Brutal & Beautiful
In June of 2022, I set out on a 3500 mile motorcycle trip with my close friend David Wright. We left from Los Angeles, CA with our end destination being Glacier National Park, searching for the space in-between life’s brutal & beautiful exploration of our short time upon this world. I personally have gone through life altering changes these past few years; death, a divorce, more death, the on going pandemic and having to confront life, loss and the overwhelming notion that time continues to travel forward with or without you.
It Just Takes Time
Life has had a strange way of showing me what’s important, who’s important, what really matters and who really matters. To me, it’s times like this that matter. You’re either in it, or you’re not. You either get it, or you don’t. Riding a 70 year old motorcycle you built thousands of miles forces you to abandon your callous, somewhat unimportant traumas and seemingly be thrown into chaos that transforms the way you approach everything. Everything in the future is built upon everything in the past, it just takes time, distance and a new perspective to finally realize it.
Live It While You Got It
Here is a collection of my journal entries and photographs I took along the way. I lost a dear friend at the end of last year and he always used to say, ‘you gotta live it while you got it Josh’. My hope is that this may inspire you to live out something you’ve always wanted to do, and to live it while you got it.
North Hollywood, CA - Bishop, CA
170 > 5 > 14 > Sierra Hwy > 14 > 395
I'd Choose Jam
110 degrees for at least 200 miles on the first day. We were as prepared as we could be for the trip, but not prepared for the heat. Guess nothing can really prepare you for it, you just have to dive in like a swimming pool, but instead its like opening the oven door when its at 500. It sounded like the engine on my motorcycle was dying of thirst. I usually don’t handle the heat well but for some reason as the day went on it didn’t seem to bother me. I thought for sure my bike would be a slice of burnt toast as we were hammering 75-80 mph all day but it kept a consistent golden brown. Now the real decision, butter or jam? I'd choose jam.
We stopped in Lone Pine for a beer and to get out of the heat. Played a few rounds of pool, ate some bland Mexican and made the last leg to Bishop. We were planning on camping but needed a motel pool and cheap a/c. We found both. Wheeled the bikes inside as the desk clerk looked the other way. Sleep sweet.
Bishop, CA > Lake Tahoe, CA
395 > 89 > 50
Slip and Slide
I ate a waffle and had some stale coffee to start the day. 395 is a beautiful highway and the cool morning air was like a beautiful woman whispering sweet nothings on my neck. We got up to hwy 89 to cut over to hwy 50 and did the first switchback riding of the trip. Got up to Tahoe basin and the sky caved in and dumped rain on us relentlessly. My front end developed a wobble when I took my hands off the handlebars just as the roads were flooded. I felt like an ice skater that pirouetted in the air and the blades of their skates fell off….. slip and slide. F#ing sketchy. We pulled over to find some shelter behind a sign to hide from the horizontal rain. Waited for it to let up and made it into Lake Tahoe as wet as a seal. I didn't think my boots could fill to the top with water, felt like my feet were a ship in a bottle. Wobble fixed, wet toes, warm heart.
Lake Tahoe, CA > Austin, NV
Woke up after restless sleep. The power in the motel was off til 2 am & thundered back on like a lightning crack. Found a diner close to the motel and walked over in soggy boots. Never realized how long it takes for leather to dry. I drank ample amounts of coffee hoping that the jitters would translate to my feet and the friction would dry my boots quicker. It didn't. Found a place to change my oil and the sun was out so the spirits were high. Filled up, started to set out and Dave's bike completely cut out. No power, no nothing. Spirits changed. Realized it was his charging system so we were dead in the water, but dry this time. Found a friend of a friend who lived a few towns over and drove up a new regulator as we sun bathed. People show up when you need them the most. Got it fixed, rode around the eastern part of Lake Tahoe and the water was the deepest color blue I’ve ever seen. Into Carson City and due east towards Austin, NV on the loneliest highway in America.
Low Desert, Low Times
It’s hard to put into words what this stretch was like. 100 miles in between stops, meeting mine workers who don’t register their vehicles because they live that far off the grid. The colours, the clarity, the isolation, the loneliness. Those 100 miles were the most alive I've ever been. Most alive in the loneliest place. Dave's bike started to limp again so we pulled over to asses. I thought we were f#ed. No service, no one around, sleeping in a ditch where the last running car we passed was 70 miles ago. Low desert, low times. We luckily found a crutch and the limp went to a hobble for the last 30 miles to Austin. An old mining town that had a population of 6,000 in 1886, and 10 in 2022. Gas station dinner of beef jerky and Doritos and the best feeling hot shower. The motel had one movie playing, My Bloody Valentine. Guess Harry Warden lulled us to sleep.
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Images ©Josh Barraza