Archive for February 4th, 2012

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – The “Four Corners” Run

The “Four Corners” Run

This is the ride I have been wanting to take for many years. It is a long way from Seattle to the: FOUR CORNERS” and you can only ride there in comfort a few months out of the year. It seems like the summers in Seattle are taken up riding to Sturgis, California and other beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest.

A good friend of mine, Tom Lea, flew down from Seattle to our home in Apache Junction, Arizona. We had planned on going for a good ride in the Southwest. We have ridden to Sturgis many times, but had never toured the Southwest other than the Valley of the Sun.

Tom Lee and myself at Four Corners in May of 2002. It was real cold out, next morning it was 28 above. We rode sourth fast into New Mexico then west into Arizona. When we got home it was 87 above. It felt real good! Tom and I tried to rent big Harleys, but one must reserve these months in advance. We ended up renting two big VTX 1800cc Hondas (V-twin). We left our home in Apache Junction at seven in the morning. Road on Hwy 60 up through Globe, Az. It is over 5,000 ft. high. It was only 58 Above when we got there. We figured we were in for some cool riding. The big Hondas ran beautifully; what power. They will shoot up to 100 miles per hour — NOW. Will cruise all day long at 90 MPH, if one wants to go that fast on two lane mountain roads. 60 is fast enough. We kept on Hwy 60 to Sholow, Az. Over 7000 ft. high. It was really getting cold. The roads are beautiful. Arizona has some of the best roads in the nation. We took a road to St. Johns, Az. where we picked up Hwy 191. This is a very lonely road. We stopped Ganado. It is just an old tavern out in the middle of nowhere. They have no electricity. They use an old diesel generator. And they have two deep wells for water.

A young Indian girl ran the place. She was very nice to us. The place looked so gruesome to us to eat or drink anything, so we had some orange juice in the can. We rode thru Chinie, thru Canyon Valley. This reminds me of parts of Wyoming. Like around Devils Tower; only everything is red; the rocks, the ground, big towers, all red stone. Rode on thru Monumental Valley, a very beautiful place. Reminds one of being on the moon. We rode to the end of Hwy 191; took 160 to Four Corners. Not much there. Took a few pictures. It was getting late and cooler, so we rode until we found a nice motel in Cortez, Colorado. Parts of Colorado and New Mexico consist mostly of Indians. One gets the feeling that we were the minority.

We got up fairly early the following morning. Boy, it was cold. 38 above. We put on all the clothes we had. I put my rain gear on to keep out the cold. Before we left we had to buy some heavy farmer gloves. The leather ones were cold. We had wanted to go further into Colorado, but not in this cold. We took Hwy 666 out of town. Could not ride over 50 MPH; we finally got to Shiprock. A nice town and it was a little warmer. The road to Gallup, New Mexico was in very good condition; straight as an arrow. We arrived in Gallup; about 100 miles away.

While filling the Honda with Premium, I talked to a nice man who had rode to Laughlin, Nevada for the big River Run. He said he would not be going back next year after all the problems they had this year. There are so many other places to go where there are no gangs, etc. It was 27 above that morning. We took the Freeway #40 going West. Stopped at a big truck stop in Holbrook, Az. They had a Burger King so we both ate chicken sandwiches. We took #377 out of Holbrook. Stopped at Hebon, shedding clothes. We took Hwy 87 out of Payson; four lane highway all the way to Phoenix. We took a cut-off near Lake Saquaro. It’s called the Bush Highway. I have ridden on this road for many years. We had to stop on the side of the road and shed more cloths, now down to pants and t-shirt. Rode on to Apache Junction, and we were home before we knew it. 3:45 P.M. and it was 88 above.

We had a beautiful ride. Had the big Hondas for three days. Cost was $501.00. Put over 1100 miles on the bike. The cost was well worth it. I would rather have been riding on my Road King, but no complaints with the Hondas. Tom kept his bike for the rest of the week. I have a smaller bike in Arizona, a 600cc Honda, which is ideal for down there.

So, until our next trip, GOD SPEED,

Carmen Tom
May 2, 3, and 4, 2002

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Lost in a Parking Lot

Lost in a Parking Lot

Old Wilber really did it this time. It was September of 1991 and Wilber had to go to Seattle. He had not been to the West for many years. He just hated the thought of going to a big city. Seattle had tripled in size sense the last time Wilber was there. He knew of all the traffic and bad freeways. The last time Wilber went to Minnesota it all most drove him mad. They had a big auction on surplus parts and he needed lots of them, so he rode his old Indian with the sidecar. That is a story all in itself. Wilber had bought a lot of property just after WWII when he worked in eastern Washington. That also is a story in itself.

A large corporation had got wind of this one piece of land, 3000 acres. They offered Wilber such a good price, at his age he just had to sale. There was one catch he had to be in Seattle to sign all the papers and pick up his check. It was a big one at $60,000 an acre. It was more money than Wilber could ever dream of. He thought to himself! could quit farming just lay around and drink beer. He knew he really could not do this, he’d worked since he was a small boy. That’s all he really ever knew, but it was nice to dream.

Wilber fixed up his old Indian chief for this trip with no sidecar. This was going to be a fast trip. He packed the saddlebags put his luggage and camping gear on the large rack. He put some of Alfred and Albert’s special fuel in four big jugs then put them in the saddlebags. He would use the special fuel mix. When he got to the high mountains of Montana he loved to go fast. He loved to cruise eighty to ninety miles per hour on the freeways. He knew riding through Montana if he got caught speeding it would only cost him five dollars. Ticket, so, he had just put a twenty five-dollar bills in his wallet. Even if he did get a ticket it would only cost him five dollars. He knew he could pay the officer right then and there so he wasn’t too concerned.

It took Wilber two days to get to Seattle. He checked around for some cheap motels, but the prices he found were crazy. He told one of the owners he didn’t want to buy his motel he just wanted to stay there a few days. He remembered a beautiful park called Seward Park it was down on Lake Washington. He rode down there to see if it was as beautiful as he remembered. He rode back off the road into the woods fifty or seventy-five feet and set up his camp. Then he decided to fix something to eat. Old buffalo steak tasted really good. He was about to go to sleep when he remembered all the stories he had heard about getting robbed in the woods. He had learned how to set up traps in the army so he set up all kinds of traps. No one could come within fifty feet of his camp. All the bells and lights would wake him up, he was a light sleeper. He could hear a bird fifty feet away.

He had a real good night’s sleep. He packed up all his gear on the bike; it was really loaded down. He rode his bike back onto the road, he had not gone a hundred feet before the cops had pulled him over. When the cop asked Wilber what was going on he told him he was looking for a place to camp. The cop told Wilber to look around and read all the signs that say no overnight parking and no camping. You have to be out of the park by ten said the cop. Wilber apologized and told the cop he would find another place to set up camp. The cop asked Wilber what in the world he was doing riding an old Indian so far from home? He told them he wanted to see Seattle one more time. He told them of shipping out of Seattle during WWII. Wilber said after this trip he would go back to old South Dakota and live out the rest of his life in peace on his farm.

All of a sudden they smelled something terrible and the cop asked Wilber what it was. What do you have in those jugs? He thought about it for a while and decided he’d better tell the truth. He said it’s skunk oil, I use it to keep away the bugs and out laws. The cops looked at one another and said you have a good trip home. It was now nine-o’ clock and he had to be at the lawyers at nine-thirty. He road into town and found the building, but no place to park. He told himself hell I’ll just pay for parking. He had never paid to park is life. There was a large underground parking lot under the building. He went round and round as you do in those big parking lots. He finally found a place at the end of a row so he parked the old Indian. He found the elevator got in pushed the fourth floor button. There was a man in the elevator with him, and Wilber told him that that was the fastest elevator ride he had ever taken. The well-dressed men just looked at Wilber and shuck his head.

Wilber may have been just an old hick but one thing about old Wilber was he loved to tell people about Jesus. He did this as often as he could. Most people thought he was an old hick that believed in fairy tales, but it never bothered Wilber. He would always tell the story of Jesus.

Well old Wilber found the office he was looking for so he went in. The office girl looked up at old Wilber and said no bums allowed in this office or this building. He said I’m no bum I came here to sign some papers and pick up a check. He told her he was Wilber from South Dakota. She said yeah and I’m an angel from heaven. He told her your no angel and if you don’t change your ways and believe in god you’ll go to hell when you die and bum forever.

Just then the lawyer stepped in and Wilber asked him if he had the check ready for him. The lawyer felt real sheepish but he tried to talk to Wilber. He asked him to come into his office. All the papers were ready to sign. Wilber wanted to see the check as he demanded it be certified. It was signed so he did the paper work and put the check in his pocket. He told the lawyer thanks and said good bye. He told the girl as he was leaving not to forget about Jesus and he showed her the check see I’m no bum he said.

Wilber got into the elevator and went to parking garage. He got off the elevator but then realized he didn’t remember what floor he had parked his bike on. He tried the third, fourth and second floors with no luck in finding it. He was dead tired by this time so he lay down by the wall out of the way of cars and went to sleep. He had been sleeping for five or six hours when he felt a kick in his side. He looked up and saw a security guard. The guard told him to get the hell out, there was no bums allowed in this building. Wilber told the guy he was no bum and showed him the check and told the guy the story. The old man could not believe it. He told Wilber the only way to find his Indian was to start at the first floor and work his way down. Wilber knew this would take hours, but he had to do it.

He found his Indian and was glad to see that no one had bothered it. It was now dark outside. He got on his bike and road off. He looked at his watch it was eight o’ clock and really dark. He had spent almost eight hours in the building. He said to himself one has to be crazy to live in a large city like this. He stopped and asked a cop the way to 1-90 east. The cop gave him the directions and Wilber thanked him. He could see the cop shaking his head in his rear view mirror.

Wilber found his way out of town. He had planned on staying in Seattle a few days because he knew this would be his last trip back. He just didn’t like the traffic, fast cars and so many people. He told himself I’ll just find a place to camp out and head for home tomorrow. He was real tired and hungry because he had not had anything to eat sense early that morning. He always carried food and water with him so it was no problem. He pulled into the first parking lot he saw and got out his food and water. Then he remembered how good old Seattle water was. He tasted the water and realized it was the best water ever. He sat down, pulled out his old burner and cooked himself a Dakota buffalo stack. He did this right there in the parking lot. Just as he finished up the cops drove up. They asked Wilber what he was doing.

Wilber told them his story and they looked at his old Indian. They just couldn’t believe that he had ridden that old thing so far. One cop told him he wouldn’t even ride the bike to Renton. They wished him luck and he told them good bye. He headed east. He felt really tired; it had been a long day. He rode about seventy-five miles when he noticed a clearing in the trees. He road into the area and set up camp along with his traps to keep himself safe. He drank some of that good Seattle water and rolled out his sleeping bag, soon he was in la la land. During the night he dreamed of his farm and his good friends Alfred and Albert.

Soon the sun woke him up; he packed up and was on his way. He road across the mountain pass, it was beautiful up there. He pulled into the town of Ellensburg and stopped. He pulled out a jug of the stuff he called skunk oil and poured it into his gas tank. The boy at the station noticed what he was doing. He told him Indians run really well on skunk oil. The boy smelled the oil told old Wilber he must be crazy. Wilber told him no and road off. Soon he was on his way, he road through Washington into Idaho and crossed the Lookout Pass. The old Indian went over in high gear. In Montana he had a few problems with the law. He was riding along at ninety miles per hour or more. The state police tried to catch him, soon he had three cop cars after him. He just turned that throttle; he was up to 140 miles per hour. Almost lost his cop cap, the cops were no were in sight. He pulled off the freeway and filled up with some more gas. He took a drink of water, it was hot out. Soon he was home, he was so glad he bent down and kissed the soil. He called his friends up and they came over to his ranch. He showed them the check, when they saw how big it was they told him he should have a barn dance. They all started planning for a big party. He missed his best friend Jumper. He talked to him like he was human. Jumper licked Wilber’s hands and face. Little did Wilber know this would be Jumpers last year. Jumper was old and tired and could no longer jump. He walked slowly like he was on his last leg. Jumper had been the best pet Wilber had ever had. In a few days he passed away. Wilber, Alfred and Albert buried him on the farm. They put a large marker over his grave. You can see this if you ever visit Wilber’s farm. All Wilber’s friends came over they had a barn dance; they all had so much fun. Drinking that old home brew could make anyone have a good time.

Old Wilber was home he told himself no more long trips, he was now into his seventies. He enjoyed life though he knew he would miss Jumper, but god would help him through these sad times.

Be sure you read the story of old Jumper the World’s most Famous Mule. Wilber is still living on his farm; he works very little these days. He still rides his old motorcycles and enjoys life to the fullest. Still working on his many inventions.

“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – The Big Cattle Drive

It was in the middle of the 1930’s our families were living in a small town in eastern South Dakota. We had moved to Briton from our farm east of Pierpent South Dakota. We had lost our farm due to the big depression of the thirties.

One summer I watched the big cattle drive, there were real cowboys headed by their trail boss Star Buck Jones. I remember seeing him in Western Movies at our local theater. You must remember it was during the 1930’s big depression, times were really bad, so bad that unemployment was over twenty- seven percent, there was no real way of knowing who was working and who was not. With no unemployment checks, no well fair, and no social security. If you had a job you were one of the lucky ones, most people would do most anything just to work. Buck Jones and his cowboys drove this large herd of cattle all the way from eastern Montana about five hundred miles.

Britton had a real good stock yard and cattle auction every Wednesday. This was a big sale; people from all over eastern South Dakota came. Briton became a very busy town. As kids we would all go down to the stock yards and as kids today say “Hang Out.” I can’t remember hearing if the cowboys got a good price for their cattle or not. I’m sure they took whatever price they could as they sure wouldn’t want to drive those cattle all the way back to Montana.

As a kid growing up in Old South Dakota we were real poor, we called it dirt poor. As I look back at it now being poor was a real blessing in many ways. The Stadlers, Warwicks, Fittings, Umbergers, the Bentons and so many more. We all learned more about what real life is all about in one summer, than I would say kids today learn in their twelve years of schooling. We had the best teachers, the cattlemen, farmer’s etc.

We spent so much of our time at the stock yards, train depot watching the trains come in and out each day, the grain elevators, pool halls, and yes the taverns. Back then it was OK for kids to go into taverns, this was especially nice in the wintertime, they were one of the warmest places to go. It was so fun to hear all the bull from the farmers and workers it could be educational all in itself. We really learned from the PRO’S. We learned what real life is all about.

I heard a contractor tell his workmen one day “you can read hundred books, or listen to a teacher, but until you have actually built a house, barn or whatever you really do not know how to do it.” I remember when I first went into the Motorcycle business; I would work on almost any make or model. I had all kinds of books and manuals, but until I’d actually torn apart the engine, gearbox or some other part I had no clue how to do it. Many times I would have to do the job more than once before I got it right. But I did learn.

I’m seventy- five now looking back at how really poor we were as kids, our parents, the hardships they had, things in old South Dakota were really tuff but we learned about life the way it really is. I see how kids today have an easy life, many not working till their out of school. Most have there own cars, live in beautiful homes and have more clothes then all us kids put together had. They all own more than one pair of shoes, they go on vacation once or twice a year and many even have their own cell phones, computers, they have so much one can’t list it all. But you know that all of us poor kids of the 1930’s knew more about what real life was all about be the time we were ten or twelve than most kids today that are eighteen and twenty years old. But one must ask whose fault (if any) is it?