Motorcycle Odyssey, Part 1

Barb and I were living lightly on Arizona’s Sonoran Desert when an old gentleman approached me with a red 1980 Honda dirt bike, a XL-500 motorcycle. The Arizona sun had faded the paint badly. About 10,000 miles showed on the odometer, but the old man assured me it even though it was licensed it had never seen the pavement. For health reasons he was returning to Canada. Taking the motorcycle was not possible. Would I care to purchase it for $100?

As bad as it looked, we had a deal.


McBark Hoping He Will Be Left Behind

The following morning I took it on a road test and then suffered buyer’s blues. The engine ran good, but a severe shimmy developed at about 40 mph. Was it tires, or a bent wheel? What had I been thinking?

The tires were weather checked and badly warn. We were committed.
We drove to Sparky’s Motorcycle Shop in Tucson for a new set of tires, tubes, wheel bearing grease seals, car wax. In a couple of days the shimmy was gone, the wheel bearings were repacked, and the paint made it look like a new machine. Well, it seemed newer.

Then there was a new choice. Should we sell this machine for a profit or should we explore the possibility of a motorcycle adventure? The latter would be more difficult because of our dog, McBark.

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Last Preparations Are Underway and  McBark Is In His Milk Crate

In the end, we chose the adventure. With McBark riding in a milk crate and with 17 pounds of personal belongings stuffed in a tank bag, a half-gallon of water, and a quart of motor oil we rode our machine to Wendy’s near Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico for breakfast before beginning our 1700 mile odyssey—a trek on which we followed jeep roads and single track as much as possible eventually reach Eugene, Oregon.

Mexico fast food

Wendy’s Across the Border In Mexico

I knew of no way to judge the knobby tires we’d installed-how much weight they could bear, nor what speeds they would tolerate.  So we never exceeded 45 mph.


We were in no hurry as we motored north through Ajo.

The fact I had not replaced the drive chain haunted me.


And Across the Berry Goldwater Bomb Range


Even though it was the first day of April the low desert heat had already arrived.  After crossing Interstate 10 at mile post 103, we paused in the shade of a Palo Verde tree for a breather.


Old Wikenburg Wagon Road.  Vulture Mountain seen in the distance.

Later, we passed the abandoned Vulture Mine and then proceeded on to Wickenberg, where we had hamburgers and bought McBark a dish of soft ice cream, a treat for which he was grateful.


An older couple at McDonald’s advised us of a nice campground located at Skull Valley, a few miles further north and off the beaten path.  The afternoon was getting on, so finding a place for the night seemed like an excellent idea.


The View From Our Campground

12 thoughts on “Motorcycle Odyssey, Part 1

      • Scott says:

        McBark weighed 30 pounds. I had to beef up the rack to be sure it would support his weight. He grew pretty weary of his box and sometimes he protested when it was time to go. Be sure you find a way to keep her from jumping out. A good bicycle shop may have the net for carrying a basketball on a bicycle. Don’t know if that would work for you, but it’ll kickstart the thinking process.


      • I have a universal mount for my Shad Trunk….I am thinking of trying to mount some Shad Trunk Hybrid Kennel back there for my dog. We’ll see what happens. Thank you for the information


    • Scott says:

      Yes. He was a sweet dog, not an enemy in the world. He even loved cats. But he lives on in the stories. Thanks for the visit.


  1. Scott says:

    The Hybrid Kennel is a great idea. Some kennels don’t have a very sturdy latch, but a ziptie might solve that. I wonder if you are familiar with Adventure Cycling. It’s a bicycle association that began in the late ’70s. I don’t think there is any charge for searching their data base to see what those folks have done in order to trailer their dogs on long trips.

    Dogs enjoy traveling.

    Please keep me posted.


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