Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Well, I had ta tear into my Twin Cam for the first time today. Sure, I’ve changed pipes a lot, changed air filters, an’ a bunch of bolt-on stuff, but the engine always ran too good to tear down. Well, that all changed when it started soundin’ like skeletons havin’ an orgy on a tin roof while we were headin’ home from the redwoods. When I got it apart, an’ stuff stopped fallin’ out on the floor, I found the front cam support bearing had disintegrated. All the rolly, bumpy, an’ spring-loaded stuff will be new before the week’s out. Sure glad I heard it…

Speakin’ of the redwoods, Reggie an’ I had a really great time again this year! We rode along with the Hamsters for the third year in a row, an’ as always, it was a week after the “original” Redwood Run. We met at Arlen Ness’ shop in Dublin, rode northeast through Napa, had lunch in Calistoga, then on through some of the most beautiful ridin’ on the planet!

I was born in Northern California, an’ lived in Kenwood, Cotati, Petaluma, an’ several other little towns that were just wide spots in the road back then. When you’re a kid, it’s just “is what it is,” an’ you never think twice about how beautiful the country is around ya.

We stopped in Healdsburg, where my great-grandparents lived, an’ the place has become a trendy mecca for vacationers. When I was a kid, it had about 17 faded clapboard houses, a couple of old plow horses, an’ a dozen starvin’ dogs. Reggie an’ I are goin’ back when we can spend more time enjoyin’ the area, an’ getting together with relatives I haven’t seen in years.

The 101 freeway’s a fast ride north to Garberville, but it kinda takes the enjoyment out of that part of the ride. Ya just can’t enjoy the scenery at 80 miles an hour like when you’re on the tight ’n’ twisty back roads. I knew we’d have plenty of great two-lane ridin’ in the days ta come, but it just seems like on the freeway, gettin’ there is just… well… gettin’ there.

For those of ya who’ve never been to Northern California, it’s a different experience altogether. It’s the “laid back” capital of the world, an’ the hippie movement of the ’60s is still very much alive. The biggest cash crop is no longer hops or grapes, an’ the local radio stations actually announce when the DEA is doin’ a fly-over operation. Yeah, I did hear it myself… There’s also plenty of panhandlers to go around, but all of ’em I met were young, friendly an’ not demandin’ like the ones here in Madtown. Just free spirits floatin’ through life like the Haight-Ashbury days in Frisco.

On Friday, we all rode up to Eureka for lunch at the Sea Grill restaurant. Havin’ forgotten my coat because it was 100 degrees in Madtown, I would’ve frozen my ass off if not for the loan of a leather shirt from my amigo Kent Terry, the drag racin’ legend. I was sure a happy camper when he pulled that shirt outta his saddlebag an’ tossed it over.

Jerry Fernandez brought out his 15-year-old Arlen Ness custom FXR, an’ I was shocked by the shape it was in. I thought he never rode it, but he’s ridden it several round trips to Sturgis. It has more than twice as many miles on it as mine, an’ it’s still flawless! His wife Cheryl just tucks in on the back, an’ off they go!

Reggie sure enjoys hangin’ out with Bev, Dona, Cheryl, Betty, Loretta an’ all the other gals. She can forget her pain an’ problems for a while, an’ just enjoy the camaraderie, an’ plottin’ against us guys!

Most of the time, we hang out at the Benbow Inn, a mile or two south of Garberville. It’s an old an’ elegant inn with a Victorian feel, an’ a nice intimate bar an’ restaurant, an’ a beautifully landscaped patio an’ gardens.

Saturday, we rode the Avenue of the Giants and stopped in Phillipsville at the Riverwood Inn for some great Mexican food an’ adult beverages. After an hour or so, Reggie an’ I got antsy sittin’ around, so we took off on a ride with Harv and Bill, and ended up meetin’ everybody for dinner at a little restaurant back in town. We had more fun laughin’ at that place, an’ each other, than we had all weekend. The service was really slow, the waiter couldn’t remember our orders long enough to write ’em down, an’ when they started bringin’ stuff out, it wasn’t even close to what we ordered. We had to keep sendin’ them back for the rest of our orders, an’ we finally just gave up an’ settled for what they brought out.

Randy Aron (Cycle Visions) went through a door to the back that was supposed to be locked, (according to the sign,) an’ nearly got a contact high from the fumes comin’ from behind a curtain back there. He never did find the can. We all had a good laugh about that, but the pizza an’ other munchies we ended up with were great, the portions were humongous, an’ we all… like… had a groovy time, man! An’ after all—that’s just Northern California!


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