I consider myself lucky to have a number of great friends and Ray Huston is one of them. Ray was visiting his mother in California and could meet me in Barstow. Ray drove his pickup truck out west, so the plan was to put my damaged Harley on the back for the trip back to Sun City, Arizona. This made sense from a safety point of view and it was the smart thing to do. It was the first day over a week that I was not riding 10 to 12 hours a day. Being in the comfort of an air conditioned truck meant that I would not have to deal with the searing heat of the Mojave Desert or worrying about the damage to my bike, moreover, it would gave Ray and I several hours to catch up on our lives.
Meeting Ray and a Mexican Breakfast
Ray arrived at the Route 66 Motel somewhere around 10am. Two years had elapsed since my last visit to the Southwest and it was good to see him again. We decided to grab some breakfast at a local Mexican diner. I ordered a breakfast burrito, which is a rare treat for a Canadian boy. This food the real deal and not some dodgy corporate knock-off of Mexican food. You simply cannot get an authentic Mexican breakfast in Canada.
Putting My Damaged Harley on Ray’s Pickup Truck
We had to figure out a way to get the bike on Ray’s truck as he did not have a ramp nor any tie downs. I did some Googling on my phone and found a tow truck company with a lift platform as well as a hardware store. After breakfast, Ray and I purchase some ratcheting tie-downs and then went back to the motel just as the platform truck arrived.
It took some finessing to get an 850+ lb Harley onto the articulated platform as it was sloping around 35 degrees. Basically, you turn on the engine, quickly open the throttle, drive the bike up the ramp and carefully apply the brakes. It’s a bit gnarly, but I made it. The rest was easy: with the truck’s platforms height matching the that of bed in Ray’s pickup truck, we moved the bike forward, turned the front wheel all the way to the left and locked the fork. Ray did an amazing job of securing the bike with the ratcheting tie downs.
Ved & Mridu Shandil, Owners of Route 66 Motel
Before heading back to Arizona, I took some photos around the Route 66 Motel and requested an interview with Ved & Mridu Shandil. Over the years, they have done a fantastic job of keeping this historic property alive. Not only have they maintained the orginal building, they have created a unique and authentic Route 66 experience. Through a combination of old cars and unique landscaping there is tremendous curb appeal and photo opportunities. The office is decorated with countless gifts and souvenirs from customers all over the world. I really have the utmost respect and admiration for all their hard work. If that was not enough, they are also two of the nicest people you will meet on the Mother Road.
The interview was coming along nicely and then it went sideways because the SD card in my camera was full. I freed up some space and resumed the interview. So if there seems to be an interruption in continuity, that’s on account of my own foolishness. I should have checked first, then again, one assumes a 64GB card is plentiful. So, please accept my apologies for this oversight.
As it turns out, Ray knew Ved as he had stayed a few times at the Route 66 Motel. Then again, Ray is one of those very charming and personable people who makes friends wherever he goes and he is very well traveled in the Southwest.
Driving to Sun City, Arizona
It was a nice reprieve to be riding in an air conditioned truck for the rest of the day. After the motorcycle accident, as well as dealing with injuries and a battered motorcycle, it was blissful to relax the rest of the day and chat for hours with an old friend. Ray and I caught up on our lives and I really enjoyed hearing some of his stories from his Army days in Vietnam.
When we arrived in Sun City, Ray’s wife, Tammy had dinner waiting and we sat down for nice meal. After dinner, we enjoyed cocktails, I talked with “Max” their military macaw parrot and we cooled down in the swimming pool. What a great way to end the day! I am indeed lucky to have kind and generous friends such as Ray and Tammy. They are awesome people.