Review: Bonneville Go or Bust

In the incredibly hot summer of 2012, Zoë Cano of England, started out on a dream of a lifetime to ride a Triumph Bonneville across America from Boston to Los Angeles. It was four years in the planning. Last year, I interviewed her about her travels, and now the dream has continued with the publishing of her book Bonneville Go or Bust, published by Road Dog Publications.

Before the book, and only reading her blog, I was very impressed with her adventure. That’s what prompted the first interview. Now, having read the book from cover to cover, I am in awe. Zoë Cano is a wonderful writer and she spins the tale of her travels as only a talented writer can do.

We have tried to conduct another interview, but schedules and a five-hour international difference in time have kept that at bay. So, I wanted to get this review out. You will want to buy a copy of her book, or maybe give a copy to a friend.

With the publication of her book, Zoë Cano caught the attention of the motorcycling community including Triumph Motorcycles. She has been busy making appearances in Europe at places like the famous Ace Café, and recently, Triumph of America brought her to the USA for an appearance at the Barber Museum Vintage Days and also AIMExpo. Yes, she has been a very busy lady, and you can keep up with her activities and book signing events on her blog.

It sure seems like a dream come true, and it all began with that ride across America—her dream ride, the one that took her four years of planning. I’m not sure she expected all of this success and attention.

Zoë takes us on a journey from Boston where she picks up a rental Triumph Bonneville—like the one she owns back in England—and travels a route of back roads and busy interstates staying at out of the way places and visiting the real America of local communities. What is most amazing is that she spent four years planning her route, and she kept to that schedule almost perfectly. As I read about the places she stayed and ate, I found myself saying, “I’d like to go there.”

Zoë Cano is not a stranger to the United States having a few friends scattered across the country. She certainly makes friends easily, and even meets a few road angels along the way. It’s a fascinating read, one that will make it hard to put the book down. Involved with equestrian events in Europe, and riding two wheels, she finds a lot of common ground in America with cowboys and bikers, all who find her journey fascinating and lend a hand on a few occasions. Upon reaching Los Angeles, she turns in her rental Bonneville and flies home with the reality of a concluded journey that she wished would continue. And as a reader, so do I.

As I was preparing to write this review, I showed this book to my Mom, who looked at the cover, thumbed through the pages, asked me about it, and then said, “When you’re done reading it, I’d like to read it. It looks interesting.” THAT from my 86-year-old mother who absolutely forbade me to own a motorcycle when I was in high school.

The book is very well written. It’s a page turner, and you’ll have a tough time putting it down, wanting to read about the next stage of her journey. It is much more than a motorcycle travelogue, it is a travelogue of a dream come true with encounters with other riders, people, cowboys, horses, museums, great places to stay, and restaurants. It could be a travel guide for crossing the country.

The unexpected bonus of the book is the appendix, complete with details about the motorcycle, gear she carried, costs of her travels, and a list of her lodging accommodations and eateries. The extra bonus in the appendix is her “Essential Music for the American Adventure,” which could easily be anybody’s list of travel music, and it has me humming “Take it Easy” by Jackson Browne as I write this review!

Thank you, Zoë, for your wonderful book. I think this one will be a classic, maybe even reaching the same status as that other Triumph rider in the 1970s, Ted Simon, who rode his Triumph around the world.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you out on the highway.

Brent

P.S. I bought my first motorcycle after graduating from high school. Only recently did I learn of my mother’s youthful motorcycling adventures. Smile

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Review: Forks by Allan Karl

FORKStheBookcoverMockup5-580x400When I first learned of Allan Karl’s Kickstarter project, I thought it to be an intriguing idea and quite different than the usual memoir of “I rode around the world on my motorcycle.” It’s not only unique, it is brilliant.

Had Karl taken this trip after the Ted Simon Foundation was in operation, this book would be the poster child for meaningful travel and sharing culture. More about that in a bit.

Currently on a book tour, Karl starts out his presentations with “I lost my job. I got a divorce. I might as well ride a motorcycle around the world.” And so he did. Three years. Sixty-two thousand miles. Five continents. Thirty-five countries. One motorcycle.

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Karl says he started out with the intent he would write a memoir about his travels. Somewhere along the way, he realized that ordinary people in the vast mix of cultures greeted him with friendship and invited him to share a meal. That became the common denominator for the book. We all eat, and when we sit down to share a meal, we are no longer strangers.

The book is filled with travels in each of the countries—one country, one chapter, and a recipe. The book tour events build upon those stories—some which never made it into the book, like the Mexican police officer on a motorcycle who stopped Karl for “speeding.” Karl knew it was all about a bribe and tried his best to avoid payment. But it became clear the officer was not going to let Karl go without some kind of payout.

Trying to out wit the officer, Karl says he explained he had lost his wallet with an ATM card and passport and needed to get to the next town to get replacements. All he had was a $20 bill in his pocket, and Karl was trying not to give that up. “How do you ask for change from a police officer who will probably take $2.”

Finally insisting that he was nearly out of gas, the officer noticed Karl’s fuel bottles on the back of the bike. He takes the empty bottles, walks over to his motorcycle, pulls the fuel line and fills the empty bottles! Leaving his own motorcycle nearly empty.  Shortly, Karl was headed down the road minus the $20. The cop had an answer for everything including giving up his own gas.

That’s the energy of attending one of Karl’s book events. The extra stories. You can read about his encounter with guerillas (the AK-47 armed kind) in Columbia, or crossing the border into Syria. Fascinating stories.

Crossing into Syria, after several days of delays, the chief inspector would not let Karl go until he shared a tea, and then the chief inspector wished Karl safe travels. Several hours down the road at a gas station, the attendant insists Karl share a meal for it is many miles to Damascus. They sit with tea and share a Fattoush Salad.

That’s one of the things Karl tries to do in  his book events—share a sample of the foods as he did in Columbus, a Fattoush Salad.

Sharing a Fattoush Salad at Columbus book tour event.

This is a wonderfully colorful book, 264 pages, incredible color photography, fascinating stories of travel, recipes that will make your mouth water. This is where this book transcends the usual travel memoir. It is a book about meaningful or purposeful travel that brings cultures together and the sharing of a meal.

In 2011,  a group of individuals created the Ted Simon Foundation to promote world travel for the purpose of sharing culture, unfortunately, after Allan Karl had finished his travels. Currently, the foundation is sponsoring 88 travelers from 15 countries. The foundation mission: “… encourages those who adventure into the world to go the extra mile and transform their experiences into something of value for the world to share.” Allan Karl could be their poster child. Maybe he still can.

You can learn more about Allan Karl and his book at WorldRider.com or ForksTheBook.com. Look for him at a book tour event near you.

See you on the highway.

Brent

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Blue gill candy

I tie my own flies. It’s fun and relaxing. It’s also exciting to catch a fish on a fly I’ve tied.

Some time ago, I started looking for a good pattern for blue gills and bass. I started with something I saw called a bead-head bugger. I started tweaking the pattern to try different sizes hooks and features. I finally settled on pattern and made a bunch with different colors.

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I also made some up in black and olive. All these colors work. Tied on a #12 barbless hook with ultra chenille and rubber legs. They’re blue gill candy.

As I started fishing and catching fish with these, the Veterans of our Project Healing Waters program took notice. “What are you using?” “Can I try one?”

So I made a bunch to hand out to the Vets. It’s become a very popular fly.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

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Veterans give back with a fish fry

To show appreciation for each other and the volunteers of Cincinnati PHWFF, the veterans decided to give back with a fish fry, and not just any ordinary fish fry.

Text and photos by D. Brent Miller published by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.

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See you on the highway … or maybe on a stream somewhere.

Brent

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Clarksville, Ohio

The corn harvest is underway.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

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