Along the course of this 5000 Miles of Dirt thing, many kind people helped us in big and small ways to get across this beautifully rugged and dirty land.
1. My brother was first. On May 24, he drove a couple hours to the Charlotte, NC airport to pick us up. Then he patiently waited while we got diverted to Tennessee by a thunderstorm before introducing us to the wonders of Zaxby’s southern fried delights; quite amazing after 24 hours without a solid meal. Paul and Carol showed us the best of Southern Hospitality: Great meals, served at the eating hour! And they took us to Dollywood; a fine cultural experience and precursor to the hardest-working motor trip of our lives. In reality, their hospitality is driven first by the love of Christ; and then by Southern. I hope everyone will have at least one brother like you. ( rockintl.org )
2. We picked up our Hondas June 3, 10 days after our departure. When we did, we had such great help from Rob Wiley and crew at Team Charlotte Motorsports. Coming in out of the humidity, we were greeted with cold drinks and snacks. Their shop guy supplied us with some bonus hookups and tools. They’re a friendly group with a whole museum-full of both classic and (500!) new bikes.
3. Of course, the bikes came to us from the assist of Matthew Miles (formerly of Cycle World) and Kurt Hoy at Bonnier Publications. You can see our Motorcyclist Magazine connection with them by looking for TransAmerica Trail Bramsen at www.Motorcyclistonline.com. They connected us with Tony DeFranze at Honda Corp. in Torrance who got those 3 super-reliable Hondas to us. AND: he kept our trip from stalling dead in the dirt 800 miles from home by getting us connected with a clutch repair at Canyon Honda in Nampa, Idaho.
4. Owen and the guys at Canyon Honda in Nampa fixed our charred clutch plates on Tuesday 7/11 right after receiving the parts overnighted by Tony from Honda in California. We thank all those magazine and motorcycle guys indeed.
5. But I skipped ahead. Gotta flash back to June 5 start. Our first night of free camping was in a cozy wooded tree corner in Havelock, NC. We were a little careless on parking ourselves and attracted small attention. So we throw out appreciation to Deputy Hillburn for kindly letting us stay there in our oh-so-steamy sauna tent.
6. About a week out, we were into Tennessee and diverted 65 miles (each way) off course to visit my cool-hang-loose, great-mom, funny, hospitable niece, Heidi Wolf & Fam. Husband Wayne is a purveyor of fine meats (look for Wolf Family Meat at Target) and had delicious offerings for us when we arrived at 10 pm. His adjustable wrench removed our axle nuts for about 8 tire changes out in America. They carried 30 lbs. of our unnecessary junk back to CA later this summer. Bless y’all!
7. Just over the Mississippi in Trenton, Arkansas, Percy Kale had a big WELCOME TAT RIDERS sign in front of his funky cool old antique and vintage stuff store. He is a friendly elder who welcomed us with cold water (SO welcome) and crackers and cookies. His son and associates are TAT riders with maps and photo albums of riders who have stopped in. Nice!
8. And that other Arkansas guy, Dennis Shepherd? When we camped behind the church with the thunder rain pounding the tin roof overhang, he was very friendly in the morning, opening the bathroom of the church before we departed. And they took custody of the stray storm kitten which Caleb befriended. Thanks, Dennis. We liked your Arkansas wisdom.
9. A state later, I clumsily squished both ankles with the Africa Twin in Oklahoma mud. Our Air B’n’B hostess in Boise City that night was accommodating and helpful. Letting the boys wash mud off the bikes, finding an ice bucket for my foot… Thanks, Frankie.
10. In Utah, we began having flats. We needed spare tubes. But the TAT is not a zone for motorcycle shops. Location, location, location. (If you’re thinking, “But there are motorcycles zooming along it all day”, read my next blog, Did the Crowds Bother You?) So, our dirt bike mentor, Aaron Baker, had a couple tubes shipped to the Lakeview, Oregon post office. Aaron’s been helpful for years, sharing dirt bikes, aiding mechanical issues, and loaning us riding gear and repair supplies for the TAT. Aaron, I hope everyone has at least one friend like you.
The 11th would have been my nephew Daniel and Natalia Prohaska in Colorado Springs. They were all geared up and friendly to have us show up. But we didn’t have the time nor inclination nor sweat nor buttock tenacity to ride an extra 300+ miles at that point. And we didn’t even yet know we’d get stuck 5 days out in Nevada/Idaho. But we are thankful for willing hearts.
11. Our 2nd flat in Utah was at a point where we were low on water. During our repair time, a friendly family came down the steep rock trail in 2 ATV 4x4s and shared cold water with us. SO good.
12. A Nevada local came to our aid after we stuck ourselves in the Nevada wilderness with lack of fuel and water, and a burnt clutch. After a 5 hour hike and a ride into McDermitt, NV, the boys found Kenny, a grandpa with a Jeep who knew the adjacent backcountry better than the … it’s a dumb analogy; no one can describe the back of their hand without looking. He charged almost nothing and did great work, rescuing the disabled bike first.
While I’m thinking of McDermitt I’d like to not thank the Diamond A Motel for having a “sanitized” band on the toilet even though below it was an appliqué of scummy muck with a large dead bug and a little brown ball (a Cocoa Puff?) and we had to use duct tape to keep the tub valve open while the resident floor spiders moved about through the carpet dirt.
“Diamond”: the finest jewel. “A”: the top grade or rating. “Motel”: a place you might want to sleep.
In their defense, the AC worked. On the other hand, they did charge us to sleep there.
(Aw, God bless them. May they get some 409 Spray Cleaner and may business pick up.)
13. When we learned our burnt clutch had to get to the nearest Honda repair in Nampa, Idaho — 165 miles distant — friends Linda and Larry Whiting came to our rescue. Larry drove south with a bike trailer and they took splendid care of us for 3 nights. They display love for God and others and have served with Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF.org) for decades. The headquarters in Nampa is an amazing visit. Check it out. (The original Piper Cub frame from 5 martyred missionaries is on display and reminds us of amazing Grace. Google: Operation Auca.)
AND, taking us to Boise Fries was a life experience.
14. The tubes Aaron had shipped went to Oregon as did a backup Mavic drone to replace the one that had gimbal issues a week earlier in Utah. My helpful Nanci called Lakeview’s postal lady, Jennifer, who was so friendly/helpful in making sure our stuff would be waiting for us. When we arrived, she gave a hug and our stuff. We went to local eatery erry’s, which is missing their ‘J’ but not great food. At departure, I found someone had paid our meal. Huh?! I’ve never been anonymously mealed! Well, donor angels often wish to remain anonymous so I won’t name names. (No one reads this blog anyways.) But I did learn that it was a helpful Lakeview P.O. woman.
15. We gotta mention Jay at Best Buy whom the helpful Nanci contacted. He gave extra effort to get us a replacement DJI Mavic drone, right at the edge of warranty. (DJI = bad customer service. Best Buy = great customer service.) Thanks, Jay! Caleb’s aerial shots are engagingly viewable, thanks to you.
16. As we headed down the oh-so-scenic Pacific coast after dipping our bikes’ tires in the ocean at Port Orford, the boys decided we should try to make it to my niece/their cousin Hannah’s wedding next day Sunday, 7/16 at 4:00. Oregon to SB= just short of 800 miles!
As I swallowed free coffee at a NorCal gas stop, I reminded them; that was a ridiculous idea. (You’re remembering 2 of the bikes are 250s). So, we decided to go for it. The plan included stopping for dinner at the home of a Berkeley CRU friend of Paul’s in Fortuna (Humboldt County). Risa and folks Scott, Carmen and sister Emma fed us an awesome 10 pm halibut/tri-tip meal and provided cozy sleep till 3:30 am. They were so congenial and hospitable (Scott sizzling bacon at 3:30 am?!) till we rolled into the COLD darkness of the beautiful (darkly unviewable) redwood highway towards home. (We got to the wedding only 3.5 hours late.)
17. Friends like Larry Switzer and Debbie Gale (among many) who were close followers of our trek and stayed in touch along the way, added encouragement and sent us off with a prayer on our way out. And along the way.
18. My Fam! Though she was nervous, Nanci encouraged us and gave such good backup from afar. Middle bro Cory did too, keeping stuff at home together. And those 2 boys who were with me, they did it. I love my family and am so thankful.