Unsupervised: Keeping Up With Scranton on Three Continents

Editor’s Note: There’s some raw language in the following story. If that will offend you, please skip it. Neale’s story is definitely a wild one, so we bent our editorial guidelines a bit and left in the exuberant expletives to reflect the flavor and spirit of the adventures.

As the sound of heavy machine-gun fire broke the damp eerie silence, the Euro Trash went running, then the Vietnamese. Burning through $60 a second, my attorney stayed on the trigger, heat and smoke pouring from the old M60, with spent cartridges flying everywhere. Just how we came to be at the Củ Chi tunnels in Vietnam firing automatic weapons has gotten a little hazy as I look back over multiple motorcycle adventures around the world, wondering what sort of fucked up shit Scranton could possibly do next.

The first phone call should have tipped me off. When a longhaired, dirtbag ambulance-chasing lawyer calls you from his vacation home in Hawaii and stays on the phone for two hours, some sort of primal instinct should have been yelling “Run!” The inner divining rod that always leads to bad pussy, or other piles of problems, was getting ready to champion the next bad decision—the sort of decision that takes a shit ton of shoveling to get out of after the event. I immediately invited him to ride across South Africa.

Part 1

It all started off fairly smoothly. Scranton checked in at some five-star place on the Cape Town wharf while the rest of us got to know each other in a low-rent road lodge close to the airport; luckily, no one knew who he was when he finally arrived. Then, we couldn’t load his extra gear bags in the single support truck as the itinerary had specified for one. Thankfully, our first intro in person was going swimmingly.

With the rest of the day spent getting the group on rental bikes, and heading for the Cape of Good Hope, the early part of our ride across South Africa seemed fairly Scranton light and stress-free. I did notice the next day when hitting some stupid speeds on a twisty piece of coastal highway that Scranton was right behind me. He even looked a few shades brighter than his usual “This shit is boring” expression as his take on hitting triple-digit speeds in the dirt. He said it was his first time, which seems like a stretch to me, but we were all so jacked up on adrenaline. Who knew?

Neither of us use alcohol, so we usually gravitated together for evening meals, and, in a foreshadowing of another adventure, he nearly got his ass kicked by a pissed-off Vietnam veteran for hiding his helmet in the freezer. Thankfully, he came clean, took the heat (hmmm, might not be the right word) to make it right, and on we rode for Swaziland. Now that was a little nuts. Apparently, our Vietnam Veteran buddy was a pro-level motocross racer back in the day. So, now it was time to do what men do to celebrate new friendships: Go ride like a bunch of Twats. (The English version)

It made for some interesting bar-banging, gravel-spitting fun on the dirt roads of Swaziland as we made for Kruger National Park back in South Africa. It was about now I realized for an overweight attorney, this fucker could ride. I’m not that bright. Although, to be fair, with his longhaired, white t-shirt, flip-flop-wearing ass sucking tobacco through the filters of a 40-a-day habit, and knuckle-dragging appearance, he certainly wasn’t acting or looking like most attorneys I’d ever met.

Having been in business with a lady who studied arithmetic at a different school, I was now in a competition to see who could give up their life savings the fastest to keep regular-type attorneys in expensive suits and escort girls. Scranton managed to peer back through the smoke from the bails of pot that was law school and offer some advice.

Then we went body surfing. Yes, “we.” For some reason, no one else did—might have been to do with the size of the waves, or the undercurrent, or something. It was here I learned Scranton had taken off to a primitive Island in Indonesia surfing as a teenager. It suddenly made sense why he could still talk while I was regurgitating swallowed seawater and getting cold-cocked by the massive waves. We made it to dinner.

The next morning, we left one of the riders at the lodge and took off down some dirt roads to see some spectacular waterfalls. A middle-aged Trustafarian, the guy was a complete dick, so deserved it. Luckily, he managed to find us later, as that might have been difficult to explain, although now traveling with an attorney, these things seemed less bothersome.

Kruger passed without incident, other than the same guy almost getting kicked out, which takes some doing. Scranton managed to sit through most of it, no one got eaten, and we took care of a little charity business in the Township of White River at the end of the trip, as is my want. We had jumped off the Bloukrans Bridge, with a bungee cord, of course, as it’s the highest jump in the world, and I think he liked hauling ass across South Africa.

For all the wild animals, adrenaline-producing motorcycle moments, near punch-ups, and I almost forget we almost got arrested and our bikes impounded, it was Scranton’s prowess in his rental car that will make the postcard memory of the trip for my mental mantelpiece.

Following him in a van with the riders heading to the airport, we were suddenly greeted with the sight of the micro rental screeching to an alarming halt in a bouquet of tire smoke. Then the most extraordinary thing happened: The doors flew open, and three large humans leaped out at alarming speed. I’d never seen such a violent reaction to a fart in a rental car before.

Part 2

A few months later, I called Scranton to see what he was doing. He was rehabbing from shoulder surgery after an incident racing the Baja 250 on a dirt bike, so I invited him to ride BMW adventure bikes in the Andes. He brought his videographer, but not before they went surfing, got lost in Lima, and arrived late as usual.

Undeterred, we saddled up and pulled out of the city of Arequipa, some 8,000 ft above sea level, two miles below the volcanic mountaintops of Chachani, Pichu Pichu, and Misti standing guard over the ancient city. Within minutes, I looked over to see Scranton riding through the dirt and garbage beside the road, jumping over things, and realized he was either now on or off his ADD meds on this trip, as he had seemed quite calm by comparison in South Africa. Rarely using the road, he wheelied off every stop sign and generally rode like a complete Twat (English version again). I guess he thought he was racing the Baja. A flashback, perhaps?

I had my girlfriend riding with me, so was a little more reserved, and, with the vigorous video schedule of having to do an interview every day or two for the stoner with the camera, who thankfully didn’t bother to record most of the audio, which meant I had to fly out to San Francisco and re-record it all later, things were, for the most part, a little more tame—until my bike broke down and I had to go get another one, then cross a 15,000-foot pass after dark, below freezing, with snow falling. Scranton told me if my nose weren’t so big, it wouldn’t have gotten frostbitten: Word from my Attorney.

Strafing dirt roads at 14,000 feet, viewing Quechan Indians, sheep, and llamas with few signs of modern life, the days spun by. Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, and plenty of riding made it all seem quite idyllic, and then something weird happened.

Scranton must have eaten something that didn’t agree with him because there we were on the top of a sand dune at 16,000 feet, one we’d barely made it up, I might add, due to the thick sand and lack of power at this altitude. One guy actually didn’t make it and was still regaining consciousness a few thousand feet below, but I digress.

Suddenly, Scranton started yelling at me in the wind, and at first, I thought he wanted to go to the bathroom. Then, I realized he was saying, “You have to go!”

Having a moment filled with human emotion was not something I would have expected from my attorney. But there, three miles into the clear, sharp Peruvian air, his comment hit me squarely in the emotional family jewels.

You see, 20 years ago, as a wayward motorcyclist, I’d met a Canadian Priest, Father Giovanni, riding a small red Honda XL185S in these mountains. Gio was a nut. He showed me a different way, and I changed. Now, all these years later, I do this mad shit to bring money to the orphans he supported before his death.

Scranton knew I’d heard a rumor that Father Gio’s Honda might be in the small town of Carumas, not far from us, but to get there was too risky for a big group. He finally convinced me to split up and come with me to look for the motorcycle. “It’s your destiny,” he said, managing to sound fairly Morgan Freeman. Off the grid on unknown roads, we made for a town to find a church to look for a motorcycle I hadn’t seen in 20 years—makes sense, really. In a blind squirrel finding a nut type of move, we were standing in front of Father Gio’s motorcycle within 10 minutes of arriving in town.

It’s as close as Scranton can get too emotional, or it could have been the lunchbox sandwich that raised the tempo of his normal “bored shitless” demeanor, but I was certainly moved. And, our stoner managed to have his camera turned on to record it, as I didn’t want to have to go to San Francisco to recreate that. We took pictures and video, vowed to come back, and with black storm clouds barreling down the valley and a 14,500 ft pass to cross before dark, we rolled out with the local priest on Scranton’s bike. It’s probably the closest he’ll get to heaven, but who I am to talk about the sediment stacked upon his soul after all the shit I’ve done.

The following day, we visit the orphans I support in the desert town of Moquegua. Here, Scranton pulled a fast one, filling my wallet with Peruvian bills before lunch and then forcing me to hand it over in front of the group after we had eaten. Opening it, he threw the money in a hat, while slamming down a chunk of his own and passing it ’round the table. The Canadians went pale, the nuns looked down, and everyone filled the hat with cash. Job done. Decades of experience extracting money from insurance companies got the orphans a pile of cash. We returned to America.

Part 3

A few weeks later, a small faux pas on my dirt bike required three four-inch bolts to put my femur back together. While I was doing the crutches thing, Scranton went off to do whatever he does. Something about 40 employees and a word he likes to use from time to time called “work.” That legal language is most confusing.

Once walking, I took off to England for some rehab before ending up with a right-wing Bible-thumping nutjob billionaire photographing Sudanese refugees in Uganda and some other shit in Ethiopia. Then I took a mad dash on a stupid fast BMW S 1000 XR from California into Mexico’s Copper Canyon and beyond with some left-wing motorcycle riff-raff.

Finally, Scranton’s stoner buddy got it together to start editing the Peru video, and it seemed I was either in San Francisco or Scranton was in North Carolina. While I was smart enough to use an airplane, he clearly wasn’t. Heading to the Smokey Mountains to ride adventure motorcycles with our Vietnam Veteran one weekend, Scranton decided to ride from San Francisco. It’s only 2700 miles, so, thankfully, he didn’t bother to bring a toolkit or things like warm clothing. But he sure must have cranked up on the Adderall, as he made it in three days.

Hauling ass on dirt roads in North Carolina mountains with street tires fitted to his adventure bike, wasted from travel, as soon as we were done proving our manhood and back at my house, he said, “Fuck this,” and jumped in an Uber for the airport. I did get a text to say some transport company would be by in a week or so to pick up his muddy motorcycle.

Once again, it all gets a little vague, but waking up in a business class seat on the way to Ho Chi Minh City, it was time to take Scranton’s American Express card to Vietnam—just don’t leave home without him. For some reason, we had decided to find exactly where our Vietnam veteran had blown up in his tank nearly 50 years earlier. So, before you could say “Don’t bring any hookers in here” at the luxury hotel we were holed up at, we were soon scratching around in rubber plantations and dodging monsoon rains.

We hired a very un-cheerful guide called “Nam,” who never looked behind, so you either had to ride like a complete Twat or get lost. From the Mekong Delta to the old Thunder Road, we searched for memories and, by the most amazing stroke of luck, found exactly where our friend’s tank hit the land mine that changed his life forever.

Next was a visit to the Củ Chi tunnels, where the Euro Trash were buying one or two bullets for a machine gun experience at around ten bucks a pop. Scranton quickly dropped a grand, put the Vietnamese into a flap, as they had never sold so many bullets, and freaked the fuck out of everyone in earshot as he burned through them in a matter of seconds. I’ve never shot a gun before, so I popped my cherry with an old Kalashnikov, the weapon I’d seen most of traveling Latin America during the Contra War era.

Riding in Vietnam was close to insane, with most days spent surrounded by hundreds of scooters. The only white guys on “big” bikes, we were rarely in tourist spots and quite the sensation wherever we stopped. Scranton caught some social media flak from his people for posting pictures of a roadside stall selling an assortment of chopped up dogs. Needless to say, we didn’t eat there. We did some R & R on the beach at Vũng Tàu for a day or two before doing the blast for home.

Back Stateside, Scranton decided to race the Baja Rally, but not before breaking his foot during navigation and roll chart training somewhere on the West Coast. I guess he healed enough to race for five days over 1100 miles, dodging cactus, boulders, and such, while crashing and getting lost. Scranton even managed an endo for the film crew on day one. He was pretty beaten up after this one, but a finish is a finish, and he earned the respect of a lot of hardcore racers.

We spent some time in San Francisco before he flew us up to Oakland to do some TV stuff in his private plane and sign on off on our show we had made in Peru. If I thought his behavior in rental cars was bad, flying was worse. Thankfully, he didn’t have his jet yet, and was still flying the right way up. Mostly.

Of course, over the next weeks, it didn’t take long for boredom to set in. So, when I told Scranton that I was heading to Ecuador to ride in the high mountains, it took him about half a second to invite himself. We met in the ancient city of Quito.

Part 4

Personally, I think Massive Dick made a mistake. Well, actually, he made a bunch of mistakes, which included crashing a lot and getting lost on dirt roads after dark, at 13,000 feet with the gas light on Scranton’s bike flashing and the temperatures plummeting. Hard to imagine how my attorney could have used all his gas when there was little chance of getting more. It was the same deal earlier when Scranton bent the rim. He could have slowed down, but what fun would that be? We did find a local mechanic who fixed it by heating and beating the rim back round, and thankfully it held air over the next few days as we got lost off the grid in Ecuador.

He actually wasn’t really called Massive Dick, his name is Eric Van Maasdijk, but apparently, the kids at school came up with it. One thing you don’t show an ambulance-chasing attorney with a shark for a logo is any sign of weakness, but he did, and on we went. The three of us got on like a house on fire. Massive had ridden horses in Mongolia, shot weird animals on the Galapagos Islands, been in international banking in London and such, so conversations were always lively. We jumped off a stupid-high diving board at a funky old hotel, did some zip-lining high over the jungle, which was not that thrilling, to be honest, and explored a redundant volcano a few miles up into the thin air.

We didn’t see any Gringos as Massive had us off the beaten track, and with Scranton’s tire holding air, we made it back to Quito to chill out in some five-star hotel. He was already in luxury withdrawal at this point, needing soft towels, room service, and hot water. Then, he suddenly took off one, mumbling on about work, family, or something he had to do somewhere else, so I took a few extra days in and around Quito with Massive.

I first saw Cotopaxi back in the ’90s when riding motorcycles through Central and South America was still a bit wild. Ecuador truly is a majestic country with the most beautiful people, and without my attorney, I had a chance to appreciate it.

It wasn’t long after our return until I took off for Peru to babysit another group of Gringos, ticking off an item on their trip of a lifetime bucket list while squeezing a little money out of them for my orphans. The thought of riding around Peru at pedestrian speeds with regular people was far too boring for Scranton, so he took off to do some adventure riding in Baja and things of that nature. I got a bit of a fascination with hiking for a while and wandered up Kilimanjaro, and then found a 19,000-foot volcano in Peru to go get the lack of oxygen buzz again—clearly something my attorney was not interested in, as it’s tricky to chain smoke and hike at altitude. I did talk him into coming back to South Africa, though.

Part 5

He must have a short memory because I knew riding around South Africa with a bunch of regular Nobs at legal speeds, with nothing exploding or catching fire, would make him fussy. It did, so, thankfully, after a few days of riding and visiting World Heritage Sites, one of the newbies in the group manage to fuck up badly enough to create some unsupervised behavior—a bent rim. Unlike our experience in Ecuador, there was no fixing this one, so someone had to wait for a new front wheel to be delivered in the very sketchy town of Alldays, up around the Zimbabwe and Botswana borders.

With one rough hotel, a gas station, and 160 miles of open country between us and our final destination, we would be waiting a while and have to ride at night. You most certainly need your attorney for this sort of behavior, as it’s highly unadvisable, so we checked into the hotel.

The small wall AC unit was struggling to move the 100-degree air around the room. Lying on our seaside-themed bed covers, it was a long, boring wait. I think that’s how the picture of me taking a dump ended up on social media. Anyway, a guy from the rental company finally showed up with a front wheel. So, just as the sun was setting, we rode out.

Luck would have it, as night came down, we were treated to the most intense lightning storm I’ve ever seen. I don’t have a Maker, so I just made peace with the fact that this could be my last ride and settled in to enjoy it. Lightning forked and blazed across the sky in front, to the sides, and even behind us. And then the rain came. Well, the wind came first, so it appeared to be raining sideways.

Then I got locked in a grocery store while picking up supplies, leaving Scranton stuck outside in the dark with the rain hammering down, dodging stray bits of trees and things flying through the air. He almost looked relieved to see me when the armed guard finally let me out of the store. It could have been that I had food, or smokes, or both, but with more than 100 miles ahead, it wasn’t a moment for a tender reunion. Of course, we lived, or I wouldn’t be here writing about it.

We arrived at the hotel to a warm welcome from our traveling companions, who had been extremely worried. I was happy that someone had managed to worry. I think in these sorts of situations, someone should.

The rest of the trip was without incident, although we did manage some brain-out triple-digit bar banging through a twisty forest section one day, the resulting shot of adrenaline picking his mood up for a few minutes. Then, he bailed on the backwards swing-jump into some mad canyon and came close to slitting his wrists in Kruger National Park after 12 hours of riding around looking for animals.

Having recently come back from his own private safari with the Massai in Kenya, Kruger, with the great unwashed, was like a middle seat in coach on a domestic cross-country flight. Before heading back to Pretoria to send our riding guests home and head out for the next adventure with Mates Grego and Jen, who had been on the ride with us, we spent a day in the township of White River, again visiting our friends who work so tirelessly for the underserved.

In hindsight, I should have seen it coming, but there was no way Scranton was going to Mozambique in a rental car with three health freaks. So, with little more than a wave of his middle finger, he jumped in an Uber and took off to the airport and flew to Dubai, where he checked into the most expensive hotel he could find, texted us some pictures of the $100 bottle of gold water in his room, and went skiing. As you do!