Article By: Charlie Weisel
Originally Published In The August-September 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I’ve got to be honest here; I haven’t done much lately, at least not anything monumental. This whole pandemic fiasco has really thrown a wrench into things as far as everyday life goes. A few months ago, it was looking like we were awaiting the arrival of infected Monkeys foaming at the mouth or Coronavirus carrying Bats with a score to settle. Either way, the mainstream media seemed to be projecting imminent death to nearly everyone , except for the “essential” workers, who, of course, were all fortunately immune to said virus. The other fortunate part is that unless you worked at a bespoke wingtip boutique or a haberdashery specializing only in Beaver skin pants, you were considered essential. And with that, it is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of three nonessential workers, their legacy will live on, through those handmade wingtip shoes and that single pair of Beaver skin pants that I assume are clinging to Ozzy Osbourne’s legs at this very moment. May they rest peace.
In all seriousness, though, because I’m sure I ruffled a few feathers with my apparent lack of concern over this whole matter, let’s get down to the task at hand. Life has changed whether we like it or not, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I, like many of you, have fortunately been able to work through all this without really skipping a beat. I’m working an outrageous amount, in fact, which is why I don’t have a story of great grandeur to share with you this month. That being said, I did manage to sneak away recently and do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I camped at Pawnee Prairie National Grasslands. Why haven’t I done this before, you ask? Simply put, because it is so close to my house, I could never justify taking the time to pack my bike for such a short ride. It wouldn’t be a whole lot different than packing a tent for a trip to the coffee shop, which, if you ride a chopper, may not be a terrible idea… “Hey Bob, you’ll find me broke down at the corner of 3rd and Main. I’ve got my tent set up in the entrance to the Haberdashery: he’s not open anyway.”
I think it was a Wednesday when my friend Andrew reached out about moto camping over that upcoming weekend. I was exhausted from work but agreed to it as long as it didn’t turn into some sort of 2000 mile turn and burn weekend that would leave me decimated come Monday morning. That’s called “adulting” ladies and gentlemen, something I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Being the easy-going bloke that Andrew is, he quickly agreed, and the map scouring began to find a new destination within a few hundred miles of home. We settled on a state park in western Nebraska. It looked pretty enough on the internet. We had no idea if it was even reopened yet, and we agreed to take as many dirt roads as we could. It was a pretty basic plan, to say the least, and that’s just what we did. Andrew, on his BMW R1200GSA and me on my “adventure” chopper, headed north across some of the loosest, sandiest, and rocky dirt roads I’ve seen in a while. And there was a lot of it. The weather was great, not a cloud in the sky. We had no real idea of where we were most of the time. Other than the occasional rancher, there wasn’t a soul on the road. We did, however, eventually stumble across a gas station a mere 50 miles from our destination and thought it smart to start asking around as to whether the park was open or not. It was not. Bummer.
At this point, we decided to abort the mission and work our way back south to the Pawnee Prairie Grasslands, where closed signs don’t exist. This was all fine and dandy to me, because, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been wanting to camp out there for a while anyway. This was the perfect opportunity. The Grasslands are known for bird watching and wide-open spaces, one of which interests me; the other just provides a dramatic musical score when watching the sunset over the prairie. Super romantic stuff, man! It’s a shame I don’t have a covered wagon to really complete the scene. Oh, and the stargazing is pretty phenomenal. That should appeal to your secret Treky side. Just beware that the roads in and out of this area, as picturesque as the two-track is, can be a bit treacherous on a hardtail. It was totally worth it, though.
The point to all this, and I promise there is one, is that even though longrange travel has become difficult, if not impossible for most of us, that doesn’t mean we have to stop living. There are still plenty of opportunities to get out and explore in the midst this pandemic, social unrest, and political idiocy. Suddenly I’m craving Cheetos. Don’t drink bleach people. In fact, I’d say that this is the prime time to start planning those short weekend camping trips, really explore your backyard or simply ride roads nearby that you would otherwise overlook. Please don’t take all this as me not caring about what is going on in the world at the moment. That is far from the truth. My heart truly does go out to everyone affected by both the pandemic as well as peoples fight for equality. But I also believe that to be our best through this, to provide muchneeded support for those around us and to have the energy to fight for what we believe in, you must start by taking care of yourself. There is no better way to do that than by spending some time behind your handlebars and in nature. So, I say we start by cleansing the mind on a quick ride to someplace new, then get back to fighting for what’s right. Also, support small business, that’s always a good thing. Now, where are those Cheetos??? As always you can follow my adventures on Instagram @ travelingchopper Also, follow @roadsareforjourneys and visit roadsareforjourneys.com