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The Adventures of Indiana Joe – Issue 12: Loneliness

In 2007, I was riding another series of bike events .. and the 25th Annual Laughlin River Run had proven to be an exceptionally large turnout. Some reports said over 30,000 .. others indicated over 70,000. Regardless .. there was a hellova lot of bikes on every road at any given time. That’s the absolute worst part of a huge event .. as so many “weekend warriors” are out there making bad decisions while being distracted in oh-so-many ways .. and lives are lost due to senselessness. “For every action there is a reaction” .. and too often, it’s more costly than one ever imagines.

Happiness lies for those who cry .. those who hurt .. those who have searched .. and those who have tried .. for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.

Reality is harsh .. but since our very existence in this one is primarily between our ears .. navigating that existence is but a matter of choices. As you may remember .. I prefer to ride alone .. no radio .. no distractions .. that’s my choice. The hours I spend contemplating life’s mysteries allow me time to formulate my own basic truths .. and I guess I could sum up my biggest “pet peeve” in just two words .. inconsiderate people. If you stop to think about it .. that pretty much incorporates every negative you’ve ever encountered. Food for thought .. and I’ll get back to that as you chew on it while you read on.

In my mind .. consideration for others has proven to be one of the strongest attributes of a true “biker”. The camaraderie that is felt amongst a crowd of bikers tends to permeate the air .. and there is an unspoken brotherhood that is just felt .. simple as that. “Random acts of kindness” .. like Blain and Nicole stopping to bring me food and water while stranded in the 105° sun on that 4th of July .. it happens more often than the general public realizes. Over time .. it becomes a part of the character of a real biker. Who knows .. maybe if more people rode bikes this world would be a better place. Maybe that’s because every decision that is made while straddling an iron horse is literally a “life or death” decision that’s proven in an instant .. no mulligans .. you were right or wrong.

I chose to wander northwest to the next major event .. Hollister. I took the scenic mountain ridge Highway 25 into town and arrived before noon. There had been so much controversy over that event .. cancelled one year, even though a few thousand bikers came anyway. The little town needed the revenue .. and most bikers do spend some bucks. I was immediately disappointed by the lack of parking .. unless I wanted to cough up a ridiculous fee to park at the Harley Davidson “VIP” lot at Fourth & Monterey. Main Street was entirely roped off to all traffic. I ended up parking at the corner of Sally & Seventh .. and felt quite paranoid to leave all my gear on Bosco and walk the seven blocks. But I was there .. and I did. There were cages parked everywhere.

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When I got to Johnny’s .. the “Birthplace of the American Biker” .. I was pretty much appalled. Few real bikers and crowds of gawkers. The main street itself was filled with vendor tents .. and I even saw a woman pushing a double-wide baby stroller as she aimlessly meandered through the shopping crowd. The lines waiting to get a cold one were ridiculous .. and I decided to grab a token shirt and pin and head out.

It was still early .. a beautiful day .. so I took the 156 out of Hollister then wandered up to the 140 through Merced to Mariposa where I picked up the 49 North to Placerville and the historic US 50. The ride had been incredible .. and I rode all the way into Carson City, Nevada and found a little Mom & Pop called the Mill House Motel. I’d ridden over 600 miles that day .. and a hot shower beaconed.

After spending a little time at the Bucket of Blood in Virginia City the next morning .. I was looking forward to my ride across “the Loneliest Road in America” .. the desolate stretch across the heart of Nevada. This is my kind of riding .. and it was over 100° in the middle of July. There’s a limited number of watering holes along the way .. the first was at Fallon, and that was only 96 miles. Austin was another 110 miles .. Ely, another 146 miles .. and on to Delta, Utah, another 153 miles. I ended up in Provo, Utah .. the last 91 miles of the day .. and I’ll admit I was pretty beat when I got Bosco to the barn.

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Throughout the day .. I imagined what it was like for the “real” adventurers who came across this desolate land on horse and wagon. My thoughts were an endless maize of woe and awe .. and my appreciation of life strengthened with every hot mile. I found a little turnout .. with an historic marker labeled “New Pass Station”. It read exactly this:

“In 1861, the rocks composing the walls of this stage station and freighter stop were in neat rows and roofed with bundles of willow. It was one part of “stagecoach king” John Butterfield’s overland mail & stage company road systems, which at the time began traversing this central route between Salt Lake City, Utah and Genoa, Nevada.

The natural spring here was inadequate for both humans and horses. However, division superintendent Thomas Plain’s support ranch, one mile to the west, kept this important team-watering and stock replacement stop operating.

Completion of the first transcontinental railroad meant the eventual demise of the overland stage line. In 1866 Butterfield sold out to Wells Fargo and Company. By 1869 Wells Fargo suspended all operations on the central route and the New Pass Station faded into history.”

After I read the marker .. I sat by the road, smoked a cigar, had a snort from my flask in tribute to the sacrifices made by the men and women who had once stood on that very spot .. and to the Boy Scouts of America Troop 76 out of Reno, NV who had placed that historic marker. Cudos boys!

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I just happened to notice a rather crude, but well built, corner post a few yards from Bosco. It was an old gate post with a sign hanging on it (shot to hell by the way .. by “inconsiderate” assholes no doubt) .. and it simply read “Please Close Gate”. I laughed my ass off. There was a rudimentary barbed wire gate attached to another corner post fifteen feet across .. but the fence soon ran straight into the ground on both sides .. no fence for miles and miles .. but the “gate” was still there. I wondered just what kind of story that gate could tell me .. as I so often do when I see remnants of “history” in desolate areas of the west. I’ve told that story more times than I can count.

As I stretched my legs at the side of the ditch and contemplated my next couple of weeks meandering through Utah, Colorado and Wyoming on my way to Sturgis .. it was blistering hot with no wind to evaporate the sweat. I saddled up and hit the wind .. still laughing about the gate.

I fueled up at Austin .. a living ghost town today. Founded in 1862, it once had a population of over 10,000 during the gold rush days .. today it hovers around 340. It’s notable landmark is Stokes Castle .. built like a medieval tower, it stood three stories with fireplaces on each. It had two balconies, plate glass windows and a battlemented terrace on the roof. It stands as a monument to the local men who built it and to those who helped develop the mines of Austin. Oh yeah .. and then there was Dessie & Mary’s Saloon .. the real watering hole of Austin.

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Back on the road .. my mind wrapped around the bike events once again. It seems as if all the major bike events have just become a huge capitalistic rip-off .. as the mantra of the day seems to be plain ol’ American Greed. It’s nothing new .. greed has driven Kings, Monarchs and even the lowliest peasants .. as the “will to survive” has proven to be the strongest animalistic drive of the basic human instincts. As I ride .. I ponder .. and I wholeheartedly disagree with that premise.

I believe ones “love of family” is even stronger. I would gladly give my life for my children .. as most parents would agree. And for those who were never blessed with a child .. they would probably say the same about their spouses or loved ones .. it’s in our nature to protect .. and Love is stronger than anything. Yet, the stories we hear all to often of senseless acts of violence against children proves there’s a lot of cross-wired animals out there .. and that’s sad .. but it is a deplorable, disgusting fact.

All along US 50 are numerous markings .. where people have stopped and collected white rocks and spelled out names or messages. Kind of reminded me of the “Berma Shave” signs of days gone bye .. and it keeps you looking. It’s our innate need for companionship .. to communicate with others in an attempt to eradicate the loneliness that dwells within all of us. Riding “the Loneliest Road in America” doesn’t just happen to be US 50 across Nevada. Every day .. we spend our “existence” between our ears .. and that too, can prove to be rather lonely.

When I share my “adventures” with you .. I’m not just telling stories or spinning yarn .. I’m talking about my life on the road and what I’ve called “home” for a number of years .. acquaintances I’ve met and strangers who have touched my life. It’s really not as glamorous as one might think .. as roaming alone is filled with loneliness .. and not having someone to share the breath-taking views and appreciating real history. There’s been more than one occasion where the wind is blowing away the tears that stream down my face .. as I think of the repercussions of “inconsiderate people”.

I’d like to thank everyone who took a moment to send me positive comments on last month’s “adventure”. That “random act of kindness” is exactly what I suggested .. as that simple act lets others know that they are not alone in this journey .. regardless of how isolated our lives seem to be most of the time ..

Remember what I once said about “character” .. it’s what you do when no one is looking .. and for every action is a reaction? Remember to be considerate .. and take the time to “close the gate” .. you never know what stampede might come through when you’re not around and do harm to someone you love .. and that, my friends .. is “loneliness” beyond words …

Happiness lies for those who cry .. those who hurt .. those who have searched .. and those who have tried .. for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.

Until next time .. ride smart .. ride safe

“Indiana Joe”
and the Adventure continues …
as does the energy of my recently departed brother John Jenkins ..
you touched my life John .. and I am but one of many …

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