Puccio’s Nickle’s Worth

Hello all,

I am finally at a place where i have high speed internet and some time at my sister’s home in Kennewick, WA. So, i can add my comment to Bill’s blog on Bill and Pete’s Excellent Adventure #2. (many more to come … join us!)

The nice thing about traveling with Bill is that he brings everything. I packed in about 15 minutes for the trip, really. If i thought, hmmm … i wonder if i need this or that; I’d say no, Bill will bring it.

Now Bill is also turning into a bit of a PhoTAGapher buff. He brought three cameras; his iPhone, last year’s Cannon and some new expensive really nice one this year. So we’d stop and i’d just sit there while Bill took pictures. I liked it because i will get them all later and i was there to see it firsthand but as well i’d talk to people while he shot pictures. (Mostly gorgeous women) I have a few pics i uploaded here that i took from my Dash. But i’ll leave the real pictures to Bill to upload later when he gets time. I’ll just post pics i think Bill won’t.

Here i am just inside Yellowstone. See, don’t i look totally at peace? The road is great therapy!


Here is Bill taking pictures. You can tell a real phoTAGapher cause they always put themselves in strange positions like the scenery will change or something … I don’t know, ask Bill …


This is the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone and some stair rails i thought were cool. All the stairs and rafters and any brace anywhere on the building were made of tree branches. I loved it …



I shouldn’t post this one because Bill will have a way better shot but here it is … Old Faithful …


Now this is a great place. I have made this my background. It was amazing … beautiful prairie in Yellowstone.


Here’s Bill … we stopped and smoked a cigar where i am sure Clint Eastwood smoked in one of those movies ??? …


The bikes in front of the grand Tetons … storm rolling in … here is where we heard the news of Sue Chambers. Dave and Sue Chambers, I just met them last year on our first trip … wonderful people.


We stayed the night in Jackson Hole and spent the night drinking and playing pool in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar (my kind of place!) Of course we also had a great Filet and fine wine but the pool was the highlight for the Don Puccio (and our hostess Elena) http://www.milliondollarcowboybar.com/

Now as we came down out of the Grand Tetons storm pounding us we missed our turn and rode 40 miles too far in 37 degree weather. At least it wasn’t raining or snowing on us. But we stopped at this gas station restaurant to gas up and beat hypothermia. On the wall was this “Hall of Fame” for Rulon Gardner. Now Peter Madison will know Rulon and anyone who is into wrestling. He is an Olympic Champion Greco Roman wrestler. Which is an accomplishment but he is not just that. He won arguably with the greatest upset in all of Olympic history. He beat Alexander Karelin a Russian going for his 3rd Olympic gold and who had never been beaten in international competition. Turns out he is from this place in Wyoming (wrestled for Nebraska) and he and his brother own the place. (read his story here: http://www.starvalleywy.com/Rulon.htm)


In the Grand Tetons we stopped for coffee and to warm up and learned about Stephen Leek, Father of the Elk. Read about him here.

The trip is not over for me. Bill and I parted ways in Twin Falls, He headed home i am spending a couple days in my home town with my sister visiting friends and family and them I’m off to Coeur d’Alene Idaho to raft a river with an buddy of mine and his dad. Then back home in time to make my APA pool playoffs Sunday night.

Here is the view from the scenic view point on top of Deadman’s pass near Pendleton Oregon. My little cell phone camera didn’t do it justice. You can see forever … all the way to Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier!


After taking this picture i road down Deadman’s Pass listening to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson live version of Ghost Riders in The Sky. Nice!

I stopped to watch the sun set half an hour later … Bill and his phoTAGaphere equipment ?!

This was an excellent adventure. We will do it again. You should start planning now to join us. It will only make it better.

The Don Puccio

2008 Labor Day Ride: Yellowstone Recap

Well, since Pete has thoroughly disparaged my “PhoTAGrapy,” I thought I’d better at least make some attempt at posting a Recap of the trip and since there are a lot of pictures that I took (while he was talking to women). I’ll break them up by the day.

Having not taken my laptop with me on this trip, I’ve found it difficult to find the time to blog the trip since I’ve returned home to a full schedule and the death of a dear friend.

So, here come the photos, a recap, and my various retort’s to Pete’s provocations. 😉

Day One: Friday, August 29, 2008

San Francisco, CA to Twin Falls, ID
671 Miles

One of the great things that you can say about Pete is that he makes decisions quickly. When I called him on Wed night before the trip and pitched Yellowstone, he was smoking a cigar with Bob Rankin. Maybe it was the mood, but it took him about 30 seconds to agree to meet me in Twin Falls on Friday night.

I’ve read about the Iron Butt and figured that if these cats can run over a thousand miles a day for several days on end, then 650 miles wouldn’t be “all that bad.” And as an effort to get somewhere, it wasn’t that bad. But it sure wasn’t conducive to sightseeing, picture taking, or cigar smoking.

Left around 6:30 a.m. relatively awake (a double shot of espresso does wonders for waking up), and stopped only for gas until lunchtime. The ride was Reno was beautiful, but I forewent stopping for photos to continue making good time.

I did come away impressed with HWY-80 through Nevada. It was in great shape (at least the left lane) and I love the higher speed limits. It means you can kick back and cruise at a reasonable pace without worrying about getting a speeding ticket. At first, and coming out of the Serra Nevada’s, the land seemed rather desolate. But after awhile, I noticed that although it’s a little sparse, the land has it’s own type of beauty.

I-80 Nevada

I-80 Nevada

Open Road

Open Road

And, as the sun went down as I neared the Idaho boarder, it got even better.

Sunset near the Nevada Idaho border

Sunset near the Nevada Idaho border

Shadows and Light

Shadows and Light


The original intent, of course was to be in Twin Falls before dark and we would have both made it if someone hadn’t had a head-on collision right on the Nevada/Idaho border. I ended up cooling my heals in traffic for about an hour while they airlifted out the injured and cleaned up the mess. And it was a mess.

Alas, we made it to Twin Falls and Pete already had camp picked out and his tent set up. Of course, despite the long day we found the energy to smoke a cigar and catch up untill close to midnight.

Day Two: Saturday, August 30, 2008

Twin Falls, Idaho to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
323 Miles

Saturday arrived with clear skies and a no small amount of heat. With the assistance of our friendly camp neighbors Larry & Pat Wilson, Pete and I got a cup of coffee before the local store opened, broke camp and hit the road looking for a good place to stop for breakfast.

Along the way the wind was blowing enough sand around that Pete decided he would trade in his open face helmet. I couldn’t resist snapping this picture with the Wrong Way signs in the background.

A happy Pete

A happy Pete

As typical for these kinds of outings we like to keep our options open. Add that to the fact we decided to leave on this trip Wednesday evening, and you’ve likely deduced that we had no place to stay in Yellowstone. We stopped for breakfast around Pocatello and armed with a phone number from the Wilsons, we called to see if there was anything available. We would have been happy to camp, but all the campsites were booked, so we booked the last room in Yellowstone at the Old Faithful Inn.

And unfortunately for Pete, I didn’t bring along an extra windshield, so we stopped in Idaho Files at a Harley Dealership to pick one up.

Preparation for the coming weather...

Preparation for the coming weather…

Here are a few shots of our first stop/cigar in the park. As Pete said in his post, the road is great therapy.

Pete Puccio

Pete Puccio

Bill Sanders

Bill Sanders

The Bikes

The Bikes

And the picture I was taking when Pete was making fun of me taking pictures…

Big Sky

Big Sky

And then a few more shots from a couple of “wildlife shows” on the way to Old Faithful.





We ended the day with a phenomenal prime rib at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, next door to where we were staying. And with the weather changing, we were happy to be inside, warm, and dry.

Day Two Map

Day Two Map

Day Three: Yellowstone & The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Sunday, August 31, 2008
156 Miles

By far the highlight day of the trip, Sunday began with a fresh cup of coffee, the clouds breaking up from the previous night’s storm, packing up and waiting for Old Faithful to show up for her photo op…

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Once we had our obligatory experience with Old Faithful, we took the same approach as the Glacier National Parkway leg of last year’s trip: no schedule and no hurry. There is something uniquely peaceful and restorative to me about being high up in the mountains just after a rainstorm. The air smells cleaner, the colors more vibrant, and something about it restores my soul. As Pete said, “the road is great therapy.”

As an aside, Pete is one of the easiest going traveling companions I’ve had the privilege to share the road with. I don’t recall us talking all that much — just kicking back, and enjoying the road, signaling the other when one of us wanted to stop, and intuiting when it was time to move on. The first part of the day was virtually perfect.

As we headed north to do the lower loop, we ran across this old chap who didn’t seem to be all that thrilled to have been woken up from his nap by the bikes.

"Go away. I'm not due for another public appearance for at least an hour."

“Go away. I’m not due for another public appearance for at least an hour.”

Here are a few shots on the way up HY191 & HY 89 to the Norris Canyon Road cut-over.




After brunch along the way at a standard Xanterra managed restaurant (only notable for its expected bland industrial food and surprisingly friendly service), we turned south on HY 20.

I didn’t take this route last year, so Pete and I took advantage of our lack of schedule to loiter along the vistas. The combination of another storm blowing in and the sun still shining made for a great canvas of scenery.



The wind was picking up, making it more than a little difficult to light our cigars.

Pete lighting his cigar...

Pete lighting his cigar…


Continuing south we catch our first glimpse of the storm coming over the Tetons at Willow Flats.


It was getting cold, windy, and as the first sprinkles of rain began to fall we stopped at Leek’s Landing for a great pizza and several cups of coffee. Pete mentioned this in his post as a place named in honor of Stephen Leek, the “Father of the Elk.”

Here is shot of me in the rain that Pete took at a stop alongside the lake.


And here is where the story gets a bit more difficult for me personally. We stopped to admire the scenery and I stepped out into a field to take this picture once we were in Grand Teton National Park proper.


Right after I took the above picture, I received a message and returned the call to hear that Sue Chambers had finally lost her battle with brain cancer the night before. I spoke to her daughter-in-law on the phone for a few minutes, certainly no more than five, and when I ended the call and looked up, this was what I saw…


This is a zoomed in shot on the same scene. It matched my mood perfectly and was a sobering moment. Sue, her husband Dave and their entire extended family mean more to me than mere words can express. Sue was known and loved for her unshakable faith, the joy with which she approached people and life, and the inspiring way that she, Dave, and their family fought their three year struggle against cancer.

As the wall of rain approached, and in a much more somber mood, Pete and I rode into Jackson to find a dry place to stay, a beer, and a decent steak. On the trip down I spent a significant amount of it in tune with the fact that none of us knows how long we are going to be here. We have no idea if we have 30 minutes, 30 days, or 30 years left on this planet. And as I pondered these things I recalled one of the reasons that I enjoy riding motorcycles so much is that riding keeps me in the “now.” To stay safe you have to stay aware and you can’t do that if you are focused on the road you’ve already ridden or too far up the road you are going to be riding. Being “here, now” is something Sue demonstrated in spades throughout her life and it is one of the many things that I appreciate her for over the years.

In Jackson, we easily found a nice motel that would get the bikes in out of the rain. Armed with a strong recommendation from the front desk staff, we went to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. There, we had a couple of beers, shot a couple games of pool, and then retired downstairs for an excellent steak and no small amount of reminiscing about our friends Sue & Dave.

Route Day 3

Route Day 3