Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Ya know, sometimes I almost forget why God allowed the Japanese to design motorcycles, then one incident reminds me that it was to keep assholes off of Harley-Davidsons. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. (FYI: I’ve owned a bunch of Japanese bikes too, but I don’t deny being an asshole…)

Amy Irene White, a very dear friend of mine, owns a nice little rustic bed and breakfast in Green Mountain, Iowa, called Laid Back Manor. She caters to bikers, veterans, and patriots, and always goes out of her way to make their stay comfortable, and make them the best southern cooking anywhere. Nobody ever leaves tired or hungry unless they want to. It takes a lot of work and dedication to run the place, and she does a great job. Oh, did I mention that she has lupus and MS?

Last week, a group of four “bikers” (yeah, the forty thousand dollar and 40 miles types from Ankney, Iowa) made reservations, with a very small deposit. The day they were supposed to arrive, they kept calling from every bar on their 75-mile ride, showed up drunk off their asses, four or five hours late for a dinner she spent all day cooking (hit the Laid Back Manor Facebook page for some mouthwatering pics!), then told her the place wasn’t classy enough. They stiffed her out of more than 450 bucks, plus her expenditure for the food, and rode away. Yeah, I’m pissed, can ya tell? This bed and breakfast has been her dream for years, and she finally scraped enough together to open it, then idiots pull this… Well, enough soap-box yellin’ for now, but if you’re ever within a thousand miles of Green Mountain, Iowa, it’ll be worth the trip for the chow alone!

I don’t usually get all scathing on more than one asshole at a time, but this month is my Independence Day Tirade. A lady rider named Penny Stanford in Chowchilla, California, had a very special helmet painted by a friend to memorialize her daughter’s death. It’s a black Harley-Davidson half-helmet style, with an airbrushed little girl angel with a blue background on the back, and “Our angel rides with us” in white cursive on the left side. It was stolen off her bike by some low-life sleazebag. We need to show these low-lives that we in the biker community won’t put up with them stealing a grieving mother’s memory of her daughter. Update: Thanks to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, the scumbags have been caught, and the helmet returned! This is a good lesson for idiots who can’t keep their hands off of other people’s stuff! There are cameras everywhere!

Well, it’s back to California, where the gas and the government are both high as a Beijing box kite. Ridin’ around Central California is becoming more dangerous every day. The back roads that we all love to ride are nothing but potholes with the remnants of pavement scattered around them. I’ve knocked flat spots in several rims from hitting the ones I couldn’t see, and almost bit my tongue off a time or two. They keep telling us there’s no money for fixing the roads, but we’re getting a high-speed train that runs from nowhere to nowhere and will be obsolete by 50 years and 50 trillion bucks before it’s ever finished. They’ve caused thousands of thriving businesses to close by pulling the old “eminent domain” trick on ’em, and with all the businesses leavin’ the state like rats off a sinkin’ ship, who’s gonna pay for… oh, yeah… us! Meanwhile, we’re bendin’ rims an’ gettin’ road rash while they turn our pockets inside out.

Way ta go, guys. If I come to Sacramento, can I have a hit off whatever yer smokin’?

One thing they can’t take away, though they may eventually find a way to tax it, is our weather. We can ride all year ’round, though it does get pretty chilly during our 30-day winter, and hot in our 11-month summer. But the mountains are cool, the lakes are all full until mid-July, an’ the ridin’ is superb if you watch for potholes, coyotes, ’possums, raccoons, squirrels… Well, yeah, it is the mountains, so what do ya expect? And it’s only a couple of hours to the coast, where ya can get a plate of peel ’n’ eat shrimp, a bowl of chowder, and an adult beverage and watch the tide roll in an’ out. My absolute favorite ride is Highway 1 from Monterey down the coast to Pismo Beach. I’ve done it lots of times, and though Seventeen Mile Drive is now closed to those noisy old motorcycles (I already saw that crooked old tree, so ta Hell with ’em), it’s still the most beautiful ride on the planet. Well, I must admit… There are parts of Highway 101 through the redwoods that are just as beautiful, with trees you can ride through, lots of little roadside taverns, restaurants, wood carvers, and other attractions. If you like the desert, we have that too, with Death Valley as the most famous destination. You can stop to check out the Indian pottery and silver jewelry, or maybe even a big, rotting fiberglass dinosaur. Just remember, it never has to be boring when there’s gas in your tank, air in your tires, and good chow in your belly! See ya on the road!


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