Tag Archives: desert

One Month In…

Stunning how fast time can fly when you live in a tent in the middle of the Utah desert 6 days a week. Turns out the one day a week in Vernal at the hotel is PLENTY. Shit in a real toilet, shower off the grime, do laundry, sleep in a bed, then get the fuck out of dodge and back to the hills. Beats hanging with the hordes of young girls/women with hordes of fucking twat rats the average Mormon town is infested with. Not to mention fat dudes in jacked up trucks, many fat dudes in jacked up trucks.

IMG_20180422_192022968_HDR.jpg

There is no end to the beauty here. Well, Vernal is a shithole, but I mean out of town.

We end up going for hikes almost every day after work for 2-4 hours exploring the endless massive landscape, get back, and exchange notes on what we saw. We hike solo, get plenty of each other sitting in a truck 8-9 hours a day. A side benefit of all this hiking at 6500-7000 feet is developing wicked endurance. Combined with a Primal/Paleo diet and intermittent fasting (16 hours a day) I’ve dropped 15 pounds without even trying. Between that and the hair, gonna look much different when I get back home.

It’s about time to relocate camp again, need better access to the work we’re doing and the current area is almost hiked out. The new area is primarily PJ (Pinyon/Juniper) forest and promises great exploring. And cougars. And bears. It’s always a hoot getting back into the food chain.

IMG_20180425_201411345.jpg

See what I mean?

IMG_20180419_104527792_HDR.jpg

Things have settled down concerning the severe homesickness felt upon heading out to here. Having been so long since I’d last had a proper home it was hard to leave it knowing I’d be gone for so long. Now, I’m in the groove and am pushing the tempo to hit my target of celebrating the 4th of July with friends in Portland. Time will tell.

On days that hiking doesn’t sound good it’s been sitting in the camp chair and reading or staring at shit listening to podcasts, but a new activity can be pursued: Archery. Got myself a Diamond Carbon Cure compound bow and all the associated goodies for a steal and flick 25-30 arrows a night to get the skills buffed up. Next year the skills should be ready to try for deer and elk.

The transition from fire fighting to this work has been fairly smooth, many of the skills translate, but the compensation and work conditions are far superior. The allowance of freedom is so wide it’s been an adjustment. Basically, I was given $100k worth of shit, a credit card, and a human I picked, and told to have a good time, get it done. Being allergic to authority and control freaks, this is a match made in heaven. Thankfully, projects this long will be rare, once every few years, but I’ll still get to travel on the company dime every summer for a few weeks here and there from Alaska to Oklahoma.

Which is all a way to say that at 47, I’ve finally found what, for me, is the perfect gig. Good pay and bennies, a great deal of freedom and most importantly lots of room to grow and apply my broad and eclectic range of skills.

Time to take advantage of this hotel room.

 

Tomorrow, back to this:IMG_20180408_193144529_HDR.jpg

Advertisements

Desert, Dinos and Dirt

Fantasy Canyon

Fantasy Canyon formation

After finally getting myself the long illusory setup of a cozy home base from which to explore, I find myself pulled from it for yet another summer away from friends, family and familiarity. It’s a “same first letter triplets” kind of post, folks. Yup, got me a real job and all that and still have field season, this year in Utah for 3-4 months then up to Ketchikan, AK for a month or so after that.

The land we’re collecting data on is the dead middle of fucking nowhere Utah, where the Northern Ute got told to fuck off to after getting the boot off their ancestral land in the Salt Lake and Provo basin areas. Needed to build temples and too wide straight roads I guess.

Currently I’m in Vernal, UT, dirty little backwards shithole that it is. I can see 3 Moron, ahem, Mormon churches from the hotel. Thankfully, town is a once a week thing for a day off and groceries, the rest of the time is spent camping near the Green river, made famous by both John Wesley Powell and Edward Abbey.

IMG_20180408_193913817.jpg

Evening boot about near camp

Having already seen some amazing sites, many spectacular desert destinations await exploration, and I’m getting paid to camp with a new trailer, for cooking and storage, I’m in a sweet tent, and roam around with a former co-worker from Apple I hired to work with me at this gig

Way better than in fire, but this has got to be the last summer of disappearance. I don’t mind a month or so here and there, but 4-6 months is a fucking haul. It’s been weird adjusting to having my own place after so long in some form of shared housing, love it, almost to a fault. The social life slowly builds, but will go on hiatus til the fall. That fact was what made it not hard to just do my own thing most of the time here, I hung with friends, but didn’t dive deep into building up a tribe seeing I’d be heading out soon.

The goal is to make the best of the situation, explore my ass off and see what can be gained from the experience. I’ve already advised the boss that next year a week or 2 here and there will be good, but no more disappearing for a season, done with that.

A former GF told me it was much harder on the one left behind than the leaver, was quite adamant about it and refused to hear argument on the topic. Now that I have the floor, I shall disagree. Yes, it is hard, I’ve been in the shoes of the one left behind, but at least your entire world isn’t disrupted by the event.

There is still YOUR home, friends, stores, hangouts, town/city, schedule, it all stays the same and provides what it always has without disruption. There is no need to try and reinvent a temporary version of your entire life in some random place every summer that may or may not suit you. Camping 6 days a week is a little rough, but Vernal is such a miserably generic cracker assed small western town that 1 day a week is plenty.

That being said, the best shall be made of the situation as the option is unpleasant. I’ve tried both routes and the effort put into self care, reaching out to friends and straight up bucking the fuck up always pays off for the better.

We shall see…

Meanwhile, here is another stunning desert photo:

IMG_20180408_110438497_HDR.jpg

Standard Desert amazeballs

Willy Nelson

As Bruce Buffer would say, “IT’S TIME!!!!!!!!!”

After a couple months of contemplation and a few weeks of actual planning and prep the big North American moto haul shall be underway in a couple hours. Crap is packed, loose routes and sights to see roughly laid out, and maintenance on Thumper is done.

Current set up is on the left, the old is right. Ditching the cargo boxes that almost destroyed my leg in a crash near the Salton Sea has saved a ton of weight and the current set up better distributes the load for off pavement riding. The packing is a little trickier and won’t be sorted till after a few days on the road, but the reduction in weight and increase in maneuverability are worth it.

This first week will see me heading up through eastern Oregon and Washington to land in Revelstoke BC in time for Canada Day, July 1. It all gets a little fuzzy from there. Next week it’ll be more clear.

Not much more to add. I’ll try and post here weekly and on Instagram as often as possible (@kpicard44). Feel free to shout out if I’m in your area and you want to grab a cup of coffee or just shoot the shit.

I hope to see many of you out there on the road adventuring and exploring on your own.

Smooches!

A New Adventure on the Horizon

Howdy!

Well, that last trip really got the travel bug fired up and thankfully I don’t have much in the way of obligations holding me back. Thus, on or around the 24th of June I’ll be heading out on a 10k+ 6-8 week dual sport moto adventure across Canada and the US.

This isn’t going to be a pavement haul across the continent and back, it’s a full on dirt road/tiny 2 track back road adventure that includes, so far, Exploration of the eastern Washington scablands, Canada Day spent in Revelstoke with friends, a run up to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories with friend B-Rad from last summer’s Oregon Big Desert Blast, bopping back and forth across the border in the Great Lakes region to see folks and hit sweet little rides, surviving the eastern seaboard, a run down the Blueridge Parkway, The Missouri River Breaks, Dakota badlands, Colorado for friends  and some high elevation riding, back to Arizona to buy Tom Kenopka breakfast, LA for friends and to finally check of the home of many of my favorite comedians, The Comedy Store finished up with a run up coast on the 1/101 (hopefully the Big Sur slide will be cleared by then) back to PDX, then home to Bend. Going to try and hit parts of the TAT while I’m at it. Then there is the eclipse to plan a remote viewing spot for.

You, dear reader, are a crucial part of this adventure! I’d love to hear about rides, meetups, cool little trails/roads that I can try and join in while on the road. Please share some of your experience and ride along if you wish.

I’d be very grateful if you could share this with rider and non-rider friends alike to get a little following going. Places to camp, including backyards, would be great to hear about as well.

There are a few companies that have provided a little support and they include:

Giant Loop Moto of Bend, OR. Harold and Ingrid helped set me up with some sweet soft luggage at a discount and I will be reviewing it as part of the trip.

Next Adventure in Portland, OR was the first job I got upon moving there the first time way back in 1999. It has since grown into the largest independent outdoor gear store in Oregon, if not the Pacific Northwest. Deek and Brian offer a unique workplace that has become refuge to many disheartened former REI employees, high level adventurers and gear junkies alike. They offered camping gear and a little cash for motorcycle specific needs. I’ll be posting on their blog, reviewing gear and doing and in-store presentation after I return.

Xero Shoes of Broomfield, CO. I used to make my own huaraches out of pig leather that were OK, then I found Xeros and am on my second pair after nearly wearing a hole through the soles of my first. Great small company with excellent products for minimalist footwear fans or those wanting compact, light durable camping footwear. They offered their affiliate program by which if you go to their site by my link and buy something, I get 10% of that purchase.

Being transparent is very important to me, hence the above info. If you are a regular reader you know I’ll be doing honest gear reviews and have no problem calling dodgy gear out.

I’ll be hauling a few stickers and such to events to give out from each company and will happily let folks check out the gear I’m using to get a first hand look.

So there you have it, a summer full of adventure hopefully augmented by you folks.

The countdown begins, 18 days till launch!

So, That Big Motorcycle Trip…..

Hooooo, boy! It has been a while since my last blatherfest.

Lots of nifty little adventures, including overnight camping trips in my lovely Oregon desert to working ‘vacations’ in Portland to assist friends, have been occurring right under your nose.

Yes, yes, I promised big bold write-ups of my little moto romp through the desert Southwest and I’ve been fantastically lazy concerning writing about it.

An overview shall follow.

Ahem.

In the beginning, there was the end of a contract with Apple. The cry “Hallelujah!” rose up from the masses. Well, me to be exact. Shit was packed into Mighty Whitey (the Soob) and hauled to Bend, a flight was procured to return to Silicon Valley and my bike, and thus the adventure began.

Being a comedy nut, I hit the jackpot in the days before heading out as Bill Burr and Doug Stanhope (with Morgan Murphy and Brett Erickson) were doing shows on consecutive nights at the San Jose Improv. Nearly wet myself with glee. Both shows were sweet and really set a good tone for kicking off a new adventure.

My route took me through a lot of So-Cal sights I’d never been to before, but had seen photos of and heard about from friends, magazine articles, etc. over the years. Hit up Carrizo Plain National Monument the first night, I’d been there before, but it’s always good to get the kinks worked out in familiar territory. Pissed down rain all night and proved my choice in tents was a gooder. Fellow riders, if you want a good, small, light solo tent the REI Quarter Dome 1 is reasonable. The foot area is a little funky to set up, but I had plenty room and stayed dry. What more do ya need? The next morning a heavy mist was about giving the feel of being on the moors.

wp-image-1083607247jpg.jpg

Carrizo Plain NM

And as many have noted, the desert flowers were blooming like crazy everywhere. Photo evidence to follow.

Starting out with a pile of wet kit to pack wasn’t the top of my list, but got it out of the way early and it was dry as hell most the rest of the trip. Headed through lovely Bakersfield where I met a cool fellow who had moved there from PDX at a Starbucks and chatted a bit about bikes, pedal and motor.

A short aside concerning Starbucks for my PDX coffee snob friends. Yes, Portland is a mecca for all coffee aficionados who love the Stumptown bright, light to medium roast that every company copies thinking they are recreating the wheel in their own special way. There are many parts of the country that would kill for Starbucks as shitty watered down Folgers still dominates the small town cafe scene in the Great American Beyond. As a traveler, ‘Bucks fucking rocks. Clean shitters, solid WiFi and decent coffee. Not to mention a lot of travelers hit it for the above reasons so you can meet some interesting folks there. Not 5th and Alder downtown interesting, but fun interesting.

Totaling 3500 miles and 17 days the trip far exceeded expectations and led to meeting a bunch of cool folks and seeing some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. The route took me to Trona Pinnacles, Death Valley where I rode through the awe inspiring Titus Canyon, Mojave National Preserve for a hike up huge sand dunes:

IMG_20170327_185231490

Kelso Dunes, Mojave NM

and Joshua Tree NP which was packed, but I still found a sweet little place to camp and hike sans other people. And a desert tortoise. Well, a former desert tortoise.

IMG_20170329_094608951

Hard Livin’ in the Desert

Salton Sea was very full according to the local guy I bought a soda from in a tiny little lakeside village. And smelled like rotten fish ass. Cruising along, I noticed a film crew and checked them out. They were filming a spin off of Sons of Anarchy. Chatted with a camera man and a few actors for a bit and got a shot of a sweet moto rigged to film riding scenes:

IMG_20170330_130105621_HDR

Can’t imagine it was fun to ride, but the results are worth the headache I’m sure.

Hit Salvation Mountain and Slab City as I’ve heard about them for years and was curious. There were a couple very cute young women taking sexy shots of each other at Salvation Mtn, which I thought was a hoot. This dude’s monument to Jesus and the girls are taking ass shots in the middle of it. Figured, what the fuck, and asked if they would take a shot with my bike and they were in, so:

IMG_20170330_150046599

Seattle Gals with Thumper

Sometimes you just have to ask.

Oh, here’s the Mountain:

IMG_20170330_144910922

Slab City:

IMG_20170330_144121025

was cool and gross all at once. Cool little camps, a library, funky social clubs in a place government has forgotten about. On the down side, the volume of random trash reminded me of photos of third world shit holes and was EVERYWHERE. Apparently living off the grid and away from the clutches of The Man requires folks to be goddamn filthy pigs.

My one actual crash was soon after Slab City, going from a deep gravel road that was freshly graded and shitty back on to the main dirt road. My front tire washed, the bike went down fast and my foot got pinned facing the wrong direction under my cargo box. I flipped over fast feeling the tension on my knee and took about 5 minutes to get positioned well enough to use my other leg to push The Pig off my ankle. Another gear plug, my ankle would have been fucked bad except I was wearing my Sidi Adventure GTX boots. I had around 300# resting on my ankle and a lesser boot would not have done the job of protecting my leg. Both my knee and ankle are a little funky still, but they weren’t destroyed thanks to good gear.

A 60 MPH cross wind for many hours through the rest of So-Cal and a subsequent sand storm finished up the California in memorable fashion. Plus it was hot. Very hot.

A couple gals I went to High School with live in AZ, so I visited Tammy in Cottonwood and hiked around near Sedona and reminisced about the good old days, then turned south all the way to Sierra Vista to see Candy. On the way I attempted to visit the memorial for the Granite Mountain Hotshots that burned up in 2013, but was so pissed off by the bullshit “Our Heroes” whitewashing of their demise I chose to pass. One day the truth about that burn-over will come out and a few fuckers who are protecting their and other folks asses will be held to account. Fucking scum. For those of you unfamiliar with why I give a shit, I was a wildland firefighter for 20 seasons and had friends die in the line of duty. Our desire to get the job done was usually taken advantage of and the results were sometimes horrific. Nuff o’ that.

Candy took me on the tourist loop and we checked out the cool sights including this amazing Celtic cross:

IMG_20170404_132606462_HDR

Our Lady of the Sierras

75′ tall, way bigger than it looks here.

All the adventures up to this point, however, ended up being a warm up for the best part of the trip and, truth be told, the previous year.

So, I mentioned early on my fandom of comedy. Well, it turns out my favorite comedian, Doug Stanhope, lives in Bisbee, AZ a short distance from Sierra Vista. Musician Mishka Shubaly and Comedians Kristine Levine, Anthony Desamito, and Carmen Morales had a show planned in Bisbee so I got tickets, an AirBnB and spent a couple days checking the place out. Met and BS’d with Castle Rock Kenny for a couple hours and checked out Floyd’s shop. Before hand I had made Twitter buddies with Tom Konopka, a long time friend of Doug’s who runs their little haven and loves on the dogs. Mentioned I’d be in Bisbee on my trip for the show and would love to meet him if possible. Ended up scaring the shit out of me while I was hopping on my bike at a diner. Apparently, he was across the street when I tweeted a thanks for recommending the place so he swung by and grabbed me in a big bear hug. Very friendly and warm, super cool guy.

IMG_20170406_222421337

The show was top notch. Mostly locals and friends of Doug’s larger social circle in attendance. I stood out as a visitor, but it made chatting with folks easier. Saw Tom and he introduced my to Bingo, Doug’s super awesome wife and a few others including Chad Shank, one of the coolest humans alive with a voice perfect for story telling. Met Greg Chaille, Doug’s business manager, and got invited back to the Funhouse after the show.

Doug was on tour, but just being invited back to after party with the friends of my favorite comedian was spectacular. Turns out Kristine Levine grew up near where I lived and we chatted for hours about that and how Portland turned into a hipster hellhole and plenty other stuff. An impromptu concert kicked off with Mishka doing a set and Chaille riffing on guitar while 2 smashed comedians scream sang along. Met Henry Phillips and Ichabod, the aforementioned dogs Tom looks after and a number of others heard about often on the podcast.

Time came to head back to sleep and got great props from Chaille and Tom, being thankful I was polite and respectful. I still giggle thinking how awesome that night was.

IMG_20170407_244422659

The Funhouse

IMG_20170407_010344341

The Bingo Sign

The trip wrapped up short due to a last minute interview in Portland, so I ended up riding 1700 miles in 3 days across Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. The weather got progressively shitty the further north to the point of riding through a riving snow storm outside Fallon, NV. Still pretty though as this shot in northern NV shows.

IMG_20170409_141700762

The last little blast home involved a night at Crystal Crane Hot Springs outside Burns, OR for a chance to warm up and decompress after 3 days of hard riding. I try and hit this place 2-3 times a year as it’s the perfect finish up for adventures and is cheap and chill.

Rolled into Bend with stiff fingers and a taint in desperate need to be off the seat of a KLR. 18 days of a whole lot of fun that has inspired plans that will be presented in the next installment of Ken finally decides to get off his dead ass and write.

Toodles!

Back in the World

As hard as I tried to post form the road, it didn’t really work out. I’ll be throwing up a few different posts about the big trip soon. A couple about the trip, then at least one for moto/gear nerds about how all my stuff worked or didn’t.
It was a goddamn blast, I can tell ya and the best part was all the amazing people I met along the way. If you ever have the chance, get your ass out of your current world and explore. Or don’t and leave more open space for me, whichever.

More to come soon, very soon!

Cupertino to Bend via Bisbee

The last day in Silicon Valley slowly winds it’s way too conclusion. Got last minute shopping and pack fitting done so while I’ve got a little time before heading out to comedy show #2 in 2 nights figured I’d tap this out.

Bill Burr was so goddamn funny last night my abs were cramping. He’s building a new set and I can’t imagine how much better it needs to get to record.

Tonight is Doug Stanhope and his sorted menagerie of misfits. Having followed him for so long, listening to all his sets, podcasts, seeing him live a few times it’s almost like an old friend is coming to town. Except we’re total strangers.

Then it’s wake up, get some coffee, load up the bike and hit the road.

I’ll be posting photos and vids to Instagram each day and posting a few of these as time and data permit. The bloom in the desert is going nuts right now so there should be some really pretty sights to be had.

Feel free to follow me and share this with other adventures or those stuck in a rut needing to live vicariously through some random idiot riding a KLR all over hell’s half acre.