Although several years and many rides preceded this one, I think this is the oldest (the exact date is an educated guess) of which I have pictures, a quest for high school senior photos in the mountains above Clarkia, Idaho.
While I’d come to enjoy taking pictures I knew little of what distinguished a good from poor image (composition, film grain, depth-of-field, all that) and thus it seemed reasonable to save the trouble of hiring a photographer for senior pictures if I could do it myself.
I persuaded my friend and long-time riding buddy Brett to participate. He didn’t seem as sold on the senior photo idea as the ride in the mountains. We loaded up for the sixty mile, two hour drive to the trailhead below Orphan Point.
Brett and I rode the narrow switchback up to the Widow Mountain ridge and stopped above a latent patch of snow where I remembered, years before, hiking with my dad and brothers up the same trail from our family campsite below.
My brothers and I had strained together with our dad to dislodge a rock that in my memory was as big as his orange easy-chair — huge. It began slowly to roll then rapidly accelerated until it was bounding spectacularly through the air. We were thrilled.
Then crack! We saw some of the trees below shake and figured that was it. Our rock had stopped. But then … the creak of wood giving way and, holy of holies, one of those big trees fell! We heard our rock crashing through brush on its continued way to the meadow below.
That was the best mountain rock-roll ever.
That the consummate image of my youth should involve a motorcycle and mountains rather than a backlit golden wheat field, guitar or truck seemed obvious.
“I can’t believe you ride that big motorcycle,” I remember Leslie Sattler’s parents saying when I showed up in town on my dad’s Yamaha DT 400 at about twelve-years-old.
Weeks of sneaking down the walking path through Duthie Park, riding my XL 185 to driver’s ed., contrary to Mike Brocke’s admonitions, felt routine. It began years before, me grinning and clinging to my cousin Jeff Abbott from aback his sky blue IT 175 as we tore across fields and even off a few creek-crossing jumps.
Riding with Jeff, Mark Linderman on his XR 80, Brian Pope on his XT, James Christensen on his CB (I think), Darin Werlinger in the fields above Troy, across the fields from Orchard Loop to Spring Valley Road to White Pine Flats with Joel Kerley on back explaining the shortcuts to his house after football practice … memory after memory.
Although ecumenical about riders and destinations, Brett was my decade-long wingman. We flew hundreds of sorties to Spring Valley and Moscow Mountain, each only minutes as the motorcycle flies from our homes. Whenever one of our motorcycles was down for maintenance (happened plenty) we just doubled-up and kept riding until repairs were done. (I had my Uncle Pete weld passenger pegs to the 350 for that purpose.)
In high school, Brett ran his own business repairing snowmobiles. I remember a lot of centrifugal clutch and windshield replacements. He adopted a frugal business mentality and so contented himself with an old XR 250 that we judged less suitable for a senior photo than the 350 I was riding. He posed accordingly.
Although I was the one serious about using this opportunity for senior photos, most pictures were of Brett. Maybe we wanted to give his mom, Carol, some options.
The 350 was good to me. It was often my ride to school and during the summer took me to Connie Anderson’s to buck hay bales for her dad. A face full of wind after a day of chaff and sweat felt wonderful.
For the couple years my wife Jessica’s family lived in Troy, I frequently sped to their house across Dutch Flat, past Julie Coleman’s to Driscoll Ridge Road where I was strictly prohibited from giving rides.
Brett and I were intrigued to explore the terrain ahead but the 250 had other ideas.
Years riding together meant this wasn’t our first motorcycle tow. It was disappointing to have our ride cut short but all part of the adventure, easily handled, even twenty-five years ago. I hope we can ride together again someday.