Phone Order: 530-391-1356
9-5 PST M-F Email Inquiries:
pashnit33 at yahoo.com
Iceland, Russia, South Africa
Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina
Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong
Scotland, Ireland, France, Finland
Sweden, Poland, Turkey, Greece
Italy, Australia, New Zealand
Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia
Singapore, Cyprus, Israel, Chile
Saudi Arabia, DuBai, Romania
Switzerland, Czech Republic
Places we've shipped to recently! CONTACT US for a shipping quote to your respective country via EMAIL: pashnit33 at yahoo.com.
What is BILL PAY?
Bill Pay is relatively new, but our long-time clients are asking for it: Bill Pay is on-line banking. You log into your bank, and ask them to cut an old-fashioned check. Your bank then mails it for you. No more stamps, envelopes, etc. However,
we'll take 4% off your order. CONTACT US at Pashnit33 AT yahoo DOT com for more details or call the order in to 530-391-1356 9-5 PST M-F.
USA Customers only.
|Day 1: 1230 Miles in 22 Hours
I stare at the map as cars whiz by, any direction sounds mighty good. I'm tempted to ride down into the Florida Keys. Key West, out into the
Caribbean, 90 miles from Cuba. My pen scribbles about along the side of the map furiously working its way across the continent. Only another 2000 miles.
As simple as it may sound, I started this trip with my only goal being to reach El Paso from Sacramento in just one straight day. A distance of 1200 miles.
This crazy notion of riding a 1200-mile day on a motorcycle was an idea that crept into my mind. It hit me while
falling asleep only a few days before my departure. Half lucid, and lost in the rapture of motorcycle glory, the idea of a man pushing the envelope trying to see just what you're capable of. And the more I thought about attempting such a ride, the more irresistible it became.
I am on a tight schedule, see, the semester starts on this coming Tuesday back in Sacramento and I am now in Texas. But... there is even more...
The whole reason why this trip has become a reality is credited to an old friend of mine who called me on the phone about two months
ago. The two of us haven't had any contact in years. And I never expected to even hear from her again. We all seem to go our separate ways the older
Then she phoned out of the blue. We did the normal chitchat about the old days, what happened to this person, that one's gotten married, and so on.
And the topic soon turns to the idea of seeing each other. Okay, okay, so she was an old flame.
Sometimes you need a reason, a purpose- from that conversation, I had the excuse I needed for
my next ride. I even went and bought a second motorcycle just for this.
I did my last
trip 7 months ago on an '82 Suzuki GS850L across America's midsection, a 5000-mile adventure to say the least. So I gathered up every penny I had
saved (and then some), and bought an '83 Yamaha Venture 1200. This bike runs like a tank. One nice thing about being young, free, and on your own
is you can do whatever you want anytime you please.
Nothing clears cobwebs from the mind like endless road and a motorcycle.
It all began on... Monday, January
I had drill last weekend which is the main reason why I have to fit this trip into a week since it is God, Country, Corps, and not- Tim's travels,
Corps, Country. Otherwise I would have left several days ago. This last weekend, myself and a couple guys from my unit were up in the Sierra
Nevada Mountains for cold weather training. We go up there once a year to practice some basic warfare in a cold and snowy environment. Great fun! I
figured it'd be good practice for the sleeping temperatures I am expecting. I'm good for sleeping outside in 20-degree weather. So I wasn't too
worried about the temperatures I expected in El Paso, which is at around 4000 feet depending on where you stand. It is desert though, so it's
warm days and very cold nights, I think. Right?
After riding home from drill Sunday evening, I finished packing the
bike parked in the garage all ready to go. I slept a few hours, and eventually left at 4:30 AM heading south. The fog
leaving Sacramento was so
thick, I doubt I could see over 50 feet as I rode through an area known across the states for its multiple-car pileups. After a tense hour of sitting up
high peering over the moisture coated windshield, the fog melted away, and
Interstate 5 drowned into its straight and narrow ride through California's
I settled in leaning back against the sleeping bag as if I was in an easy chair. I cranked some tunes, hit the cruise, and rode off into the night. Later,
I sort of woke up realizing the sun was coming up to my left. Low on the horizon, it emerged like the scrolling of movie credits that sounded the
end of night. Brilliant orange shattered the hold of inky black as the bike hummed beneath me.
It was then it hit me.
The realization came hurtling over the mountains striking my lone soul as blursome shooting yellow lines shot beneath my tires.
There I sat, on a motorcycle headed across the United States and back again just for the hell of it. The only reason I am doing this is because I am the
captain of my own ship. No grandiose higher calling or God told me to. Simply because I am free to do whatever I choose. Right now that ability
to choose finds me whizzing through 34-degree morning air somewhere in California astride my motorcycle.
A song by the Soup Dragons came on just then singing "I'm Free.. to do what I want.. any old time.." I sang along, then suddenly started laughing hysterically
weaving all over the deserted highway, "I'm free, I'm freeeee..." It was a rapturous moment!
No work, no people, no deadlines, no school, no duties, and no responsibilities, absolute nothing. The bike and I. "I'm free, I'm
freeee..." The feeling was sinking in.
I came upon the 'grapevine', a twisty mountainous section of freeway that separates Los Angeles from the rest of the northerly world. Up and over
the Tejon Pass and Los Angeles comes hurtling at you. The ride becomes rather enticing as it snakes through the range and the posted speed
drops to oh-so-slow 55 mph at times.
The Venture was mysteriously sucked into a wolfpack with one of these new
Cadillac's, a boat-sized Mercedes, and a Lincoln Town Car. I
was pulled into their slipstream, really, I was. The Venture starts to death-wobble in corners around 90, but 80
was so smooth I could barely
hear the bike above the roar of the wind. And of course Van Halen blaring through the stereo.
Crest a hill and all four of us in a single row are rocketing down switchback mountainside. I've heard that
Los Angeles is known for its high freeway speeds.
It's a wonder they don't pump out more race car drivers. We popped over the next hill, the temperature climbed an instant 15 degrees, and that's
how you know you've reached Los Angeles.
I wound my way through the city carefully watching all the
signs for the proper thread through Los Angeles. It's a maze of freeways in that
city. I'm on a schedule. I headed east, a blazing 60 degrees out, quite a swing from the
34 degrees a few hours ago. Now that's motorcycling. Greater LA fades, on and on through the valleys, town after town, all back to back never
ending, so many people, so much concrete and the air is a funny color. How strange. Air that has color?
Palm Springs fancies itself in all the windmills on the hilltops. It resonates the senior living. I feel it as I ride by. Dry climate, steady temperatures,
and lotsa dirt.
Welcome to Southern California - Headed for the Arizona border
| The bike glides through Arizona past mountain ranges in the distance that look painted into the sky. Forever onward, and into Phoenix.
While stopping for
gas on the south side at Baseline Road at a Texaco, a young lady of similar age is punching the buttons as I pay for my gas. Upon seeing the
gold EGA pin on my jacket, she embarked on a curious inquiry of where I've been stationed, then
blurted a cacophony of excited questions about
the bike outside the window. Her main fascination was the very idea of saddling a bike, and riding it long distances.
She was quick to tell me of a friend of a friend of a 2nd cousin's friend, who got hit by a dump truck or flying cow or lightning. On his bike of
course- something like that. I simply smiled and said I've heard 'em all.
If I was so fixated with being maimed or getting hurt on the bike, the only thing I would do with my life is sit in a La-Z-Boy and watch TV all day.
I'd probably never leave my house, I mean geez, I might stumble on the doorstep, stub my big toe, break a nail, a leg, fall on my head, on and on. I
told her this and her facial expression changed a little. It was as if an
epiphanous light from heaven shown down upon her from heaven above. She
had a whole new perspective on life in a single moment.
Then she started asking all sorts of questions about my Marine Corps.
"You must be in shape to ride that bike all day, and the Marines, blah, blah, blah," she rambled. Time to go.
Tucson, Arizona brought about a rise in elevation and an end to the light of day. The sun to the west dropped behind desert mountains and I
realized I had been on the road since 4:30 AM. I stopped for gas at 3700 feet and sensed the chill as the elevation and darkness combined. I hope
there wasn't much to see. The landscape became a blur as the only world that came to exist was in the glow of my headlight. I rode past
the Saguaro National Monument and even a dry lake near Wilcox. Never even knew they were there.
I'd been on the bike for 17 hours straight hitting the 1000-mile mark somewhere around the New Mexico state border. As I
rolled past mile 1001 and crossed into New
Mexico, my 3rd state of the day, the elevation moved over 4300 feet around Deming. It may not seem high, but this is high desert with nothing to
hold the heat in. The temperature continued to drop. And drop. And
drop some more.
I was moving well into the night and also exhaustion. The last 325 miles- a 5 or 6 hour jaunt from Tucson to El Paso through the desert, became a
sheer test of will. My experience with deserts is limited. In planning this trip, I failed to fathom at the drop in temperature and the chill that could
accompany the 65-mph night air. The temperature dropped below freezing and kept on dropping. Bitter air became colder and colder, and so did
yours truly. I crouched into the pocket of air behind the fairing of the
Venture as cold siphoned away strength and warmth, but not my resolve.
I watched the temperature slowly drop on my digital
temperature gauge affixed to the handlebar. 35 degrees. Then
30 degrees. Then 25 degrees. The air temperature stabilized at a bewildering 22 degrees and just sat there. All I could think is I must be crazy to be out here doing this. But I
was iron-willed staring at two unforgiving digital numbers of 22 degrees. The cutting taste of desert seeped through my
black flight jacket, my gloves, and my combat boots. Whitened stiff fingers clutched the handle grip as one hand rested upon the fins of the motor then traded off with the other. My heart
pumped life battling chilling blasts of desert night air. The tops of my thighs lost feeling under
my long-johns & jeans. I could only guess at the wind-chill of the slipstream beside me. The funny thing is I don't remember
much. I was just so intensely cold, so very cold. My resolve was rock solid. I would make my 1200 miles in a single day.
The glow on the pavement in front of me parted the darkness for a short distance then nothing. The bike, ever present, hummed a steady rhythm
beneath me, the tires endlessly turning, the throttle lock on, the tunes blaring away. I
rode on maintaining my speed and pace. I could picture my warm sleeping bag waiting to be
unrolled at a campground outside El Paso that was annotated on the map. Any other car was rare. I was alone, and the desert swallowed me up.
There was only one option. I had to reach my 1200 miles.
Not only was I cold, but I was also moving into a new level of
exhaustion. It was an effort to stay alert. It was an effort
to stay awake. I did it all. I sang along with the music,
loudly. I whistled. I did my best Pavarotti voice bellowing
over the din of the motor and wind blast. I stood on the footpegs
and blasted myself in the face with the coldest of air. I sang the
Marine Corps Anthem over and over again. I bounced up and down in
the seat singing show tunes. And it felt as though cinder blocks
were sitting atop my eyelids.
All of this contains little logic.
Why 1200 miles alone on a motorcycle in the middle of winter?
Why 20 hours straight? The main reason for this trip is to see my old friend. That's it. She's 2000 miles away and why not ride the whole distance
in two days. Seems simple enough. That would give us more time to spend catching up. 2000 miles there, hang out for a whole week then ride back
home. I only have a week then the semester starts on Tuesday. So here I am, riding around the Southwest, in the desert, in the middle of the
night, and in 22 degree weather. No, not much logic in that. Especially with a woman involved.
Only a woman would possess me to go to such extremes. Most people would fly. I go out, buy another motorcycle, plan a
two-day kamikaze ride in January, driving across a third of the United States, all for a woman. I must be crazy.
The worst of it is, this two day 2000 mile ride, I have to
admit I planned it just to see if I could do it. Any other motorcycle nut would at least plan 3 days but if I
do it in 2, that gives us one more day to be together, right? Scrapping together all the dough for the bike, which by the way I bought 3 weeks ago,
uh-huh, three weeks ago, has left me strapped for cash. This trip is on a shoestring, besides just being a poor college kid on top of that. No fancy
leather chaps, insulated boots, electric heated clothing, or much of anything actually. I haven't even saved up enough money for a good motorcycle
jacket. I spent it all on the new bike. Instead, I'm in jeans, two long johns, buncha shirts, two jackets not designed for motorcycling, and I have
never been so cold in all my life.
All this for a woman.
The time frame of the ride is my own personal war. Logic is irrelevant. We humans love a challenge. Because it was there. isn't that the time
honored axiom? When life holds no more challenges, then what purpose is there to life? Sure sounds like a good reason, oh, and don't forget the
Imagine my relief when I finally crested over a hill and began descending into the lights of Las Cruces, New Mexico. I'd made it, only a few more
miles now. The city lies at an elevation of about 4000 feet. I supposed the surrounding mountaintops
were over 5000, but at least the temperature had
gone up to close to freezing. I had to laugh when I felt that thought go through my mind.
It was now 31 degrees out.
On the outskirts of Las Cruces, and in my 20th hour of
riding, I pulled off the freeway into a gas station after midnight to a gun toting gas jockey standing beside the pumps. The
9mm pistol with 16 rounds and two extra clips, 16 rounds apiece, strapped to his hip dubbed him as both the security and the gas station
attendant. He was friendly upon seeing me, and smiled broadly as if it were a slow night and he could use the company. He was rather overweight,
and seemed unaffected by the cold. His chubby cheeks were red and his breath formed into wispy mist in front of him.
A soon as I got off the bike, I started to shiver uncontrollably. I was practically rattling. It was an effort to form words, but I talked to the guy
nevertheless. My teeth chattered away as I filled up the tank. The nozzle rattled against the lip of the tank as I inserted the nozzle and struggled to
squeeze the handle. It seemed overly spring loaded. It took both hands to
squeeze the trigger and release the gas into the tank.
I couldn't resist. I couldn't help but ask about the brazen display of arms. I had never seen anything like this, a
one man army gas jockey with a gun?
"You see those lights over there," He said pointing a pudgy finger towards some housing a quarter mile away, "See, there's gangs around here,
lotsa gangs, and they cause trouble.... oh, I've got a license, had to go through a pistol course to wear this." He patted the pistol on his waist and
the extra clips as if he were petting his cat. If the clips could purr, I probably would've heard 'em. "So now I wear
my 'lil Berretta 9mm in plain sight and not
much trouble lately... Nope, not much trouble at all." He smiled as
if pleased with himself.
Then he saw the Marine Corps emblem on my black flight jacket and realized I was just as familiar in light weaponry as he. His eyes lit up and I
could see he wanted conversation real bad and not about grandma's latest plum cake recipe. It was too cold to chat with some guy about guns,
and decided I wasn't up for a conversation in ballistics. I waved good-bye,
mounted the motorcycle and rode off into the night. I think that must have been the wrong side of
town to get gas. I looked up as I rode away and checked for a full moon.
Back on the road, now in my 21st hour on the bike, I headed into Texas and
was relieved once more to see my exit. I got off the freeway making a break eastward
on Highway 62 for Hueco Tanks State Historical Park which lies
at the bottom of Fort Bliss. White Sands Missile Range is a few miles north. The Space Shuttle lands out there too about an hour to the north at
White Sands Space Harbor. I also see on the map now that the first atomic bomb exploded a little above that. Gee, neat.
North on Road 2775, the campground was a good trek off the freeway but a warm cozy sleeping bag is all I pictured. A ratted old sign came into the range of the
headlight. It pointed the way to salvation. My sleeping bag. I turned in that direction
northward off onto a dirt road. I am so close! I followed the road curving
around hills surrounded by dirt and sagebrush. My brain kept saying, it must be around here someplace. It is now well after 1 AM as Tuesday
begins. I reach the entrance for the campground and to my surprise its gates are locked. They were closed at 6:30 PM. I'm just a little late.
I'm baffled, it's the ultimate in poor planning. I've no idea what to do next. I am physically exhausted. The
relentless chill claws at me. I hesitate to look at
my temperature gauge, but do anyway. 29 degrees. What I don't know but
would learn later is that I'm also sitting at 4500 feet in
elevation. I debate just pressing on, turning right around back to the freeway and plunging into Texas till I
hit something. The clock ticks past 2 AM as I study the not-so-detailed map with
my crook-neck flashlight. I am in the middle of nowhere. I've
driven myself out into the desert just like in the movies where the hero guy must somehow find his way back to civilization. I have a full tank of gas
though courtesy of the pistol totting locals. I made my 1200 miles too. As long as I don't freeze
to death out here, I figure I can do the remaining 800 tomorrow and be
able to tell somebody about it. This is crazy.
The night is pitch black. There isn't a light coming from
anything. I'm not sure where I am or how far away anything is. I can't stay here parked in front of this gate in the middle of nowhere.
I mounted the bike and struggled to pull it upright off the kickstand. I don't remember it being that heavy. I find a dirt road and take it, riding a few
miles per hour as the bike creeks and rattles upon bumpy rippled gravel. I go about a quarter mile and then just stop,
the bike idling quietly. I can't go on any longer. I have nothing
left. I pop out the kickstand, and shut the bike off right there in the middle of the road in the middle of the desert. My head drops, my eyes slam
shut, and I fall asleep sitting on the bike. The miles, the 23rd hour of riding, and the cold finally take their toll.
A car rumbles by noisily bumping over the ripples in the gravel. It pays no attention to me as I awake
from the noise and realize I can't feel my toes.
I clamor off the bike to discover a foot high graded ridge of excess gravel left over from the last time the road was graded smooth. Sitting down,
off come the combat boots. My bare hands rub stiff toes through two pairs of socks. I work one foot until prickly needles scream their
presence, then start
on the other as it also bristles in revived sensation. I vow to buy electric socks on the next trip. My heads droops slowly, then stiffens, and then
droops again. I awake with no sense of time to find I am holding my foot in my hand. I
simply resume rubbing.
Salvation arrives as I notice a faint glow in the east. By now I
am shivering uncontrollably. I simply can't stop shivering. It's an effort to move. All I can think is to get warm, to
find warm. I realize that just the day before I was up in the Sierras Nevada
Mountains. We camped at 7500 feet with several feet of snow on the ground. We set up the
tents atop the snow and trained all day. That evening we stood around a warm campfire and shared war stories. Several of the Marines had been in the Gulf
we laughed at the temperature difference. We were toasty warm in military issue cold weather gear and Mickey Mouse boots. Doc was giving us a class on
hypothermia and a day later, here I am experiencing it first hand. It never even occurred to me how incredibly stupid I was. Why hadn't I just laid
out the sleeping bag right there? So much for hindsight.