Saturday, February 10, 2018

~ Tend Your Biscuits ~

Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should — not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water.  
Clinton P. Anderson

February 8th is my 69th birthday and "I'm feeling fine."  I love Lonesome Dove and Keith knew that when he sent me his birthday card.

Denise took me to our favorite place on earth -- Pinnacles National Park.  We camped for a few days and hiked the High Peaks Trail (6 1/2 miles) to see the California Condors.

We saw many, including two Condors perched on a nearby rock.  Then, one flew towards us.  It was only ten feet above us and the "swoosh" from its wings stirred that innate "nature moment" within us, letting us know that we too belong.

This Condor in a few fleeting seconds reminds us that "Nature is amazing and her show is always free."

Here are some pictures from that day.  The last, are from my birthday present, a blue tooth selfie stick which I love.  And oh yes, the Pinnacles hat is a birthday present too, which fits well.

Yes, "I'm fine, turning 69."

Bob and Denise at the infamous Pinnacles sign

The High Peaks Trail towards the end of the day after a 6 1/2 mile hike

I love these rocks which I've climbed

A California Condor about to land

Two California Condors in their natural element

The sparse rains will be a struggle for the wildflowers this year.  These Shooting Stars display their courage

Male California Condor luring a mate

Mating by California Condors

Reflecting on earlier days at Pinnacles

Denise and Bob at the place where it all began -- Pinnacles National Monument, our 1st National Park Service assignment

Looking down on the Balconies and the infamous, Machete Ridge which I climbed with Jim Langford

My first selfie with my new blue tooth, showing off my Pinnacles Condor hat

It was such an amazing trip back to the Pinnacles, gray hair and all

Saturday, January 20, 2018

~ I Wish You Enough ~


"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright, 
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more, 
I wish you happiness to keep your spirit alive
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting,
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess,
I wish you enough "Hellos' to get you through the final

He then began to sob and walked away.

Melton "Dale" Hair  11/6/2017; age 91 years young

I met Dale in 1971 at Pinnacles National Monument in San Benito County.  He was a real cowboy.  I loved his country talk and easy going attitude.  He always wore his cowboy hat framed by his huge cowboy smile.  He took us to the Bolado Park rodeo and I was hooked on horses, cows, and cowboy stuff.

Dale and Billie would join us at Mount Rainier National Park and then Rocky Mountain National Park.  One day in Estes Park, I asked Dale:  "Can we ride your horses one day?"  "Any day" was his immediately reply.

"Then Dale introduced us to his two horses, Charlie and Blaze.  

Such good horses and eager to please.

We rode high to the mountain top with smiles to match.  Thanks Dale, you paved the way.

Keith and Lori remember the day that you made us cowboys and cowgirl - such a memorable ride.  

Life is moments and you made them come true."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

~ Remembering Gene ~

"Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees" ~  John Muir

The military from Fort Irwin always support Veterans Day in Barstow, CA

This Veterans Day is special to me because two of my high school buddies joined me to honor our friend, Gene Christiansen.  It is also special because Gold Star Mother, Romona Griego was in attendance again at this years ceremonies.  She is the mother of our high school friend, Clarence Griego.  Both Gene and Clarence died bravely in Viet Nam.

Personally, I'd like to salute my good friend, John Lopez who also served in Viet Nam.  Here are a few pictures from the Veterans Day celebrations on November 11, 2017 in Barstow, California.

Gold Star Mother, Mrs. Ramona Griego and Robert Griego

John F. Kennedy High School buddies - Joe Enriquez, Robert Griego, and Bobby Martinez - reunite to honor Gene Christiansen.  

Gene Christiansen, shortly before being shipped to Viet Nam - 1968

The Gene Christiansen Memorial located on Main and Third Street, Barstow, CA

More friends stop by to honor Gene Christiansen

John Lopez, next to my Yamaha 305cc shortly before being shipped to Viet Nam - 1969

Veterans Day honoree stops to honor the fallen - Barstow, CA

"All Gave Some ~ Some Gave All"

This solider never moved until he played "Taps" at the end of the ceremonies

Saturday, October 28, 2017

~ MMT hits a Milestone ~

Hello to all my readers of My Motorcycle Tales.  Today, my blog surpassed 18,000 views, something that I did not think possible when I started sharing my travels two year ago -- thank you for following me along on my adventures.

My Motorcycle Tales reaches 18,808 views on 10/28/2017

I am fortunate to write and publish articles for Road RUNNER Motorcycle Touring and Travel.  They are a professional motorcycle magazine with outstanding stories in the United States and around the world.  I encourage 'My Motorcycle Tales' readers here in the US and around the world to subscribe to RoadRUNNER Magazine.  The November/December 2017 edition has two awesome articles and photographs by fellow writers, Jon Beck and John M. Flores.  Jon Beck's story is called 'The Azores, Little Island Big Adventure.'  John Flores' article is called 'In the Tire Tracks of a Pioneer, Part 2: Across the Great Basin Desert.'

These seasoned photojournalist are well worth following in this and future RoadRUNNER publications.

Cover by John M. Flores

And of course, read my articles that are found in the RoadRUNNER Chronicle ~ In Pursuit of Wildness.  Here are a few, with more to be published soon:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

~ Courageously They Died - By Inspiration They Lived ~

~ LAFD Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony ~

Riding a motorcycle on the LA freeways can be a challenge, but for me, it was terrifying.  I am on the Hollywood freeway desperately trying to find the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum & Memorial at 1355 North Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, California.  I need divine help as cars are flying by me like Indy Car racers at 80 miles an hour.

The invitation in my pocket read: “The men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department cordially invite you to join civic and community leaders, as well as friends and family of the LAFD, as our community gathers to honor the 268 members of our Department who have made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to the City.”  I had never received such a format invitation before and to think it was all because of a story a had written called “Mile Marker 88.”

The welcome register at the Museum asked me for my name and where are you coming from.  I wrote down my name easily enough, Robert Griego, but where are you coming from stopped me cold.  All I could manage to write was “MileMarker 88.” 

Three weeks earlier I was riding my motorcycle near Kingman, Arizona on a very peaceful road called Route 66.  The contrast between the Hollywood freeway and Route 66 is too difficult for me to put down in a few words.  Worlds apart.  I was at Mile Marker 88 to honor a LA Firefighter who died in a motorcycle accident.

The Los Angeles Fire Department has an annual Memorial Ceremony to honor the memory of all Los Angeles firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of their duty.  It is held at Old Fire Station 27 which, when built in 1930, was the largest station west of the Mississippi River. Today, it is a museum.

The Memorial Wall consists of five bronze statues, each one carefully representing an LA firefighter during a fire incident in the city.  The wall, directly behind the bronze statues, lists the names of every known active duty department member who died while responding to or at an incident.  I am impressed with the LA Fire Department leadership who annually remember those fallen firefighters.  In fact, while the sounds of a bagpipe play in the distance, the names of every fallen firefighter is read – one by one. Some names of firefighters go back over 100 years.  Impressive.  Honorable.  Never Forgetting.  The keynote speaker, pauses in his talk, he turns around to read the words inscribed on the memorial directly behind him:


Those seven words are really what this story is about. I shared in their celebration, had lunch with them, and thanked them for their service.  I did not take many pictures but the ones I did take, speaks volumes about this Ceremony to remember and honor fallen firefighters within their family.  I could not be more proud. I’m so glad that I came here despite the nerve-racking freeway traffic. Oh, I must say a few words about the man and lady who sang songs during the ceremony.  They sang from their hearts and the songs perfectly matched the words spoken.  Music lifts spirits even during our most somber times. Thanks.

Family and friends are allowed to come forward and place a rose at the base of the Memorial as the name of a loved one whose name inscribed on the wall is read. 

Leaving, I ask a firefighter “What is the best way to get out and hit Highway 101 going north, I’m not from around here.”  I follow his instructions precisely.  The traffic is wild.  I can only hope that I make it out of Hollywood alive.  Seriously, those are my thoughts.

Soon, the traffic begins to slow, I’m approaching Santa Barbara.  My plan is to continue my ride north along Highway 1 towards Lompoc, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Guadalupe.  These places are important to regain my balance.  Balance in life is important, and on a motorcycle is critical. 

Near Guadalupe, I see migrant farm workers in the fields.  It is Sunday, yet they work.  I once as a young kid worked in the fields near Bakersfield picking peaches.  It was hard work and the peach fuss was a pain for a ten-year-old boy. I remember towards the end of the day, we jumped into the canal and swam.  It was not your YMCA pool but it cooled us off and the peach fuss went downstream.  I loved it.  Our dad, however, was trying to make a few extra dollars for our family.  I must admit, being color blind, did not help selecting the right peaches.  I think that working in the fields might have been the jumping point for me into the wild.  As a kid, the wild was there, if only jumping into a canal to cool off.

I’m distracted by the past as I pass the endless rows of crops as I leave Guadalupe towards Pismo Beach.  Such beauty, split by perfect rows full of green crops.

Riding a motorcycle along Highway 1 is a dream come true.  The wind is in your face and the warm sun encourages me to continue.  Pulling off my helmet, the sound of the waves crashing on the beach replaces the ‘hum of my motorcycle.’  The sound of nature is good.  It puts me in my place with each crashing wave.  Time slows down.  I’m so thankful that I am here.  And to think, the insane Hollywood freeway brought me here.

After a short walk to stretch my legs at Pismo Beach, I continue my ride to Morro Bay. The weather is warm and it is hard not to get a good picture.  I continue up Highway 1 towards Cambria and San Simeon.  I’ll camp at the San Simeon Campground – Washburn, site #224.  There is plenty of firewood around and my campfire is relaxing.  As I turn on my transistor radio, I pick up an LA station that is broadcasting the baseball game – Dodgers versus the Cubs.  I listen to the entire game on my transistor radio, something I have not done for many years.  I remember listening to Vince Scully with my good friend Warnell when we were 12 years old in Barstow pretending that we were Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, and Maury Wills.  I’ve camped on this very site before; I like it. 

Tomorrow, I head home.

I have time on my hands so I make a big change.  On a moment’s impulse, I decided to look up an old friend.  His name is Jim Langford and we worked together at Pinnacles National Monument.  He was the Chief Park Ranger and my mentor on the Search and Mountain Rescue Team.  I had never climbed before and Jim taught me everything I know today about climbing rock faces.  He, in my opinion, is one of the premier rock climbers in the world.  I call his son, Jody, who tells me where his dad lives and arranges our meeting after some forty-four years.  Jim is eighty-five years young.  A bit nervous, non the less, I'm looking forward to this connection to the past.

As we reminisce about our days at Pinnacles, talk flows easily about our rock climbing days.  As he describes a particular rock climb that we made, I listen.  I listen intently.  His words sound identical to the ones he spoke just before a serious climb above the reservoir.   “Do you remember the Hatchet?” he asks.  I nod.  “Once you got into the notch, your next move took you into thin air, and you had to make your move upwards at that precise moment.”  Honestly, those were the same words he spoke fourty-six years ago as I got ready to lead the hairy pitch before me known as the Hatchet.  When I reached the summit, I could not believe that I climbed this route.  Jim knew I would and he followed me to the top as easily as a walk in the park.

Robert Griego and Jim Lnagford

It was so good to see him again and to get acquainted with his son, Jody who was 7 or 8 during our Pinnacles days.  We frequently used Jody in our rock climbing training, strapping him into a rescue litter and taking turns lowering him off a sheer rock face.  He never complained.  Today, Jody spends his time taking pictures as a professional photographer; visit him at his Sierra Mountain Photography.  His love for nature is evident in his amazing pictures, especially in the Sierra Nevada.  I’ll be doing a story soon for RoadRUNNER Magazine called “The Carrizo Plain National Monument.”   The flowers this year were brilliant and I felt that I got a few good pictures.  That was until I saw the absolutely magnificent flower pictures that Jody took in the Carrizo Plain.  Look over his shots and you’ll agree.  I never did any serious rock climbing with Jody, but his photography would take me to the top of any mountain.

This trip taught me that life is full of moments, even if they span forty-six years.  They were there in Hollywood to remember fallen firefighters and with my good friend Jim Langford, one of the premier rock climbers in the world.  

My balance restored.