WILLIE BOY, 2 TW’S, A GOOD SAMARITAN, AND A HELICOPTER.

The other day while at a workshop, someone asked me what was the most outrageous adventures that I ever had on a motorcycle.  Two popped into my head very quickly, the Willie Boy adventure and the trail where I earned the nickname “The Flying Nun”.

So in the spirit of “Throwback Thursday” that seems to be popular on the social media sites, here is the story of our adventure looking for the Willie Boy’s grave site in Russ’ own words (he was a bit of a storyteller)…

First, a bit of history:

“Willie Boy” was a local Paiute Indian, and the subject of a 1909 manhunt. It was later the story line for a movie entitled “Tell Them Willy Boy is Here” starring Robert Blake and Robert Redford.

The generally accepted facts of the case are that he attempted to “steal” a bride, and killed her father in the process when the father attempted to intervene. Other accounts say that he executed her father in his sleep, and then kidnapped the girl. He later killed his unwilling fiance when she became a hindrance to his efforts to elude a posse. Eventually he also shot members of said posse, and in the end took his own life by shooting himself in the head by actuating the trigger of his Winchester with his toe as the posse finally closed in.

Locally this is a topic of much controversy to this day. Predictably, The Modern White Apologists, legitimate latter day historians, local Indian lore and the first person accounts and news articles of 1909 all present conflicting versions of the story depending upon which group has the podium, though most seem to concede the above are the basic facts.

I’m not gunna weigh in on one side or the other, but having been a semi-ardent student of the events surrounding the Willy Boy manhunt, what has always impressed me most was the fact that he successfully evaded a posse of some of the best qualified law enforcement, citizens and trackers of his day, ON FOOT, with a presumably uncooperative and far less physically capable woman in tow, over hundreds of square miles of some of the most water less and brutal terrain extant. For that, the man gains my undying admiration

So I thought I’d finally pay my respects to ol’ Willy in person…..

“It began like any other day……..”

Purple (aka Ginamarie, this is my nickname among the TW200 community) at the trail head. It was a cold, cloudy and fairly un-photogenic day in the dez, so not many pics were taken:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We only encountered two people all day. One was The Good Samaritan (more on this later), the other a dirt bike rider who forced me down when he hit my rear wheel coming around this curve. It took him about 100 yards to stop his bike, he then looked back to make sure I wasn’t dead, and blasted off again. Jerkweed.

Here’s Purple again, waiting for me to clean my shorts at the spot:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most of the riding was loose, off-camber soft stuff. Endless, though not particularly difficult.

This was at the end of the trail. Willie Boy was cremated by his people on the spot where he fell. In more recent times someone commissioned a headstone and placed fencing around the site:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A nice, easy ride to see something I’d long postponed. It’s only 3 PM, and we got plenty of time to explore a bit before dark. 

From here, things got a little weird….

If you look carefully in the upper right corner of this pic, you’ll see the faint outline of what appears to be a goat trail…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Being that we had this surplus of time on our hands, I decided we should have a look at that goat trail, which was at the bottom of this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we all well know, pics of a gnarly, dangerous ascent never appear all that gnarly. What you can’t see is that this piece of trail is over solid ledges of off-camber granite and quartz, interspersed with loose D.G., with a garnish of soft sand. This is me after riding/walking Purple’s bike down it. After the first 10 yards I realized my mistake, but I was already committed, and there was no way a TW was gunna go back UP that hill. Every foot of it was covered in skid plate scars and motor oil from others’ attempts. I could swear I even saw bloodstains on the granite 

So, I decided to leave Purple and her bike there while I found an alternate route by which we could extract her bike. Unfamiliar with the area, I set out on several dead-end canyons all of which appeared as if they would connect with the goat trail. Not a crisis situation by any means, but darkness and sub-freezing weather were definite on our short list of immediate realities. We had the situation in hand and all the emergency gear we’d need if anything went south. Purple and I have been in some tight spots before and I can rely on her to act calmly, rationally and logically on her own behalf if the situation warrants such. This was not yet one of those situations.

Enter The Good Samaritan. While I was searching for alternate trails I happened upon this woman who was riding a quad. In passing I related the situation, and asked her if she knew of a connecting trail that might lead to that spot. She said that she too was unfamiliar with the area and had actually been looking for Willy Boy’s grave site unsuccessfully all day.

Trying to be helpful she suggested that I sound my horn and that Purple would then sound hers as sort of a locating system, and that way I would know I was on the right path. I assured her that we had the situation in hand and thanked her for her suggestion, (which was a pretty good one)… but Purple is deaf.

We said adios and I thought nothing of it.

Eventually I found a way in. Predictably Purple had assessed the situation and had secured the bike and moved to higher ground in the event that she needed to solve her own problem. The route out was beyond her skill level, so I left my bike in the canyon and we rode double on her bike to the main trail. I sent her on her way back to the trail head and warm truck, while I walked a couple of miles back down the trail to my bike, then rode out.

Meanwhile, back in town The Good Samaritan (God love her, wherever she is tonight) evidently promptly called 911 the very instant she could get a cell phone signal. Purple was met at the truck by county sheriff’s officers and a helicopter had been dispatched to search for some poor missing deaf woman who had apparently been abandoned and left to freeze to death in some inaccessible canyon by her psycho boyfriend. It didn’t take more than a millisecond for her to figure out that the “missing” woman they were referring to was HER.

Anyway, she quickly cleared up the misunderstanding, the helicopter was called back, I was spared a zillion dollar bill from the county for Search and Rescue services and everyone had a good laugh once I returned to the truck and the cops were satisfied I wasn’t an ax murderer.

THE END

Actually, by the time I arrived to the landing area where the truck was, it was already dark and I was excited to see headlights thinking those people were still around. I quickly realized it was the Sheriff Department and went “uh oh”.  As I pulled up, the officer approached me; the first thing the officer said was “Can you hear me?” in a loud and over enunciating voice. This is a common question when people realized that I’m deaf.  Being a smart aleck, I told him that I can once I take off my helmet.  Luckily he was appreciative of my joke and laughed, whew.  I asked him if there was a problem and that when he told me that someone called into 911 to advise them that Russ has left me out there alone without any gears or supplies.  I started laughing and the officer said “Based on what I can see that you’re fully geared and have the necessary survival gears on your bike” I explain that we always wear full gear and go out prepared.  Then he asked me where Russ was and I told him what has happened and he said that he will let the helicopter continue the search…I quickly advised that it wasn’t necessary since I don’t want to pay for it.  He reluctantly agreed to cancel the helicopter after persistent request.  However, he wasn’t going to let me hang out alone while waiting for him just in case he was an “ax murderer”.

So here to a trip down memory lanes and where the misadventures were the best of times that we ever had.

Pioneertown

On Sunday, when most of the country is suffering from the deep freeze, we here in Southern California have had the luxury of enjoying the high 70’s all week which mean it’s the perfect day for a ride! Sorry, I just had to rub it in. So the Ranch Rider decided to head out to Pioneertown for the day.

IMG_0023

Pioneertown is about 4 miles west of Yucca Valley, California and 124 miles east of Los Angeles, CA. It was built in the 1940 as a live-in Old West movie set. They built the town with the typical buildings you would expect to see in an Old West movie with stables, saloons, jail and houses. The most interesting fact is that all of the houses used were also live in quarters for the actors while they were on set. They filed several Westerns movies and early television show such as The Cisco Kids and Edgar Buchanan’s Judge Roy Bean.

IMG_0025

They even build a bowling alley called Pioneer Bowl in 1949. The bowling alley had six-lane and Roy Rogers (Russ’ idol) rolled the first ball when it first opened. They even hired school-age children as pinsetter until the installation of the automatic pinsetting equipment. Gene Autry frequently taped his show at the bowling alley. According to the Morongo Basin Historical Society, it is the one of the oldest continuously used bowling alley in California.

Now a day, you can head out to Pioneertown to enjoy the famous mesquite barbecue, live music and dancing on the weekend. Off and on since 1972, the restaurant has been providing foods for all kind of bikers. Then in 2003, a couple of New Yorker bought the place and returned its glory day. It is now a haven for indie rock favorite with musicians from Robert Plant to Leon Russell have played there. If’s a too long of a ride, you also have the option to stay the night at the 18-room lodge on site. Each rooms are individually decorated in rustic cowboy themes with names such as “Annie Oakley” and “John Wayne”. They also have 17 corrals if you’re into the other kind of horse power.

IMG_0027

All in all, it was a beautiful day for a ride with good friends. Thank you Ranch Riders for putting on another great ride.

Umm...Mr. Mayor?  Can you please hurry up?  We gotta go!

Umm…Mr. Mayor? Can you please hurry up? We gotta go!

Our Story

Last weekend, I ran into someone who has been following my blog and she asked “why do you always say ‘my late husband’ instead of saying his name?” I was actually shocked by her question and didn’t know how to answer it because I really didn’t know why. To be honest with you, I didn’t realize that I did that and had to go back and re-read every one of my post to just see. Sure enough, I didn’t say his name once not even in the About page. So, now let me take a moment and introduce you to my late husband, Russell E. Austin (aka Russ or Lizrdbrth) and here is our story.

My favorite picture of us!

My favorite picture of us!

Over the years, many people have asked us how we met and we always laughed and said that we met at a bar. Yep, at a bar called Incahoot. It was December, 1998 and both sets of our friends wanted to go out before the holiday craziness began. Both of us ended up being the designated drivers for our friends that night. As it turned, out his set of friends and my set of friends actually know each other. Our first introduction was when I bopped Russ in the head thinking it was one of my friend who is a spitting image of him except Russ is taller. Of course, I apologized and we ended up sitting out on the patio shooting the breeze. We enjoyed the conversations so much that we never left the patio the whole night. Our friends kept interrupting us trying to get us to back into the bar all night. When it was closing time, he was such a gentleman walking my girlfriends and I back to our car. That is when he asked for my phone number.

He called me for the first time on New Year’s Eve and asked if I wanted to go out on a date the next night. Our first date was on New Year day 1999 at the Pomona Mining Company. Once again, we became lost in conversation the entire night. He was such a gentleman that night and I was deeply impressed. He wasn’t the typical guys that I gone out with lately. He didn’t jump my pants on the first date. Later when we talked about that night, I learned it was because of the car he was driving, a Pontiac Fiero, the center console was in the way. We both laugh so hard about that.

We had a unique relationship; we respected each other independence, intellect, and sense of adventure. This independence allowed for me to pursue my career, which ended up take me over 240 miles away from each other. For five years, we endured the long distance finding places to spend the weekend together and explore the town’s history. As for respecting each other’s intellect, we learned early on to agree to disagree. For the most part, we agreed on any topics that we choose to pick apart but there were a few that we did not and we were okay with that. As for our sense of adventures, we loved to explore the local history and we traveled near and far whether it was by horse, car or on a motorcycle.

As in any relationship, we had our ups and downs but after 13 years of dating (mind you, we never lived in the same house for all of those years), we finally got married on May 14, 2011. So you may be asking, how did he finally proposed? Well, it wasn’t the kind of proposal where the guy would get down on his knees and proposes with a ring in his hand. It was during a conversations with the kids where we were discussing what to do when the lease is up on the house that I was renting, he made a comment that it was silly for us living in separate houses and that we should be a family under one house. I wasn’t really sure that I heard him correctly. Mind you, Russ has never been married nor have children of his own but helped raised mine and after 13 years I kind of figured that we would never get married. So I waited three days to ask him if I really did hear him correctly. Yep, I sure did. Yeah, I know it wasn’t very romantic but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The biggest lesson I learned from her question was that I was writing for an audience rather than for myself. The other day, I also learned that I wasn’t alone in making that mistake. Another friend of mine who is also a motorcycle writer has done the same thing. At least she figured it out before she published it unlike I did. Writing about my feelings, thoughts and emotions in learning how to stand on my own two feet again has been and still is a huge learning curve for me.

The Meetup Group

Last weekend, I went on another group ride that was hosted by the Know Where Riders based out of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. A friend introduced me to this group and they post all of their ride on a website called http://www.meetup.com. Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies. It was the first time I have heard of the website and after a quick review, I discovered that there 35 motorcycle meet up groups within 50 miles radius of where I live.

The hosted ride was called “SOA – JAX’s final ride”. The ride took us to the Jax Teller’s memorial wall that was featured in the last episode of the final season of Sons of Anarchy (SOA). No, I’m not a fan of SOA and actually haven’t watched the show. At first I was a bit hesitant to join this ride since there were going to be over seventy-five motorcycles and I’m not a fan of large group ride. imageHowever, I figured I should go for it since it was in my neck of the wood. This group ride route took us through some of the local highways where sons of anarchy was filmed and also the beginning of the chase were Jackson Teller leads the police on his final ride to meet the reaper.

Once we got to the location where there is rock art (graffiti) memorializing the location where Jax Teller and his father were killed (in separate incidents). It was interesting to see grown men and women get so excited over an imaginary events then I realize why the hell not. We all need something to believe in something whether it’s in the sport teams, TV shows or in their religious belief. So who am I to judge when I believe in the afterlife so I can hold onto his memory.

Then I remember a quote by William W. Purkey:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

So I decided to join in on the photo opportunities so I can say to my kids and grandkids that I have been there.

image

After visiting the some of the locations, we continued on to Canyon Country to have lunch at the Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country. This place is worth a stop for a meal, the food was good and service was excellent since they had to deal with seventy-five of us.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the group organizers, no one got separated during the ride. Since I rode in the back of the group, I wished that I had the GroPro with me during this ride. It was an impressive sight to see seventy-five bikes in perfect staggered formation for miles ahead of me on a winding road.