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The Adventures of Indiana Joe – Issue 35: Johnson’s

I’m sure I’ve quoted Dale Carnegie’s remark in a past adventure somewhere, that “happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have .. it depends solely upon what you think”.  And, without a doubt, if it weren’t for the positive energy and positive thoughts driving people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, the world would be a quite different place today.

It’s a known fact that all creation begins in the mind .. it must be “thought” of first.  There is literal power in the creations of the mind .. thoughts are deeds.  It is also written, “for as a man thinketh in his heart .. so is he”.  So, our limitations and joys begin in our Hearts.  But it is our Spirit that has the power to control the mind .. and the mind controls the body.  Therefore, a body without a Spirit cannot be healed.  If you’ve ever had a broken heart .. you know how it directly affects your “Spirit”.

We are at our most self-centered state when we are depressed .. nothing saps our natural strength or our spirit as much as prolonged depression.  And maybe this is where I can find our “common denominator” today .. as I do believe we all understand the gravity of depression.  No physics, chemistry or history lessons today folks .. I’m just going to give you another dose of my “truth” and hope you will relate.

The truth is .. right now I’m literally exhausted.  The last few months have completely sapped every ounce of energy I have .. but I couldn’t take a moment to slow down .. until now.  I had a grueling trip from California to Indiana; scheduled a long overdue surgery on my leg for last week;  and decided to get in a ride East to visit family & friends before I knew I’d be down for awhile.  So I put a lot of miles on Bosco and many hours in the saddle for an entire week prior to surgery .. and now I’m down for recovery.  That’s what’s hard for me to take right now .. the “depression” is just something I’ve dealt with for years!

I’d also planned on being back here in Indiana for Mom’s 87th birthday Sunday, Oct. 6th .. something I never miss.  So the logistics worked out just perfectly .. the weather .. not so much.  The first leg of my latest adventure went well .. Old US 35 west out of Indiana all the way to Charleston, West Virginia.  Then pretty much due south on the 64/77 across the Blue Ridge Parkway into North Carolina to connect with the I40/US421 East into Greensboro.  The weather in the morning darkness meant chaps & leathers .. but it was quite a cool day all the way so I maintained the leather comfort the entire ride.

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After getting lost a bit (I’m still the “old school” map user) and stopping to ask directions from several accommodating residents, I pulled up in front of my life-long high school and college friend Steve Barkdull and wife, Norvis’ house.  They were expecting me, but it was late afternoon and they were out back and didn’t hear me pull up.  Norvis was in the kitchen making her “magic” as only a gourmet chef could do .. and after relaxing a bit and catching up she literally blew me away with her creations.  There isn’t anything this woman can’t cook .. and I’d match her against any five-star restaurant you care to name.  Simply incredible!

Bosco was given the garage to himself .. and we talked late into the night.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that Steve had most recently been inducted into the Indiana Association for Career and Technical Education Directors Hall of Fame for 2013.  The Crystal award presented him, tucked away in his office, was quite remarkable.  He’ll have to explain the design to you, as my description just made us both laugh.  I am very proud of him for his accomplishments in his chosen profession and the distinction awarded him.  Who would have thought, huh Barney?

Unfortunately, the next day Steve awoke to a pinched nerve in his shoulder/neck that was so debilitating that Norvis and I took him to two different doctors for treatment and finally he got a huge shot that didn’t kick in until we were about to be served at Natty Greene’s.  Needless to say it kicked his ass and he removed himself from the table to go relax in the car until we brought his dinner home in a to go box.  He’s had little relief to this day, and when I called to check on him this afternoon he was back at the doc’s office.  Now they’re deciding on the course of action for relief.  Best of luck, my friend .. pain’s a real bitch!

I left Thursday afternoon for Charlotte, NC and to the headquarters and warehouse for Iron Aces Speed Shop.   The owners of this particular website and business happen to be my niece, Lindsey, and her husband, Chris Trausch.  Chris is also co-owner of another business, LunaseaMedia Productions, Inc., also based in Charlotte.  Our plan was to finally get them away from work for a few days and ride up to another one of my long-time friend’s log cabin up by Kerr Lake & Reservoir, about 170 miles northeast.  They were more than anxious to take a few days off and go for a ride with “Indiana Joe” & Bosco, as I haven’t physically seen them in quite some time.

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That evening, one of Chris’ favorite BBQ joints, Mac’s Speed Shop, was having a “Bike Nite”.  Chris rides an ’08 Road Glide and Lindsey rides a 2010 Street Glide, both customized to the hilt and each look as if they just rolled off the showroom floor.  One would wonder how a barely 115 lb woman could handle a Street Glide .. but if you knew this gal has driven everything from a B/Econo Comp Dragster to her own Sprint Car, and started out her two-wheel habit on a Fat Boy, you would never question her capabilities.  She’s an awesome rider!

When we arrived at Mac’s there were already a bunch of bikes packed around the end of the building but we found the perfect spots near an entrance.  Yeah, stupid me didn’t take a single shot of any of the bikes or even the building and sign .. but I did get one of Chris & Lindsey, inside.  Since Mac’s has a great beer selection, I dared to try a new one called the Jalapeño Brew.  And yes, it had the taste of Jalapeño but didn’t overpower you.  Quite tasty.  All the waitresses were smokin’ hot and the food was terrific .. couldn’t ask for anything better in a “BBQ Biker Bar”.  Once back at their house, we lined the Iron Horses up in their stable and spent the evening detailing them and readying them for a nice ride the next morning.

I gave Chris my friend’s cabin address up near the Virginia border so he could plan a scenic cruise and stop by an historic Burger-Doodle called “Johnson’s” .. established in 1946.  He told me how he found out about this place and had always wanted to stop in to honor the acquaintance who’d told him about it.  He was at a hospital waiting room, and a man he met and spoke with there was to have a “routine” surgery done that day.  The man said he couldn’t wait for it all to be over so he could go eat at the infamous “Johnson’s” .. and told Chris if you didn’t get there before noon you’d be waiting out the door in a long line.  During the man’s “routine” surgery, the surgeon accidentally nicked an artery and the man bled out.  We were going to find that place and have a burger in his honor, even though Chris never got his name.

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We left Charlotte about 8-8:30am and rode US 49N to Asheboro where we caught US 64E to Siler City.  Johnson’s was the typical little “hole in the wall”, and the sign said it all .. “60 Years of Excellence”.  We got in a grabbed the last table by the windows just in the nick of time .. as the line proceeded to back up not long after we arrived.  As I was walking into the place .. you could smell that greasy, black iron grill smell that you just say to yourself, “I want to eat exactly what that smell is”.  And I’m here to testify .. the signature cheeseburger was exactly as good as that smell.  It was only $3.50, and with fries and a coke it was still about 5 bucks!   What a delicious lunch!  The place reminded me of the Maid Rite Sandwich Shoppe, in Greenville, Ohio .. another spot I’ll have to share in an upcoming adventure.  Definitely worth your trip!

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Not long after we left Siler City, the ominous sky forced us to pull over and don our rain gear .. all of it.  The timing was perfect as the sprinkles that had started soon turned into a car wash and all our “detailing” work went to hell in a hand basket.  It was still an incredible ride as we used US 421 and then US 49N again into Burlington, Roxboro and crossed into Virginia until we came to Clarksville.  The rain had stopped, and as Chris used his doodad gadgets to guide him around Clarksville and along the Townsville Road, we meandered along Island Creek Road, Keeton Road and then the Tungsten Mine Road, where I soon recognized the log cabin, back off the road on our left.  Chris and Lindsey followed me along the grassy driveway until we stopped in front of the spectacular, rustic, hand crafted cabin.

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Four dogs had escorted us toward the cabin and were “sounding the alarm” until Bob came out calling me every name in the book.  A welcome embrace and a good laugh made for an easy introduction to my family .. who, at that moment, became a part of his.  I hadn’t listened to my phone all day and Bob had left me several scowling messages wondering why I hadn’t given him a “heads up” yet on our status or an approximate arrival time .. even though we’d spoken the day before and he was already expecting us.  But that’s Bob’s sense of humor.

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Bob Stahl had owned the Mr. Mouse in Yorktown for a number of years, and I can’t think of many people in Delaware County who didn’t know him and the reputation of “the Mouse”.  They had the best steaks and chops around, pool tournaments and live bands on a regular basis .. and even a huge outside patio where at times a second band would be entertaining.  It’s changed hands twice since he sold it and I understand it recently reopened its doors.

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Several years back, Bob lucked out and had the opportunity to buy the cabin and it’s acreage.  A local man had built the cabin using the original techniques of hand hewn logs, chinking, stone .. he built every piece of the interior furniture, the kitchen cabinets, and placed a wood burner in the master bedroom as well as an original flat-topped black iron wood burning stove in the kitchen.  At the end of the kitchen counter top, in the corner, was an old antique porcelain gas stove with the pull-down oven doors and it had lever knobs to control the gas for each burner.  Every wall had animal pelts, trophy mounts, relics .. you can’t stop gawking as you tour the place .. and it’s much larger than it looks from the exterior.

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I’d spent a lot of time with Bob there on separate occasions years back .. but I was still mesmerized by all his additional relics and life’s collections.  The second bedroom had been converted into somewhat of a den .. and his “office”, through the master bedroom at the back of the house, was a huge Florida room with nothing but windows.  It had the guest bed I used and an outside entry door so I could step into the “outside facility” in the middle of the night without disturbing Chris & Lindsey, who were awarded the huge bentwood bed in the master’s quarters.  And though this cabin was as rustic as you could imagine .. it was also equipped with a gas furnace/AC in the laundry room.  What really would blow you away was the “bunkhouse” out back.  It was nearly complete from the last time I’d visited .. and he’s currently working on finishing the kitchen quarters, complete with a refrigerator and gas stove.  The bunks, the pot-bellied stove and another original flat-topped black iron cooking stove were the centerpieces in the huge one-room living quarters.  There’s a small entry room as you step into the bunkhouse and the kitchen is a room to itself on your right .. but when you step into the log-walled, wood floor replica of a cowboy’s bunkhouse .. your imagination runs wild again as you gaze at the countless relics of yesteryear.

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There’s a shed on the side where he keeps his tractor/mower and “Gator” .. his well-ridden Softail Custom, complete with an alligator head attached to the front fender.  Gator and Bosco shared quarters, as they’ve done many times over the miles they’ve traveled together.  It was like a little reunion for the Iron Horses too .. and Bob gave Bosco a new saddle blanket, which he proudly wears all the time now instead of the Holiday Inn towel I’ve used for years to keep my butt dry and his saddle cool when he stood alone in the hot sun.  We’re both appreciative and proud.

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Outside the bunkhouse is “Stahl’s TA’s-MA-HAL Chicken Ranch”, where he keeps his chickens and Rooster (who goes off promptly at 4:30am .. and again at 6am!)  He opens the door to the chicken-wire pen in the morning and the fowl run freely about the property until later in the evening when they go to roost on their own.  The inside of the straw-lined coop where the hens lay has a huge picture of Frank Sinatra holding a puppy .. appropriate for the quality of the “suite” in which they have residency.

The next morning, after an awesome breakfast cooked outdoors, we left to meander a little over 80 miles that day as Bob took us on some scenic roadways and waterways around Kerr Lake, where within ten minutes Bob can have his “Funtoon” launched.  TR’s Lounge & Grill was on the way home as Chris kept an eye on the radar, saying we needed to be back by 3-3:30pm.  We stopped and bought four of the largest T-bones you’ve ever seen for the evening meal, and minutes after we all pulled our rides under shelter back at the cabin, the sky opened up once again.  This time it poured into the wee hours of the morning, but by the time Chris and Lindsey ate breakfast and rolled out .. it was blue skies and sun shining again for their daylong leisure ride home.  I was so impressed with each of their riding skills that I had absolutely NO worries that their “adventure” home would be a safe and enjoyable extension of our own.

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I stayed an extra day and Bob fixed a pot-load of ribs to take to some old friends, Carl and his wife, Carrie, where we shared a great meal and had a long-overdue visit.  Carl had built Bob’s cabin, and years back when I went to visit I helped them plumb a new water heater in their home, which was in it’s early stages of development.  Over the years, their custom home has grown solely by their labor with a collection of used materials and finite detailing.  Carrie has created a huge indoor fresh water coy pond that would blow you away .. and they’ve built their home entirely in their “spare” time, while continuing to work full time jobs.  These are the “real” people in my life.  And when they greeted me with open arms, it was like the years that had passed didn’t even matter.

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That’s what it’s all about.  Knowing that when you finally get around to walking up to the front door of a long lost friend or family member .. that they’ll be welcoming you with open arms and reciprocate the Love you’ve always held for them.  They know all about you and they still love you .. unconditional love ..  and I guess the first words that seem to come out during that embrace always seem to be, “what took you so long?”.

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Orson Welles once wrote, “We’re born alone .. we live alone .. we die alone.  Only through our Love and Friendship can we create the illusion for a moment that we’re not alone.”

My contention is, that once you truly experience unconditional love, you never really are “alone” .. and never will be.  For as many stars as there are in the sky .. that’s how vast “unconditional love” really is .. well, almost …

Until next time ..  ride smart .. ride safe

“Indiana Joe”
and the Adventure continues …

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