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Memories But No Photographs-Travel Blog


The blog title is a spin on the Jim Croce song Photographs and Memories. Jim Croce was one of my father's favorite musicians. Back in the mid to late 1970's we would go out to Canyon Lake in Arizona in his speed boat and he'd turn the motor off and we would drift, listening to Jim Croce on 8-track, which would repeat over-and-over. I'll update this post later with a picture of the boat.

Canyon Lake, Arizona

I still have it. It was stolen in late 2010, along with all his property-including his clothes, by a bunch of meth users/makers, being found abandoned on a road not far from his house by the police several months later after one of the meth users was busted and went to snitching.

But this post is not about the boat or the meth users.  I just wanted to get a post in before the night was over, blogging about Day Three of the Big One, a three month long motorcycle trip my father and I departed on 28 years ago.

It's easy to remember Day Three because my Kawasaki 1100 LTD broke down at an I-40 rest stop just west of Jackson, Tennessee. After making a pit-stop there, I discovered my bike had a dead battery, later discovering it was due to a burned out alternator. Push-starting and throwing a leg over a motorcycle loaded down with camping gear was not easy, but it made the day easy to remember.

Kawasaki 1100 LTD (not mine but rode one just like it on the Big One)

Fortunately I was only about 70 miles east of my grandparents house and after about 4 attempts at getting my bike started (as that model had no kick starter) I was able to shorten that distance down to about 30 miles. My dad rode in, got granddaddy's trusty Ford truck and a trailer and came to pick me up at a gas station near I-40 & Hwy. 22. I can remember that day well, like it happened yesterday.

Eight years ago (May of 2007) I had just got on the Internet, had never been on it prior to that, not even at a friends house. I did sneak-a-peak at the official Harley Davidson website at work once. But 8 years ago, on this day, I was blogging about the Big One on a Yahoo 360 blog. It ranks as one of the most difficult tasks I've ever emotionally encountered.
It was the first year I did not have my father to reminisce about the Big One motorcycle trip.
For 19 years after the trip, we contacted each other on Day One to "high-five" each other on the fact that "on that day" the Big One began and for the next 3 months we shared memories and remembrances of where we were, where we had camped, things we seen and memorable events, such as when I rode through the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel at over 100 mph following his old Navy buddy riding an 883 Harley Sportster that had the big-bore kit in it.

The bike also had Kerker exhaust and did it ever sound beautiful blasting in the confines of that tunnel! I expected the walls to start cracking at any second! You should have seen the "tunnel cops" on their radios calling ahead, I'm surprised there wasn't the entire State Police force waiting for us when me and "Mad Max" flew out out that tunnel at over 100 mph! There was an off-ramp to another road heading into the city, a long sweeping right-hander, and we hit that doing about 80 mph! ...and I had to get on the brakes to keep from rear-ending him!

After that moment we started getting tied up in traffic and had to come to a halt for a stoplight. Luckily for me "Mad Max" decided not to run the light, but I was wondering and didn't come to a full stop till I was next to him, on his right. I lifted the tinted shield on my full-face helmet and looked over at him thinking, "You crazy fuck! Trying to get me killed!?"
He looked back at me, nodding his head with approval and gave me the Thumbs Up!

You see, Max (he'd become "Mad Max" to me before we shot out of that tunnel) used to babysit me when I was like 4 years old back in the days when my father and Max were part of the Pax Silver Wheels Motorcyle Club. It was part of my dad's and Max's Navy years, when they were both stationed at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in St. Mary's County, Maryland, hence the name of the motorcycle club.
As a matter of fact, Max outranked my father at the time, in the Navy, but not during club hours! 
And that was part of paying his dues, to keep me out of trouble at the club house while various things went on, such as bike building, painting and repairs, stuff like that.Max had only seen me one time since those days, around July of 1971 when my father had retired from the Navy, we had just come back from Spain and while on the east coast, my dad caught up with Max. So it was pretty cool to get the Thumbs Up from, now, "Mad Max".
I had earned my respect as a fellow motorcycle rider in his eyes by keeping up with him in the tunnel and, as he said later, as we "bench raced" later about going into the turn.
Anybody can ride a motorcycle in a straight line, it is the turns that will challenge a rider's skills, as the video below that I recently made with the YouTube Editor, using the time lapse speed motion video reveals.


Well, if you're still with me, awesome! I'll tell you why we was going so fast. My father and I were about 1 month or so into the Big One when we met Max, who was living in Virginia and all of us decided to go out for a day ride. My dad was packing Max's wife on his bike as he had a "dresser" and more suited for carrying two people.

Well, in traffic before entering the tunnel, we all got a little separated, my dad falling behind and Max was several vehicles ahead of me so I had to do some weaving to catch up with him. This was the days before cell phones and I had no clue where Max lived, even though we had left his house earlier in the day, I didn't know his address. I just didn't pay attention or make any mental notes, didn't know his home phone number, my dad was lost in traffic behind me somewhere. Besides, Max was in front of me and a better target to hang onto.

So I grabbed a fist full of throttle, did a little weaving in and out of traffic and caught up with him in the tunnel. Max might have seen me approaching in rear-view mirror, I don't know, but in the tunnel traffic started spreading out with the slower traffic in the right lane and the left lane opened up, that's when Max cracked the throttle on that engine-heavy Sportster took off.
I'll never forget the sound. I knew then, I wanted a Harley!
Anyway, what was I blogging about? Oh, yes, Day 3 of the Big One. More specifically, blogging about it 8 years ago on Yahoo 360 and how hard it was. June of 2007 was the first year I didn't have my dad around to "high-five" about the Big One motorcycle trip. He had "set sail" on his last voyage in December of 2006. To add salt to the wound, both my father's Harley Dyna Wide Glide and my 1200 Sportster (both 1996 models) had just recently been stolen!

They had been stolen around February of that year a few days after I had a major knee surgery due to a work accident. Yes, a "friend" was involved in that theft. Sorry bastard. But anyway, in June, I was still going to therapy over my knee, not being able to return to work and was on Percocets pain pills. They added to the emotions.
 My father's passing really hit me on June 20, the 20th anniversary of the Big One. An even number too. You know how it is with anniversaries, every 5 year increment is special.
Well, it hit me like a brick wall. I got so depressed I could barely make it out of bed, much less go to therapy (I missed 2 weeks), but I made myself get out of bed everyday and blog about each individual day, by memory, where my father and I were on that specific day. I had complete recall. Even though, emotionally, it was like driving a spike through my chest, it was therapeutic.

Because had I not bought a computer a couple of months before and got on the Net and discovered "blogging", I would have had no release, no motivation to get out of bed. I would have been totally ate up with depression beyond the scope of emotions that I had ever encountered before, in my life!
For 3 solid months, daily, I sat at that computer with tears streaming down my face, barely able to see the screen, but seeing the daily events in my mind's eye, playing a 20 year old movie in which my father starred in and I was side-kick.
Sometimes playing a major role, like going through that tunnel at 100 mph behind Mad Max, having to get on the brakes in the turn to keep from rear-ending him. And if you're a motorcycle rider, you know exactly what I'm talking about! I was all over his ass like stink-on-shit! If it had been a race, I'd have passed him!
Like dad always said about motorcycle racing, "A race is lost in the turns and won in the straights."

Like the blog title says, "Memories But No Photographs", but I have a video player ... in the Darkside of the Mind!

Well, I didn't tell the entire story of the Big One on Yahoo 360 in one blog, so I guess I'll take a break, until tomorrow.

It's already past the "due date" for Day 3, keeping it in perspective of real time in remembering "This Day in History". I may or may not blog tomorrow about the Big One, I don't know yet. But whatever there is to discuss, it will be later.
The biggest reason I'm even blogging about it now is because not long after I first blogged about in 2007, Yahoo 360 shut down.
They had a backup service implemented to back up your blog to your computer, which I did, and that computer was stolen. And I was new to computers back then and didn't understand the importance of backing up files to disk or external hard-drive. Or ever think a social website would shut down, forever!

Yahoo made a big mistake when they shut down 360, but that's a different story. Peace and a big thank you, if you've read this blog post. ~Darkside Johnny

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Est. 2011
"the candle flame of thought shines its brightest in the dark"

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