ADVENTURE TIME – AGAIN! No more than 72 hours after I finally escaped being stranded with a broken down car for 5 nights, I got a call from a friend in need. He’s moving his family from LA to Woodstock and was planning on driving the entire brood cross country. They made it as far as Flagstaff when the combination of the middle america ice storms and the reality of a 7 months pregnant wife and a fidgety 3 year old in a car for another week became apparent, and he hit me up and asked, against all hope, if just maaaaaaybe I would be willing to fly to Arizona and drive their car to NY so that they could fly. And with only the slightest whips of hesitation I said “Sure! What’s The Worst That Could Happen?”
So here I am at the Boise airport, not even 60 hours since This SuperUnicorn was summoned to the rescue, waiting for a flight to Phoenix. I’m gonna cruise down through the sunny expanse towards Tucson and then Las Cruces and then play amateur weatherman to plot the rest of my course.
I had a couple of heart palpitations at security, due to an incident 15 months ago when I was kicked out of the TSA pre-check program when the agents found a (pink!) butterfly knife in my carry on. At 530am. Whoops 🤷🏻♂️. That led to an embarrassing 30 minutes in handcuffs at LaGuardia, in full view of the other intrepid travelers, with freshly dyed pink hair and a mix of tequila and contempt on my breath. But it ended with no stabs on my permanent record. Just a few minor slices. I believe that’s what they call white privilege. All praise to the mighty Allah.
So now I’m off, into the wild blue yonder with a loose plan, some tight playlists and a nose for the absurd. The Vegas bookmakers have opened with very strong odds against me being bored at any point in the next week. Smart money says I’m gonna find, and persevere through at least a couple of statistical impossibilities and kid level impracticalities. Because when you’re living the life of a pirate, it’s either do or die. And I’ve got an incredible amount of living left in this sexy-ass shell.
Stay tuned for more dispatches from the heartland!
ADVENTURE UPDATE: The reason the serpentine belt snapped was because the power steering pump seized. Not because the belt was toast. So now we gotta order a new power steering pump, which has to come from Seattle. So I’m stuck here in Grangeville til Thursday, at least. But, like I’ve continually been saying every time things haven’t gone my way, which has been frequently since the pandemic started, things could be much, much, much worse, and I haven’t lost sight of that. Nor will I.
I have lots to be thankful for. I have a beautiful cabin to live in. 101 mikes away. And I have amazing friends. I’m poor but I’m not broke, yet, and I’m able to physically work and my smarts are still mostly intact. I’m healthy, I’m fed, I’m reasonably fit, I’m not suicidal, and my dick still works even if I don’t have anyone to put it into at present. Or on the horizon. Things could most definitely be worse in a myriad of ways.
Ive moved out of the relatively luxurious Super 8 and into the mostly, shall we say, “charming” confines of the Downtowner Inn, which according to the ramshackle sign outside offers daily AND weekly rates. And has clean, affordable rooms and even color TV! Man, if this brown shag carpet could talk, i think the first thing it would say is “Don’t step THERE! Or there or there or there!” And then it would probably beg for a bathing. But as long as there’s no black light, then I shall continue to exist, no thrive, here in this state of willful ignorance. It sure beats being in jail. Or Boston.
So I wait, kept company by my little Bluetooth speaker, my overactive imagination, and a stack of wonderfully weird paperbacks I picked up at the local thrift store for literal pennies on the dollar.
Maybe this evening I’ll walk a mile and change back to the BBQ joint that fed me in so many different ways last night. Have y’all ever heard of a BBQ Sundae? It’s a 20 ounce cup filled above the brim with baked beans, pulled pork, coleslaw with the proverbial cherry (tomato) on top! All for $7.99. Plus tax.
I’ve long contended that the less windows a BBQ joint has the better the grub inside, and last night furthered my reliance on that little lesson, much to the delight of my tastebuds, if not necessarily my colon. With any luck, I’ll get that massaged before the sun sets on the year of our lord 2021. A boy can dream after all.
Send lawyers and money, both of which, unlike guns, are in short supply out here. Until then, I am a patient boy, I wait I wait I wait.
If you should find yourself at a loss for what to do with whatever spare cash ya might have in your piggy bank and would like to finance further adventures and these semi-literate musings, feel free to fire off a few pesos to firstname.lastname@example.org (PayPal) or @jake-szufnarowski (Venmo)
Busted Flat In Grangeville, Idaho. 101 miles away from where I’ve lately been calling “home”, with no idea how or when I’ll be climbing back into my creaky yet comfortable bed. Here’s how it’s it all going down, in real time.
I’ve been holed up in a lovely cabin on a pine forest on the side of a mountain in McCall, Idaho since the beginning of September. And let’s just say that the rural life is agreeing with me, and washing calm over me in much the same way that the chilled waters of Payette lake washed over my tootsies on so many autumn afternoons, before the whole thing turned to ice. I’ve taken to calling this place McCalm, and oddly none of the locals seem to have heard this one before. So Im laying claim to the creation of yet another enduring nickname. It’s a fun little skill I’ve been developing and deploying for years now, and proud I am to have discovered it.
Now one of the limitations of living outside of a modern metropolis is the great distance one must travel to partake in any sort of conspicuous consumption. All my needs can be met in the small town of McCalm with just a 20 minute drive down the mountian. There are two grocery stores. One of them even has a little camping and hunting wares department, including a full-service firearms counter. I’ve yet to get too close to that one, but each time I step inside to pick up some provisions, I venture just a little bit closer to the collection of cold hard steel. If you’re interested, you should google “Idaho gun laws”. It’s only the slightest but of an exaggeration to say there are none.
I also have easy access to a True Value franchise hardware store, two ski / bicycle shops, even a handful of decent coffee shops and a lone bookstore. Culture! Add to that 3 (THREE!!!) different places that sell what they refer to in these parts as pizza” and it’s almost like being back in the Big Apple. So, like I said, needs can be met rather easily. If I want access to the cornucopia of cheapness that are Dollar Stores, a necessary staple in the sticks, I have to drive 25 miles either south or west, to the even tinier towns of Cascade and Meadows. Beyond that though, to access any sort of big box store, art supplies, ethnic food and any sort of national chain that’s not a Subway, I’m left with two options: 106 long and winding miles through immense canyons carved by the America’s longest continuous class 5 rapids of the Payette and Snake
Rivers south to Boise, or 177 miles north through more canyons and peaks and prairies and massive rock formations to the twin hamlets of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington. Today I chose the latter.
It was a gorgeous day for a drive and so I wondered aloud my lifetime mantra of “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” and I hit the open road. The drive up was gorgeous and mostly uneventful, save for the oncoming Idaho State Trooper who gently lit up his flashers to alert me that I might have been slightly over the posted speed limit. Whoops. But he did not turn around, and after more than a few long breathless moments, I stopped looking back. Don’t look back. You can never look back.
Since I bought my last motorcycle in 2018, I’ve kept in touch with, and have been developing a budding friendship with its previous owner. When he found out I ended up planted in the fertile soil of Idaho, he sent me a note that said “if you ever find yourself in Grangeville, ID, my friend Mike Gosselaar owns a Powersports dealership there. He was Ricky Carmichael’s mechanic and we were teammates on the Honda Supercross team back in the 90’s. If you’re ever over that way, stop into Gosslaar Powersports and tell him I said hello. He’s big into the adventure riding scene (off road riding) and will hip you to some great trails!” Ricky Carmichael is considered the GOAT of modern day dirt bike racing, and was on top of the championship podiums for most of the years I obsessively followed the sport when I first got into motorcycles so I knew that I’d eventually want make that connection for myself.
On the way through Grangeville this morning the shop was closed, but on my return journey this evening I noticed the lights on so I pulled into the parking lot and knocked on the door. He looked a little suspicious of me, and seeing as I was a stranger in hot pink overalls with a unicorn patch embroidered to the chest and a bright yellow Father John Misty hoodie on, all topped by my two-toned wild mane to match, I really couldn’t blame him But when I explained who I was, and who sent me, he welcomed me in with arms as open as any I’ve encountered n the midst of this global pandemic. And it felt great to be connecting with a kindred spirit.
He showed me a slew of killer bikes and a variety of wild machines in varying states of being transformed into snow-traversing monsters, and we shot the proverbial shit for close to an hour, with the conversation winding up with an invite for me to come back up on my bike when the weather gets good enough again to do some riding and camping and more shooting of the shit. The handgun on his workbench that had caught my careful eye as soon as I entered let me know we might end up shooting more than shit. And then I thought to myself “Sheeeeee-it THAT’s how they catch dinner up in these parts. RAD!”
So we said our goodbyes, for now, and I got back in my car and drove to the gas station next door to fill it’s tank, and empty my own. When I turned the key again a big puff of smoke came out from under the hood and I got a quick and nasty case of the “Uh-Ohs”! I managed to limp my hooptie back over to his shop and tapped my knuckles upon the door once again and this time I said “Help?” Like a true gentleman, and a real American to whom unity is more than a political buzzword, he happily obliged and told me to pop the hood so he could wrap his huge mechanic brain around my dilemma. With his legendary expertise, he quickly ascertained that my alternator belt was broken, and reached his well worn workman hand down into the engine and pulled out a torn and battered serpentine lash of rubber and handed it to me. I accepted his offering with all the grace of a man being handed a live rattlesnake, but I tried to keep my cool and just nodded.
I don’t think I fooled him for a second so he grabbed his phone and called a friend, and then another friend and then another. The local auto parts shop was long closed for the day, as are the ones up in Lewis and Clark-Ville. So tomorrow morning, Sunday, I’ll be standing outside of the NAPA auto parts store with this limp strip of burnt rubber in my hand, hoping against hope that they will be able to supply a replacement. And then hoping even harder that Mike and his crew of real manly men can wrap it back around the precious bits of my alternator and engine and get my whip running again, at least in shape enough for the 101 mile journey back to McCalm. But if it’s not in stock (which their website says it isnt), I’ll likely be ensconced at this Super 8 Motel til Tuesday. At least I’ve got a toothbrush and a notebook and a few pens. And this trusty old iPhone that I’m banging this missive out on right now. And, as long as this overactive imagination doesn’t fail me, I’ll never be alone. All praise be to the most high Allah for this ever-winding life of mine. And for all the friends I’ve made along this twisted journey of life I somehow continue to keep living.
On the eve of our nation’s most important holiday, Super Bowl Sunday, I’m choosing to take this as yet another reminder in a long line of reminders of how important it is to (almost) always be nice to (almost) everybody!
What’s the worst that could happen? Literally nothing. Take it from me: As you go through life my friends, whatever be your goal, keep your eyes upon the donut, and not upon the hole.
To be continued…
If you should find yourself at a loss for what to do with whatever spare cash ya might have in your piggy bank and would like to finance further adventures and these semi-literate musings, feel free to fire off a few pesos to email@example.com (PayPal) or @jake-szufnarowski (Venmo)
On this week’s episode of “TUESDAYS WITH JAKEY – Your New Favorite Podcast” I dig into a couple of trips I took with Sir Rockin Rodney Speed. In honor of it being Dolly Parton’s 75th Birthday I talked a lot about our trip to DOLLYWOOD.
And the radio show that I reference where Rodney and I were the guests along with the mazing hosts Ginger Wildheart of the Wildhearts and Rich “Spunky” Jones of the Black Halos and Michael Monroe can be found HERE.
Are you a human being? Do you like coloring, and calendars? 4 out of 5 doctors surveyed strongly agree that the two best things to soothe our massive and collective pandemic anxiety are coloring, and knowing what day it is. Just 13 minutes of coloring a day can reduce anxiety in adults and children alike by up to 66%. And according to a recent and exhaustive study published in the the Santo Domingo Journal of Medicine, no human being on record has ever died of a stress induced heart attack while giving sweet Crayola life to a Unicorn’s Rainbow or a murderous Big Mac’s melty cheese features. So, choose life!!
We’ve also got on offer a gorgeous collection of still life motorcycle shots above the generous Gregorian grids that keep us grounded while time keeps on slipping into the future. Here is your chance to spend the entirety of 2021 and beyond with what the New York Times has already called “The greatest and most awe-inspiring calendar in the history of civilization, since Stonehnege, or something.” When staring at a Baker’s Dozen of stunning shots of the American West fronted by the steel horse of your favorite modern day metaphysical daredevil, the outlook is nothing but smooth sailing and winning combinations from here straight through the holiday seasons, and beyond!
.For the busy executives among us who prefer their coloring books come pre-colored, that option is also available as part of our costly but worthwhile “Bonus Rewards” line of options, which also includes coloring sessions for those who need hand holding, as well as the opportunity to have a real live unicorn read bedtime stories to your kids or your own bad self for that matter.
Your friends and family may think you love them. But why not let then KNOW just how much by replacing the coal in their stockings with these incredible and affordable holiday gift ideas?
You only have to buy these once, but they will be the gifts that keep on giving, all year, and for eternity really. A bargain at twice the price.
Well, that’s a wrap on the Summer 2020 riding season. After my Escape from New York and 10,000 plus miles of open road, I’ve put the bike away for the winter and settled into my next life as a rugged survivalist in a one room cabin high up in the rural mountains of central Idaho. What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been.
At the conclusion of the 2019 riding season, I stashed my bike in the parking garage at the Spokane Airport and crossed my fingers that it would be there again when I came back for it in the spring. So when the trifecta of the pandemic, the collapse of the concert industry, and hence my way to make a living, and the proliferation of sirens and helicopters in my downtown NYC neighborhood left me feeling a little too much like Henry Hill at the end of Goodfellas, minus the cocaine paranoia, I tossed my keys at my landlord of 8 years, put my stuff in storage, and hopped a plane to the great Pacific Northwest.
Step one was retrieving my bike. The parking rates were $14 a day, and with my bike having been there since October 5th, 2019, the math added up to the exact sum of “Oh Fuck No!” So I hopped onto my baby, and after she fired right up, somewhat surprisingly, I rolled around the parking garage looking for the exit of least resistance. Typically I’d just ride right around the parking booth gate, but the management here must have been tricked a few times already, as these gates at the toll both went all the way across the roadway, dashing those plans. There was one break in the curb I found that would let me right out onto airport drive, but there was a cop parked there, so that was out. After a few more laps, I decided to just sneak out under the cover of a giant pickup truck. I waited for one to roll up to the exit and pay their (likely way cheaper than mine) parking tab, and I crept up behind them until my headlight was about to make love to their tailgate, and I waited. As soon as they got the green light and started moving forward, I was rolling along in lockstep and managed to escape over the line to freedom before the guillotine of the Spokane County Parking Authority was able to slice down on my credit card, or, god forbid, bop down and knock me on my helmeted head. Phew.
Off I rode, into the Wild Wild West. I had a loose plan to visit some friends in Idaho, Colorado, Texas, Nashville, Florida and then make my way back up the east coast by autumn and find a new place to settle down once my real rock n roll life resumed. But you know what they say, the easiest way to make God laugh is to tell her your plans, and before long I realized both that this pandemic wasn’t going anywhere soon, and that I was in love with the PNW. The entirety of my 10,000 miles in the saddle this summer ended up spent traversing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, NorCal, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
From the jump, I knew this trip was going to be different. All I had with me was my camping gear, a few books, some clothes, and my trusty Butler Maps, which I would highly recommend for anyone doing any sort of serious road tripping. They highlight all the most fun, winding, and scenic roads in a state. Plus tons of rad dirt roads. Oh man, making me wistful just thinking about em. The one thing I didn’t have was a backup plan. There was nowhere to go if I grew weary of life on the road if I decided to stash my bike at yet another airport and head home. This was it. When I tossed one leg over the bike and stood up on the pegs and settled into my seat, I WAS home. That was it. There was no plan B. Life without a net. My comfort zone.
I’d done some camping before, here and there, not a whole lot, but this Summer I had no choice. The reason I gave up my pad and hit the wind was that I had no idea when I’d be back to living the high life of an NYC concert promoter again, and was determined to stretch my newly minted mask money for as many months as I could. So it was gonna be camping, every night. And the occasional motel to charge my phone batteries and live high on the hog with some microwave pizza, instead of the roadside peanut butter sandwiches, campfire hot dogs and canned beans. Now that’s living!
So ride I did. With only one aim every night. And that was to find a new place to pitch my tent. Traditional campgrounds were not my aim. Like, the ones you have to pay for? No thank you. My idea of an acceptable campsite doesn’t involve struggling to find some inner peace while an RV 20 feet away cranking Red Holt Chili Peppers jamz while the resident honkies whoop it up over nine or ten Heinekens. No way Jose Cuervo. If I’m gonna be sleeping out under the stars, I wanna be all by my lonesome. Full on middle of nowhere, dispersed, renegade camping. I had two x gallon bottles of water that I would refill at gas stations, and in the occasional cleaner looking mountain streams, and I picked up a camp stove, a hatchet, a pocket knife, and mini shovel for digging shit holes, and all that along with my healthy lack of fear of the unknown, which I’d been relentlessly honing over the past 4 decades. Meaning I had everything I’d need. Whats the worst that could happen?
Those first few nights were a little sketchy, with half my head still connected to the big city, and every now and then I waited too long to find a place to settle down, and when it became clear I was going to lose my race with the setting sun I would find a little clearing just a little bit too close to the road. The headlights of passing vehicles was much more frightening that the sound of howling coyotes in the distance. Soon enough I found my rhythm though, and ended up with a quite a knack for picking out the perfect spots. Lava lakes at the end of long ass dirt roads? Check. Black sand beach shrouded in fog on California’s Lost Coast, which I stumbled upon by accident after a 30 mile treacherous dirt road through the wilds of Humboldt County? Check. A quick stop where I left the tent wrapped up and just strung my hammock between a couple of redwoods and hoped a meddlesome park ranger didn’t stumble upon me in my lumber slumber? Check. You name it, I slept there. But that fateful night where I threw caution to the wind and just slept in the hammock with no covering was a game changer. I pretty much never used the tent again. Waking up in the middle of the night, forgetting where you are for a brief moment, and opening your eyes to a beaming canopy of the cosmos really reminds you what it feels like to be alive.
So I just kept on riding and exploring. The more off the beaten path a place is, the more I’m attracted to it. I avoid the interstates like the plague when I’m on my bike, partly because of the huge trucks, but mostly because they never lead you anywhere interesting. Which is pretty much the point. Those huge roads speed you from place to place with the idea of making you forget, if you ever even realized in the first place, the the heartbeat of America lies far far away their asphalt apocalypse. The stitching of the fabric of America are the dotted lines on the maps. The rural roads, the dirt roads. The roads to nowhere. The ones where you find abandoned service stations, barely there VFW outposts with $1.50 cans of Hamm’s beer, a lonely post office, and where people shop for groceries at the Dollar store, because that’s the only store. Thats where you’ll find me at my most intrigued, and most inquisitive with the locals.
Pretty much every day had the same routine. Ride until I was too tired to keep going, usually finding a spot to lay my weary head at dusk. Forage for wood, start a fire, cook something up, read for a while, climb into the hammock, wake up with the sunrise, make a little instant coffee, dig a hole, shit in it, fill it back in, and keep on riding. Just chasing the best roads I could find, and always keeping my eye open for a little sliver of single or double track dirt road that would lead me to only god knows where. My favorite kind of riding. And those “who knows where” roads always packed more than a few wallops. Most notably the morning I unsuspectingly woke up deep in the heart Humboldt County’s Murder Mountain, the place the Netflix series was named for. A dastardly and dangerous backwater that’s home to scores of marijuana farms, most of them quite less than legal, and probably the one place in America that’s still full of outlaws. I had been getting some sketchy vibes from the locals over the past few days at the gas stations and such, but I didn’t really realize what I was in the middle of until I texted a bud and told him my location and he filled me in.
The previous day I had been on a long and winding dirt road that connected two burgs of nowheresville, just puttering along in first gear and admiring the scenery when a gate opened and a masked man clutching an assault rifle shot me a dirty look and then barked an attack order to his guard dog. A rabid snarling pit bull leapt and chased after me, nearly burying his frothy fangs into my riding boot. I narrowly avoided crashing trying to get away from Cujo, and shudder to think at would have happened had I skidded out on that gravel patch. That night I ended up at a sketch-bag motel in the shadow of a lonely stretch of the 101 in Graberville, CA. It’s almost never a good sign when the door to the motel room next to yours opens and out comes a guy in off brand basketball shorts, sandals and socks and a stained tank top clutching a bloody tissue to his nose. Two more doors down an obvious drug deal was taking place. A few years back I probably would have knocked on that door myself. But those days are in my now personal hamper for now. So I grabbed some grub from the shit hole next door and then locked my door, and when I did I found a wadded up napkin stuffed into the peephole. I could smell that Henry Hill paranoia rearing it’s ugly head again, this time left over from the hovel’s previous occupant. So I figured it was hight time to check out this “Murder Mountain” doc.
Well you can imagine my fucking surprise to find the opening scene of the movie was a mother canvassing the folks at the diner RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM WHERE I WAS STAYING, trying to find information on her daughter who had mysteriously disappeared!! The more I watched the more everything else I had seen in the last few days started to coalesce in my mind, and like the grand finale of Usual Suspects, I dropped my styrofoam cup of mountain dew and it crashed on the filthy carpeted floor at my feet and just like Agent Kujan, I realized I had spent the past several days deeply entrenched in the turf of a deadly murderous mob. I went outside and pulled my motorcycle around to directly outside my window and barely slept a wink that night. And then I shot up at the crack of dawn, tearing out of there my back wheel was on fire and my mullet was catching, with a vow to never ever return. Until I inevitably do, of course. Because, let’s face it, the terrain is GORGEOUS 😉
And on and on I went, up and down the coast, ambling down ratty old roads that hadn’t been repaired in decades, up and over countless mountain passes. I put my annual National Parks Pass to heavy use, and even ran into the esteemed Jonny Corndawg and his family in Yellowstone, and ended up squatting at their campsite with them for a few days. I got smoked out of a campsite at Mono Lake by the wildfires, and even ended up spending three nights at the ‘World Famous’ supposedly haunted but most definitely creepy Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada. So many more hijinks ensued, many of which will forever remain inside my brain, as they only made sense in the moment, and only to me and were connected to events of my past through a rapid firing of synapses in my own labyrinthine maze of memories. But the tapestry to tales they weaved for me will remain with me forever, randomly spitting back out to my conscious mind in the oddest moments, and making me laugh out loud, like a madman lost in his own internal film, directed by God and starring me and my badass bike and our pink Pretty Pony that I strapped to the handlebars and who accompanied us through the whole glorious Summer of 2020.
Not long into my seemingly endless journey to nowhere, I stopped to see some friends in Central Idaho and spent a week with them, enjoying the trappings of a roof and a bed and electricity and a kitchen and running water. And then I headed out again, with a loose plan to circle back and hang with them some more. After I few weeks I came back and enjoyed a shower, some home cooking, and most of all, their company. The thing I’ve missed most isn’t city living, or the amazing restaurants in NYC, or even the shows, but companionship. I missed my friends and my social and mental support network in NYC, of course, I missed talking to people. In person. And meeting strangers on the road. The Rona cancelled my usual plans of popping into little diners and bars and podunk roadside bait and bullet type shops and just shooting the shit. I learned a long time ago that appearing in these places and announcing myself as a city slicking New Yorker wasn’t always the wisest choice, so my invented wandering identity has long been a guy from Bakersfield, CA just out on a little road tip. The California plates aid the charade. When asked what I do I usually say “As little as possible” and when pushed let my interrogator know “I inherited a janitorial supply company from my dad. It pretty much runs itself.” All of those things usually get us past the plain ole bullshit so we can talk about the real nitty gritty, like “Anyone spotted any bears or rattlesnakes round these parts lately?” or “Where’s best riding roads ‘round here?”
So without my usual go-to methodology of extensive jibber jabber, it became a way more solitary season than I was expecting. Not bad, really, just… quiet. So I circled back to my friends in Idaho a few times, and after one 5 week jaunt on the road whose tail end saw me survive a pretty nasty crash at 50 miles per hour in the desert sands of central Nevada, I rode for a few stiff and sore days and limped my bruised body back up to my homies’ little slice of Idaho heaven and asked if I could rent the cabin they had so graciously let me stay in on my previous visits. They said yes, and just like that, I became and honorary Idahoan. How long I’ll stay here is anybody’s guess. But I’m loving it for now. Which is all any of us can ask for in life, right? To love where we are, and who we are, at this very moment. If only for a moment. And if we manage just a little more than that, that’s where the sweet spot lies. And that’s when you reach out and grab it, and squeeze til the juice runs out, and savor every last drop. Drink it all up my friends. For tomorrow may never come.