent and Lois Lane on the side street. You can even step up behind a headless Superman front and have your head on Superman's body. Raymond makes a really weird looking Superman. One second-story window has a full-sized Superman flying out of it. This whole set up may be just a little tacky, even a little wacky! But it works. Even the McDonald's restaurant on the outskirts of town has Superman's approval. We thoroughly enjoyed discovering and spending time in the modern mythical city of Metropolis. BTW this was added fun for me, in a way, Superman's heritage is Canadian! Superman was the brainchild of a fellow named Schuster ... a Canadian! (He was related to Frank Schuster of Wayne and Schuster fame.)
Now you'd think Superman would be a hard act to follow. Poor Superman! A few hours later in Arkansas, he was upstaged by GaryPaul. Of course that's another
"Meandering with Purpose" story altogether!


Part 5

Meandering with Purpose:Arkansas

Metropolis was great, but Arkansas was awaiting us. I knew this would be a challenge. Seven years ago I had planned to ride through Arkansas on my way to New Orleans. I missed by hundred miles or so. No big deal, Kentucky? Arkansas? Hey eh! Raymond a sometime, anyplace navigator himself, once missed the state of Ohio. So off we rode in search of GaryPaul and the elusive state of Arkansas. We took Hwy. 60 through Kentucky and crossed the mighty Mississip into Missouri. Because it was late in the day, we rode the interstate south to the cut off to Jonesboro. By the time we reached Jonesboro it was dark. Matter-of-fact, if Raymond hadn't pulled off the highway when he did, I would have rode right through Jonesboro and not known it. I don't want to say my night vision is getting bad, but I'm beginning to understand why old folks go to bed so early. Might as well, they can't see anything at night anyway.

GaryPaul met us at the Burger King parking lot and escorted us through town and some back country roads to his country estate. Now GaryPaul is a very affable fellow. He looks just like his pictures and I can see where "Irv" inherited his good looks. GaryPaul is pronounced as one word. As he tells it, it was at university that he found out he had two names. GaryPaul claims to be a full-time philosopher. When Raymond asked how it paid? GaryPaul replied "I'll think about it."

We settled in for the night, and got to use GaryPaul's computer to catch up with the goings on at IA. At the end of the evening, I was left alone in the room with a working computer. All I know it is, the next morning the monitor wouldn't work. I had turned it off, but I swear that was all. We tried to fix it, and Raymond even got to make it more broke. GaryPaul didn't worry about it. He just wanted to ride. The man is a trooper.

Now GaryPaul has dogs. He has a 1400 that looks similar to my 1400. So the dogs took no notice of my bike. Those dogs I don't think had ever seen a 1500. So the alpha male staked a claim, by leaving a puddle of dank smelling orangish fluid on the front wheel hub. (I think under Arkansas law, Raymond has stolen the poor dog's bike!)

GaryPaul's planned three-hour backroad tour of Arkansas, stretched to just over eight hours. Good thing professional philosophers concept of time is different from the rest of us. Raymond and I enjoyed every minute of that romp across every backroad northern Arkansas and 10 minutes (philosopher's time) in Missouri, had to offer. One road in particular, was straight as an arrow, but ran over a series of hills. I believe the surveyor of this road, later in life went on to invent the roller coaster. At 60 miles an hour, as you came down one hill and started up the next, you could feel the motorcycles suspension compress to the fullest. The transition from down to up in some of these little valleys, would have snapped the front end right off A.D. Wade's extra long 1400 chopper. Throughout the day we saw the world's 10th largest natural spring, a motorcycle shop with a 1948 Indian Chief (the shop was pretty cluttered, so I think there may have been other motorcycles on the floor as well) and some of the best roads and scenery Arkansas had to offer. Even rode through Big Flat in the Ozarks. That was the little "ghost town" Raymond wrote about a couple of years ago. By the end of the day, we were about 50 miles from the Oklahoma border, with some pretty nasty thunder clapper clouds looming overhead.

It was coming up to that time where we part company. Them's heading west, and he who had to go home to the east. (I think Nancy,GP's wife was expecting him back sometime the day before) GaryPaul was so much fun to ride with, we invited him to join us for the rest of our little trek. We even offered to share our supplies. But alas, as always, the philosopher knows the path he must follow. And so does his wife! It was a long goodbye, and eventually we went our separate ways. A better ambassador for the state of Arkansas you could not possibly find. Maybe it was destiny that it took seven years for me to find Arkansas. Because I know I sure wouldn't have enjoyed this great state a 10th as much as I did, without GaryPaul and Raymond.

Thanks again to GaryPaul and Nancy ...
and the dog that owns Raymond's bike! (Under Arkansas law)


Part 6
Meandering with Purpose: Oklahoma

Oklahoma was flat ... but it was dry, sunny and warm. Shortly after leaving Arkansas, we headed south from I - 40 and rode west along Hwy 9. This two-lane highway just rolls along through the farmland with very little traffic to contend with. Around Lake Eufaula, there are some nice sweepers through a few hill/valley areas that made the ride most pleasant. Now as everyone knows Mocc and Dixie Pixie live in Wetumpka AL. Raymond has a cell phone you can call anywhere from anywhere. So around 11 AM, we called "Mocc's Place". Dixie Pixie answered the phone. I told her, it seemed we made a wrong turn and I was calling from downtown Wetunka! (sounds like "Wetumpka" when said real fast) "NO!" says Dixie Pixie .... Then after a moment's pause, with a sly tone in her voice, "What State?" Darn, there's just no fooling that girl! (Now Mocc would have bought it hook, line and sinker )
Earlier that morning as we loaded the bikes, getting ready to leave Fort Smith and explore Oklahoma, Raymond mentioned he'd like to stop in Oklahoma City and visit the National Memorial. Not a problem, and off we rode.

15 Minutes ...
Now to tell this properly, I have to put this in context and time frame. On April 19th 1995, in Toronto, I watched the events of the day on the news. Yes there was shock that this could happen, but to be honest, having grown up watching TV news, there was a conditioned detachment from what was being shown. It was after all, in another country, in a place in the middle of nowhere. It was a tragic moment in time, a million miles away. There were several days of talking about it, but then life moved on. That was April of 1995. If not for Raymond's suggestion, the Oklahoma City National Monument would not have been on my list of things to see. I rode into Oklahoma City with Raymond.

We parked the bikes across the street from the west entrance of the monument. Raymond had a genuine, earnest desire to see the monument. He wasn't sure if it would be appropriate to take pictures. We took some shots from where we parked and then proceeded to the monument. We split up. Raymond went off to take in this monument in its entirety. I did the typical dumb tourist quick glance routine. I thought it was very nice and respectfully set up. Tastefully done. After 10 minutes I returned to the bikes to stow some gear. A minivan was now parked behind us. The family members were trying to figure out parking meter. Looking up from my saddlebag, I could see there was 15 minutes left on the meter. Speaking to the group in general I pointed out the time remaining and suggested they not worry about. The oldest fellow, the grandfather I would imagine, looked at me and sounding almost angry said "I didn't travel all this way just to spend 15 minutes here!" I then showed the Lady trying to figure out the meter how it operated and exchanged "Good Day's" as they started off across the street. In my youth, I wouldn't have picked up on the old man's tone, let alone think about what he said.

It's funny, I can ride for weeks, stop and drink in the natural beauty of wonders like mountain vistas, the ocean or even a river's rapids for hours. But in the middle of the city, only pay lip service to something man-made. The old boy's simple gruff words had spoken a volume of wisdom. I stood for a moment looking across the street, realizing I had unintentionally, inadvertently been disrespectful to something that was much, much more than something merely man-made. Reevaluating just exactly what I had looked at, but not seen, I started back to visit this monument for the first time. Unlike a news story, a million miles away, some eight years and two months in the past, I was now there. This was where 168 men, women and children were killed in a senseless act of violence. Standing there, I mean really standing there, you cannot remain detached from the event of April 19th, 95. After some time, I started talking with an on duty State Trooper about the monument, the bombing and the significance of the different aspects of the monument. He pointed out that the reflecting pool is where street was and 168 chairs facing it is where the building once stood. A lot of thought and reverence went into the designing of this monument. It is a very sobering, thought provoking place. 15 minutes would have been my very great loss. As I talked with the officer, Raymond returned. We asked about the chain-link fence on the roadside by the west gate. It is covered with flowers and other mementos. The officer explained that it was a section of the original fence that went up around the bomb site on day one. As a sign of respect, people place flowers and personal objects on the fense.
On one fencepost was an Indian Motorcycle sticker. Further down other motorcyclists had shown their respect. Intruder Alert is now represented by a 1500 LC key chain placed by Raymond to the left of the Indian Motorcycle sticker. To its immediate right is a 1400 key chain placed by me.

We rode from Oklahoma City and stopped for the night at Elk City, where we checked out the National Route 66 Museum. The next morning Raymond discovered the rear mounting stud for his Leatherlike bag was missing. He mounted the Leatherlike bag on his luggage rack, secured by a cargo bungee. We headed for Texas, hoping we could get it fixed at a bike shop in Amarillo. As usual, motorcycle dealerships are pretty much useless for this kind of problem when on the road ... But things always work out on a road trip. Enter "Mocc's Place" the Texas franchise! But that's a whole other Texas tall tale.


Part 7
Meandering with Purpose: Texas

Texas, the largest state in the union. That's a fact. As a testament to how fast Intruder motorcycles are, we crossed Texas from Stateline to Stateline in about five hours of actual riding time. So what makes Texas so damn big? People like Drifter and Flowpo make Texas larger-than-life. Okay, so it was only the Panhandle we crossed, but it was still technically crossing Texas in five hours.

When we left Elk City Oklahoma, Raymond was in need of a mounting stud for his Leatherlyke saddlebag. We headed down I-40 to Amarillo, and hopefully a bike shop that could help us out. As we rode along, old Route 66 parallels the interstate. There is just something about Route 66. I kept thinking "next exit we jump roads". About halfway to Amarillo we stopped for gas and a breakfast snack. I had a bean burrito, to which Raymond figured I was just looking to carry extra gas. Drifter had put us on to a Suzuki dealer in Amarillo just off the highway. Raymond looked for something to fix his saddle bag and I looked into replacing my rear tire. Now depending on my frame of mind, sometimes the tire looked okay and other times looked like it needed replacing. Anyway the head mechanic figured it had more than enough life left to get me to the coast. By this time Drifter and Flowpo had arrived and also agreed the tire could live for another day. Flowpo offered his shop and services to fabricate a fix for Raymond's bike and also to facilitate an oil change for me. Now I was busy working on my bike while Raymond paid close attention to Flowpo's handiwork, so he will have to tell the details of this craftsman's ingenuity. This truly was "Mocc's Place Texas"! Once bike maintenance and repair was completed, we all mounted up and rode out so to do lunch. We warned these Texans not to try paying for lunch, we Easterners would get mighty ugly if they tried.(Of course they didn't really have to point out we were ugly to start with) Because of Intruder Alert, this cross-country trek was dotted with people like Drifter and Flowpo who wanted to meet along the way and were instrumental in fixing problems that sometimes reared their ugly heads.
After lunch Drifter got a chuckle from the bickering Raymond and I were engaging in about cause and effect. There was one ittie bittie little dark cloud in the sky. Raymond started putting on his rain gear. I had had enough and told him he was only inviting rain. I would not put mine on. We made it a quarter of a mile down the road, Drifter cutoff to head home and we turned west into Raymond's downpour. Yes, it was Raymond's rain. So, underpass, on rainsuit. That Raymond, anything to make me look silly. (Geez, you'd think he'd want something with a challenge to it)

We rode to New Mexico under the threat of rain. At Clovis N.M. we sat out a thunderstorm at the local bike dealership. Sat on the Nomads and talked bikes with the proprietor. All this rain to drought stricken New Mexico, and the governor didn't even thank Raymond! It was after all "Raymond's Rain"!


Part 8
Meandering with Purpose: New Mexico

With the motorcycles repaired and fresh oil in the 1400 we entered New Mexico from Texas via highway 60. By Portales, the thunderstorms and rain cleared up and we finally got to ride without rain gear. The temperature rose considerably the further south we traveled. It was beautiful. Late afternoon, warm dry air, the road straight as far as I could see and the only way to describe New Mexico from Highway 70 is "the big empty". The world was finally starting to look like a desert to me. We passed through Roswell around 5 PM and decided to continue on to Carlsbad. We figured we'd look around Roswell on the way back. We stopped for the night at a KOA 15 miles or so from Carlsbad. It was now close to 7:00 PM. The campground restaurant was closed but the manager hadn't shutdown the kitchen altogether and offered to cook up the last of the roast beef while we set up our tents. A roast beef dinner with all the trimmings for 6 bucks. Maybe it was the long ride from Elk City Oklahoma to Carlsbad, but that was some of the best beef I've ever eaten. We got the call to dinner halfway through setting up for the night. About halfway through the meal, a man came in to the dining room and asked if we were the two bikers. He then said "Your tents are blowing away". We left our meals sitting and ran out to campground. Sure enough, the one drawback to Dome tents is they act like big beach balls if you don't stake them into the ground. We secured the tents and went back to dinner. The next morning I watched one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen. The sun rising over the small mountains in the distance through a few layers of scattered cloud with just desert filling in the distance. Magnificent! Raymond finally woke up in time to catch the tail end of the sunrise. I told him he had just missed the best part of the day.

We rode to the Carlsbad Cavern's some 50 miles away. The ride up the canyon to the caverns is absolutely fantastic. As we rode up the canyon, I half expected John Wayne to ambush us. The Carlsbad Cavern is a whole other world on to itself. Over 700 feet underground, the Big Room as it's called, takes about an hour to walk around. This place is huge and at times you'd swear the center of the earth is close by.

From the cavern's, we made it to Roswell for lunch. Now as you know, Roswell is rather famous for having tourists from farther away than any other place on earth. Aliens in Roswell don't have green cards ... Anyway, we ate at the "Crash Down Cafe". There were no aliens to be seen. We toured the UFO museum. There were no aliens to be seen. Then got online at the "Alien Defense League" office and checked the IA board. There were no aliens to be seen. We returned to the bikes parked outside the cafe and discovered Raymond's denim jacket had been abducted. No bastard aliens to be seen! But no trip to Roswell would be complete without sighting a UFO or an alien. You just have to know where to look. We found them! The two remaining aliens run the local Suzuki shop! This is the most dilapidated dealership I have ever seen. Okay, it's an old building, part of the strip mall and the showroom is passable. But the parts area is right out of a trailer park living room. Old beat up couch and lounge chairs, clutter just about everywhere with a dusty, musty odor to the place. The old fellow behind the counter was more interested in the soap opera on the TV than helping me out. I needed a screw for my foot peg. Now I don't know how old this guy and his partner were when they crash landed on earth in 1947 ... but they are really old now. They bantered back and forth about where to find the screw and the one old guy kept going back and forth from the shop to the bike until he finally had one that would fit. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed these two fellows and their rather unique motorcycle shop and way of doing business, but it took so darn long to get it done. Eventually we made our way out of Roswell.
About an hour north of Roswell we hit what would be the last of the rain until Oregon. But what a storm. I was leading when the storm cut across the highway. The wind was so strong that the rain was horizontal to the ground. At one point I had the bike leaned over like it was in a tight corner, just to keep in a straight line and not get blown off the road. Raymond was well back now, and I sure pitied him having a windshield in this crosswind. But Raymond can sure ride. We finally pulled off at a rest area and let the storm pass.

Taking Drifter's advice, we traveled north and stayed to the east so to take some very scenic roads across the mountains. We stayed at Las Vegas New Mexico that night and headed across the mountains the next day. The pass over the mountains was a great ride. It was a cold ride, but great just the same. At Chama, we inadvertently made a little unscheduled incursion into the great state of Colorado. About 25 miles and a roadside stop for lunch, we finally realize we were headed in the wrong direction. This was too soon to be in Colorado. So we backtracked to New Mexico and headed west. We rode to Farmington where we called it a day. Through the day, I had contracted a lower intestinal 24 hour bug that made culverts and flushing toilets my new best friends. Motel 8's are truly a beautiful thing. The next morning we headed for the Four Corners Monument and on to the Grand Canyon. Thankfully my new best friends were yesterday's news.


The Journey Continues Here

Note This is Ed's story of his almost 19,000KM journey.
It has not been edited by me in any way and is posted here,
so others may enjoy the trip Vicariously

Emu is a member of the Intruder Alert Cafe

Be Sure to Check out Raymond's Abridged Version of Events

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