Most of the people I love and several other friends have been bugging me to start a blog about the many adventures (and mis-adventures) of living in a short bus, riding an old motorcycle, wandering across the U.S. several times a year and making friends along the way. So, here we go…
I’m jetting home to Texas & over thinking again…my thoughts tend to over process on a regular basis & come up with some weird analogies at times. This is definitely one of those times.
Blue was a pedigreed Appaloosa mare my uncle owned. She was beautiful and smart. My uncle Mark’s cousin Murl trained champion cutting horses & Blue was one of his champions until she got too smart for her own good. She was the first Appaloosa ever to make it to the finals of the national cutting horse futurity. Right there in front of every who’s who of the horse world, she got fed up with the whole frustrating situation, grabbed the calf in front of her with her teeth & shook the shit out of it. She was disqualified, cousin Murl was very publicly humiliated & my uncle Mark took Blue home to Arizona in order to save Murl from a) wasting a bullet & b) getting fined for shooting a gun in city limits. Blue was 4 years old & I was 3.
A few years passed & I spent the summer in Apache Junction, Arizona, riding Blue all over the base of the Superstition mountains. More years passed & Uncle Mark got in trouble with the IRS. Blue came to live with me.
That’s where my story really begins. Blue & I were in our 20’s, she was a senior citizen & I was a young mom with two little boys living on 15 acres along the northern edge of the Texas hill country.
Blue, all her tack, a really nice 2 horse trailer & her best bud Native (also a Murl rejected beautiful pedigreed Appaloosa) came to stay with me so that the feds couldn’t confiscate them. Blue & Native were best friends, my confidants, my sons’ nannies & enemies to the wild goats I pretended to own. They were an integral part of our every day life in the country & part of my little family.
Blue was calm & easy going, Native was skittish and “difficult” at times. Or so we all thought. I am by nature an observer, a wallflower, a people watcher. I can sit in a corner, talk to zero people in a crowded room & read body language all day long. Back then, living 6 miles from the closest tiny town & not having a car at my disposal meant I spent time watching my boys, chickens, dogs, pigs, horses & occasional rattlesnake.
It took me a few months of observations and working with Native to realize what was up with his attitude. He wasn’t skittish or difficult, he was damn near blind. I grew up riding & training horses, so once that light bulb flickered on in my brain, I really WATCHED how Blue helped Native navigate their world. Then I set about working with Native to help him navigate with touch & sounds. It worked! Native settled down and became an amazing competitive barrel racing horse. More importantly, he calmed enough that my boys were safe around him.
We had a few years of fun & companionship with Blue & Native before Uncle Mark settled with the IRS & they went back to Arizona. Blue died peacefully in her sleep when she was 32. Native grieved. She was his best friend & eyes for over 20 years. He lived another 6 years with Uncle Mark who learned to assist him much the same way I had.
Flash forward to my over thinking brain. I just spent the last two & a half weeks being the “seeing eye chick” to Bob who was a casual friend before this trip. An hour ago, it felt weird and almost empty to walk through the airport alone. No explanations of what I am seeing, or prompting him to move this way or that, or stop, or this person is talking to you, Bob, but that person is not, here’s your coffee…oh shit he’s locked out of the room…
A bond is formed that goes a lot deeper than I was prepared for. The level of trust he placed in me is mind-blowing. For example, I don’t like being the passenger in a car (or on a bike) because I have no control. Bob has to take it in stride. So, we drove Mulholland faster than recommended so he could feel the curves & he laughed when I cussed LA drivers & I am pretty sure he white knuckled it more than a few times as I took turns too fast & swerved to avoid the ever-present idiots of LA freeways. We learned to coexist in a tiny AirBnB we nicknamed the closet that in all honesty, was not “blind friendly” accommodations and totally my fault for not paying closer attention when I booked it. We almost sideswiped a whole table of food because I didn’t navigate us through a crowded restaurant correctly, but he never lost patience with me. Basically I made a lot of mistakes & Bob was gracious enough to laugh them off. We laughed a lot! Along the way, my signals to him became a little more natural & relaxed & we became real friends & comrades until the airport shuttle dropped me off way to soon & we sadly said goodbye for now.
Sitting in the plane staring out the window, I remembered watching Blue & Native navigate through mesquite trees & cactus & those damn wild goats. That’s when I realized LA is a lot like a pasture in the hill country of Texas, wild goats, rattlesnakes & all.
Yes, It is a BIG DEAL! I am proud to say I shot the Cover Bike for the 20th Anniversary Issue of Cycle Source Magazine, April 2017. It is on newsstands now, so grab a copy. And help me CELEBRATE being part of an awesome milestone in Motorcycle history. Once you get a copy, you better check out the Vulture and the genius Fabricator who brought it back to life.
Bryan Henke is THE MAN! He & his beautiful sweetheart DeAnna are also a good friends to me, thanks to that bike and some mutual friends who made the connection happen. Don’t you just love how life falls into place like that? In the Six Degrees of Separation, I think we skipped 4 or 5, but who cares? Bryan is also the genius brain and brawn who created the deck on back of the Horney Toad. I will share more on THAT Epic build later.
Other news: As of this writing, I am still in Southern California being the Seeing Eye Chick for Blind Bob. We head back to our respective homes on Tuesday. That means I will be back to work on the Toad by Wednesday or Thursday. I will be back at COTA for another RideSmart Track Day shoot next weekend & possibly headed to Daytona after that. BUSY TIME of YEAR for the Toad, the Flyer and me.
Happy Trails Y’all!
Approximately 15 years ago, I got a message on Myspace from a guy asking me about the bags on my bike. He had seen one of my photos & it sparked his curiosity. That message became the catalyst for a deep & abiding friendship with Kevin. Our common love for motorcycles & the lifestyle fueled conversations across the years. Somewhere along the way Kevin had someone design a website for his business. He asked my opinion…until that moment, all I knew was that Kevin was a tattoo artist. There are lots of tattoo artists. Some have talent, some have skill, some suck, a few are really good. A handful are masters. Kevin is one of those rare masters. He is the Quintessential Mofo & one of my dearest friends. I am honored and humbled to be a living canvas for his art. KevinQuinn.org
I am at Rock & Roll Fantasy Band Camp. I do not play an instrument, I don’t even know proper music terminology, but here I am rubbing elbows with some of the greatest Rock musicians of our time. Yes, this adventure is different!
My friend Bob is blind. Bob is also a damn good drummer. So here I am here in Hollywood, California hanging out with legends. A few months ago Bob asked me if I would be willing to tag along with him while he attended the Rock & Roll Fantasy Band Camp. It is a very easy “gig” as long as I don’t let him walk into walls or traffic or fall down stairs.
I didn’t plan to participate or even meet people, I planned to be available to escort Bob where he needed a set of eyes and then be my usual wallflower self staying out of the way. Ha! First of all, you simply can NOT be part of Blind Bob’s entourage (even if it is just me) and be a wallflower. They are mutually exclusive concepts and activities. Secondly, the folks who put on the Band Camp are all so warm and friendly that it has become impossible for me to be “invisible.” I am immersed in that whole “never met a stranger” on a grand scale. So here I am having the time of my life meeting people that others only dream of shaking their hand or getting to have a selfie with.
If Rock & Roll is your thing, please check out these camps. David Fishof & his entire team do an outstanding job making their Fantasy Camps extraordinary experiences for the attendees…even the wallflower over here in the corner. Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp
I started documenting the remodel of the Horney Toad a few months ago. The first challenge I tackled was turning the bathroom into a more useable space that would give me enough room to add a small kitchen area to my 98 square feet of home on the road.
Here’s a peek at the first part of my remodeling adventures:
I live and work out of a 2002 Blue Bird short bus. Making it as user friendly as possible is my goal right now. This video shows how I made the window screens. I spent a lot of time studying what other skoolies did to add screens, then I spent a huge amount of time staring at the windows until I had a brain fart that worked. This video walks you through the basics. Please ask questions if you don’t understand or want more information. Click on the Subscribe button on my Youtube Channel so you can stay up to date with all my destructive tendencies! While you are at it, view some of my motorcycle life videos.
One last thing…what do you want to see? More about my bus? what does & doesn’t work? Let me hear from you!
For several years I have wanted to travel more than a quick one or two week vacation would accomplish. I wanted to be able to take the time to really experience the area I was visiting, whether is was a world acclaimed national park or a little community down a two lane road.
How to make this happen? I looked at a multitude of options until my head began to spin – over selection of options can be an ugly thing! I put off thinking about final choices for a couple years & made the decision to just live on my motorcycle for a while. This decision came shortly before I took early retirement from a small TV station in the Dallas area.
My big plan consisted of getting rid of a bunch of stuff, put some stuff in storage, get a small motorcycle trailer to pull behind my motorcycle and travel. It took a little over a year to pull it all together, but I did. Living on the road was beyond AWESOME!
Then something happened…I was in a catastrophic motorcycle accident. I came to at the bottom of a 30 foot drop off in rural Wyoming with multiple compound fractures to my lower left leg, crushed upper left arm, 2 fractured ribs, punctured lung, fractured pelvis & hip. I was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center near Denver where I stayed for 31 days. They put me back together in a way that is truly miraculous. However, it was obvious I would not be back on a motorcycle or sleeping in a tent any time soon.
My dear friend Masyn had just downsized from a full size school bus to a short bus. Since I was staying with Masyn after my hospital adventure, this gave me a good opportunity to study her bus and visualize what I could do with a 98 sq. foot home. I decided to give it a go.
You know it’s right when the pieces come together so perfectly.
A bus just like Masyn’s was advertised on Craigslist there in the Denver area at the same time another friend’s bike broke down literally as he pulled into Masyn’s back yard. Chris Thompson is well know & loved in the chopper circles & just happens to be an excellent Diesel mechanic. And there he was, available and willing to help me go over the bus to make sure it was mechanically sound. He did, it was & I became a shorty owner!
There were a few communication hiccups during the original renovation process, but that is all behind me now. I started the real renovation to my tiny home in November ’16 & have made great progress in the last few months. It is really starting to feel like “home.”