See how wonderful my new sprocket and chain look?  Not even a mile on them.  My trusty buddy, Runkle, had his 12 k tuneup in August 2013.  It was expensive.  Then I heard I needed a new sprocket and chain, which was another $300.  Imagine my dismay.  I spent about $800 that month just to get Runkle serviced and up to par.  Crazy time. Especially considering I'd done regular services, kept the chain oiled, and basically babied the little runt.  It made me so mad I parked the runt, hooked it up the the battery charger and covered it so I wouldn't have to even look at the thing.  I'm whacked like that.  For months I've been riding in the fields by my house on the Polaris, ignoring Runkle other than the occasional lifting of the cover to see if there are families of mice enjoying the comfort of my beautiful but ignored Runkle.  

Yesterday I pulled the cover off Runkle and found a few mouse turds and some dead flies.  It wasn't a pretty sight.  I dug out my motorcycle pants and realized that in the months I'd been ignoring Runkle I'd also been ignoring any hint of exercise.  My pants wouldn't button.  My shiny BMW jacket barely zipped, thanks to Pepsi, brownies, and too many margaritas.  The one bright spot is that my BMW socks fit perfectly.  Things were looking up.   

I tossed what gear would fit onto my plump form and jumped on the bike to ride around the block.  I didn't even bother putting my side bags on.  I just rode.  About a mile away I thought I should be a little more concerned about ensuring the bike was ride-ready and safe.  I headed back to my house and checked the tire pressure and did a fast check to make sure no wires were eaten by the mice who thrive in my shop.  Everything appeared fine so I hopped back on the Runkle runt and waved goodbye to Trout.  

We rode about  hundred miles past fields of wheat, strawberries, cows and farmland.  Along the way we became reacquainted and dare I say, we even fell in love again.  It wasn't long before I decided Runkle's been a good pal but love is fickle.  Love is fleeting and love is often filled with betrayal.  

It was on this glorious first ride of the season that I realized I love riding but I'm craving something more.  Something new, peppy, and fully of spunk.   I'm thinking I need a 2015 800GS.  But, I'm also thinking Runkle reserves one last summer.  Besides, I spent so much on service, I deserve to ride it like I stole it.  

Stay tuned for Runkle's summer adventures.  Ride on.  


So today I find myself not working...well, not getting paid.  I'm manning the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride booth a the North American Motor Officers Association Conference in Wilsonville, OR.  I've never experienced one of these events but I ould highly recommend attending!  There are various vendors and it's a Badge Bunny's dream come true.  I'm not a Badge Bunny, so really, I'm a little put off by all the badges and hunky men.  I mean how much stength do I have??   It's a shame each and every one of these guys is  a police officer.  I mean, there's nothing wrong with that at all...but I keep reminding myself:  Not a Badge Bunny...oh look at that one....wait...not a Badge Bunny...HOLYCRAP!  Look at THAT!  He's on a BMW.  He's...wait...wait...not a Badge Bunny.

So, this is what you are missing...over 100 motorcycle officers from the Pacific Northwest and a few from Canada.  The officers are competing in a few different areas.  One is "follow the leader" which sounds just like the title.  Follow the moto and try not to hit a cone, put your foot down, etc.  The other thing, which I've become totally facinated by, is a little game of "let's hook two bikes together and see how well two moto officers can run an obstical course.  It's totally neat.  There's also some free riding areas and courses where the officers can just run the course and improve their skills.

Here's a video of some motors guys from Vancouver showing their stuff....

video

There are so many bikes here it will blow your mind.  Motorcycle police bikes in all shapes and sizes..and so many different departments from Oregon, Washington, Canada and apparently Idaho.  I've seen some Bend, Portland, Multnomah & Clackamas County,  Bellevue (WA) to name a few.


There are also some vendors here on site, though the major vendors are going to be back in Lake Oswego later tonight...where I hear there may be some free drinks (didn't have to tell me twice, I will be there!)   One of my favorite things here is the Polaris Sportsman WV850.  Check out the tires on this baby.  Serious stuff.  And, since with my Polaris I've been putting air in the tire almost weekly...I've got a serious case of the "I wants." There is a Moto Guzzi vendor here sporting an awesome looking retro bike that I'd be more than happy to take for a spin.  (Don't tell my BMW).  

If you are in the area of Wilsonville, OR tomorrow, that's the day of the big serious competition.  It's open to the public so you should come on out and enjoy the show.  It's a like a bee hive...all this stuff is really awesome.  

Not a Badge Bunny,

Jess



I've finally got a break from that awesome job I recently took in order to have more free time.  I've been working 15-20 hours extra a week...wait a minute...there's a problem.  That was NOT the plan.  So I feel inclined to give you all some free and mostly worthless advice.  Are you paying attention?  Here goes:

When you realize you may have made a mistake, go ahead and un-make the mistake if possible.

Pride is the one thing that is NOT going to keep me off my bike this summer!  This new gig is either feast or famine.  Working like a dog is awesome because it keeps you in the greenbacks...but this motorcycle riding blogger would rather be kept on the roads or trails, crashing through life one funny motorcycle story at a time.  So I'm re-evaluating again.  Yep.  Silly me.  It will all work out and if not, I have a fall back plan.  Anyone have enough money to support me and my dog?  I don't do laundry but I can cook a killer rack of ribs.  You wouldn't even have to meet me.  Just send cash.  (Wow, I just wrote the best singles ad ever!  I'll have to make sure the men aren't lining up on my doorstep!)

The good news is I've got some time to kill this next week.  I was going to take the cover off Runkle and ride like the wind...but this is what Oregon is currently greeting me with:

Anyone wanna ride in the storm?  Not me.  
I'm all about riding in any weather but I do not want my maiden voyage in months to include a downpour that will require me to wear a life jacket.   The sun is trying...pushing and pulling...and failing miserably.  Pretty soon I'll have to just risk it.  I won't melt.  I may drown, but I won't melt.

Cheers to the two people reading my blog.  Love ya, Mom and Dad!  




So I'm alive!  I quit my job and just started a new one today...which is why I find myself in a crappy hotel in Sacramento.  After a full day of going over policies and procedures, I'm ready to hit the road back to Oregon.  But alas, it's not meant to be.  I'm here for the week.  And, turns out the guy making the hotel reservations (as cool as he may otherwise be) is a cheapskate.  First, nothing is nearby except the office which is a bit of a walk.  Wait, maybe I should start with, FIRST, the company car I'm supposed to be using is being used by someone else.  So, I'm on foot.  The nearest place to eat is around the corner, over the overpass, down the street and through the woods to Grandma's house. Second, the room has two beds...which is a good thing since I pulled the fancy cover back (famous for being infected will all kinds of crap) only to find a blanket beneath that looks like it hasn't been washed for years.  I'm talking HAIR and all kind of stuff.  I actually grabbed one thing with a piece of toilet paper to see if it was squishable.  The other really cool thing is there's a wet spot on the floor.  I can't tell what it is, and don't think I'm going to lean down and sniff that stuff.  Let's just say as I was walking down the breezeway I took a second to look behind me and make sure there wasn't a bloody print from my shoe.  It's THAT kind of place.

Beyond that, I've checked for bed bugs, hidden cameras and bodies under the bed.  All clear.  Well, except that my skin is itching and there's a good chance I may go into shock from all the dust.  Did I mention I'm allergic to dust mites?  Yeah.  Awesome.  Good call on quitting the solid 40 hour a week job with excellent benefits so I could go private.  I'm sure it will all work out.  I mean, after all, how much worse can it get?

So, I'm in this new job because in part, it will give me freedom to take multiple weeks off if I so choose so I can ride my moto!  So excited for that part.  It's a good thing.  I would love to stay and chat about where I'm going to ride but I need to get a black light and some rubber gloves.  

Cheers for now.




From NOLO I headed north to Monroe, LA again (had to return a POS camera) so I stopped and hoped to see the Duckmen again. No such luck.  Evasive bastards.   Headed to Tyler, TX for the night since they had a RUDY's BBQ...which I ate for dinner and breakfast.

After Tyler, I rushed to Waco, TX,  my favorite destination:  The Branch Davidian Compound. Last time I was in Waco I had back up...my pal Jenn (well, if you count someone who ditches you and leaves you with strangers as back up).  This time, I was solo and really just curious about how the place had changed over the last few years.  Why?  I have no idea. Mostly, I was wondering how much the place has grown and if the troops of religious zealots had returned...and if so, what did they hope to gain?

The place looked much like it did in 2011 when I was there.  The only major change was the awesome fence surrounding the place.  Imagine my shock as I drove past the church and saw Simon, the man who had given me the previous tour in 2011.  He was tending the garden and as I made my way to his location, he kept working, not looking up until I was almost standing next to him.  He wasn't wearing the hat I'd come to associate with him, but a simple baseball cap.  His teeth had been fixed and when smiled he wasn't as scary as he had been previously.  I introduced myself and told him I just stopped by to check things out.  He said I must have come back for a reason.  I insisted I was just curious...and he proceeded to break into a sermon that would revel all sermons...talking about how I was sent there and how I should just go home and pack my things and come back because it was God's will.  Hmm...that'll teach me to visit.   Charles Pope (the most recent preacher) called Simon and he disappeared, rushing to do Pope's bidding.
The church at the Branch Davidian Compound 2013
I wandered over to the church where two dogs were scurrying my way with big barks and wagging tails.  Along the way a small rat snake cross my path...reminding me where I was and that evil, scary crap was all around.

Simon came back and asked my name.  When I told him, he started talking about how Jess is a branch and I was meant to be at the compound.  I eased over to my car and kept smiling...wondering if anyone would notice if I were kidnapped.  We exchanged numbers and I was quickly on my way.  Yes, fine, judge me.  But frankly, I think being on the inside with a scoop of the next massively religious Waco event would be cool.  Or maybe not.  

From there, I went to the library to do some serious research, stopped by the Texas Ranger Museum for a tour and spent a great bit of time at the hotel, chatting it up with the a local about the day Waco went wild.   
Today's journey took me from Monroe to Mississippi to Myrtles Plantation (most haunted place in Louisiana?) to Baton Rouge to New Orleans (NOLO).

Myrtles Plantation...reportedly haunted.....
My plan was to spend a night in Baton Rogue but after hearing everyone talk about NOLO I decided I may as well keep driving the extra hour and a half.  I found a hotel in the French Quarter that wasn't badly priced and booked three nights.  The Chateau Hotel is on Chartres and St. Phillip and it has parking (win)!   Apparently in NOLO's French Quarter they can charge any price they want for a hotel, so each daily rate is different, even if you book at the same time.  WTF.  I ended up paying $109 per night for a room smaller than the size of my living room.  It had a tiny tub (seriously, it looked like someone stole it from an RV) and even the bathroom door was mini.  But, it was in a good location and had really good AC (though the TV was from 1980 but I'm wasn't really there for the TV).  There was a small courtyard that had a pool and some seating areas.  It was a nice place...nicer than my buddy's place across the street...which made me feel like I scored (and I actually found $20 when checking under the bed for serial killers, so double score).  

The wildest ladies I've met in a long time, The "Ohio's"
The first night I was there I was walking around lost when a man named Walter stopped to help. Walter does maintenance at St. Louis Graveyard #1 during the day and walks the FQ at night just helping people with directions.  Turns out Walter is quite the tour guide.  As we were walking he was telling me all about each house or restaurant's ghosts and residents.  It was pretty cool.  As we were walking we stumbled across two other tourists (from Ohio) who were trying to find their way back to their hotel.  We gathered them up, cautioned them at every curb (seriously, they had been drinking a bit) and we all had a jolly time learning about FQ and chatting it up.  One of them was wearing an Oregon shirt (ISUN:  I shit u not!)  so we became fast friends.

I made my way to Coop's and had some awesome (but very spicy) Gumbo with rabbit and deer meat. Then met Ohio 1 & Ohio 2 at their hotel bar...where they continued to drink Hurricaine's and amaze me with their drinking ability.

The next morning we hit Cafe Du Monde for beignets (which were good but possibly not worth the hype I've been hearing about them all week, I mean, who doesn't love a donut smothered in powdered sugar?).  The Ohio's and I then walked to the graveyard to meet Walter.  Good times.  I won't bore you with the details.  We did NOT see any ghosts but we did see Nicholas Cage's tomb (thinking ahead and apparently why he's in debt...) also did not find Walter for our personal tour so I may go back and try again.

Cemetery #1, NOLO
We parted ways so the Ohio's could hit Harrah's casino and I could go to Hotel Montecello  (the most haunted hotel in Louisiana ...hmmm  a lot of places are claiming that....).  I ate breakfast there, giving the ghosts time to wake up.  They didn't.  Oh well.   I then tromped back to my hotel, stopping at some shops that caught my fancy along the way.

Talented 'gator.   
The next few days were spent hanging with the Ohio's, eating great food, touring the city, drinking (a lot more than I would have though given the Ohio's ages).  While sitting in a bar waiting for a ghost tour a group of wedding goers paraded down the street with music and umbrellas waving...totally the coolest thing I've ever seen.  We went on an alligator tour that rocked. This is a MUST do...though by the end I was freaking out about snakes and not too concerned about the alligators.  Apparently the best time to go to see the 'gators is in May when they are waking up from the winter and hungry....note to sell....stay away in May.

Overall, my time in NOLO was awesome.  Mostly thanks to the great company.  But, I was excited to get moving...next stop...Waco TX.  Not your typical tourist destination, but me, I'm definitely "Waco Curious".



Flew into Dallas, TX yesterday with the intent of taking a week of vacation to do...well...nothing.  I had the pleasure of sitting by two dudes from Tok, Alaska on the flight.  These guys, Darrel and Scotty, ended up being really cool.  Funny cool.  The kind of people you wish you were in a bar with, sipping (or chugging) the night away because you just KNOW there will be some great stories and a whole lotta laughter.  After ditching the men I jumped in my sporty rental car (Hyundai Elantra) and drove to the Rudy's BBQ that was on my way to Monroe, LA.  Yeah, I admit it, I drove an hour out of my way to Tyler Texas just to get BBQ.  It was worth it.  As I sat in the parking lot in my Elantra (because some things are better in private), I thought, good BBQ is like sex.  The excitement of what could be is almost torture and when you finally get it, it doesn't last nearly long enough (maybe I should stop that train of thought right now before my pervo friends make comments).

I ended up driving a total of almost six hours to my destination, West Monroe, LA.  Why West Monroe?  Well, Duck Dynasty, of course.  I have not been a devoted fan this season, though I do have the episodes waiting on my DVR...but still, this was at least a place to visit.  I ended up getting into town around 11:00 PM and was happy to have booked my hotel in advance, as I met a nice lady out front who was turned away in the pouring rain.  I'm used to rain.  Oregon is rain grand central.  We do rain.  We do rain well.  But, in Oregon the rain doesn't usually keep me up...or come with thunder storms that rattle my bed.  I finally fell asleep around midnight only to be awakened around 1:00 AM by the loudest  storm I've ever heard.  Pounding and shaking weather that you only read about.  It was like someone was dumping a full water truck on my window.  I seriously started wondering if evacuation sirens were going to sound.

This morning I slept in (vacation, remember?) and drove to the Duck Dynasty home front, their duck call warehouse.  Now, keep in mind, I haven't watched the show this season except for maybe one episode...but somewhere along the lines, the TV made the warehouse look like it was in the country...and well...I could go on, but let's just say I saved you a trip.

There are houses next door, a car wash on one corner and a auto parts store on the other, and a large parking lot that I'm guessing they had to put in because of the FLOCK of tourists.  Despite it being closed today (along with everything else that's awesome in this town), There was a steady stream of Duck stalkers...and I drove by twice just to make sure I wasn't completely crazy...which makes me sound crazy.  But, in my defense, my hotel is right up the street.   I met people from Georgia and Texas...and one cowboy whom I think should have been more afraid of ending up in my suitcase than he was.   He was McDucklicious.  

That's me at the compound.  I know my head is too small for my body.  Must have been something I ate.  
I did the whole "Duck Dynasty" day...for a few hours until I became increasingly bored.  I drove to a few eateries the gang had used in the show...Haskel's Donuts (a block from my hotel and an overly sweet 60 cent donut), Danken Trail (where I was planning on eating BBQ but found it closed), Catfish Cabin (which came in second place on my food list but was also closed), Landry Vineyards (the wine episode, also closed), at I attempted to find Excalibur Family Fun but got lost and decided there was no family fun I'd experience there anyway (you know, on account of me being alone and all).

I finally settled for a steakhouse...ordered me a nice steak and some shrimp (cause it seemed like a mandatory thing since I'm in Louisiana) and a margarita.  Um, yeah, no hard liquor served (It's Sunday, you tourist!).  Of all the disappointments I've had in life, being stuck in West Monroe without a margarita is up on the list near the top.

Tomorrow I hit the Duck Store and buy some trinkets for my Alaska pals, and maybe a few of my friends if you all promise to post photos of yourself with beards.  Monroe and West Monroe are pretty run of the mill towns.  I was hoping West Monroe would be more rural and picturistic but it's not.  I found everyone here very nice and approachable and hey, Jack, no one seems to care about the Robertson's other than us tourists.  One chick in Walmart even said she's always asked if she sees them and she never has.  Hmm..maybe they ship them in...cause I sure didn't see anyone with a long beard wearing camo around.  I'm betting those boys don't come to town much.

PS.  So far, Louisiana is a lot like Oregon...but we have better roads.  Much better roads.  It's also green and lush here...but in Oregon we don't have as many things hiding under rocks and in the waters that can kill you.   Yeah, I choose Oregon.