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Near Blackwell Hill

Near Blackwell Hill

Just 4 days into the New Year for the first motorcyclist arrest.

Patrick Whalen Parks, age 21 was taken into custody on I-5 at mile post 38 southbound on Blackwell Hill, just south of Gold Hill for reckless driving, driving while suspended—violation, driving uninsured and expired vehicle registration.

How’s that defiance thing working out for you Patrick?

Mr. Parks, who is from El Sobrante, CA and was taken into custody by OSP troopers, was riding a Suzuki motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic in a dangerous manner at over 100 MPH.  At one point passing vehicles on the inside median and almost caused a crash.

Even though motorcycling is a respectable form of recreation we continue to see isolated incidents each year by bad actors that generate negative press and mare the motorcycling image.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

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MC enjoying the fall weather at home!

MC enjoying the fall weather!

12 surgeries, 12 weeks in the hospital, 12 separate medical billing groups….  12-noon, at home enjoying the fall colors – priceless!

You might recall that back on July 31st (HERE) while attending the Shark Week III rally we learned that a member of our riding group (MC) was hit by a car who was trying to beat a red-light at the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the rally hotel. We arrived on scene to see the paramedics working on MC and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris, gathered up some personal belongings and then rode to the hospital.

MC spent 4 weeks at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, UT in critical care and acute therapy.  There was a continuous debate about how to save the foot.  He was then transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland where he spent another 8 weeks enduring various forms of surgeries in an effort to avoid amputation of his foot.

At home and something to smile about...

At home–something to truly smile about…

The awesome news is that MC was discharged from Legacy Emanuel hospital on October 23, 2013.  Exactly 12 weeks from the date of the accident in St. George.  And, it was a gorgeous northwest day for MC to absorb the fall beauty and take a deep breath of fresh air— the first time in 6 weeks that MC was able to go outside!  He has endure more than most all of us will ever know in an effort to save his foot.  You’re an inspiration MC!!

There are numerous new challenges and MC is working through each of them (finances, crutches, stairs, showering, etc.) now that the hospital chapter of his journey is mainly closed.  MC’s significant other continues to provide engaging and detailed status updates on her blog and a Facebook page was created for extended friends and interested individuals to follow progress.

Being home is an incredible boost to the human spirit, but it’s not the end of MC’s recovery.  There will be another 12 weeks before he can truly put his entire foot “in the dirt” and before that it will require another surgery to remove that bulky frame on his foot along with physical therapy.

However, I wanted to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12+ weeks provided prayers and positive vibes.  You’ve all been awesome and I want to personally thank you for your kind outreach.

Photo’s courtesy of S.B.

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Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.

Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the H-D 105th Anniversary Parade.

Next week we will celebrate the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

It happens on July 4th and sure we’re in the middle of what seems like a “J. Edgar” moment with this PRISM gig – Big Government infringing on civil liberties – but, the mysterious man did some great things and it seems we’re always preoccupied with those items that divide us versus the things that pull us together.

Here is an interesting video about the American Experience that reminds us to celebrate this occasion.  It’s from the Bicentennial anniversary and a nice retro look back.

I think we live in a great country, the only one in the world founded on the power of ideas, freedom, equality and the notion that you can come from nothing and become something through hard work and determination.  And like many of you I lack grandeur in my heritage and was raised by hard working, middle class parents who provided all the essentials necessary to raise an educated, healthy, motivated family with a sound ethical background.

And as a member of the motorcycle riding community I know there are a lot of individualists out there who follow their own path and beat the drum to their own song.  So whether celebrating the day with a BBQ, family picnic or solo with the wind in your face… enjoy your freedom and independence!

Flags courtesy of MKEimages.com at the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary parade.  The motorcycle belongs to Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary Parade. 

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Hat-On-High“A little piece of you,
The little piece in me
Will Die
For this is not America”

It’s a song (HERE) by jazz fusion band Pat Metheny Group, Lyle Mays and rock singer David Bowie.

The song is profound and meaningful – and absolutely perfect for today’s circumstances.  But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

I’m an avid HDTV watcher.  The last few days I’ve spent time on the RETRO (RetroPlex) channel.  Interestingly there’s been an increase of movies about disillusioned civilian contractors working in the U.S. Government on the line-up.  Covert operations complete with code names, spy camera’s that even Bond would be envious.

someone-talkedIn the 1970’s it was called the “black vault” (classified communications center).  Move forward 30+ years and it’s a data center called PRISM which serves as a communication facility to vacuum up information on millions of private citizens in contradiction to the 4th amendment.

And while we’re on the topic, I was under the impression that the NSA hired Ph.D’s with military service, but now we learn that Edward Snowden, a low-level IT technician making $200K a year – only in America could a civilian contractor who didn’t graduate high school or complete college make $200K – used a banned USB thumb drive to smuggle documents.

I just don’t understand the lack of outrage about his salary, but I’m off point.

Mr. Snowden stated that he justified smuggling documents because the intelligence community had become the United Stasi of America – a reference of the surveillance powers over their own citizens that the East German Stasi – the secret police in the former Democratic Republic of East Germany.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Is this déjà vu all over again?

You might recall that back in 1979, journalist Robert Lindsey chronicled the true story of Andrew Daulton Lee and Christopher John Boyce.  Two high school buddies from good families who were tried and convicted of espionage.  Boyce’s FBI agent father landed the floundering 21-year-old a job at TRW who developed and manufactured satellites for the CIA.  Boyce became disillusioned after learning about the CIA activity to remove Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam because he wanted to close U.S. military bases.  With Lee’s help, Boyce set out to sell government secrets to the Soviets.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) - Radar

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Radar – “Prairie Pyramid”

In 1985, the book was turned into a film called The Falcon and the Snowman.

As I watched the movie on RETRO, I was reminded of my employment at ITT/Federal Electric Corporation.  I worked at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) or as the locals called it, the “prairie pyramid.”  It was the only operational ABM (Anti-ballistic Missile) defense system.  It’s mission was to defend the continental U.S. from a ballistic missile attack from the USSR or China.  And similar to the movie, security requirements of any installation housing nuclear weapons are specific and extensive.  There were 30 Spartans (long-range intercepts) and 70 Sprint (close-in intercepts) missiles on the complex.  I initially worked at the MSR (Missile Site Radar) facility for about a year prior to receiving a restricted access clearance.  I was then moved to the RSL (Remote Site Launch) facilities which housed the close-in intercept missiles and on many occasions had access to “exclusion areas” (nuclear missile field) in the facility.  The RSL’s were hardened against nuclear blast and were capable of operating autonomously while “buttoned up” during an attack.

RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex – RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

After all these years the Edward Snowden story speaks to me, both at a national level and from the mundane working world.

Christopher Boyce justified his actions by claiming he was selling information in the hopes of fostering peace between the Soviet Union and the U.S.  Or there was Daniel Ellsberg who in 1971, as a leading Vietnam War strategist concluded that America’s role in the war was based on decades of lies so he leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to the New York Times.  It was a daring act that ultimately helped lead to Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation and the end of the war.  Do you recall when Nixon stated: “Quit making national hero’s out of those who steal secrets and publish them in the newspaper.”

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Unfortunately in 2013 this all sounds similar.

Then in Oregon we have the “slippery slimy” Senator Ron Wyden who tried to cast himself in a positive light.  Being on the Intelligence Committee, he had been briefed and knew the answer, but ask the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, “do you collect telephone data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”  Mr. Clapper should have duck the question – neither confirm or deny here in open session – but instead he provided the least “untruthful answer” – or LIED.

Hey, I want to defeat the terrorists as much as the next guy, but harvesting data on millions of innocent American’s…  I don’t recall signing up for that or empowering a despotic government here in the U.S.

And long before PRISM there was Good Will Hunting.  Why shouldn’t I join the NSA?  It’s a classic!

You might wonder where Christopher Boyce is now?  In 1977 he was convicted of espionage and spent time in various federal prisons.  In 1980, he made headlines when he escaped from Lompoc, CA., and remained on the run for 19 months while supporting himself by robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest.  In 1997, he was released from the medium-security prison in Sheridan, OR., and sent to a halfway house in San Francisco.  He married Cait Boyce, the woman who helped him fight for parole.  In 2003 at the age of 50 years old, he was released from the halfway house.  He remains free, but on parole until 2046, his original release date.  Mr. Lee was paroled in 1998.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Army, some taken by author at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) – near Nekoma, and Langdon, N.D.   Note: On the Falcon & the Snowman soundtrack the name of the song – This Is Not America is “Chris.”

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Fair Weather Riders

Fair Weather Riders

It seems that May is déjà vu all over again.

It marks the start of the motorcycle safety awareness month which is shortly followed by accident reports or dumb and dumber maneuvers by  motorcycle riders.

The first in Oregon was the 10am arrest of Jessica Peterson (28 years old) on the first day of Motorcycle Awareness Month.  The charges were assault in the 2nd degree, DUI and reckless driving.  Ms. Petersen crossed over into oncoming traffic and struck Chase Dillon Ivey (26 years old) on his Suzuki motorcycle.  At last report Mr. Ivey was in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

The opening weekend of Motorcycle Awareness in Washington state wasn’t any better where 3 deaths in two motorcycle crashes on highway 101 in Western Washington occurred.  In Idaho, just a few days earlier three motorcyclists died.

And as if that wasn’t enough to bring a lot of attention to rider safety and the tragic events, on May 6th on Highway 97 south of Lapine, Oregon, Gregory Zaser (61 years old) was cited for speeding – 130mph in a 55mph zone – on a Ducati motorcycle.  According to Trooper Newcomb, Mr. Zaser had just purchased the Ducati (bagger) and wanted to “see what it would do”…

Spoken just like a true attention-grabbing teenager!

I searched and found nothing mentioned on the Desmos web site about this new break-in procedure from Ducati.  And combine that with the fact that Highway 97 is notorious for wild animals standing peacefully on the roadway… I think Mr. Zaser is lucky to walk away with only a huge ticket!

My point?  Other than calling out Mr. Zaser’s attempt to revive the art of fossilized manliness and giving motorcyclists a bad image?!

We’re coming off 3-weeks of incredibly nice weather here in the northwest and motorcycles have been out in force.  Many riders in the state are fair(er) weather riders and for the first time pulling out their motorcycle from storage.  An experienced rider once shared with me that when you’re riding on a motorcycle you’ve always got to watch out for everyone else around you.  And I’ve noticed more than ever the freeways in the Portland metro area are full of people on the phone – talking and texting – changing lanes or swerving and not using blinkers because they’re just not paying attention to their surroundings.

It’s not my intention to pick on a particular group of drivers or riders, but I wanted to reinforce the conversation about motorcycle safety.  A high percentage of accidents are rider caused and preventable.  Make smart decisions on the road.

Photo courtesy of George Toomer

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HCMR-13I’m talking about the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally in Baker City, Oregon.

The king of the curve!  And it all happens on July 12-15th.

The U.S. Government named Hells Canyon a national wilderness area which protects the canyon into the future, but the real essence of the area is in its native American past.  It’s home to the Nez Perce and for hundreds of years the area belong to a proud people.  Today their spirit lives on as you ride in the area.

I’ve been to the Hells Canyon a number of times and it seems like I uncover more motorcycle riding treasures on each trip.  There is fantastic scenery, friendly people and wonderful roads.  I have not, but many riders have ridden all of the motorcycle rally routes and yet they still return looking for more.

The Little Dragon (188 corners in 14 miles) demands it, but all the roads require that you bring your “A” game, because the challenging twisty roads offer up a great experience to those who conquer them.

The best news is that the rally was pushed out a month or so last year after having a couple years of questionable weather.  Hey, I like rain as much as the next guy, but standing around the tent heaters was the last straw for me and I for one am thankful they moved the date to a timeframe when you can count on the weather being awesome.

It will be nice to walk around in shorts in downtown Baker City and check out main street, the Corner Brick, The Geiser Saloon and old town cafes.  I hope to see you there.

I’ve previously blogged about the “June-uary” rally HERE and a list of HCMR posts HERE.

Photo courtesy of HCMR

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v-twin mcToday’s youth, particularly texting teenagers and web savvy 20-somethings know that the time is posted everywhere; on radios, ovens, microwaves, banks, train stations, street corners and the ever important — cell phone.

All of this makes it difficult to make the case for the need of a traditional wristwatch let alone a time keeping device favored in the era of pocket watch-wearers.

Fortunately Oregonian Ron Lattner, a retired motorcyclist has made a hobby out of crafting custom Wooden Pocket Watches and incorporated designs that any motorcycle enthusiast can appreciate.  He has hand-crafted designs which incorporate a V-Twin engine design, one for a Fallen Biker and several with military designs.  His designs can be found HERE.

il_570xN.391081916_sbgdMr. Lattner reached out to me to post some information on the watches and as a fellow biker I was happy to do so.

They are hand-turned from a variety of woods and match the kind of elegance, style and mood you might have in mind.  There is something mystic about a hand-crafted and well-made pocket watch that plays to different crowd than the smartphone.  It’s more than an accessory… it’s between an object of art, of value or giving from one generation to another.

Check out these classics.

Photo’s courtesy of Mr. Lattner.

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