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Monday, May 16, 2016

Curt Morgan

The word "ramble" means to walk or go from one place to another place without a specific goal, purpose, or direction. Curt Morgan has "ramble" in his social media handle but I feel he does have purpose in everything he does. The storytelling and the documentation of beauty that pours from Curt and his camera lens has a true purpose in my eyes. He has captured so many people's attention over the last year on his travels and shared his adventures with his heart and mind open for everyone to see. From meeting strangers on the road who became friends, to probably seeing some of the coolest roads this country has to offer, Curt's stories deserve to be shared for years to come. I was lucky enough to even meet him on the road in Mexico last year. He seriously is one of the nicest and most humble guys – one of the good ones.  When putting Fuel Cleveland together this year Curt was at the top of my list to invite. Curt is trying to make the trek from Portland to Cleveland to attend the show on May 28th. I couldn't be more excited to see his smiling face again! Here are a handful a questions I asked him the other day to help share his story a little more to anyone that may not know him, enjoy.

-Mikey Revolt

Curt Morgan, where do you call home?

It’s going to sound cheesy, enough so that even I have to hold back laughing, but it’s been true since birth – the road is my home. I was born, even born on it, en route to the hospital in Pocatello, ID. Since that day I’ve lived in 12 states and 24 homes. But as the short story goes, for initial introductions, I just say I’m from Boston, because that is where I most recently, and still, claim residence.

What is your preferred camera choice, are you a Canon or Nikon guy and why?
Canon guy, for no other reason than that is what I started with.

Who or what inspires you and your work?

This is a tough one, because there is so much. But I like to think that we should give more credit to ourselves. My inspiration initially comes from my own wants, and then I just do it. Then through diving into something I begin to come across so many people that are on a similar path. It see it being similar to how you never really notice a particular car are the road, until you own one yourself.

Do you try and portray any meaning or convey any messages in your work?

I shoot what I see, with no real restrictions. There is so much that will never make it to social media. I’m a documentary photographer and, in some ways, a stock photographer. Some photos I take have (seemingly) no meaning, while others tell an incredible story.

Can you talk about your first experience or first memory of motorcycles and why they are important in your life?

I remember always noticing motorcycles, every time I saw one, and watching/listening until I couldn’t anymore. They weren’t a part of my (immediate) family growing up, but one of my earliest memories was asking my mom where uncle Randy was. (He is my dad's brother, and we don’t hear from him often, but he is such a cool salt of the earth kind of dude, off the grid and building houses in Colorado.) She replied “I don’t know...somewhere on his motorcycle.” I didn’t have a response, but I remember smiling and putting that idea in my pocket.

What was the first motorcycle you ever rode? How was that experience?

It must have been a Kawasaki 100 or something, around the age of 12. One day I was riding my BMX on some dirt jumps with friends in Iowa, and a few of them had brought their small off road motorcycles. They threw me on one, and while have no experience, and being overly excited to ride, I whiskey throttled the sumbitch into a tree. I cut my leg open pretty good and you could see the bone. My white socks had turned to red and I poured blood out of my shoe when I got home. To this day, I don’t recall if I ever told my mom...I didn’t want to go to the hospital, and it healed well enough on it’s own.

Tell us a little about your cross country trip and why you decided to travel America on two wheels?

I went to school in Boston for photography, which wasn’t cheap. I’m paying for it now and many years to come, and although my debt is quite large due to this I wouldn’t take it back for anything. It drove me to “do something crazy”, and give an idea the old college try, in an attempt to make something of my degree. So I hit the road for a year, after planning and saving for three. I went for broke and that happened in Portland, OR far more true that I intended for it to be, but I was just having too much fun that I didn’t want to get off the road until I absolutely had to. I have an awesome support system here, and all over the country, so I’m getting back on my wheels and planning to do it all again soon.

Where was one of the craziest places you got to go to while on that cross country trip?

Nothing too “crazy”, because it’s nowhere many, many other people haven’t been, but some really cool places come to mind, that were some of my favorite to visit.

In upstate NY there is a waterfall called Eternal Flame Falls, where there is a natural gas leak coming out of a small crack in the rock behind the water, that got lit one day. They say if it’s extinguished when you go there just toss a match. Look it up, it’s crazy! I also really enjoyed White Sands National Park, Wind River Canyon in WY, Yellowstone, and Acadia National Park in Maine.

Who was your favorite person you have ever met on the road, and what is their story?

Man, this is a tough one, especially because it even dates back to the day I was born...and I’m sorry to say that I can’t answer this. Even limiting this answer to my more recent motorcycle travels I’ve met so many people that played a very large role in what made that ride so memorable. From my first road friend, Sean in NC, who just wanted to share the road for a few days, to Tommy in MI, a young lad who hit the road towards the end of my year long trip, directly inspired by yours truly. Both of them, and so many in between, I now call family. And I’m just getting started!

Can you share one of the craziest moments you have ever witnessed and/or got to snap photos of?

My personal favorite was riding through Yellowstone and coming across a lone Bison wandering down the road. I pulled up ahead of him and watched him walk by just feet from me, and snapped a photo. People said I was crazy, and that they are dangerous animals, and maybe I am crazy, but I just didn’t sense that about this one. I felt like we made a connection, that maybe he was something of my spirit animal. Along with a wolf, bear, and many others, I’ve always wanted to see a Bison in the wild.

I know your bike had to of given you some troubles on the road, what’s a good breakdown story or memory?

My bike was nothing but on its best behavior the entire time. I had a few electrical issues, and six flat tires in a year, but that’s it. I got a new bike, for this trip, for a reason- I wanted to ride, not wrench. But I did get hit in WV, where not even locals have cell service, and that’s a pretty good story.

After riding through this crazy mountain pass, in Jefferson National Forest, with too many switchbacks to keep count, I got into the valley and this woman turned left without signaling, and clocked me. She hit me on the right and I went down on my left. I got up and checked everything out, I seemed fine enough so I put my bike under the microscope.

My right peg must have gone into her wheel and ripped it off its mount, rendering the rear brake useless because it could now swing freely. My front exhaust pipe was crushed, but also punctured and still able to release exhaust. From sliding on my left side my shifter was bent all the way into my primary, and my clutch housing was smashed, leaving my clutch hanging from it’s cable, but if I held it in place it could still pivot and was usable. My sissy bar was bent and nearly falling off, and this came to be my only immediate concern, everything else left it still rideable.

So when a tow truck came, and I declined that service, I said I’d follow them to the shop 3 miles away to bend my sissy bar back in place. After that I continued the 5 or so miles to my destination- a cabin my parents had rented for me to treat me, because they are so proud of me and what I was doing. These cabins were so cool, all pre civil war and all so secluded from the other. They had a fireplace, loft bedroom, and a jacuzzi. So I decided to sleep this one off, and soak my increasingly sore body in the hot tub, before working out these repairs.

The next day I rode 3 hours back through the mountain pass I came, with no rear brake, crushed leaking exhaust, clutch hanging by its cable, and shifter bent all the way in. It was rideable enough, and got me where I needed to get it fixed. Shenandoah Harley was awesome! They didn’t charge me for service, and they found all the parts I needed as take off parts. It was a $250 repair vs a $900 one.

Is there a place you haven’t rode to yet that you have to go to before you kick the bucket?
Iceland and New Zealand.

If you could only own one bike for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

A purpose built Evo chopper, designed to crush miles with style and comfort.

Do you have any life mottos or codes that you live by?
"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."

- Charles Bukowski

Are you a bowl of ice-cream or waffle cone with ice-cream kinda guy?
Gotta go with the bowl. Cons of having a mustache and beard.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or give a shout out to?
So many...too many to list here. You all know who you are. So I’ll keep it simple and thank my folks for knockin' boots and raising me right!

How can people keep up with you, your travels and your work?
Instagram is really the only social media I use. It’s a digital business card. So check out my ramblings and get in touch @RambleOnPhoto

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