Rides and Tales

Observations From Behind Bars

Ride to the Harvest Classic

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Friday morning, that lucky Flour Bluff woman, and I,  were on the road about the time the sun made her appearance. We were bound, ultimately, for the Harvest Classic European and Vintage Motorcycle Rally, at Luckenbach, TX.

Our first 65 miles were ridden on wet streets and in light rain, but by the time we rendezvoused with friends at Seguin, 104 miles later, we were dried.

Another 100 miles of fantastic riding country found us at Armadillo Farm Campground, about a half-mile from the Harvest Classic.


After making camp, we decided to mosey on over to Luckenbach and see what was what, and what wasn’t what.



It was still early, for the event, but not too early for music to be played and beer to be consumed.  Security rode around on an invisible motorcycle making sure all was secure.

The vendors and the participants in the swap meet and bike show were still setting up.  We left them to their preparations and met the Texas chapter of the Valkyrie Riders Cruiser Club, for eats.

1967 Honda CB450

1967 Honda CB450

Saturday, we decided to forego an organized ride, and take our own tour of the Willow City Loop, close to near-by Fredericksburg, TX.  In the spring, the Loop is a favorite for bluebonnet runs.

No bluebonnets, this time of year, but some of the fenceposts were in bloom, probably due to recent rains.

Boots on fenceposts

Boots on fenceposts

People live on the Loop, but you’d never guess by looking at the terrain.


The view is worth the ride, any time of year.

Willow City Loop

The fence is made of stone.

Stone fence.

Now, I’m not sure what this is all about, but I suspect it has something to do with bragging rights.


Our tour of the Willow City Loop, completed, we rolled back to Luckenbach, to check out some motor cycles.  Rather than post small pictures, I’ve posted them to my picture blog,  Click on the link or the pic of the Harley to go to Road Storyer (a WordPress blog)

Link to pictures

Link to pictures

Later, we stood around a campfire and spun mostly true yarns .  The ride  back to Corpus Christi could not have been better,  we traveled some roads we hadn’t seen before, and the weather was fantastic.
After all was said and done, the weekend was an unqualified success.



Written by fiddle mike

October 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Navasota, TX Ride

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Thursday, early afternoon, the Missus and I set forth on a ride to the vicinity of Navasota, Texas.  The weather could not have been better, and traffic in the towns we passed through was light.
Once we made camp, she took her place on the Valk’s  pillion, where she operated her camera with her usual skill.

We decided to ride into town to eat and get a few necessaries for the weekend;  we had to travel from off the beaten track to get to the State highway.

There are a few ranches and  a couple of very small, isolated, communities, out this way.

Once on the highway, we crossed the Brazos River.  Nearby is Washington-on-the-Brazos, site of the signing of our Declaration of Independence.

“The Filling Station” is our diner of choice, when in Navasota.  There’s good food, friendly, competent waitresses, and decor I can relate to.

And, they are motorcycle-friendly.



On our way back to camp, we stopped at the local store  for supplies;  no giant grocery monopoly, here.  Jill found Dino, outside, but I told her she’d probably have to explain to the younger set that he was not “Barney”.

We returned to the campground the way we came and settled in for the evening.



Friday, one of the neighbors had a little battery trouble.  His bud, being the conscientious biker he is, offer a jump start. .


 In spite of this help, the rider managed to get his bike road-worthy.  It’s amazing what some  campers bring along, including generators, laptops, fans and battery chargers.

Saturday morning, we set off on a 140-mile poker run, prize: $1000, but, being lucky in love, I didn’t expect to come away with anything more than a great ride with good company.



Cotton belt riding.

The old and the new.

Texas makes the biggest Ace bandages in the world.  Some are trucked to reducing plants in Louisiana and Arkansas.

Cotton modules, probably bound for Mexico.

Poke run stop.



The area roads were great, with  nice turns.  I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the lack of  fork seal-busting potholes, right at first, but I adapted.

Not interested in riding with the pack, we  rode along with a few people we’d met in years past.
Circumstances, being what they were, this lady arrived late, by cage, and without a helmet.   I’d taken my half-shell along, to wear in the poker run, so I volunteered my road helmet for her use.  I told her she might have to shim it up with a baseball cap, but the darned thing fit her!

There are no coincidences.

Other happy campers.

We stopped at Yankee’s Tavern, in Carlos, TX, and found this Harley-Davidson hanging from the ceiling.  No one could remember seeing one like this.
We continued on our way.
Back through Navasota town to our starting point.

We spent the remainder of our stay telling almost nearly true stories, and discussing whether time travel could be achieved by pressing together a certain number of nipples, but, that’s neither here, nor there.

There was more music and dancing, till we finally called that night a day an found our tent.

On our return trip, we stopped for lunch at the Oakridge Smokehouse Restaurant, in Schulenburg, TX.  Once seated, I decide to move the bikes around to where we could watch them from our table.



Jill has a real knack for photographing me when I’m not at my most photogenic, as when I get my boot hung up on the luggage and  seat of her motorcycle.

The ride home  was cloudy, but we didn’t encounter the heavy rain we’d anticipated, it must be all that clean living, paying off.

We’re alive, and in Texas.

Written by fiddle mike

September 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Posted in motorcycle

A Few Miles And A World Away.

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The “ride” was only a few miles long, from our doorstep to the Flour Bluff branch of the public library.  There, drum circle members hosted a reception for the opening of an exhibit of art by Larry “Running Turtle” Salazar, holy man, educator and advocate.


Art can’t be carried away in a camera, it’s meant to be viewed first-hand, and so I haven’t tried to re-present the exhibit, here.  The photos are to try to convey the feeling of the exhibit.



This item is titled, “South Texas Javelina Dance Stick”.  The painted skull honors the spirit of the animal.  Coyote and a couple other animals were also represented on dance sticks.



In a corner of the gallery, items made and decorated by Larry, including, a buffalo skull dedicated to, newly-canonized, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, his walking stick, a buffalo skin bag for collecting medicinal plants, and Larry’s ceremonial shirt.


I found the detail of the elk hide shirt is quite interesting. 
The centerpiece is a representation of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and is an example of the beautiful beadwork executed by Larry’s missus.


 The tassels are made from the hair of mustangs attached to shell casings of the same caliber ammunition used by the US Army to enforce the Indian Removal Act of 1830.


Depicted on the buffalo hide,  the sacred colors of the four cardinal directions on the back of a turtle.  “Turtle Island” is the name the Iroquois gave to North America.  The birds represent the four directions, note: the Eagle in the north, the Condor in the south.  They are part of a prophecy that the eagle and the condor will dance together (a phenomena witnessed first-hand by many) just prior to the spiritual joining of north and south and the return of the Ancestors. 

The People will be united, the importance and power of women will be recognized and there will be a return to traditional values of respect for the earth and for each other.

After the exhibit was officially opened, the public was invited to stay for refreshments.  The practice of smudging with smoke from sage was explained and visitors were invited to participate.

A demonstration of drumming and Native song rounded out the event.  A final prayer was offered, each person sitting in the drum circle putting his left hand on the drumhead, those outside the circle touching the shoulders of the drummers so that they, too, were connected.

In all, another great afternoon in Paradise.


Link to Shaftdrive

Written by fiddle mike

November 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Out of the Blue

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A few years ago, my missus became part of a drum circle; it’s not your run-of-the-mill, neo-hippie rhythmic jam session, drum circle, but one oriented toward Native American tradition, one whose leader is also a well-known advocate, holy man and educator. When I say, “became part of”, I mean she’s learning Lakota and Apache songs and traditions and participates in  the group’s ceremonies and social events. Of course I have a standing invitation to any  of the group’s funtions and have attended a few, including her Naming Ceremony.

My wife is the first person without Native ancestry  to receive a tribal name from the aforementioned leader.
I had a Cherokee granny but, as far as I know,  she lived in the  manner of any other woman in rural Appalachia. In any case, while   my wife’s enthusiasm and my contact with the people in the drum circle  awakened an interest in tradition, I haven’t been moved to trade my scooter boots for moccasins, if you catch my drift. God knows there are already enough white people who “do Native American”, as they so eloquently put it.

“…It isn’t the quantity of Cherokee blood in your veins that is important, but the quality of it…” [Principal Chief Jim Pell]

”I said all that to say all this…” [Elvis Presley]

The group decided to have a potluck dinner in a park situated  on the second-largest Indian burial ground in Texas. Being as the drum circle folks are very hospitable, not to mention, talented cooks, I accepted the little woman’s invitation to accompany her to the feast.

Understand that, despite my wife’s level of involvement, I’m a guest of the group and I tend to hang back, a little.

After food and hobnobbery, the group thinned as attendees began to drift homeward; I was invited to sit with some folks who were listening to an Apache man who had just moved to town and was introducing himself. While I was catching up to his story, he reached into his bag and began removing items he, then,  distributed as gifts. While I am aware of  the importance of gift-giving in ceremonial life,  I was caught completely off-guard when he placed a bolt of blue cotton fabric in my hands.  I was unsure of  what to do, being an outsider, and all,  but the very act seemed to confirm that I was where I was meant to be.   

Later, my missus mentioned the color’s significance and offered to make a couple of bandannas for me. I told her I’d also like a hatband for my big sombrero.
Here is what she created for me:

My big sombrero

The design is hand-sewn seed beads and depicts the colors of four sacred directions.

As of this posting, I still have my scooter boots. I’ll get back to you as things develop.

Written by fiddle mike

August 21, 2012 at 5:12 am

Heads and tale.

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I had gone through a couple shiny ignition switch covers before I discovered that it was not heat that ruined them, they had been beat up by an owners club medallion I’d been using as a key fob. As I haven’t been a member of that association for a number of years, I removed the coin and cast about for something else to put on my key.

I settled on a bone bead that is carved to resemble a skull. I think of it rather like a
“Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)” token for a friend who  rides in the Land of Souls.

My missus braided a bit of buffalo fur from the calf called, “Tatanka Wakan
(Sacred Buffalo)”, and added it.

Finished, it’s pretty inconspicuous but I can still feel it in my pocket and, best of all, it won’t beat up my ignition switch cover.

The new key fob was in use for some months when I got a call from my oldest compadre, offering coffee and pie if I’d meet him at the café on the other side of the Laguna Madre. It’s a sin to turn down hospitality, and the waitresses there are very pretty, so off I went on the big yella bike. I parked in my favorite spot, a regular parking slot partially blocked by the marina’s plywood sign, making it unusable for cars, but perfect for a motorcycle you don’t want anyone to back over.

On the return trip, I decided I’d stop at Sunny’s Texaco and top off the tank before the daily price increase.

The weather was perfect, lots of sun and light wind, the traffic on the causeway was also light and I was rolling along at, or near, the suggested speed. Oddly enough, my mind got to wandering toward my key fob. I thought about the carving on the smooth skull bead and the texture of the buffalo hair where it was braided and how the loose end felt. In mind’s eye I could see the way the braid was attached to the bead and the bead to the key. It wasn’t just a passing thought, but one that persisted the seven miles to Sunny’s.

As I pulled up to the Regular pump I knew I’d take a moment to admire my unique key fob before opening the gas cap. Imagine my dismay to find the ignition switch nekkid as the day it was manufactured.

If the key had fallen out on the causeway it was gone, but I made for the one place it might possibly be recovered: the café. Pulling into my parking spot, I looked down past the ignition lock and there, grinning up at me from the pavement, lay my fob.

I’m not sure why the key dropped out, that hasn’t happened since, but the way the image of the fob stayed in my mind intrigued me and I related the incident to my missus. She suggested that the spirit of the buffalo was calling to me. I have no other explanation, strange things happen.

”And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

~ Hamlet

Written by fiddle mike

July 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Posted in culture, motorcycle

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A Gathering of the Fools

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We packed our tent and an extra pair of socks and headed for the fifteenth annual, “Gathering of the Fools”, at the home of Hotglue and Flamingo Babe, south of Houston, TX.
These folks define hospitality.  Our bedroom was one of the best, no motels, for us.



Hotglue is a Renaissance man whose talents range from fabrication to preparing top-notch barbecue.  If you’re from Texas you know that’s not a claim made lightly.





The Gathering of the Fools is a much-anticipated event for members of the Valkyrie Riders Cruiser Club, some of whom rolled in from as far away as California and Virginia.
The Honda GL1500 C, CT and Interstate is affectionately known to some as, “The Fat Lady” (advertisement: The Fat Lady Has Sung), and to others as, “The Dragon”.



As you can see, while we love our Valkyries, the gathering is hardly exclusive.  Some of Flamingo Babe’s cronies from the CanAm owners turned up, as well riders on Wings, Harleys, rockets and dual sports.





Saturday, the yard and the street began filling up with every description of Valkyrie.







The annual ride was dedicated to Laser Pat (GBNF); the route included a stop at this spacious bar and grill for lunch, drinks and socializing.




Back at the ranch, we wandered the bikes and found these beauties:





Some of the paint was fantastic:







The Super Bee bike is really slick and I had to capture it for a friend who is a fan of classic American cars.







This rider stood out in a sea of black Valkyrie Interstates.





Motor trikes were under represented.  This trike is owned by a woman who can take most riders to school, when it comes to riding the twisties.



The meal was fantastic, as per usual, and the fellowship was cold beer for the soul.
Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s been my experience that motorcycling folk are about as big-hearted as they come.  Hotglue informed us that he and his associates in the Lions Club support a camp for disabled children and asked that we also support the cause by participating in some fund raising activities at the Gathering.  We did.



What a weekend.  We had a wonderful time with Hotglue, Flamingo Babe and the good folks and their fine machines, we ate the way God intended and had the opportunity to support a great cause, as well.

South of I-10, we really got it made.




Written by fiddle mike

April 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Posted in motorcycle, Texas, travel

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We Salute a Rider

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The luckiest woman in Flour Bluff had the big yella bike packed  and  ready to be on the road at 7:00 a.m. of a Saturday morning; we needed to be in Leander, Texas by noon.  We were going to join fellow VRCC members in a ride celebrating the life of Laser Pat, who has left this world to ride into the land of souls. 


Gravity, as we all know, is an invisible force that drags you down. “Escape velocity” is the speed required get free, in this case, 70mph.  In short order we’d freed ourselves from the city and were bound north-west on US-181

The day began overcast and the air became misty as we rode, the predicted high temperature of 83° F. (28 °C) looking more like wishful thinking, all the time. Despite the gloom, the spring wildflowers lined the roadside, showing off their finery.



The road is familiar and, despite an increase in truck traffic, we were able to relax and enjoy brilliant flowers that, in some cases, stretched for as far as the eye could see, maybe further.  The sun finally made her appearance and, in good time, we were making our way through Austin,

While making passably good time in traffic, I spotted the familiar back-patch of our cruiser club and made a friendly overture (grinned like a madman).  Introductions were made at a traffic light and member “Bull Goose” fell in with us.




With next to no trouble we found our way to the Lucky Star Ranch, home of the Big Red Bunkhouse.



We rolled into the circular drive and parked our bikes. Eventually, thirty motorcycles lined the drive waiting to be ridden on some of Laser Pat’s favorite roads.


 There were Honda Valkyrie motorcycles of every description as well as a few Gold Wings, Harley-Davidsons and dual-sports.

At, or near, the appointed time, we rolled out in three groups of ten to honor our departed friend and brother by doing what he loved to do in the place he loved to do it.  Some of us think it no coincidence that the weather was perfect.

The Texas Hill Country is recognized as having some of the finest motorcycling roads in the country.  While I’d ridden over lots of it, the area just west of Leander and Austin was new territory for me.



The land begins to roll, here, north of Lake Travis.

There are long sweepers where we let the old girls stretch their legs.

The route was about 50 miles, all told, and entirely enjoyable. 



We returned to the ranch where we saluted Laser Pat in words and song.


The Lucky Star Ranch is thoroughly charming place, replete with folk art and pleasant surprises at every turn.  Never one to miss a chance to fondle jugs, I posed, here, alongside one of the many fountains.



There was a camper trailer on site…

… as well as a tree house with a spiral stairway.



Not everyone knows this, but I’ve always wanted to own  a wooden white man.


In short, the location for the celebration was well chosen.  The observance was something memorable.  We did what we believe Pat would have wanted: we had a good time doing the things he loved to do, riding the Hill Country and enjoying our friends.

The road goes on forever.

Written by fiddle mike

March 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm

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