Month: July 2014

East Bound and Down

“Mark Twains experience comes to mind, in which, after he had mastered the analytic knowledge needed to pilot the Mississippi River, he discovered the river had lost its beauty. Something is always killed. But what is less noticed in the arts – something is always created too. And instead of just dwelling on what is killed its important to also see what’s created and to see the process as a kind of death-birth continuity that is neither good nor bad, but just is.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

So this quote said it better than I can phrase it. Life happens and with each turn of the crank things can be torn apart but in that tearing something beautiful may happen. I don’t know about speculating into some broad diatribe but I know how it affects this trip and my immediate experiences. I thought my trip was destroyed and lost, but its not. Its changed. Out of these ashes has risen something new and that is experience adn adventure. Maybe not the one I expected but its the one I’m getting so I’ll see it through and come to know it and love it. I never could have determined the course of events thats occured the last almost two weeks. I also wouldn’t be able to replace these life lessons that will serve me well for a lifetime.

Day Eleven

So technically I’m headed south, but either way I’m about to be loaded up and trucking. I thought I’d use today to fill in the game plan for the rest of the summer. It was a fairly uneventful relaxing day, really it was test riding the new motorcycle to make sure there were no issues since the shop was still open today.

We started the day late and headed back to the farm in Melrose. This time we all went up and while Ben checked the hunting cameras I shot my bow and fished for some trout. Nothing was really biting but it was a relaxing day with the Brewers and Mets game on the radio in the background. When we finished up we went back to his parents where they cooked us some steaks and tool Leo off our hands for the night since Ben had a ton of work to do and a suddent trip to OshKosh tomorrow. Overall it was really just a great day to relax and take in the landscape and a day withou fretting over what to do about the bike.

Just enjoying what nature has to offer

Just enjoying what nature has to offer

When all is said and done, it really is beautiful country

When all is said and done, it really is beautiful country

I may be all city, but a little country does the soul good.

I may be all city, but a little country does the soul good.

The plus here was I rode the bike up. He took the extra curvy scenic route so I could get a feel for the handling and such. While a batch of passing showers made for a slick road it still handled just fine. A good first day behind those Harley handlebars. It really does handle tremendously and responds well to my moves. I think this could end up working out afterall.

The Trip

So what’s left of the summer you may be wondering? Well, there are two must hit stops and then the neverending question marks. I have to be in Tulsa, OK by July 31 to meet my crew for the Roundup and begin the bulk of my shooting. August 8 – 10 I’ll be in Cleveland hopefully catching up with good friends long unseen and for the Mods vs Rockers rally which is just fun. Hopetully that trip will also begin the planning stages for another project and excusion with a photo friend there in town.

Between those two I’m working my way toward Indy with likely a stop in KS to see some friends and a night in St. Louis with Big Red and Pit Stop and hopefully some Pappy’s Smokehouse (the best unsauced BBQ I’ve ever had). But after Cleveland I don’t know whether to try and complete the Eastern loop or just head my ass home as quick as possible. A fairly straight shot takes me through Charleston and home via the southern route, versus going over to MD and the east coast. I’m honestly torn and somewhat indifferent. My plans have been questionable after all. Haha. I think while in Indy I’ll figure out my expenses and see where I sit financially. The funds as you may remember we readjusted for the new wheels.

But first Tulsa and the Roundup. I may take my sweet time getting there as I have four days until meeting up or go to Colorado to see my wonderful Leiker family and their new little man, YMB. He clearly needs some quality time with his bluncle (black uncle). Either way tonight I’ll be looking at the map and tomorrow headed south into Iowa. Thats an ideal stopping place for a night and gives a nice travel break as well as company to catch up with.  I guess you could say I’m back on track, in some fashion. Not as expected, but going with the flow. It feels right.

No Whammy, No Whammy, No Whammy, STOP!

Double Post, Part Two

“Then at last the people will look to their Creator
    and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
They will no longer look to their idols for help
    or worship what their own hands have made.
They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles
    or worship at the pagan shrines they have built.
Their largest cities will be like a deserted forest,
    like the land the Hivites and Amorites abandoned
when the Israelites came here so long ago.
    It will be utterly desolate.
10 Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you.
    You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you.
So you may plant the finest grapevines
    and import the most expensive seedlings.
11 They may sprout on the day you set them out;
    yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them,
but you will never pick any grapes from them.
    Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain.”

~ Isiah 17: 7-11

So this one made sense to cut and paste due to length alone, but also for emphasis.

This passage is about going at it alone. When you turn your back on faith you cut out a huge portion of your life. For those of us who follow our faith, when you lose it, even for a moment its easy to become distracted and lost. I feel like I did that on this trip. I became so fixated on the thing I wanted to do I stopped seeing the things in front of me. But what has reminded me of that is the simplicity of whats happened this entire time. Friends that I haven’t seen in ages all opened their homes and hearts to me. When I had problems condolences came from everywhere and support continued to flow. I’m not doing this alone even though I thought I was. I couldn’t do it without the amazing support around me. I am eternally grateful for that and blessed beyond belief. But most importantly there comes a point where I have to learn to ask for help, seek assistance. I am not an island. As I mentioned earlier I try so hard and shoulder so much that when it goes wrong I feel the weight of the world on me. I don’t have to lift it by myself. I have to learn that. I have to remember this moment.

Day Ten

We’re into double digits! That feels like some social media accomplishment for me. Anyway, back to the post…

So day ten was uneventful in that not a lot happend. So this will be a fairly short fill in.

The day started with Ben, Leo and myself heading up to his folks place in Melrose. Ben was going to work on the farm and plant seeds at the food plot for the deer in the area. It was actually a nice getaway. Beautiful countryside, Ben and his dad went and worked the farm while Leo, myself and Ben’s mother hung at the house. I had to make phone calls to the insurance company and to the dealerships to find out info on the motorcycles. After some debate I found out I have to have an accidennt report filled out in Rockford, IL where I was hit in order to file the claim in full. Both dealerships looked at the bike to ascertain trade in value as well. The insurance adjuster will get the quote from the shop and determine whether or not to total the bike out or pay for repair. Either way we’ve factored it in to the decision on purchasing another bike. Either it gets fixed and I sell it or it gets totaled out and I take the money and run.

Brun's Man Cave... on point.

Brun’s Man Cave… on point.

Ultimately it gets tricky. Either way there’s no trade in at this point. The timing with the insurance is throwing everything off and at some point I can’t keep living out of someone else’s house. So we’ll deal with my old bike on the back end.  Today I can do this without breaking the bank.

So after hanging out with mom and little Leo, Ben finished up and we went to lunch. His family is wonderful. I can’t repeat that enough. We went to a local little cafe, L&M and I had a delicious Pork Sandwich covered in gravy and mashed potatoes. Fat man heaven. Then we came back to La Crosse and the house to put Leo down for a nap. In the meantime I had been in touch with the dealership to try and get things ready to roll today. I don’t think he actually thought we were buying a bike today. He was wrong.

So a trip to the dealership was next. This would end our day pretty much. The dealer was closing in an hour so we kept them beyond close. It went well though and when all was said and done, I even walked away with a new pair of gloves. Which were desperately needed since mine literally have finger holes at this point. Nonetheless I rode out of there on a bike.

The end of the night ended with the neighbors inviting us over for dinner. We had a great meal and conversation that eventually led to beers back at Ben’s place with Steve and Dan, the two neighbors who we’ve been hanging with every night.  Again, it was a very good day.

THE DEBUT

Really though I know what you’re all waiting for… what was the decision?! Well here’s the big reveal to end the post. Here’s my new set of two’s to get me through the curves and straights of life on the road. I don’t think I’ll be dissapointed.

I rang the bell for some grown man action. Road King is ready to roll.

I rang the bell for some grown man action. Road King is ready to roll.

The 2010 Harley Davidson Road King FLHP. Ultimately this won out because I really liked the salesman, it was his last day and I wanted him to get the commission and no one else. But really because it handled so well. While I’m not crazy about the paintjob, that can be changed. It handles like a beast though, it was a former police motorcycle so it should though. Its responsive and agile for a bigger bike but feels a lot like my Mean Streak on the road. Its made for the distances, has hard saddlebags and alot of custom additons already. It also holds its value which is something that Harley can say that others can’t so it gives me options down the line. I guess I am a Harley Davidson guy after all. If you see me in Harley bandanas and jackets please punch me.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

“He was after something.That is important. He was after something and he used the knife because that was the only tool he had. But he took on so much and went so far in the end his real victim was himself.”

Zen and the Art of Mototcycle Maintenance

 

So I’m still searching for meaning. I guess thats what we’re all inherently doing somehow though, right? I have to admit though that I feel like there’s something important for me here about letting go. My friend told me that almost a week ago. Maybe these issues are lessons in learning to let go and stopping trying to control. Letting His plan guide me. It seems that the more I push on this venture the more disastrous it has become. In ways though I find that I have let go. The anger and frustration at least never reared their head to the extent it once would have. Maybe I’ve taken bigger sttrides in recent years then I even know. There’s a certain peacefulness in the acceptance of it all. Maybe thats what it means to go with the flow… not so much to let life happen, but when it does responding in kind and not slamming against it. Allowing change to manifest change, instead of change manifesting chaos.

Day Nine

Note the lack of capitalization. Its because I don’t feel like screaming the day anymore. Namely, in that I don’t feel the pressure of the day anymore. Its passed and this is life. Its thrown me some curve balls recently so I’m stepping back up to the plate ready to bunt instead of swing for the fences. First allow me to clarify something fromt the last post.

Option #4… I spoke about trading the bike in, getting on some new wheels and keeping it moving. By this I in no way mean that the trip is still on. What I mean is that my life has to move on and some traveling still needs to happen. Some will think its impractical to buy a new motorcycle on what may seem like a whim. They could be right, I won’t deny that. But let me make my defense. I have to get home. Thats a simple one, and yes there are cheaper ways to do it but those don’t solve the issue of what to do with the old bike. So trading it in makes some sense as it disposes of it and gains a replacement. Second, I love to ride. Lol. Third and oddly important to me is my work. Many of you know I’ve spent the last few years working on a project documenting African American bikers and the culture that somewhat surrounds it. I spend most of the summer shooting for this work with the bulk of it coming in the next week at the National Biker Roundup. I had quietly committed to myself that this would be my last year photographing for it. It would make 4 years and this years intent was to capture things I feel like I missed in the past few years and complete the body of work. I’m not just documenting others but part of myself as illustrated through them. This effort is lost without a motorcycle and I couldn’t accept that for personal and professional reasons.

My heart on wheels. You were better to me than I was to you.

My heart on wheels. You were better to me than I was to you.

So this brings us back to the world of motorcycle shopping. I don’t want to do it, I can’t really afford to do it. But nonetheless, I’ll do it and I’ll make due. I was hestiant to post this info because I feel like I’m divulging too much of my own business and almost flaunting the idea of buying a bike. What I just said is true though, I really don’t want to buy a new bike. I love my Mean Streak. It was my first big boy bike, I learned to do maintenance on it, take care of it. Learned to ride for real on it. Learned how to be part of the biker community I love. Part of me identifies through it and I want to see her live again. But practicality rears its ugly head. I don’t ride like its designed to, I ride much harder, I ride distances… a lot. I push gears and add things to my bike to make it into something she’s not. That’s not fair to her. But she’s still part of who I am. She always will be. I love her, I always will. But alas all good things come to an end and it pains me that this one too must pass. So I don’t want a new bike, I want that little piece of my heart back… but fate has intervened.

 That being said day nine was spent running errands with my friend Ben and bike shopping, test driving, etc. I had saw some bikes that interested me the day before and planned to test drive three more by days end, hoping that one may become my bike. The sole goal, find a good touring bike thats suited for my style of riding, my size, my taste and that I can see myself on hopefully for some time. So, here we go…

TEST RIDES!

You saw the one from last night in the last post. It was a good ride and a powerful bike. it has all the bells and whistles I liked at the right price, but as it turns out its a gas guzzler. Test Ride #1 is a bust, no Honda VTX.

This next gem was a good option. Had a lot of the touring features I’m looking for, though it turned out not to be all that I had hoped. The bars came back too far and hit my knees, this is a short mans bike. Plus the pick up just wasn’t there. Something felt wrong about a Yamaha anyway.

Test Ride #2 - 2007 Yamaha Road Star

Test Ride #2 – 2007 Yamaha Road Star

This next ride kind of had my eye from first considerations of a new bike. The paint job and styling is my taste through and through, not too mention its an aggressive engine and torque heavy ride. It has the power like my old bike, you can feel it as soon as you hit the throttle. The gears run low so you’re in third up to 50 and you never touch fifth I really did enjoy this bike. Its issues were minor but could get frustrating. The vibration in the bike is really noticeable as you shift gears up and throttle to speed. And some of the touches I like would conflict against the matte black possibly. Though its definitely made to tour, the hard saddlebags are a nice touch as well.

Test Ride #3 - 2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. (Suzuki Blacked Out Special)

Test Ride #3 – 2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. (Blacked Out Suzuki Special)

Apparently the dealer was getting nervous because I was on the test ride for awhile. But sometimes selfies and sightseeing just happens.

Sometimes you gotta selfie as evidence. I fear this is happening too often.

Sometimes you gotta selfie as evidence. I fear this is happening too often.

There be cows back yonder

There be cows back yonder

Sister Guadalupe Shrine if I remember correct. How is this in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin!?

Sister Guadalupe Shrine if I remember correct. How is this in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin!?

This last stop of the day was at the Harley Davidson dealer. Ben kept joking about “this guy rides into town on a Kawasaki and rides out on a Harley, its a perfect Wisconsin tale!” I’ll admit, I didn’t want to like it. The day before when he showed us the bike I wasn’t crazy about it. I’m not inherently a Harley guy, I just like to ride. I also don’t get into paying extra for a name like its some requirement or status symbol. It doesn’t connect with me. But we were here, I figured I’d test ride it. I was pleasantly surprised. It had real torque and power, but great handling. That surprised me the most. I was most surprised by this bike all day. I’m not a fan of the old school paint job and styling to some extent, but it tours like a beast. Its another one that you ride third gear until almost 50 and never touch sixth until the highway and about 75. Another good ride.

Test Ride #4 - 2010 Harley Davidson Road King

Test Ride #4 – 2010 Harley Davidson Road King

Which means test rides 3 & 4 are options. I’m gong to run numbers and follow up with my insurance to check on the old bike and see where we are on that one in the process. Other considerations for bikes were limited. I was shown a few other Harleys, and a looked at Goldwings, real hardcore touring bikes. I’m 38, not 58. I’m not ready for a radio, heated seat and cupholder yet.  I still want a bike I can ride to the grocery without it being an ordeal or looking like I’m going to ride across the Sahara. All joking aside this is stressful, I like the last two, but never wanted to be buying a new bike right now. I’m torn and a little concerened but in a way feel committed to this task, not just the trip but my life and my work. As they say, the show must go on. Eventually I’m getting another bike soon… why not now.

Tomorrow decisions must be made. To be continued….

Oh, on a side note I had bear sausage jerky tonight. It was spicy and amazing. I love hunters. I also discovered the hideout of the infamous Potato King. It’s right over there.

I hear he's a chip off the old block!

I hear he’s a chip off the old block!

Dead in the Water

*Part Two

“The Lord lifts up the humble… and takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” ~ Psalm 147

It is upon me. The question eats at me, asking what have I learned from this experience. Tha’ts where I wander to in the recesses of my mind and I’m left to debate the validity of that answer. I feel like this trip has stolen some of my thunder in its utter failure. It has officially broken me.

I cannot speak to my level of sadness as it varies. As there are times that I can laugh about it and others when I want to crawl into a hole and be alone. Though I am getting over the bulk of it and seeing the peculiarity of the situation. While I can’t ascertain as to why this happened (nor can the guys at the shop) I know that for some reason I’m here and for some reason I’m not as stressed by it as I would think. In particular not as stressed as I’d have been a year ago. Maybe that’s the point of all this. For now though I’m still attempting to process and absorb. As my brother told me, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Day Eight

Day eight. Hmmmm… where to begin. So the bike is dead. Dead dead. This is the sight that began my day. The bike rolling on a mysterious trailer into La Crosse, WI to a shop that will hopefully save me.

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Lets just get it all out in the open. As I traveled through the highways and byways of Wisconsin the engine cut out and lost power, eventually leading to a terrible knocking, all over the stretch of a mile. This leads the shop to believe that a rod has been thrown or a broken piston but either way we’re looking at a cost of repair nearly equalling that of the bike itself. So what do we do. How do we proceed?

IMPASS

Easy answer. We don’t the trip is dead. I notified all of my wonderfully accommodating friends in the great west of the United States that I would not be visiting this summer.

Though this has not been a complete loss. Amongst my griping my roommate quickly pointed out that our friend Ben lived in La Crosse. After a phone conversation he agreed to take me in and house me for the evening and help figure out getting me around and whatever can be done. Again, a direct blessing from above. Not in a facetious way, but directly. I had no idea I’d end up here, I had no idea he lived here. I can’t put it anymore bluntly. He and his wife have been more than accommodating and amazing.

Ben and Little Leo

Ben and Little Leo

So throughout the day we discussed the steps to proceed. We priced out a repair, looked for a replacement engine and all to no avail. So the next option is how do we get me home. What to do with the busted bike? All the logistics. Well the answers aren’t simple and they’re a plethora of options.

1. Fix the bike at a crazy cost and time, having to come back for it later

2. Ship the bike home and deal with it later

3. Sell the bike as is

4. Trade the bike in on something used and keep it moving

5. Buy something else and keep the old one adding in a previous option

Needless to say, we’ve gone around the block. But in the end, option #4 seemed to be the best up front bet as I could almost break even. This means something simple though. The trip funds go into a new purchase, still killing the west as much as people tell me to continue.

So let the hesitantly bad timed bike hunting begin!

Test Ride #1 - Honda VTX 1800

Test Ride #1 – 2004 Honda VTX 1800

In the meantime we’ve also began the process of seeing if my insurance can step in to help total the bike out under one of my various policy addendum. So more on that to come.

The blessings don’t stop there though. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of my hosts friends from the neighborhood. They are truly kind and generous people that have helped make this more of an adventure than a punishment. Our nights have been filled with beers, laughter and camaraderie. Not to mention a new bow. Things may get straight Thunderdome in here.

Thank you Steve - This could absolutely be trouble.

Thank you Steve – This could absolutely be trouble.

*As a side note, you’ll notice the lack of food posts. Again, my funds are beiing reallocated so they may be less forthcoming than before. This saddens me the most maybe. Plus I’m feeling a little less adventurous these recent days.

Updates to Existence

*So today will be the first with the double posts. I’ll be catching you up on days 7 and 8 somewhat simultaneously. They’re both longer ones. Thanks for bearing with me.

“”How did you do that?” he asks.

“You just have to figure it out.”

“I wouldn’t know where to start.” he says.

I think to myself, that’s the problem, all right, where to start. To reach him you have to back up and back up, and the further back you go, the further back you see you have to go, until what looked like a small problem of communication turns into a major philosophic inquiry. That, I suppose, is why the Chautauqua.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

So today. Today this seems fitting. As it seems fitting for the first of these combined posts which I’ll separate the days with a new quote, this next one used later coming from my devotional reading on the next post.

You see, I put a lot on the success of this trip. As stated before it meant a lot to me outside of a long ride. It had a certain completeness to it. A feeling as if I could do this then I could do anything. This of course is untrue. I think what I failed to mention in the previous post was that this does not define me, though it seemingly helps me define my current space of mind. I think this is the key here. Space of mind, peace of mind. The idea that once a goal is set it must be accomplished or there is failure. If a machine begins running it must complete its task before realizing it is done and can rest. That’s how this trip feels. In my life I try (try, being the key word) to live somewhat carefree. That’s most successful in small ways, particularly where I can see the potential for varied outcomes. Though when it comes to any large task, goal or work I plan, I control, I obsess. If I don’t I feel things unravel and spiral. My life somewhat centers on that. Things can’t proceed until certain other things happen first no matter how positive those other things can be.

I admit I am truly and fully a creature of habit and behave as such. If I’m not moving according to plan I stress, if there is no plan I worry. If things aren’t moving as I think they should I want to be in control, when in control I want to plan and control everything. If one piece is out-of-order the system breaks. Relinquishing control isn’t easy for me. Knowing a plan or system has fallen apart breaks me inside. As I mentioned earlier today to a friend, I feel defeated. Not just the idea or the goal but me personally. Emotionally, spiritually, exhausted and defeated. I sink into myself and withdraw. Then I retreat further to fix it. Alone, trying to salvage what part of me is left there and swim back to the light at the surface.

I guess I’m beginning to realize this isn’t enough.  At 38, I can’t be enough. Though when I’m not, I have no idea what to do.

DAY SEVEN

So here we are in the grand state of travel. A week into the trip and I’ve seen some ups and downs, some crossroads one might say. But alas, allow me to fill you in on the days events. Though as some of you who are friends on facebook already know the outcome, bear with me for explanations.

Loaded and ready for the road!

Loaded and ready for the road!

The day began with travel from just outside of Indy, which allowed to cut some time from the route for the day. Unfortunately it was raining and that meant waiting out the early morning storms. Once stopped I got on the road. Indiana to Illinois, to Wisconsin to Minnesota. The plan had me ending in Minneapolis for the night with one of my oldest friends. Along the way I saw some sites.

Illinois

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Not a lot to see along my route but land. And more and more land. Though it did provide a good photo opp of the landscape and selfie opportunity amongst the field of wind turbines.

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I flew though this state. But no without incident as the wind was madness. I don’t know if I’ve even been thrown around on the bike as much just from air. Though it did stop raining here and proved sunny the rest of the way.

Wisconsin

Yep. It’s the land of cheese and sausages as far as I can tell. Oh and beer. They love all three here. Really though no trip through would be complete without a taste of the first two. We’ll save the third for later!

IMG_20140723_162144_351

For some reason this gas station had a giant pink elephant. There was a story involved about a way to drum up business.  I decided I’d rather leave it to the imagination.

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Wisconsin did on the other hand deal me a bad hand. With about 160 miles to go until Minneapolis I lost power on the bike. Got it restarted as the exit was less than a mile away and then the knocking started. Seeing as it was fresh out the shop this perturbed and upset me. But hey, anything is fixable. At this point I checked fluids, and tried to troubleshoot loose things to no luck. Its time to call it a night and move on in the morning. Luckily an Air Force soldier doing explosive device disposal was kind enough to go get his trailer, come back and tow me to Tomah, WI. There’s a service shop there. So a night in a Super 8 and we’ll figure it in the morning. But needless to say, I know this is bad. Very bad.

Today’s Map:

Apprx Mileage: 424 miles / Top Speed: 96 mph / Best Song: “I’m bad” by LL. COol J / Most Disappointing Moment: I should be in Minneapolis

The Long Awaited Update

The Decision

So no news is good news and positive news is better news. Unlike my man LeBron I won’t make you wait an hour….

“When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.” ~ Psalm 32:3

The reason this has been so frustrating and this trip meant so much I think falls on time. I’m 38… 40 is creeping up and so do I feel the potential for professional shifts at work. Busier summers, running study abroad programs, who knows. That means the endless summers are potentially coming to a close. I’m beginning to get the urge to plant roots and settle, buy a house again. These are real things. They’re ties that sometimes bind you, often in positive ways but different ways than I have now with an almost endless freedom during the summer. I panicked at the thought that this opportunity would pass me by and I’d miss it. That I’d live with that regret.

No more oil leakage!

No more oil leakage!

I prayed on it, I gave up on it. I took it out of my hands and it came back to me. The leak is sealed! Its a quicker move than I planned shortening each location to an overnight instead of two double night stays as planned but this still puts me back on track for the National Biker Roundup on July 31. The repair was almost as easy as I thought, but inaccessible to me with a lack of tools here and should hopefully hold as we replaced the loose seal, but not with a new one. Though if not, I’m now prepared for the eventuality. That being said this has been a hard one in my spirit. It was my friends who lifted me and kept me going forward. Especially the words and kindness of old and new ones. Ultimately I thank you all though. I am blessed.

Day Six is Complete

Bright and early tomorrow I hit the road for Minneapolis. Nothing more need be said.

In all my preparation and running today I didn’t get my reading done. Maybe before bed but I want a good night sleep. We’ll see. Today I’m content to let my devotional reflection be enough and stand alone.

I’ll leave you with this gem. Saw this at the bike shop this afternoon while waiting for them to finish up.

Ummmm... Yeah. That's some shenanigans right there.

Ummmm… Yeah. That’s some shenanigans right there.

A big ol’ Honda Valkerie with a car tire and truck nuts on the rear. This dude was something else.

Today is “THE” Day

“”The ghost wins….

“But that’s another land and another time,” I say. “Here life is the end and ghosts have no meaning. I believe that. I believe in all this too.” I say, looking out at the darkened prairie. “although I’m not sure what it all means yet… I’m not sure of much anything these days. Maybe that’s why I talk so much.””

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Reflections are dimmer today. I’m realizing I can’t keep the nightly pace so often I will have to post the next day as catch up or double up posts. This in itself is taxing. Though that is beside the point. What I want to mention today is something much more simple. It talks of purpose. My devotional had me reflecting upon each of our purposes. That we have a calling that reaches to us and asks us to serve. The question is do you choose to listen. My friend yesterday said she believed nothing happened without reason, I agree. The past few days have been a struggle to move forward and questioning the purpose for setbacks. I do believe that all things happen for a reason. But what is that reason. Am I chasing a ghost of a dream, a fantasy to do something that is growing further and further out of reach and I’m too stubborn to see the ghost for what it is, a shadow of myself? If I continue to put it into words I just keep hoping it will all come true through perseverance. How do we deal when perseverance isn’t enough?

This is the bane of my existence.

This is the bane of my existence.

This is it. My culprit. Somewhere beyond this slave cylinder is my leak. I think its the guide plate seal which has failed. It’s a normal maintenance thing exasperated by being on the road. Its also Monday and as many riders know a lot of shops are closed today. So I wait until tomorrow to discover my verdict. Today though is the final day of rest. Tomorrow I hustle. If tomorrow fails me. My trip fails me.

 

Day Five

Lot’s of phone calls to motorcycle shops around town which proved futile. But left things perfect for an early dinner with mom.

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Kings Ribs, small rib tip dinner. The best. Tips are a delicacy in the BBQ kingdom in my opinion. They’re near bite size and easily handled. They’re a sauce covered mess but I won’t complain about that. As far as tips go in Indy I don’t think there’s any better. Delicious smoke flavor and great crust that gives you a little of the smoke ring in every bite. Its a must hit whenever I’m here so some will discount this as personal preference. That’s fine. It wins with me. I go with mixed sauce, hot and mild combo. It adds a sweetness to the flavor and a second level of taste interaction. They’re tender without being soft and quick. This isn’t your nice sit down, it’s a former triple bay car wash turned BBQ joint that looks like its burning to the ground when the smokers are going. This is backyard BBQ turns up. Done and done.

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My little sister has turned into quite the little cook at 34 years of age. Her leftovers seemed like a perfect companion to the meal.

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Before the end of the night I clearly needed to drown some of my sorrows so a night out was needed. My older brother’s friend had been helping me hunt down some ideas for the bike and herself needed a drink so we met up at The Living Room Lounge, one of our favorite spots. After some pineapple and rum’s and Fireball we ended up having a great time . I really appreciate the offer to hang out, I definitely needed a good laugh. Here are a few highlights from my night out with Satch the Pastry Chef.

Satch: “So I have pictures of Satchel Paige in the house because, that’s who I’m named after. I told this to my son and he said, “wait, thats not Jay-Z?” Here’s the conversation that ensued between her and her 8 year old son…

Satch: “No that’s Satchel Paige, the baseball player”

Son: “Wait, so Jay-Z doesn’t play baseball?”

Satch: “No, he’s a rapper”

Son: “I thought he played baseball too.”

Satch : “No”

Son: “You should call Jay-Z and tell him to play some baseball”

Satch: “I don’t know Jay-Z baby. I know that I know a lot of people, but not Jay-Z”

Son: after a long pause… “so where the fuck does Jay-Z get his cake!?!”

Tears of laughter ensued. Also being a pastry chef she does lots of weddings and such and has met a number of photographers. So upon discussion of what I do, we talked photo a bit. She proceeded to tell me about a terrible photographer she’s facebook friends with and showed me some pics. I laughed hard, very hard. I texted people mocking his photos, I laughed some more. They’re so bad I want to share them with the world and young photographers as a sign to never do this. So friends, enjoy…

  

  

There’s so so much wrong. So very much wrong… its laughable.

This was a needed outing for sure. I send her my deepest thanks and hope to ride with her one day. Maybe even on her own scoot again, with her son in tow.

White Castle

Its no crave case but it'll do

Its no crave case but it’ll do

No Indy trip is complete for me without a White Castle stop. We don’t have them anywhere nearby me in south Carolina. Bacon double, fish sandwich and siracha chicken slider. After a movie at a friends its a late night stop of perfection. The only thing that could have made it better are onion chips and Faygo Redpop.

Triple Threat in a sack

Triple Threat in a sack

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Friends and Acquaintances

*You will note this posted late, when I began writing this last night I didn’t realize the delay that would follow. Detailed in the next posting about Monday

 

 

“A few words of consolation might have helped there. He was trying to be friendly. But the words aren’t forthcoming for some reason. Consoling words are more for strangers, for hospitals, not kin. “

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Today I spent a good amount of the day with family. Not my immediate family mind you but my appropriated family. We’re made of people who ride and who’ve been like a sibling and parents to me since high school. The term “kin” isn’t something you hear a lot anymore. But yet to me it implies some amount of seriousness and familiarity. There is a heaviness to the word. That’s how I feel about these people. Heavy.

I say that in the greatest sense of the word because they are representative of what I seek in life. To surround myself with people that elevate me and vice versa. I like to think that I break the stereotype of the “young black man”. I think I’ve brought people around me who do the same in that whatever box you could fit them in they’re a square peg trying to be fit into a round hole. Whether its a guy from Mississippi who turns out to be one the most open minded and down to earth friends I could ever have or the guy from Connecticut who is far from the rich Greenwich type but can show you around town like the back of his hand and welcome you to his new home in the Southeast and over the years become a brother to you.

What I mean by all of this is that there’s always weight put on us, that heaviness again. Weight to play by the rules, to fall in line, to make others proud, to be what we “should” be – you name it and it’s placed on us. At what point do we stop worrying about the weight and start thinking about freeing ourselves from convention. That’s what want from life. To enable those who seek the opportunity, to do something more than the sum of my experience and be the catalyst for positive growth. I don’t know exactly what is in the air but I know big things are on the horizon.

 

Day Four

Today is simple. No fluff no muss. I slept in, I woke up and hung out with the sister and her family. Their little boys, like the rest of my nieces and nephews have my heart. Its the greatest thing about coming home. That’s what really makes me miss this place, those little people and them growing up without me. Granted being the motorcycle riding, tattooed, traveling uncle is awesome. But its not the same as being here to watch them play sports and go to events and be part of the everyday. That stings a little to miss out on. The upside is I’ll always have visits and moments like this.

Eventually I went out riding today. Nothing special. The family was in from St. Louis, my main ace Big Red and his girl Pit Stop. Along with Lisa Lisa we got on the scoots and rode. Upon return I stripped down the bike and gave it a once over to find the culprit to the leak once an for all. I think we now have  a good sign and will hopefully find this part tomorrow to get up and going in full. Big Red gave me a new T-Bag for the back so I can now travel in comfort on these long trips instead of like a hobo using bungees like loose change in an arcade. We laughed, we joked, it was ideal. Then a short ride to catch up with an old friend and to test the leakage. Looking forward to hopefully a final night at home. If all goes as planned Minneapolis tomorrow.

Now we’ll get right to it. No pics of the road or even the bike, just a meal. Since there’s nothing else today it’ll have its own section…

Mug n Bun

So we decided to all ride out to Mug n Bun and give me a chance to test the bike before coming back to work on it more. Plus it was way past lunch and we were all ready to eat. Mug n Bun seemed perfect. Plus its an ideal time to introduce Pit Stop to what might as well be the state sandwich, the pork tenderloin.

Breaded Tenderloin and Onion Rings... Indy classic

Breaded Tenderloin and Onion Rings… Indy classic

So Lisa Lisa and I decide to split a family order of onion rings because they’re huge and you’re saving a dollar that way. The pork tenderloin is also why I’m here though. Lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Its delicious. Really the entire experience is. Mug and Bun has been here for over 50 years, normally I’d have a collection of their 32 oz cups at home but mom seems to have cleaned the cabinets. Nonetheless those cups are generally filled with their homemade root beer which is amazing. Its got a heavy sassafras flavor that reminds you of a hint of black cherry or licorice but is undeniably root beer. The tenderloin is hefty. Big Red and I go Indy style, mayo, lettuce, tomato. It highlights the flavor without overpowering and gives just enough moisture to the bun. Its as big as a pair of hands so you need both to handle it and tastes perfect. We love our pork here in Indy and the tenderloin sandwich is a reflection of that. We have a Pork Day for goodness sake.

So good I had to take two

So good I had to take two

In the end we had some serious debate about the validity of ketchup and mustard on a tenderloin. Big Red and I feel its blasphemous. We discussed the quality of the varied types of ketchup. They were clearly refilling with a different brand than they were handing out with the onion rings. Which I will point out were my favorite ever until Grind House a few days ago. They’ve been usurped. They also used to have a giant food challenge which they don’t anymore but you can talk them into it if you’re daring.

Overall today was a pretty good day. Beside the stupid leak we’re still holding it together.

Big Chickens and Late Night Excursions

Travel Day

As expected I got on the road today. As not expected it was much later than usual and in the midst or torrential downpours of and on throughout the trip. After some stops it was well into midday when I departed Atlanta and set out for Indianapolis. I had a long day ahead.

Taken two hours into the ride the mysterious leak persists. We’ll discuss shortly.

“This is the hardest stuff in the world to photograph… You see it, and then you look down in the ground glass and its just nothing. As soon as you put a border on it, it’s gone.”

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

There you have it. The very nature of being a photographer. We attempt to capture the world as we see it and it always fails. I think the best photographers learn the trick is capturing it as you envision it, not as it is. After all didn’t God make the world already perfect, why repeat what’s already done. (Don’t get me on my Big Bang, String Theory, Divine Creation belief. Its a weird hybrid. If you ever want to discuss I’m more than happy to.)

What this means is that as artists we seek to share our interpretation of the world. Even the greatest artists in the world can only hope to do that, a painting of a flower is still just paint on a surface not a flower itself. We can’t duplicate so what is it that we attempt to do. Why make the effort at all. I think its because we all seek some way to open ourselves up. To expose our chest apple to the universe and see if it gets bruised or shined to a shimmering glow. I won’t extrapolate too much today because my brain is still in a fog from sleep deprivation. Though it did make me think about the decision to be an artist. I always said, its because I could draw and sucked at math. Both true. But mostly because I processed information in a way that makes sense when represented visually, science did that as well. I was always a geek for science and for those of you that know me well, know that was part of my original college path. To see something is to know it, to be sure of it. At least it was for me. I think that’s why I make art, photographs. If I can share something or part of myself with the world that people can see as “real” then they can come to know it, hopefully as I do. I can share my pains and joys, my sadness and my heart with the world while still protecting myself through the glass of the frame.

Day Three

After a trip back to the shop in the morning they thought they had the issue diagnosed. As you can see once again, we were terribly wrong. Haha. Oh, the humanity of it all! This must be dealt with in haste. The hour repair was believed to be an issue in the clutch which in turn desperately needed new fluid so the mix up is highly possible and due to torrential rains the leak didn’t act up when they needed to see it. Isn’t that always the case. So while this isn’t a trip ender, I’d like to put a pin in it and get it taken care of as soon as possible, I have ideas, this bastard ain’t gonna beat me. On a side note, I hate my new pipes. Well, I love that they work, I don’t mind them being used, they just need some TLC. I hate that they’re so quiet, you could hear me coming. I miss as Big Red says, “sounding like a damn dump truck.”

It sure ain’t Texas Tea

To start, the guys at ATL Motorcycle Repair are awesome. They’ve been really accommodating through all my issues the past few days and represent in full. Besides being just knowledgeable they’re reasonable. Best of both worlds. Can’t recommend them enough. So after leaving the shop I quickly ran to Cycle Gear to look for some new waterproof boots or leg covers. The storms were upon me and I wanted to do my best to stay dry. Needless to say it didn’t last long. I had already gotten puddle soaked driving to the shop. The dreaded lower leg wetness, but I can can make due with my leathers otherwise. It may be time to invest in a better fix for rain though because I came up empty handed.

Then the trip home began. The trip usually takes 8 1/2 hours by car so I guessed at 10 by bike with gas and a snack stop.

Two things happened before I got on the road. Paul at ATL Motorcycle asked if I was following the route from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I didn’t know this exact route exists. He pulled it up online, taken from clues from the book and turns out I am by accident. It feels like kizmit. This makes me question my thoughts on a route change. Second he asked if I was going to see the big chicken. When someone asks if you’ve seen the big chicken and your answer is no… you go see the big chicken. Just go.

Map from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance… coincidence!?

Georgia

Hence the reason for waterproof shoes. I need to hunt down a new purchase… this is questionable at best.

If you can’t fix it with duct tape, then you shouldn’t have bought it.

Big Chicken… a really big chicken. 58 feet of KFC glory. By the way KFC changed their name to that because Kentucky instituted a fee for any company using the state name in theirs. Random factoid. Nonetheless, that’s a big chicken. The beak moves.

They sure do chicken right

Tennessee

It was wet. I avoided the rain up until that point. Things went smoothly up until just out past Chattanooga. I stopped at a rest stop, ate some of my smashed strawberries and drank some water. I had the brilliant idea to pour the strawberry juice into my remaining water to add to my refreshment. We’ll address this experiment over dinner. A guy at the rest stop joked about staying dry, an hour later the sky opened up and the drenching began. I completely blame him. After a stop at under an overpass and plastic bagging the pack to keep dry I waited out the most heavy part and got back on the road. Luckily the weather was a nice cool down and a provided a scenic trip through the mountains.

Smoke rises

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Watch out

Talk about picturesque

Talk about picturesque

Hot Chicken

Its in bold because its amazing. I can’t speak highly enough about its glory and majesty. I had to stop in Nashville and pay my friend for getting me the posters from the Hot Chicken Festival on the 4th. It was also a good reason to get some dinner, though I hate riding on a full stomach for a good distance. I get lethargic (an ongoing discussion). Nonetheless, nothing can stop hot chicken from happening… nothing!

Hattie B’s

This was my first choice as its delicious and on the way into town. As you can see on a Saturday afternoon they must add extra goodness because the like was out the door. This moved me to Plan B, a trip to my #2 Hot Chicken spot. Full list to follow.

Pepperfire

As one of the newer three hot chicken joints in town this has quickly climbed my list. They’re the second hottest based on heat intensity but the most heat options for the bold to the cautious eater. Today I went with the Tenders Royale. An order of 3 chicken tenders (hot) overtop a fried pepper cheese sandwich served with pickles and ranch. I pass on the ranch and go extra pickles. The chicken is moist and tender, but incredbly spicy even at the hot level. I can’t get enough. The heat is a slow build but lets you know its there and lingers not excessively, but perfectly so. The peppercheese is ideal. Their own hot pepper cheese battered and fried, the fried take on the grilled cheese sandwich. Pickles are needed touch to pop both the heat and the texture differences and its a perfect combo.

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My experiments into fruit flavored water turned out to be less than ideal. It was bland and just tasted like watered down strawberries. It was also full of berry bits. You can’t win em all. Though with this meal, you’re really just looking to keep the heat in check.

In every bite – the hot chicken, pickle, grilled peppercheese layering is essential for maximum flavor.

 

Today’s Journey

The long ride home

The long trek through wind, rain and cold.

Kentucky

Kentucky is not exciting. I push through as best as possible. Louisville is the high point because it marks crossing the border into Indiana. Though the Brown Hotel downtown makes a delicious Hot Brown sandwich. Basically an open faced turkey and bacon covered in white gravy. Its impressive, they claim to have started the sandwich there. Its worth a stop sometime.  Luckily the rain had stopped minus the occasional drizzle but it was getting chilly and I really wanted to get home.

Indiana

Its about 120 miles to my mother’s from the Kentucky border. Its an easy push when its not 11pm and you’re tired of riding and being set back all day due to weather. I thought this would be an easy stretch, it turned out to be one of the worse. Construction had it one lane, that lane being the shoulder almost all the way to Indy. It was slow going and cold out. I was getting frustrated. At one point I midjudged the distance to a traffic barrel and clipped it with my footpeg. My tiredness was beginning to set in and I couldn’t have gotten home any sooner. 2am I rolled into my mom’s driveway and quickly made my way to bed. Just sheet on top a unmade mattress and I couldn’t have been happier. Home, sweet home.

Today’s Info

Today’s ride: Approximate mileage – 588 miles / Top Speed – 110 mph (this one caught me off guard, I was blinded by the cold at 1am ) / Best Song – “Children’s Story” (by Slick Rick)

Hot Chicken in Nashville as ranked by me:

1. Princes

2. Pepperfire

3. Hattie B’s

4. 400 Degrees

5. Boltons

6. Hot Stuff

I hear there’s some new ones that have come into play so the list may continue. But its hard to beat the original, Princes is a thing of legend and the extra hot is a whole new terrifying experience unlike any other. Rocky’s Chicken Shack in Asheville, NC is pretty solid too.

Highs and Lows – Unexpected Setbacks

Here We Go Again…

Another day, more problems. So the exhaust that was reported as destroyed in yesterdays post made for an exciting start to the day. First I called every motorcycle salvage yard in Atlanta. Just so you know, they’re all closed down for good. Then I randomly called shops and searched online for something that would help. Eventually my efforts resulted in this piece of work you see here. Though with my adventures there’s always more story to be told…

Lukcy Exhaust

Matte black, but banged and dinked. It’ll work, it’ll work.

“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle that frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scent, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is why i like to ride. Breathing in the life of the road. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good road trip in a car, but what I love about it is different. I love blaring my radio and singling Temptations songs at the top of my lungs. I love being able to pull off and lean the seat back to nap if need be. I love the compactness of the world that is created within the space of my vehicle. On the motorcycle its different, its expansive. I love the wind against my face and the sun on my arms. I love the interrupted silence of solitude that seems somehow both ever-present and unattainable. I love that it’s not easy or leisurely but an active experience that seems to grow with every mile not get shorter as I reach ever closer to the destination. I love the culture of brotherhood and sisterhood formed amongst others on the road. It is the separation between the two worlds that makes riding a motorcycle part of who I am and will always be.

Today’s devotional, reading and experiences made me think of relationships. We have many kinds throughout our life, some casual others deep and intimate. What is similar between them all is that we seek to form some connection with the other person and look to exchange some form of communication that can effect us somehow, on some level. What differs is the degree of that effect, some glaze over like the coating of a donut while other cut deeply like a sword cutting butter. (Excessive, maybe.) Though all of them take the laying of roots and overtime strengthening them to form something unique and special to us. Some will only last a short time and others seemingly forever, but ultimately we choose which. Today I questioned those relationships, why do we maintain some and let others slide. Why do I feel guilty for things beyond my control. Is that a sign of my own weakness and desire to please or is it a sign of the importance I place on those bond and a desire to respect them. I don’t really have an answer for any of this. I did randomly go through in my head and think about the life long bonds that I have with people, some who I never expected and others that it was clear from the start. I’m thankful for everyone of them. They’ve all made me a better man. They have helped in building a bridge between us that allows for not just exchange but increase of self and potential. Even ones that haven’t gone as planned I’m thankful for. The experiences that have made me a more thoughtful or learned man, a better understanding of my own needs, wants and what I can offer. I guess what I’ve learned is simply that there are no unimportant relationships, no matter what level they may reach. Each grants you something singular and unique, waiting for the moment when you’ve gained or given what you were meant. I say this because I hope I can honor them as they deserve, my friends, family, partner, whomever it may be I hope that I can always live up to my end of the deal.

Day Two

So the bike is still down and I’m still in Atlanta. After hunting down an exhaust in Lennoxville, GA… the middle of nowhere. We picked it up and prepared to venture into the world of impromptu repairs. I quickly decided that I did not have the necessary items and would rather pay someone to install the new exhaust versus buying tools and leaving them behind. So after departing the small town and from M&M Motorcycles we aimed for Atlanta and the shop of Atlanta Motorcycles and Repairs, scooters and motorcycles as far as the eye could see in this urban body shop. Everyone was great, I can’t talk up their service enough. I would highly suggest them if anyone needs to repair or purchase in ATL. Nonetheless after a few short hours of cool down and install things we nearly complete. I had wandered to Verizon while waiting and charged my phone, got some new tech and also took a stroll for a smoothie and Home Depot. At about the two hour mark I headed back to the shop and things were looking up. They completed the repair, adjusted my finicky mirrors and had he on my way for an hour of labor. But alas the hour was upon us for failure.

Saviors of the day

After heading back to grab my bags and pack up the mule again there were oil spots beneath the bike, new oil spots. This very quickly alerted me that a new leak had sprung up. After some examination it didn’t appear to be overflow and was most prevalent when the bike was on the kickstand. My though and hope being that when the exhaust was installed something was simply knocked loose. So with only a few minutes to spare the race back to the shop began, hoping to arrive prior to their 7pm closing time. Take note… at 6:45pm in Atlanta I don’t think you could get next door in 15 minutes. After fighting the post work commute traffic we arrived a few minutes after close, running on fumes and feeling immensely  disappointed. The decision was upon me; make the run toward Indy and hope this is nothing serious or play it safe. I’ve decided the latter. They reopen at 10am, I’ll be waiting and hopefully be on the road quickly.

This has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench in the first days itinerary as I’m supposed to ride to Minneapolis on Sunday morning. Today should have been the day I met up with my ace and rode into some trouble with his lady friend, all on our two wheels. Tomorrow one of his sons was to be my passenger for the Indianapolis Black Expo Park and Ride Event. With a number of other riders from around the area we would have rode throughout town and all ended up downtown and fraternizing for the rest of the afternoon experiencing the pure camaraderie of motorcycling. I would have gone to dinner or breakfast with my family and had some needed home time. I could have caught up with a friend and laughed the night away. Instead here i am, preparing for at best a late arrival in Indy tomorrow and an early jump the next day for Minnesota. Here i am pondering a route change for the entire first stretch of the trip to accommodate lost money and time. Here I am sitting while oil continues to pool on a parking garage floor.

So this my friends has definitely been the day of mixed emotions. While most of this and the rain storm that now engulfs the entire city I’d count as my lows for the day. Though here are some glimmers of highs that caught my eye and earned a snapshot.

Highs

Most of all this is pure eye candy that I found at the bike shop. Enjoy the batch of photos.

Old skool in white

Yamaha got the blues

Cafe Racer in effect

Cafe Racer in effect

You gotta dress for success

You gotta dress for success

Orangina Bobber
Eye Catching 308

Eye Catching 308

Classic Style

Classic Style

Whitewalls for days!

Whitewalls for days!

Deliciousness

Dinner on the other hand was something special. Which on this trip really is for me. I don’t eat lunch usually when on the road or have a significant breakfast because I get lethargic. So most of the time I will try and hit a great local dinner spot. This was no different.

We ended up at Grind House Killer Burgers. Skeptically speaking many burger places are all the same. This one stood out. An exciting but simple menu and a variety of drinks, this was a much needed end to the day. As I rolled in I already liked this place’s character.

Burger Time!

Grindhouse Killer Burgers… this is an ATL stop worth making

Homemade sweet potato chips with a blue cheese dipping sauce. I don’t like blue cheese, I don’t like blue cheese dressing unless its going with buffalo sauce… I loved this dip. Enough said.

Sweet and Delicious

Amazing appetizer at dinner tonight. Good call all around.

My meal was the double burger done “Hillbilly Style’, which meant pimento cheese, chili, jalapenos, onions and chilies. I added a side of onion rings, because they’re onion rings and I have to try them all. The burger patties are slightly bigger than a slider so I assumed a double would be fine, I was wrong. After the huge appetizer of sweet potato chips this double was force. It was hefty and flavorful yet easy to handle. The ingredients were fresh and really popped, the chiles and jalapenos were a brilliant kick and compliment to the pimento cheese. The onion rings were thick cut and lightly crispy battered this concerned me until my first bite. The flavor wasn’t “oniony”, I didn’t know this was possible. It was explained to me that  Viadalia onion is a sweet onion with little to no traditional onion taste. The thick cut onion was a great texture and the crispy coating was a flaky, golden buttermilk inspired batter that pulled the side dish together. Mot onion rings ask for or are significantly complimented by a dipping sauce of some kind. These defied and almost dared you to dip as you’d be missing out on the taste bud dance of joy. By far this was one of the best burger meals I’ve ever eaten.

Dinner in ATL again!

Dinner time! Burger and Onion Rings. Who knew vidalia onions were amazing

 Again, by this point in the day I was ready for a drink. This definitely hit the spot and quenched the thirst. This would be dangerous if I lived here.

Whiskey Lemonade... mmmmmm.

I think the sign says it all. I’m drinking this.

Drinks with dinner

After today I needed a beverage filled with whiskey.

A a whole this meal was awesome. I can’t recommend Grind House enough if you’re ever in the Piedmont / Lindbergh area.

Grindhouse Burger killed it

The Grindhouse double with “hillbilly” style. Chile, pimento Cheese, Jalapenos, Chilies and onion.

Every restroom should have a Star Wars gem hidden somewhere. On the side of the paper towel dispenser was where I found this item that basically equates to a secret wormhole tube in Super Mario Brothers. Especially this image is perfect. Is Luke dropping a deuce, taking a Cleveland Steamer on Degoba, pondering his very existence dn that of his Dark Lord father or is he just carrying around a little green alien Jedi Master and doing flips n stuff. Like those initials I have no idea, but I like it. Overall this night ended well.

Restroom finds are the best

Restroom finds are the best