With all my heart and prayers, I send get-well wishes to my dear IHR friend, Jay Cuccarese. His cancer has returned, and he is in a fight for his life… I also send prayers and get well wishes to IHR member Donna Laaksonen. Donna is also in a fight with cancer… Happy birthday to all motorcycle riders who celebrate in December. Happy birthday for those born on December 4. That would be Juan Majan, Viet Nam Vets MC in Santa Cruz, Dennis Hinsz in Lovell, Wyoming, and me! Happy birthday to my good friend and founder of THUNDER PRESS, Reg Kittrelle, to my other good friends Colleen Ferrigan in Santa Cruz and Forrest “Trees” Linderman in Watsonville. Happy birthday to Beth Ubil in Kernville, Alice Warren in Santa Cruz, Nick Yee in Palo Alto, Linda Fernandez in Vacaville and Duwayne King of the Hot Chocolate Gang in Santa Nella. Happy birthday to celebrity riders John Walsh and Brad Pitt… With the thousands of miles Jack and I have ridden, we still haven’t seen everything, but this year’s trip added several new experiences. Take traffic jams for example. Everyone who has ridden for very long has been jammed up, but leaving Needles, we hit the mother of all jams. Both lanes were bumper to bumper with big rigs and trucks pulling boats and trailers, and it stretched for miles. We inched and stopped for an hour and a half because it was way too tight to split lanes. Finally, we took to the shoulder to get some air through our engines. Next came the deluge of rain going into Quartzsite, Arizona. Besides the big sign on the side of the road that said, “Do not enter when flooded,” we were lucky to be able to see a couple of markers in the center of the road as we rode on through it. We could not tell whether it was flooded, but there was no shoulder to pull off, and stopping would have been an invitation to get rear-ended. In a matter of minutes, even our underwear was soaked. If you have not traveled out of California, it will come as a surprise to learn that other states do not impose reduced speed limits for 18-wheelers. They can drive in all lanes, and they go the same speed as other vehicles. And going through the Southwest and Texas, speed limits are set between 70 and 80 mph even on two-lane country roads. It was on one of these roads somewhere between Del Rio and Laredo that an oncoming big rig tossed up a rock the size of a golf ball, and it hit me right above my left eye. It drew blood. My major concern at this point was deciding whether I was going to pass out and how to get the bike stopped in time. No problem. I was fine to keep going. Our next unique experience was in Lubbock. Texas Tech University students were pouring into town for their next semester, and there was not a motel room to be had. We have always been able to work around the “no vacancy” signs and scrounge up a room. Not this time. We rode on 60 miles before we found a room. Along the way, we checked every little burg we came to, and we were amazed and happy to find an over-the-street arch in one of those little burgs that proudly proclaimed that this was the hometown of Waylon Jennings. Now, I have saved the most unusual for last. We rode a few blocks to the post office as we left Tombstone, Arizona. It is important to recognize that our engines were not yet hot. That is when a dog about the size and weight of a Labrador came running to catch the bikes. I say “dog” when it was actually a puppy—a big puppy. It had no coordination. With his ears flapping up and down, his four legs were going in four different directions, and I swear that dog was laughing. Right off, it was clear that he wasn’t going to bite us. We were side by side as we slowed down, and he loped between us. He circled around the front of my bike, changed his mind, and circled back to get between us again. Then, he climbed Jack’s leg and draped himself over the tank. His owner came running down the street to retrieve him. As he got near, Jack said, “You must have a Harley.” The owner said, “No. I don’t know what got into him.” The moral of this story is that some dogs, like some people, are born to ride.


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