Las Vegas, Nevada - April 7, 2000 - Images By:Mike Townsend
Somuch of all life is an illusion, happiness, sadness, what we often perceive as happening may be much more a configuration of our feelings and emotions at the time. That is why Mike and Bruce's decision to rent Harley Davidson motorcycles to experience Las Vegas is so interesting because the things they saw and did are tempered by the sound and electrifying sensation of knowing that what you do and after you do it will be followed by mounting one of the noisiest and most romantisied forms of transportation other then the horse. With that in mind the picture at the top of the page is also an illusion. Mike took that picture of Bruce on the Harley near the Las Vegas speedway and the darkened street scene was added here.
Here is what Mike had to say about this topic:

"We rented Harleys on Wednesday. Bruce loved it as much as I did. I never realized that he had not been on a bike since my first one, a 250 Suzuki Motocross, when I was 18. But he took to it real well with a little instruction from me and we had a wonderful day. We rode in a stagger formation with me on the outside so he felt very safe with me making the decisions as far as traffic and speed were concerned. Riding the bikes was a great opportunity to observe the contrast between the desert and the city."

We have talked about the iconic nature of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle before in Ensign and Mike has provided us with several articles that depict the reverence it has here in Canada but in the United States there is a curious mixture of nostalgia and patriotism that associates this US made machine with "The American Way of Life". One can not help but think of the maverick, wild west cultural connotations that American's consider as important. Marlin Brando's Rebel Without A Cause, the image of James Dean on an old Harley, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson are images etched in everyone's memories and linked to what is American. Even Austrian actor Arnold Schwarznager establishes himself as a true American in Terminator II as he rides to save humanity on a Harley

The American mystique of personal liberty and self determination is a fascinating problem. A country that evolved as a Rebel nation fought a civil war to free its slaves and over a hundred years later is still licking its wounds from that war. The surprising failure to achieve even the simplest of its ideals of individual freedom make it one of the most dangerous places on earth to live or visit. Some how these confusing issues are part of the world that is the Harley Davidson motorcycle. This Las Vegas cafe is almost a temple to the icon and what it represents including the the monster US flag in the

background and the mechanical eagle suspended from the

Michael has explored these issues and has written about them in Ensign and the monthly club newsletter he edits. His zeal in search of the real story inside the behaviour of people constantly moves him to the edge and challenges conventional thinking be that mountain climbing or motorcycles the world is always new to those who pursuit life and all that it has to offer.

Our thanks to Mike for the remarkable pictures this week and the many stories he has contributed in the past. It is good to move ourselves beyond our local concerns as I have never been to Las Vegas and Mike has given me the chance to see it through his eyes and the images he captured with his camera.

Published earlier this week: Brutal Assault on the Senses, Valley of Fire, NASCAR in Vegas


Mike passed on the following recollections he had about Harley riding in Las Vegas after looking over this article.

One thing I failed to realize was that the last time he had been on a bike was my very first bike, a 250 Suzuki motocross I got when I was 18. So for the first hour or so he was a little apprehensive. But we took it easy and he was just fine. I know when I first got the bike the adrenalin levels were so high I could hardly think. The rides would be just a blur and I would be left with memories of sensations, emotions, feelings. Bruce was unable to eat all day but drank about 3 bottles of Gaterade. However we
went to a seafood smorg that night with shrimp, lobster and Alaska crab on the menu along with a wealth of other things. It seems almost a crime when one consumes so many calories in one meal, calories that could sustain a medium sized village for a week in the Congo.

We did some riding around town before we turned the bikes in but for me it was a very scary thing. I would not only keep my eyes open for problems that might affect me but was always looking behind to see how Bruce was doing. Now Vegas drivers are a different bred of driver altogether. There are more pedestrian fatalities in Vegas than any other North American city. As we were proceeding through an intersection, Bruce stalled his bike just in the crosswalk. But I think because he was on a Harley, people gave him wide berth. It took some time for him to get the bike going again. Nothing untoward happened however. While I waited in a drive way just on the other side of the interestion, five cars or trucks stopped to let me enter. I had not seen this before in Vegas. But I waited for Bruce to come along before I merged.

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