Sunday, September 1, 2019

~ New Kid in Town ~

“An Indian Stops Time."  Robert Griego



For the past twelve years, I've ridden my 2007 Yamaha Road Star across America in my pursuit of wildness. It has been front and center in my posts and many published articles.

Recently, I decided to get another motorcycle. 

Shortly before that, I took this picture to record the miles on my trusty Yamaha Road Star.  A real milestone that most bikers can attest. It was a personal moment that was important to me. Memories at 2:18pm.


158,500 with a nearly full tank of gas

Do you remember the movie, Hildago? 

I feel my Yamaha was the mustang, Hildago racing against pure-blooded Arabian horses thought to be superior in every way. It has been such a dependable iron-horse. My Yamaha Road Star will continue to provide joy to our son. I didn't have the heart to let it completely go.

The 2019 Indian Springfield is the 'New Kid in Town.'  

Handsome and eager to travel.  Next week, we'll set off on our first adventure out to the Badlands of New Mexico.  I'm so grateful to everyone - the Brand Amp, Indian Motorcycle, RoadRUNNER Magazine, and Herwaldt Motorsports who made this transition possible. The Indian Springfield has the awesome Thunder Stroke 111 engine, sleek lines, and a machine that stops time.

There will be more stories with this motorcycle; please stay tuned. I'm currently riding my first 500 - 600 miles during the "break-in" period.  Then, I'm heading out for the Badlands of New Mexico on its maiden long-distance trip.  Hildago provided the lessons.

Yesterday, I rode up to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with Denise for some shots with those giant Sequoias. 

All adventures begin one step at a time.  The giant Sequoias have witnessed that for thousands of years. 

Our mark on this earth is undeniable. Even one step forward is important.

Thanks to all my family and friends. I plan to write more about my adventures in my pursuit of wildness. Please stay tuned as we take those precious steps forward.


Robert, Matt, & Rick handing over the keys at Herwaldt Motorsports



Matt Herwaldt and Robert Griego. This dealership speaks "friendly.'

Exploring the giant Sequoias

The awesome Indian Springfield next to the giant Sequoias at Grant Grove


Denise riding with me 130 miles through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks



Me, riding off into the sunset


Riding around Three Rivers, introducing the new kid



Old meets the new in Lemon Cove near Three Rivers

Friday, August 9, 2019

~ The Journey is Everythiing ~


“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”  Aldo Leopold



I know it's been awhile since I've sent out a message to all of my followers.

Actually, when I saw the number of Page Views, I paused. Thank you for following my adventures.  We all need to get lost following roads that lead to nowhere.


I've been busy writing for perhaps, the best motorcycle magazine out there, RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring and Travel.

I'm very proud to announce that my latest article, In Pursuit of Wildness: Cabrillo National Monument was recently published.  Of course, I'm partial to my articles.  However, there are so many talented motorcycle journalist that are featured in the RoadRUNNER magazine.  Thanks to those of you that have gone the extra mile to get your own subscription. I always look forward to the next issue.

Please continue to send me your pictures for the Bikers' Wall. I met two new friends who rode awesome Triumph bikes out to New Mexico and Colorado.

Next month, I hope to ride out to the Badlands of New Mexico.  My dependable Yamaha Road Star is approaching 160,000 miles yet, it seems ready for the adventure.  Me, I'm always ready.  Lately, I've been cutting firewood, loading firewood, unloading firewood, and stacking firewood for winter.

It's time to ride and to feel the wind in my face.  Winter will be here before we know it. Now is now.

Thanks again for riding the miles with me...............Bob


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

~ In Pursuit of Wildness: Cabrillo National Monument ~

The article "In Pursuit of Wildness: Cabrillo National Monument" by Robert Griego was published on the "RoadRUNNER Travel & Touring" magazine website on 8/6/2019.



“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
— André Gide

The Pacific Ocean is jaw-droppingly beautiful as I ride my motorcycle along Highway 1 from Monterey, CA, toward San Diego. It’s easy to allow your imagination to run free along each curve on this scenic highway, envisioning sailing ships exploring new lands. Albert Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” I think that to be an explorer, imagination and knowledge are equally important.
This story begins in 1542 in a place called San Miguel. It is one of the most beautiful cities in America. Today it is called San Diego. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a navigator sailing under the flag of Spain, landed his ship at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542, becoming the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Cabrillo National Monument is where this story takes place.



Today is the last day of school and I ask our grandkids, Evan, 11, and Malia, 8, “Do you want a history lesson?” Both are puzzled by my question just after the school year has ended. “Do you know that San Diego was once called San Miguel?”
Evan, replies quickly. “Yea, we studied about Cabrillo in 4th grade. Another Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, sailed here 60 years later and renamed it San Diego,” he says. “Is that where the tide pools are?” Malia asks. Both without hesitation want to see the tide pools, so off we go to Cabrillo National Monument.
We all seem to forget about time as the tides control the rhythm of life along the ocean’s shore. We peer into tide pools looking for marine plants and animals such as sea anemones, sea urchins, shore crabs, and bat stars. Evan and Malia love watching the isopods scurrying on the seaside cliffs. In January and February, you can see gray whales traveling toward Mexico. There are always sailboats and larger ships on the horizon, and soon I’m lost in the magic of the ocean, thinking about Cabrillo and what he saw. We stop by the National Park Service’s “hands-on” exhibit, where we are encouraged to pick up the seashells, the whale baleen, and the other animals and fish that come from the ocean.
In the distance, we see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and an easygoing trail takes us up to the historic site. Looking back, San Diego Bay is so photogenic it’s hard not to get a great picture. A large statue of Cabrillo frames this awesome view. We walk along the scenic 2.5-mile round-trip Bayside Trail that descends about 300 feet through the native coastal sage scrub. If you go, take a bottle of water and enjoy the views of San Diego Bay.
I think that Cabrillo may have preferred the name San Miguel, but he surely would be honored to know that Cabrillo National Monument was established to commemorate his life and exploration.

Planning a Visit
Cabrillo National Monument, established in 1913, is located within the city of San Diego, which has generally sunny and mild weather year-round. The site offers a superb view of San Diego’s harbor and skyline. The southern end of Cabrillo is one of the best-protected and easily accessible rocky intertidal areas in Southern California.
The site is close to a number of local attractions, including SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego Natural History Museum, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and the Fleet Science Center.
TO DO
Within Cabrillo National Monument there are excellent opportunities to explore the natural and cultural history of the area: ranger-led activities, Junior Ranger activities, a visitors center, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, a self-guided 2-mile walk, tide pools, birding, and gray whale watching (viewing is best in January and February).
One of my favorite motorcycle rides when visiting San Diego is east on Interstate 8 toward Alpine, then north on State Route 79 toward Mount Laguna, located at almost 6,000 feet in a forest of Jeffrey pine, returning west on CA 78, and stopping for some delicious apple pie in Julian. This is an easy day ride, about 130 miles in the beautiful Cuyamaca Mountains. Another great ride is to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a 180-mile round-trip.
HOURS
Cabrillo National Monument is open every day of the year, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main gate closes at 5 p.m., and public access after 5 p.m. and before 9 a.m. is not allowed (that includes walking, jogging, biking, or any type of entry).
FEES
Entrance fees, good for seven days, are $15 per motorcycle, $20 for a noncommercial vehicle, and $10 per walker or bicyclist. An annual pass is $35.
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/cabr.

Text and Photography:
Robert Griego 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

~ In Pursuit of Wildness: Rocky Mountain National Park ~

The article "In Pursuit of Wildness: Rocky Mountain National Park" by Robert Griego was published on the "RoadRUNNER Travel & Touring" magazine website on 6/22/2019.


"In God's wildness lies the hope of the world."  John Muir

Bear with me, as it’s been 1,200 miles since I left Three Rivers, CA, and the wild views before me are stunning. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado stand majestically before me. The Quaking Aspens tremble in the wind. The weather is mild. I’m on a “rocky mountain high,” and this is where this story begins.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in the United States. I’m sure of that fact, as we lived in Estes Park for nearly seven years while I worked for the National Park Service. We lived at 7,500 feet in Estes Park, CO, and our family loved to hike, ski, fish, and camp in this national park, which was our backyard.
Tonight, I’ll camp at 8,900 feet at Timber Creek Campground on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park along the Colorado River. My tent is on my motorcycle, but I choose to lay my sleeping bag in the open, under a billion stars. The Milky Way is within reach and leads my finger to the north star. A shooting star crosses the entire sky in seconds. Elk are stirring in the meadow, and the bugling sounds of the males is mesmerizing. Stars, elk bugling, a coyotes’ howl—so primal.
As I prepare my site, a fellow camper stops by. “Thanks for flying the American flag,” the woman says as her small dog carefully looks over my motorcycle. I respond wearily, “Thanks, it’s just something that I do.’’ A few minutes later just before dark, she returns with her husband, each carrying a bundle of firewood. “It’s late, we know, but we wanted you to have a cozy fire,” she says. The fire warmed my body and the kindness of strangers, my soul.
In the morning, a big bull elk cautiously comes out from the brush. He is determined to impress the six cows 50 feet ahead of him. His bugle is incredible, a surreal sound. Nature in its glory, oblivious to me and my motorcycle.
Trail Ridge Road overlooks Fan Lake. In 1982, the Lawn Lake Dam break inundated Estes Park with a 7-foot wall of water. I remember reading about it in the local newspaper at that time. This massive display of nature unleashed can be witnessed in the Alluvial Fan and Fan Lake.
Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet, is a rush on a motorcycle. It follows a path that the Ute and other Native American peoples used for thousands of years. Today, it connects the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. The views around every curve are magnificent. Be sure to pull over at the rest stops and enjoy the moments. The Alpine Visitor Center at nearly 12,000 feet is a must stop to learn about the Alpine Tundra ecosystem. Then take the short hike along a paved trail for a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. A picture at the top of the trail, next to the sign indicating 12,005 feet is a great photo op. The air is thin, so bring water and stop often. There in the distance is Longs Peak at 14,259 feet.
Tonight, I’m camping at Moraine Park Campground. Sites fill up quickly, so consider making a reservation ahead of your visit. Don’t despair if you find the campground full. Approach the ranger and ask about cancellations. The free park shuttle is a perfect way to explore Bear Lake and Moraine Park while avoiding traffic congestion.
In the morning, I stop by the house where we once lived. Years ago, we planted a 3-foot blue spruce and a small pine tree. These two trees are now easily 50 feet. Memories flood my mind in seconds.
The park brochure is full of helpful information, and something new to me—a plea for help to protect the park. It’s called the Rocky Pledge: “To preserve unimpaired for this and future generations the beauty, history, and wildness therein, I pledge to protect Rocky Mountain National Park.”
After 1,200 miles, my soul is revived as John Denver sings “Rocky Mountain high, Colorado.”




PLANNING A VISIT

With more than 300 hiking trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country, encompassing 415 square miles. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road, which includes many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds. Have your camera ready to photograph the elk, bighorn sheep, and moose. Yellowstone National Park has its “bear jams.” At Rocky Mountain National Park, there are “elk and moose jams.” These opportunities provide for some great pictures. Patience is the word. The high country of Rocky Mountain National Park may have extreme weather patterns but generally, summers are sunny and warm. Be sure to carry a light windbreaker. Also, plan for at least three days to explore Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, Moraine Park, and other prime spots. The park brochure is invaluable.
There are five campgrounds at $26 per site ($13 with applicable pass): Aspenglen 8,220 feet (54 sites), Glacier Basin 8,500 feet (150 sites), Longs Peak 9,500 feet (26 sites), Moraine Park 8,160 feet (244 sites), Timber Creek 8,900 feet (98 sites).
TO DO
Day hiking, ranger-led programs, visitor centers, museums, scenic drives, wildlife watching and photography, picnicking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, mountain climbing, wildflower viewing, star gazing, Holzwarth Historic Site tours, and driving the historic Old Fall River Road (dirt). The towns of Grand Lake and Estes Park are great tourist spots, offering a wide variety of amenities and services.

HOURS
Open 24/7/365, weather permitting. Highest visitation is in July and August.

COST
$30 per motorcycle; $20 individual; $35 
vehicle. All passes valid up to seven days for Rocky Mountain National Park. Annual pass $70.

For more information or to purchase a pass, visit www.nps.gov/romo.

Text and Photography:
Robert Griego

Monday, May 27, 2019

~ Cowboy Legends ~



Anniversaries are special and the 50th Bishop Mule Days are no different.


Jim Harvey, 83 years young

My good friend Jim Harvey surprised me when he said, “I’ve attended 49 of the 50 Annual Bishop Mule Days, and this one will be special.” His words immediately grabbed my attention. Without a lot of fanfare, he continues “It will be my 83rd birthday.” In his younger days, Jim was considered the "best all-around cowboy" in the Sierra.

Jim worked at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for many years leading pack trips into the backcountry. A real working cowboy. Later in his career, his experience and hard work put him in charge of the stock at the Ash Mountain Corrals.

Jim taught me everything I know about horses and mules. I loved going into the backcountry with him and hearing his stories about the “good old days.” Before I knew it, we were living those days. Jim is part of the security team at the Bishop Mule Days and being a good friend, he gets me into the arena where the action happens.

Today, we are both retired and getting ready to watch the only “non-motorized” parade in Bishop. There are thousands of people lining both sides of the street, many wearing cowboy and cowgirl hats. 

Happy 83rd birthday Jim Harvey (aka number one cowboy Sequoia/Kings ever knew)

This lawman from Tombstone, Arizona intends to keep the piece

The parade eventually leads us to the Fairgrounds for the competitions among the packers who spent most of their days working in the backcountry of the Eastern Sierra alongside Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Yosemite National Park.

There is a new generation of packers. One, in particular, is carrying on the Sequoia packers’ traditions. Like Jim, he continued to teach me more about horses and mules. Twenty-some years ago, he was a young cowboy working as a packer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 

Today, Nick Knutson is the lead packer for the parks and one of the top competitors at the Annual Bishop Mule Days.

Nick Knutson, the number "one cowboy" at the 2019 Bishop Mule Days

I think I’ve made the last 14 years at the Annual Bishop Mule Days. I’m here to support the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Packers.

I’m honored this year when Nick said, “Bob, here’s your Official Approved Attendee ticket. This wrist band will allow you to hang out with the packers where the action happens.” Sitting in the stands is great, but being behind the scenes with all the horses, mules, cowboys, and cowgirls is awesome. “Thanks, Nick.”


Thanks, Nick, I'm now official


Bishop Mule Days 2019


Well, right off the bat at the individual competitions, Nick places first.  A cowboy in his element. This event is considered difficult, requiring considerable skill to load mules, tie appropriate rope knots, and race around the track without losing the load. I’m so proud of him.

Then, a short time later the team competitions are next. Team Sequoia/Kings Canyon takes second place. Back-to-back wins!

Nick Knutson wins first place for the individual competition at the 2019 Bishop Mule Days



Team Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks places 2nd at the 2019 Bishop Mule Days

Here are a few pictures from the parade, competitions, and a few along the way on my iron horse.

In a few days, I’ll join another team for the first ever Four Corners Tour by Blue Rim Tours. I hope to keep the warm feeling I experienced at the Bishop Mule Days while touring through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona on our iron ponies.


This Cowboy proudly leads his string into the arena

USFS Cowgirl

Clowning around

The Rock Creek Packers are always ready for action

Camped last night at Taboose Creek, snow is falling in the distance

My view from Taboose Creek Camp



Team Sequoia/Kings Canyon are ready for the next event

Teamwork pays off



Monday, May 6, 2019

~ A Tribute to Johnny Cash ~


"You have to be what you are.  Whatever you are, you gotta be it."  Johnny Cash




Immediately, the rhythm of the Cash music caught my attention.

It was real, personal, and full of energy.

I snapped this picture of James Garner as he sang an opening Johnny Cash song.  I was hoping to capture the moment, and for me, this picture set the stage.  The Cash music was alive.

I had never heard of James Garner, yet he once lived in Hanford, just 48 miles away from me in Three Rivers. 

The Visalia Times-Delta, our local newspaper, ran the headlines: “Johnny Cash Tribute Show comes to the Visalia Fox.  The headlines read, “Back in Black.”  This was to be a tribute show featuring native James Garner a day before Cinco de Mayo.

Being a huge fan of Johnny Cash, I was curious what James Garner had to say in his interview.  James Ward of the Visalia Times-Delta asked, “What should people expect when they come out to the show?”

“Folks can expect to hear the songs they know and love by Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues, and Ring of Fire as well as others that Cash recorded over a nearly 50-year career.  They will also hear the stories behind those songs and about the life of the 'Man in Black.'  That's what makes our show unique  –  Never once in 12 years have I said: ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash’ or presented the show from a first-person perspective.  The energy is in the music and we work very hard, and take very seriously, presenting his music the way he and The Tennessee Three performed it, especially during their live performances.  My hope is that people leave feeling love for Johnny Cash and his music.”

His answer impressed me. 

So when my wife asked if I wanted to go see James Garner's tribute to Johnny Cash, it was an easy decision.

In the distance corners of my mind, two iconic country western stars have alway resided – Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. 

In fact, the first two albums that I ever bought in 1969 were Marty Robbin’s – El Paso and Johnny Cash’s – At San Quentin.   I was attending San Jose State and I did not even own a record player at the time.  I knew that I had to own these two albums by two of the greatest country western music stars.

James Garner in his opening remarks said that the last time he saw Johnny Cash perform was in 1991 at the Tower Theater in Fresno.  After the performance, he ran around back just as Cash was boarding his bus and shook his hand, letting him know that he was a big fan.  Although I never met Johnny Cash, I did come close that same year.

In March of 1991, I was the acting superintendent at Joshua Tree National Monument when I heard the news that Johnny Cash had been in the monument.  I could not believe the Foreman explaining that he just pulled Johnny Cash's Cadillac out of the soft sand.

So, I’m fully engaged.  Every word, every cord carries me back to my own memories of Johnny Cash.  You can read about my own tribute to Johnny Cash in my article: In Pursuit of Wildness: Joshua Tree National Park and Johnny Cash a Fading Sunset.

James Garner is remarkable.  He not only sang Cash's songs, but he told the stories behind the his songs.  I learned a great deal.  James Garner and his band are well worth seeing in person.  Their music is real and I left the performance with a continual love for the Man in Black.

Johnny Cash was there singing his songs personally for me, if only in the far corners of my mind.






Thursday, April 25, 2019

~ Chasing Butterflies and Wildflowers ~


"All good things are wild and free."  Henry David Thoreau



It was an amazing motorcycle ride on this cool spring day across the Mojave Desert.

I call it, "Chasing butterflies and wildflowers."

Kind of corny I know, but that's what's in front of me as I ride my motorcycle across the Mojave Desert chasing the wildflower super bloom.


Unlike my usual stories, I need to hold back a bit.  I'm on assignment with RoadRUNNER Motorcycle & Travel, and if you wait, you won't be disappointed.

Florian Neuhauser, Managing Editor assures me that they plan to run with a full editorial display commensurate with California's wildflower super bloom.

He reminds me, "Chase as many butterflies as you want, but we want some wildflowers with panoramic views, especially with motorcycle riders."  Now, his words are on my mind as I head for Joshua Tree National Park and beyond.  Seeing the Joshua Trees at sunset is a fine way to end my first day.

My previous article, In Pursuit of Wildness: Joshua Tree National Park, is a great place to get reacquainted with the desert park.

I love the desert and it is important to stop to reflect on nature as I try to capture the moment.

Click. Click. Click.


California is moving slowly out of a drought, and the wildflowers are in love with the change.

The iconic wildflower super bloom is here.  I've been told that many of the wildflower seeds have laid dormant in the ground for over 50 years.  Or was that 150 years?  Isn't nature grand?  It knows exactly when and how to perpetuate its cycle.  We need to learn more from nature.

Ok, back to my assignment.

I'll ride through Central California following the trails of two great country western icons in Bakersfield starting at the Buck Owen's Crystal Palace - Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

A bit further down the road, another icon appears, Cesar Chavez.  Now, he has a National Monument named after him and his contributions about lifting the migrant workers in California's agriculture.  His work along with these country western superstars is equally important.

Oil fields, country western music, and migrant workers.  The stage is set for my story about chasing butterflies and wildflowers.

In all fairness, that's about as much as I can share now.


RoadRUNER magazine will see to the rest.

This story will unfold with California's wildflower super bloom across the Mojave Desert, and yes millions of butterflies, called 'Painted Ladies,' migrating thousands of miles along the way.

Henry David Thoreau would be pleased that we remembered his words even while chasing butterflies and wildflowers across the Mojave Desert.