Backbone of America
This story begins with a phone call from Harley-Davidson HOG® Magazine asking if I would be interested in riding a new Low Rider® across the Backbone of America (US HWY 50) while making photographs. The opportunity to ride an American classic motorcycle across a historical part of our country certainly took no time to put a big smile on my face and prompt a quick yes. I started at the Kansas City Harley-Davidson factory with the new Low Rider® and an open sense of adventure. It is not about riding 700 – 900 miles a day. It is about landscape, one small town after another, cafes, taverns, and small family run motels, featuring the Backbone of America. (Find the complete story and eBook here)
Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Harely-Davidson Kansas City, MO. Birthplace of the Low Rider®.
Early attempts at homesteading dot the landscape across Kansas.
Santa Fe Trail wagon ruts nine miles west of Dodge City, KS.
A solider cooks by the fire at Bent's Fort National Monument, La Junta, CO.
Royal Rush Skycoaster Royal Gorge. A free fall tower sweeps individuals 50 mph to hang momentarily 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River.
Gunnison, CO. ABC Motel. Clean rooms and free WIFI...when its working. Never found the hot tub.
Connors Pass. HWY 50, NV. Storm clouds building.
Middlegate Station. Last remaining original Station on the Pony Express route. Middlegate, NV.
Fredda Stevenson, owner Middlegate Station.
HWY 50 out of Austin, NV follows the Pony Express route. Big fires in the Sierra filled the sky with smoke this morning. Hard to see the mountain ranges ahead.
Tom Whiteman. Former firefighter for the US Forest Service.
There are times when photography and riding a motorcycle are one. All the senses are connected. A machine made from many parts now filled with life. It carry's me across the country. Landscape connected with the sky. Wind on my face. Sun warming my back. A good day to be alive.
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Portrait of Sturgis
If you’ve ever been around motorcycles or bikers, you've probably heard of Sturgis; and if you’ve heard of Sturgis you may know it’s the largest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts in the world. Sturgis brings in motorcycle artists from around the states. Stunning graphics are painted on bikes and body ink on arms, backs or other designated skin. Enthusiasts bring antique motorcycles and custom built ones, and others with themes such as the complete Elvis bike. There are bikers for Jesus, bikers supporting our veterans’ Rolling Thunder Project, bikers representing their countries in native costume, and bikers wearing t-shirts offering truly original words of wisdom.
Main Street Sturgis
Custom paint and creative graphics make each motorcycle a personal expression.
"He would have ridden a Harley"
A personalized Harley for the KING...Elvis of course.
Important historical information can be found in Sturgis during the rally.
Kings of the Road. Coming from across the country they meet each year at the Rally.
Body art at it's best displayed on main street Sturgis.
Everyone hands out free items from bibles to beer kozzies.
"Issy" is busy all week making magic with ink on skin.
Wedding bells ring with the rumble of Harleys.
The town is rockin'. Even the hula hoop is still popular.
Coming together as one at Sturgis.
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The northwest corner of Texas is known as the Texas Panhandle & Plains. Tumbleweeds, pump-jacks, windmills, flat open horizons and small towns lost to history. Its vast prairies and open grasslands harken back to a time when the frontier was largely unexplored; a rugged, unfamiliar place with intrigue and legend hidden in its plains and canyons. The people of the region are also quite representative of the country, displaying the fierce independence and genuine polite courtesy that Texans are famous for.
A week crisscrossing the Panhandle, wi-fi less, limited cell phone connection, rain, dust storms, small towns fading into history, meeting the real individuals of the Panhandle.
Cotton is king in the Panhandle. Peanuts and wild pigs run a close second.
Shorty grows peas, beans, okra, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, and sweet corn. "Anyone who needs food can come to my garden, pick anything they need, it's all a dollar a pound."
Deserted schools and scoreboards.
Gas station For Sale. Make an offer.
The rumble of my Harley brought Dennis into the street in Spur. "Been ridin' Harleys for over 40 years. Come on in and sit a while. Know anything about fixing a stuck clutch?"
Mid Way Drive Inn. Mid way between Quitaque and Turkey, TX or New York and Los Angeles.
Girls at the Dixie Dog Drive Inn. Best corn dog special ever.
Signature wall at the Dixie Dog, Spur, TX.
Crystal Gayle coming to the Ritz Theater in Wellington, TX. The theater was built in 1928, complete with a $35,000 Vitaphone and Movietone sound system – the cutting edge technology for the exhibition of “talking” movies.
Officially coined, "Punkin Days," the annual celebration in Floydada, TX honors one of most unique crops in agriculture, the pumpkin. How did Floydada earn the privilege of becoming the "Pumpkin Capital"? The facts and figures tell it all. Although only about fifteen hundred acres of the crop is grown annually in this county, pumpkins produce about 20,000 to 50,000 pounds per acres. That's a lot of pie.
The Hotel Turkey was opened in 1927 in Turkey, TX. It became the social center of the community for dances, banquets, and meetings. The hotel traditionally hosts musicians who come to Turkey for the annual Bob Wills Day celebration each year. A good place to put the kickstand down.
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