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April 24th, 2022


I rolled down the endless highway into the bright New Mexico day. Clouds hung low in the blue morning sky like poly fiber torn from an over stuffed pillow. As I rolled along I knew that the soft clouds could gather into a storm, I watched the sky with wary eye.

Mile after mile passed beneath my wheels as I headed east along Highway 60 towards Ft. Sumner. I watched the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe tracks running along side the road, rail keeping pace with asphalt.

The clouds had congealed into a soft gray mass and I prayed that if they opened it would be a quick desert rain and not a deluge of biblical proportions.

I was thinking about the last 22 miles I had to travel to our destination when wI topped a rise in the highway and there it was; A Ghost Town!

I grabbed brake, instinctively, pulling onto the dusty shoulder in front of, what was once, the dead towns post office. I did not have to wonder if I should stop, I knew the answer. My artist eyes had seen this treasure and I knew Yeso, New Mexico was mine for the taking.

Yeso means "gypsum" in Spanish; the town was established in 1906, when the AT&SF RR came to the area, and it became a trading center for ranchers (and the very few farmers) in the area.

Its post office began operations in 1909, and is now the towns only business servicing the nearby ranch's from a small metal building. The postmaster lives behind the small office in a 5th wheel trailer.

Yeso was spelled Yesso during the years 1912-1913, for unknown reasons. When it became clear that the land was not suited for farming, and only useful for sheepherding and cattle grazing, many of the original settlers moved away. Only a hand full of people still call Yeso home. On this day I was Yeso's only tourist.

Yeso is a true ghost town in every sense of the word. It's abandoned red adobe brick buildings are slowly returning to the earth from which they arose.

Open doorways beckon you into passages dimly lit by the ambient light of the desert sky. Sage and course grass cover areas of collapsed flooring like a rolling carpet of dusty green and dark sienna. Empty windows stare out at the world while tumble weed residents roll along long forgotten sidewalks.

Here and there you can hear the residents of this once thriving town talking to each other. The desert finch warns the curious Kangaroo rat that the red tail hawk is nearby while the crows gossip about what the diamondback did last evening. If you listen even closer you can still hear echo's of the human voices that once filled the vacant structure's.

We moved around the town, photo after photo capturing what one day would be no more than a dusty pile along a busy road. Foundations that served as planters for prickly pear and cholla cactus today would tomorrow be nothing more than a mound from which creosote arose.

My camera's shutters click, click, click was answered by the whistling wind that played through missing roofs and broken rafters. I speculated on belongings left behind and what the town must have been like when it was populated with humans instead of desert willows.

I returned to the highway and continued on towards Ft. Sumner. The thick gray clouds were started to thin out as I rolled on. I looked in my rearview mirror one more time for a final look at Yeso. The desert ghost town disappeared from my view as it would one day disappear from the world. It will be forever lost to the ages but captured, at least for a brief time upon my film to one day be brought back to a tenuous life upon my canvas's resurrected by an artists brush.


From Topcon Pop Expo To Artist Alley Studio

April 24th, 2022

From Topcon Pop Expo To Artist Alley Studio


Changes come from unexpected places and as the old saying goes “God works in mysterious ways.” So it was with the death of TopCon Pop Expo and the birth of Artist Alley Studio.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit TopCon was well on track for our seventh year. When I created the event in 2014 I had never imagined that it would grow to the size it did. In our seventh year we had contracted to bring Animaniac’s in Concert to the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The main event would be held in the newly remodeled Exhibition Hall at the Stormont-Vail Events Center. To top it all off the Greater Topeka Partnership was talking with us about making TopCon Pop Expo a weeklong event.

While we were gearing up for TopCon Pop Expo 2020 we were also moving the Artist Alley Studio out of the NOTO Arts District out to our current location on Southwest Topeka Blvd. We had outgrown our space in the Amused Gallery where we were renting a studio room. It was time for me to come out of semi-retirement and go back into tattooing and piercing full time.

My wife Raychel and I had combined our LLC’s and had made the transition from Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium to Artist Alley Studio Tattoos and Piercings. We were remodeling our newly acquired storefront and we were on track for an April 1st opening. Then the world shut down on March 25, 2020. Everything came to a screeching halt and life became an uncertain future of what-ifs and maybes. We would have to wait until the quarantine was lifted to open the studio and TopCon’s future was uncertain.

During the shutdown the news came down that the Coronavirus Pandemic would be around for an unknown period of time and would get worse before it got better. We decided to cancel TopCon for 2020 and concentrate on getting Artist Alley Studio going in the direction it needed to go. On May 18, 202o the Artist Alley Studio opened, and we were on the road to recovery. We held hope that TopCon Pop Expo would return in 2021.

As we moved out of 2020 and into 2021 we started plans for TopCon Pop Expo 2021. We had lost the opportunity to host Animaniac’s in Concert so we were looking at other possible acts for TPAC so we would not lose our deposit. We were also working with the agent for Animaniac’s in Concert since we had paid a large deposit with his agency, and we did not want to lose that either.

We were faced with many obstacles that were becoming harder and harder to overcome. One Con rescheduled their event for the same weekend as TopCon had always been. Plus plans were made to have the delayed Topeka Saint Patrick’s Celebration on the same weekend also. We moved TopCon from the 3rd weekend in September to the 2nd Weekend in October to avoid the competition and possible low attendance.

Business was good at the Artist Alley Studio but the future of TopCon was uncertain. TopCon Pop Expo’s fate was sealed with the news that we could expect a new surge of infections in the Fall. Between the risk to public health and the mask mandate not to mention most Con’s had already experienced low attendance in our new Pandemic world; we pulled the plug on TopCon Pop Expo.

By the time we refunded our vendors and cancelled contracts losing the deposits we experienced a $20,000 loss. This loss effectively killed TopCon Pop Expo and we laid Topeka’s First Pop Culture Convention to rest. There would be no reschedules; it was over. It was time to move on.

We have since poured all our efforts into making the Artist Alley Studio the best it can be. We have also renewed our faith in God and become more involved in activities at our church; Topeka Bible Church. Whether it is our Tattooing and Piercing Services, our in studio and online store or our Art Gallery both physical and online we work hard to progress and offer the best we have.

Part of our transition was within our newsletters. We migrated people that had signed up for the TopCon Pop Expo newsletter over to the 3 Artist Alley Studio newsletters: At Needles Point, The Artist Life and Free Art Fridays. We hope that the fans and friends we made with TopCon Pop Expo will continue to be our fans and friends with Artist Alley Studio.

I personally like keeping in contact with our newsletters. I can share news and interesting info with our subscribers, and I feel like it is a more personal form of communication that goes far beyond social media. Long before social media was a thing we communicated and socialized through emails and email newsletters. I have noticed a trend back to this form of social communication and I am proud that Artist Alley studio can be part of it.

If you enjoy our newsletters and you think you know someone else who would enjoy them, please feel free to share our subscription link. We also hope that you enjoy our efforts with Artist Alley Studio enough that you will share our Tattoo and Piercing Services with other as well as our Artwork and websites.

Thank you so much to those who supported TopCon Pop Expo during its existence and Thank You to those who continue to support us and our Artist Alley Studio. May God Bless and Keep You and Yours Always.


The Albino Woman

June 20th, 2015

The Albino Woman

THE ALBINO WOMAN - By: J. A. George - Edited By: The GYPSY

While we are on the subject of cemeteries allow me to relate the strange tale of the Albino Woman to you my faithful readers. The story of the Albino Woman is a ghost story that has touched me in the past and will again become part of my story in the future. The cemetery she haunts, Rochester Cemetery, is located on the northwest outskirts of Topeka, Kansas and is the final resting place of my family as it will also someday be the final resting place of my wife Debbie and I.
This ghost story has its roots in the life of a strange albino woman who wandered her north Topeka neighborhood at night and glared at children on their way to school during the day. As a child she had been mercilessly teased by her classmates. That taunting had followed her to adult hood as the neighborhood children would call her names and yell insults at her. After the friendless woman died in 1963 of mysterious circumstances residents began reporting a glowing white female figure walking in the area after dark especially along Shunganunga Creek.
Often the sightings were near Rochester Cemetery where the woman was buried and near which Shunganunga Creek flows. To this day employees of the nearby Goodyear Tire Factory claim to see her regularly, and some neighbors see the apparition as often as once a week.
It was August of 1964 and I was trying on clothes in the dressing room of the children's department on the second floor of Pelletier's Department store which my Grandmother was Manager of. It was time for me to get my new school clothes. School was going to start soon and I would be entering the second grade.
Suddenly the door to the dressing room flew open and there stood a tall veiled woman dressed entirely in black. her red eyes were visible through the dark veil as she reached out a gloved hand towards me. As the arm came closer I saw with horror the pale almost bluish flesh of the arm between her sleeve and glove. I let out a scream and she froze in her movement. Appearing behind the tall frightening figure was the small stature of my Grandmother. Summing up the situation quickly my Grandmother forcibly ordered, "Leave! You are not welcomed here!" The veiled woman slowly turned as I crouched back against the wall. I heard my Grandmother repeat, "You are not welcomed here." She then ordered, "Now leave!" The tall figure with the red eyes and bluish skin silently glided past my Grandmother and towards the stair well. I ran to my Grandmothers arms and watched, along with the employees that had come running when I screamed, the frightening figure descend the stairs and quickly disappear.
I was to learn later that this was the Albino Woman who had died the next year. I was not to learn until four years later why she had sought me out.
The Rochester Cemetery's caretaker and his wife had a close encounter with the ghost of the Albino Woman late one night in 1968. As they pulled their car into the driveway they saw a figure scurrying among the gravestones. Thinking it a child playing a prank, they aimed the car's headlights at the figure, which was then kneeling before a grave. When the caretaker got out of the car, the ghostly figure stood up and glared angrily at him and walked deeper into the cemetery. The caretaker was so upset he called the police but the officers found nothing.
The ghost's route was so regular that one resident began watching for it as it strolled across his lawn on clear nights. Eventually, he claimed, the figure began to pause and gaze at his house as though it wished to speak to him. It began to pass closer and closer to the house until one night it stood at his children's bedroom window and watched them as they slept. The man was badly scared, but the apparition never harmed his children.
This was not the only house that the Albino Woman looked within the windows. One hot summer evening in 1968 as I lay asleep, my bed by the window to catch what little breeze drifted into the bedroom. We were poor and air conditioning was not a luxury we could afford so a rotary fan moved the stagnant air around the room. I was awakened by a scratching sound at my window. In my groggy, half asleep state I thought it was my cat, Blue Boy, scratching at the screen. "Stop it girl," I mumbled. That is when my cat hissed. I opened my eyes to see Blue Boy, her back arched, her hair on end and hissing at the window. I rolled over and looked into the glowing red eyes of the Albino Woman who was standing right outside my window glaring at me with an intense stare that was without emotion. I screamed and scrambled out of my bed.
My Mother came running into the room and saw the hideous apparition standing at the window. "Leave us alone, damn you," my mother screamed, "leave us alone!" My mother grabbed my arm and shoved me from the room. "I am sorry, OK?! I am sorry! Now leave us be!" My mother yelled as she exited the room and slammed the bedroom door close.
I found out that night that the Albino Woman had lived in a house in my mothers childhood neighborhood. My mother and her friends had taunted the poor hapless woman everyday as they walked to and from school.
I have not had an encounter with her since the night my Mother apologized almost 40 years ago now. But it is said that she still walks along Shunganunga creek and prowls the interior woodlands of Rochester Cemetery at night. Do me a favor will you? If you are ever in Rochester Cemetery and you meet a tall woman dressed in black with piercing red eyes and pale bluish white skin, don't tell her that you know me or that you know where I live. I'll have a word with her after I am laid to rest there.


Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!

A Love Story

February 25th, 2013

A Love Story

The head full of dark chestnut hair with twinkling eyes peered around the crowd of people. I knew it was her immediately. I knew that smile, the smile that had so entranced me when I had first saw it on my computer screen. It was New Years Eve 1997 and I was at Tulsa International Airport to meet this small, spry woman with whom I had been exchanging emails for the past 3 months.

I held a single red rose in my hand to greet her with. As she approached her smile widened and she grabbed the sides of her long leather coat. With a mischievous tilt of her head she pulled her coat open like a flasher in the park. Except instead of bare flesh she revealed a black t-shirt with bold white letters that proclaimed, REMEMBER MY NAME YOULL BE SCREAMING IT LATER. The shirt proved to be prophetic.

Thus was my first face to face meeting with Debbie, the woman who would become my best friend, my riding partner, my confidant, my lover, my wife. We had fallen in love before we had ever met and the kiss we exchanged in the airport terminal that New Years Eve sealed both of our fates.

We returned to my home in Baxter Springs, Kansas 90 miles away where I had a romantic spaghetti dinner prepared for us. We retired later to the hot tub with Champaign and spent the rest of the night wrapped in each others sweet embrace making hot, passionate love. Never seeming to get enough of each other, swallowing the essence of each others emotions and longing. Over the next 4 days, when I wasnt working we hungrily devoured each other in lust and love.

As she boarded the plane to head back to her home in Dallas I wanted to ask her to stay, to not go, but all I could manage to say was, Lets take it slow and see how it goes. I was scared, my wife of 7 years had recently left me for a guy she had meet online. To prove that you couldnt fall in love online I had taken out an ad on Love At AOL. Now as I drove back home I realized that what I had set out to prove had backfired, I was in love with a woman I had met online.

When I got home I signed in to AOL and found an instant message from Debbie. She had got home about the same time I did. The message was short and simple, I Love You was all it said. I sat back a moment and stared at the screen, then I typed back, I Love You Too. Her response was, Now Thats A Horse Of A Different Color. She had just quoted a line from my favorite movie, I was hooked and her love reeled me in. I called her immediately and we talked for hours.
When she went to work on Monday morning she gave her notice and two weeks later she moved in with me. We have been together ever since. Our love has grown in so many ways over the years and our passion for life and each other remains strong and vibrant. We know how to laugh at each other and ourselves. We know how to fuss, cuss and discuss without throwing stones. We still hold hands and I open doors for her. We have a true relationship in every sense of the word. An open and loving relationship that lets us be who and what we are without constraints or masks.

I will not bore you dear reader with the story of how I proposed to her on her birthday by convincing the cook at Red Lobster Restaurant to place the engagement ring on the end of a crab claw on her plate. I will not waste your time by telling you of our Biker Wedding on the Fourth of July, the Independence Day Holiday, and how our wedding clothes were made of real American Flags. I will not go into a long drawn out story about our bankruptcy and recovery from it and how instead of tearing our relationship apart it made it stronger. No dear reader, I will not bore you with the ups and downs of our life. I will tell you just this one thing

If God ever taps you on the shoulder and says Look what I have for you. Pay attention, because you may not be as lucky as I was to have him say it twice. You see, when I found Debbies profile on Love At AOL I was struck by her genuine smile. I thought to myself, What a pretty Lady, too bad she lives in Texas and not Kansas. I then did something I had never done before, I saved her picture. Two days later I received an email with the subject line; Hey Good Looking the message inside simply stated, Too Bad You Live In Kansas and Not Texas. I looked up and said out loud, OK, I get it! I was laughing as I wrote her back and I have not stopped laughing since. Even in our darkest moments we can still brighten each others day with just a touch and a smile.

Thank you Debra Kay for being a part of me.


A Debt Repaid And A Blizzard Endured

February 21st, 2013

A Debt Repaid And A Blizzard Endured

I watched the tornado cross the Interstate less than a half mile from where I sat under an overpass. It was early May of 1982 and this was just another moment in a trip, by the time it was completed, that included, a trip on Braniff airlines last flight during a thunderstorm, hot sex in a wet tent, good times with old friends, a flood, a night spent in a bathroom of a turnpike rest area and running out of gas less than 20 miles from home. We won't even mention the loss of my headlight, the loss of oil due to an over-enthusiastic service station attendant and dining on gnats washed down with a tasty glass of Texas ground water. No, we won't mention those things because they are another story entirely and will reveal themselves as a chapter in my upcoming book. The story that I am going to relate here today deals with the tornado, (previously mentioned), lost keys, a fried generator and a long overdo debt repaid.

I tossed my cigarette and headed for my early model 1972 XLH. For those of you that don't ride that is a pre (just barely) AMF Harley Davidson Sportster. Sigh, let me clarify that further because it makes a difference in the telling of this tale. In 1970 Harley Davidson was in severe financial trouble. By 1971 a Japanese firm famous for their bowling balls and sports equipment made a takeover offer for the troubled motorcycle company and by 1972 full acquisition had been made by AMF. My model, though now part of AMF, was built with pre AMF parts (thank God because AMF parts were junk), and because of that fact certain idiosyncrasies were prevalent in my model that had to be addressed when any service was performed. By the late 1980s Harley Davidson (much to the relief of true Harley enthusiasts), was back in the hands of Harley Davidson but that has no bearing on this story so, where was I?! Oh yeah, I tossed my cigarette and headed for my early model 1972 XLH.

The starter just sat silent, no click, no tick and no sound as I pressed the button. "Fuck," I shouted, "You mother fucking piece of no good shit." I screamed, "What the fuck now you fucking red headed bitch! Fuck we are in the middle of a fucking tornado and you choose to act your cunt ass up now you piece of fucking shit." I just sat on the bike, wet, mad and dumbfounded. I dismounted and started kicking gravel around as if that would help. "Just like a fucking woman," I yelled at my bike, "just like a red headed fucking bitch." Without knowing it at the time the bike had just acquired the name I would call it for the rest of it's life, "The Red Headed Bitch."
I lit a cigarette and took a long hard drag. As the acrid smoke filled my lungs I weighed my options;

1. I could push the bike uphill, turn it around coast it down the hill and hope that I get enough momentum going to hard start the engine. Once running I could then ride it into Emporia, Kansas just 20 miles away on I-35 and maybe find a Harley shop and some help.

2. I could put a "For Sale" sign on the bike and sit along side of the road waiting for any takers. Once I sold the bike for the cost of a bus ticket I could then hitch hike into Emporia, catch a bus and head back to my home in Abilene, Texas. Once there I could take a twelve step program to break me of this nasty motorcycle habit I had. Soon I would be wearing cowboy hats, driving a beat up Ford pick-up and swilling Lone Star beer.

3. I could use the bike to start a bond fire to keep me warm as I slowly wasted away waiting for rescue.

I opted for option number one. As I was pushing the "Red Headed Bitch" up the hill I spied a rider on the other side of the road heading north. Lucky Bastard, I thought to myself. "See," I said to my bike, "That's what you are suppose to do." My uphill trek was interrupted by the sound of a bike pulling up behind me. I turned to see the rider that had just passed stopping his bike and dismounting. "Hey bro," he called out, "need a hand?" I quickly explained what was happening and what my plan was. "Man, there is a Harley shop in Lebo." The rider said. "I'll help you push her off and then follow me." I looked at the guy to see if he was joking, he wasn't! Lebo, Kansas had a population of 1,500 people, two dogs, a cat and a hand full of chickens. "A Harley shop in Lebo?" I asked with a fair amount of skepticism. "Yep," he laughed, "hard to believe, huh?" That was putting it mildly. At that point in my life I was very wary of strangers. I was only a year out of retiring my patch and I wasn't real trusting of anyone I didn't know. But I was desperate for help so I threw caution to the wind and decided to follow this good Samaritan.

Sarge, the owner of the combination service station and bike shop, came out of the garage wiping his hands on a greasy red rag. "Looks like your generator and battery are fried who put that kill switch on your bike? He asked. I explained that while coming through Kansas City during a down pour that I had lost my keys from the ignition switch. I didn't discover it until I stopped for gas and found that I couldn't shut off the scooter. The closest bike shop was a Kawasaki dealer a mile a way and I asked them to install the kill switch to hold me until I got home. "Well" Sarge said, "they didn't polarize your system after they re-hooked the battery." I shook my head in disbelief. I had specifically told them to polarize the system and they had assured me they had done it. Remember when I stated earlier that; "certain idiosyncrasies were prevalent in my model that had to be addressed when any service was performed." Well this was one of those idiosyncrasies. Whenever the battery was disconnected the whole system had to be re-polarized before you started your bike again. This was accomplished by jumping the hot lead and negative lead, (usually with a screw driver), on your voltage regulator. Failing to do this could and often did fry your whole electrical system which is what happened to me.

"I put on a rebuilt generator and installed a new battery. I also installed a new key switch, here's the key," Sarge said as he handed me the key." I took the key and asked how much I owed him. Seventy five dollars was his response. "Do you have a Western Union here in town?" I asked him. "I'll have to call my wife and have her wire me some money, I only have enough on me for gas home." This was before ATM's, Debit cards or my credit being good enough for a credit card. Sarge eyed me and turned back to the garage, "I'll be right back," he said.

He reappeared a moment later, my bell horn in his hand. "This should be worth seventy five dollars," he grinned. "When you get home send me seventy five dollars," he said. I just looked at him, "Are you serious?" He said yes he was and that he trusted me to send him the money. He said that when I sent him the cash he would send me back my horn. He also offered me a place to stay for the night but I had to hit the road because I was already way behind my schedule. "Well here then," he said, handing me an old ratty army coat, "this should help keep you warm." I had forgot to pack my leather and all I had between me and the elements was my very wet sweat shirt. I gladly took the coat. Thanking Sarge for his kindness I hit the road to continue my trip back home.

Over the years I would tell this story of the kindness of this stranger. Many was the time that I traveled I-35 after that and thought that I should take a side trip to Lebo and see if Sarge was still there. See, I never did send the seventy five dollars. It wasn't that I didn't want to it was just that life kept getting in the way of repaying my debt. But fate has a way of taking care of debts owed and this past weekend what was long over due was paid back in full.


As I waited to set up for the "Spring Fling Bike Show" in Emporia, Kansas I was cussing the weather. "Whoever heard of fucking snow in April? This shit is for Alaska, not Kansas." I told the biker I was talking to. He laughed and agreed that it was indeed, "Fucked Up." I asked him if he knew where I would be setting up. He told me that he wasn't sure but that Sarge would be here soon and could show me. "Sarge?" I asked. "Yeah," the biker said, "he lives about 20 miles from here in Lebo." I smiled, "Does he own a bike shop?" I asked. "He used to back in the eighties," he said. My smile got bigger, "I owe him a debt of gratitude," I said. While we were waiting I related the story of the "Red Headed Bitch and the Bell Horn" to the biker. I told him that I wanted to give Sarge a proper Thank You for what he had done for me twenty five years ago.

A black Chevy Blazer came down the road in the driving snow. Over the past few minutes the snow had started falling harder and the flakes were wet and quarter sized. A middle aged biker got out of the Blazer and headed for the exhibition hall. "Excuse me," I said, "are you Sarge?" He said he was indeed Sarge as I took his hand and shook it. I said, "I just want to thank you for what you did for me in May of 1982." He, of course, looked puzzled so for the second time that day I related the story of how he had helped me out all those years ago. Sarge said, "I'm sorry, I really don't remember it." I told him that was OK because I did. "I understand that a lot of years had passed," I reassured him. "I just wanted you to know that I remember and have never forgot your kindness, thank you."

In his walk in life Sarge had once helped a stranger. It was such a natural thing for him to do that it had been just another day for him. Not a moment worth remembering just business as usual. I had a plan and before this bike show was over I would see my plan through.
All through the night the snow fell at times creating a white out. I have never, in my fifty years upon this planet, seen it snow in April in this part of Kansas. Damn global warming. I knew that this would be a lousy show cash flow wise but a success in a whole different way. By morning the snow had ceased, the temperature had risen to fifty degrees and slush covered every inch of ground. I set about getting ready for the day.

Around 10:00 AM the mobile unit was ready to operate and I had wrote a check for seventy five dollars. I entered the exhibition hall and located Sarge. As I approached he apologized for the weather, "I'm sorry," he said, "I know this probably sucks for you." I waved off his apology. "It's not your fault," I said, "Shit happens! By the way, what is your real name?" He answered, "Steve Sargent." I took out my check book and filled in his name. "You see Sarge," I began, "Yesterday when I told you how you had helped me on that rainy day twenty five years ago the one thing I didn't tell you was about the money I owe you." I pulled off the check and handed it to him. "When you took my bell horn you told me that when I got the seventy five dollars that I should send it to you." Sarge looked at the check. "Today I got the seventy five dollars, keep the horn for interest." Sarge looked at me speechless. "Bet you never thought that someone would be giving you seventy five dollars today, did you," I laughed.
Sarge shook my hand and thanked me. I told him that he didn't need to thank me, "I owed you and now my debt is paid. Thank you for what you did for me all those years ago. You gave me a great story to tell for the past twenty five years," I told him. Sarge laughed, "Well now you can add a blizzard in April to your story," he said.

Sarge sold his bike shop in 1984 so that he could help his ailing Father work the family farm. Sarge still works that farm to this day but has never lost his love of motorcycles. He is actively involved in ABATE of Kansas and works diligently to keep our roads free and our rights intact. The bike show was a wash for me, I didn't even break even but that's OK, because what I gained was more valuable than any monetary income I may have earned.

Thank You Sarge for the help and kindness you showed a stranger on a cold, stormy day in May of 1982. It has never been forgotten and I can now say that I have repaid my debt. If there is anything that I can ever do for you just let me know. Ride free brother, ride free!


The Fifth Season

February 18th, 2013

The Fifth Season

The road stretched out before us up and off into the distance. Kansas roads beckon the rider to throttle up and explore whats around the next curve or over the next hill. My wife Debbie and I were taking advantage of the first day of Autumn. The weather was perfect, blue skies, mild wind and a moderate temperature helped our V-Twin engines help us to discover what was around the next curve or over the next hill.

I had just returned from Biker Days In The Osage in Pawhuska, Oklahoma where I had worked my body art magic over the two days of the annual motorcycle rally. When your blood is 50 weight oil and you piss premium the sound of a motorcycle engine can drive you insane if it is not your engine. I had been exposed to the drug for two days and I was a junkie in need of a fix. So as soon as I had returned home, unloaded my mobile unit and showered my wife and I hit the road.

After a quick lunch at a local Mexican restaurant we headed north on US 75 highway then turned onto US 400 highway west towards Fredonia, Kansas. I had passed the sign a hundred times and wondered about the destination it offered; Toronto Lake State Park. Kansas is gifted with some of the most scenic lakes in the United States. Whether man made or natural Kansas lakes are breath taking. Rolling plains and forested hills let Kansas lakes lie within a natural framework of color and form not to be missed. Each one is unique and offers a new adventure for every traveler. We headed our bikes north up highway K105.

As I maneuvered my 1983 FLHT Shovel Head over the curving road I was assailed by a sea of ever changing color. I would check my mirror every once in a while to make sure my wife on her 1982 750cc Yamaha Virago was still following close behind and free of problems. After the quick check of my mirrors my attention would be drawn back to the sea of color unfolding around me. This was not the deep greens of summer nor the golden blaze of Autumn. This was a different color, not Spring nor Winter but the colors of a fifth season.

I had first started noticing this fifth season a couple of weeks back. I found it strange that being an artist I had never noticed it before. But as it revealed itself to me I found myself becoming more excited with what it had to offer my soul. I first noticed it in the thistle that grows along the fence line of fields rich in Indian corn.

As I had traveled to Pawhuska, Oklahoma for the motorcycle rally I picked up on the fifth season even more. After setting up my mobile unit on Thursday I took the time to travel north of Pawhuska to the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve. The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected remnant of tall grass prairie left on earth. Originally spanning portions of 14 states from Texas to Minnesota, urban sprawl and conversion to cropland have left less than 10% of this magnificent American landscape. The preserve spans 25,000 acres (approximately 38.6 square miles) and is home to over 750 plant species. Also calling the prairie home are numerous wildlife species, white tail deer, bob cat, coyote, fox, rabbit, swallows, doves, prairie chickens and more. The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is also home to 2,500 North American Bison.

During the 18th century, these amazing animals, North Americas largest land mammals, were found from northern Canada south into Mexico and from California east into the Carolinas and Florida. Scientists have estimated the bison population at the time to be somewhere between 30 and 60 million. Early settlers reported watching bison herds that took five days to pass them by.

The bison that were saved from extinction were generally saved by ranchers. They kept them from being totally exterminated. Bison came about as close to extinction as possible. Today bison are no longer in danger of extinction; there are approximately 500,000 of them living in North America. While bison graze 23,000 acres at the preserve cattle graze the preserves remaining acres.

My friend Cindy, who was to be my front person for the rally, and me traveled the dusty roads of the preserve. Moving in and out of numerous Bison herds. Young calves frolicked and played along the road while cows kept a watchful eye. Young bulls fought for dominance over old bulls who quickly taught the youngsters the order of life.

We toured the preserve for a couple of hours. As we drove I was becoming more aware of the fifth season. I knew the name of the season but in my 52 years upon this earth I had never truly associated color with the season nor actually had I been able to set it into any more than a general time frame. As the sun set over the prairie my mind started organizing this fifth season into its place and its characteristic. I would finally reconcile this Season into its proper time slot on the calendar three days later as my wife and I traveled an old Kansas highway to Toronto Lake State Park.

We parked our bikes and wandered down the hill to the lake shore. Heavy rains have taken their toll on this lake lost in the Kansas back country of southwest Woodson County. Recreational areas where people once planned their weekend getaways are now under water. Beaches are washed out and piles of drift wood line the shore. Each one a sculpture carved by natures whimsy. Trails and wildlife areas have succumbed to the tranquil waters of this Verdigris river fed lake.

As we walked along the shore I spoke with my wife about the fifth season. She told me that in Michigan, where she was raised, they recognize and celebrate the season. I pondered this and decided that Michigan was probably not unique. I asked her, But do they recognize the colors of the season? She allowed that they probably do not.

So now as I mourn the passing of the golden colors of Autumn as they give way into the stark white of winter; As I pray for the drab gray of winter to give way to the splash of brilliant Spring color; When the last lilac petal has fallen to herald the abundance of green that blankets the Summer landscape; I will know that two weeks before the Autumnal Equinox the fifth season will creep in to paint the land in colors that remind us of the other four seasons that we so anticipate year in and year out. I will know that as sure as day follows night and night follows day that Indian Summer will return to fill my senses with the colors, smells, sights, sounds and feelings of the fifth season.