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Heading to Utah, the River Brings New Friends

By Scooter Tramp Scotty

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One of the strangest aspects of a drifter’s life is the fact that he has almost no permanent reality of his own. Most every man has his own reality; his job, woman, friends, family, home, dog, etc. The things he loves and the things he only tolerates in his world. In this way a man’s life is forged of the people and objects around him. Not so for the drifter; and in my case the only things that remain familiar are my bike and body. Everything around these two staples is in a state of almost constant change. Life became a perpetual visit into other people’s worlds.
By summer I often take employment at big motorcycle rallies around the country. This is an honest gig allowing a traveler to pull off the road, work a hard week, and then grab a pocket full of green freedom and be on his way again. He's free to enjoy his travels until the next event in some distant state. At Sturgis, if you can fix bikes and want to work, then you’re golden. I did exceptionally well there in 2013. The funds my labor brought in lasted for many months. As usual there was no time schedule, no home to return to, and no real future destination. For a while the days ahead were filled only with riding and whatever manner of adventure the road might throw my way next. I’d not be kept waiting long…
It’s been said there’s more power in one female pubic hair than there is in a locomotive train. No man has ever argued this indisputable truth. So, it was the call of a woman, coupled with the wish to visit a few old friends in Utah, which motivated my wheels to spin so lazily in a westerly direction and across the tiny back roads of Wyoming.
Afternoon was fading to evening as the old Electra Glide pulled into the small town of Buffalo. Tomorrow’s highway would climb the 9,700 foot Powder River Pass then move on to Thermopolis and eventually into Utah while hopefully passing through some beautiful back country scenery along the way. Tonight however, I’d simply make camp. 
After a local restaurant provided dinner, one abandoned dirt road led the Electra Glide into the seemingly forgotten woods residing along a small creek. The night was so warm and sky so bright, so I chose simply to leave the tent untouched and sleep beside my bike amid the tall trees and under cover of the star filled night. It was late morning when sleep finally left and I reached for the coffee thermos. After a bowl of cereal, I walked to the creek for a bath, changed into clean cloths, repacked the bike, and eventually made my way back to the pavement.
No motorcyclist could ever hope for a better ride than the one along the little highway-16. Although the mid August air started out warm, by the time the mountain pass faded from my mirrors it was downright hot. 
The anomaly of Thermopolis came to pass. I spent over an hour grinning and shooting pictures of the bizarre spectacles peppering this strange geothermal place. Eventually—and now dressed in shorts, tank, and tennis shoes—the highway led onward.
Spectacular walls of tall rock outcroppings stood to either side of the tight canyon road as its twisty pavement crawled beside the river at my right. A small rest area came into view. Some 50 feet from the river’s edge a single picnic table sat atop a small concrete slab and below the small metal roof shading it from the pounding sun. Time was of no concern on this beautiful, yet exceedingly hot day, so I took a break.
Although the drive was gravel, my heavily loaded Electra Glide soon sat in the shade as I lay upon the table with my rolled up jacket as a pillow and a book in hand. A gentle breeze tugged my hair as the sound of moving river water filled my ears. The time passed comfortably.
I heard movement at the shore and looked lazily up to note that a man and his two female companions had docked their rubber boat at my shoreline. This seemed normal in a place like this so I returned to the novel.
It was only a small dirt covered hill separating me from the inflatable and I soon heard footsteps approaching. I looked up. Thin legs labored to carry the rather frail weight of a man in his later years in my direction, and I noted the slight limp as he walked.
 “Hi. I’m Martin,” he pushed a thin hand in my direction and I took it. Both women arrived to flank him. “This is my wife Annie and daughter Janice.” 
After more introductions Martin launched into his story. “As you can see, we came out for a little rafting today. Well, we parked my wife’s truck over there,” he pointed to the only vehicle in the lot, “then drove mine six miles up the river, locked it, and started down in the raft. Well, bunch of rank amateurs that we are, we hit a rock, flipped the boat, lost our cooler and everything else, and then barely got our shit back together without drowning!
He was laughing now—they all were. I wasn’t sure if I should join in or not. “Problem is that Annie left her keys up in my truck and now we got no way of getting to it,” Martin was laughing some more, “I’ll give you $20 for a ride to my truck.”
Now how could I say no to that? “Well I was about ready to leave anyway Martin. I’ll take you. You don’t have to pay me though. That crazy story is wages enough.” But he insisted anyway.
As I moved to rearrange equipment and make room for a passenger Annie started talking, “Hey, where you staying tonight Scotty? We own a motel in Riverton about 35 miles up the road. It’s a nice place, how about a free room?” 
I didn’t know what to say. Annie asked me for pen and paper, scribbled a note, then handed it back with a few words, “Give this to the girl at the desk and she’ll hook you up. Soon as I get my phone I’ll call and let her know you’re coming.
Then the daughter chimed in, “Hey, we’re having a barbeque tonight. Wanna come? Free food and we’ve got a hot tub.” All smiles and bubbly, Janice was obviously one of those fun, extroverted, and possibly a little deviant, personality types. Again, how could I say no?
It was with some difficulty that Martin mounted my bike and we set off. After five miles had passed by the highway began to climb high upon the canyon wall and away from the river far below. Before long the reason became obvious: a huge dam blocked the canyon and the road had simply climbed the canyon wall to go over it. From the top I could see the large lake spreading out for quite some distance at its far side. At the other side a rough dirt road led steeply down to the dam’s base where Martin’s truck was parked. It was quite a distance. Martin offered to walk the rest of the way, but walking was no longer the old guy’s strong point and I refused to let him.
 “Which way Martin?” I insisted. He pointed. The truck was just as he had said and I saw that the look of relief in the old dude’s eyes was genuine as he shook my hand and said goodbye.
With the old FL again packed for a solo rider my journey up the canyon continued.
Day faded to late afternoon as the small town of Riverton came into view. The motel was just as Annie had said and the counter girl soon handed me a key. It was a wonderful little place, all done up in natural colors and offering a little rout-iron table and chairs sitting outside my door. I unloaded the bike and settled in. Feeling hungry, I wondered whether to go out and eat or wait to see if Janice would call about the BBQ. After all, I didn’t know these people well enough to count on anything for sure. A little hunger never killed anybody, I thought, and simply settled in to wait.
The phone rang. It was Janice.
It was in a quaint middle class neighborhood in which the fine single-story American home waited for my arrival. A large fishing boat loomed from its place upon the trailer at the driveway’s left side and I pulled beside it then shut the noisy engine down. Martin appeared from the yard’s wooden gate, shook my hand, answered a few stupid questions I asked about his boat, then ushered me in through the gate. It was a tidy place, the BBQ already smoked and everybody, including grandma and grandpa, were present. After introductions, I took a seat, accepted a cup of coffee, and faded into the conversation.
Annie groaned during the motel transformation story. It undoubtedly brought more stress and financial drain than originally intended. They’d purchased the motel as a fixer upper then refurbished it into a fine establishment. Although thoroughly grateful for their kindness and this wonderful adventure. I was truly glad the motel was their burden and not mine.
Their daughter Janice left her husband at home in Arizona to come and stay. But it looked to me like she missed the dog almost as much as her folks.
The food was good and conversation jovial, as I tempered my language for the sake of this older crowd. As afternoon waned to evening then ultimately fell into night, the grand folks made their goodbyes and Martin—whose health was obviously not the best—went to bed soon after. Janice really was a bit of a firecracker and she promptly declared time to go hot tubing. Mom was in. I was too. So it was below that wide open Wyoming sky when the three of us melted into bubbling hot water as steam rose toward the heavens like some ghostly mist. It was 10:00pm when I finally rode home.
Morning brought slightly cooler weather, and as usual it was pushing noon by the time Betsy was again packed, and I started her engine. As the unknown future the open road spread out ahead, I relaxed farther into the old FL’s pilot’s seat. After all, for just this moment the bike was in fine running condition, the highway was beautiful, and the sunshine warm.
It was a good day to ride.
Scooter Tramp Scotty
Scotty Kerekes
El Cajon, Ca.
Located at the edge of Thermopolis, Hot Springs State Park was built around the world’s largest single mineral hot spring. Big Spring pours forth millions of gallons of mineral water every 24 hours at a constant temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The perpetual fountain forms a seething caldron from which some of the water is channeled into pools to be cooled and then piped into bathhouses for public use. From another stream, the water flows over enchanting Rainbow Terrace and then spills down into the Big Horn River.

Two swimming plunges and the State Bath House provide indoor and outdoor pools. Open year ‘round, the plunges offer mineral water swimming and all types of recreation equipment. A herd of buffalo roams the red hills behind the main portion of Hot Springs State Park.

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Reader Comments

Very interesting reading Mr.Scooter Tramp Scotty ! Almost like being their.Thanks for sharing your talent's. MLR&R!!!

Bruce Elkins
Lodi, OH
Monday, March 3, 2014
Great story. If you ever get up to Canada feel free to stop in for a cold drink
Even have a safe place for Betsy beside my 2012 glide.

Ride safe,


Toronto, ON, Canada
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Editor Response He'll be all over it.

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