John Otterbacher
Author, Speaker and Adventurer

A Father’s Grace


     My heart is talking to me tonight. The ache in my chest takes me back to my father, an evening together twenty years ago. We are watching TV in my parent’s living room. Dad’s heart is damaged but it is not what will kill him. The Parkinson’s he has lived with for fifteen […]

Scotch Tape

Image of scotch tape on cut

SCOTCH TAPE?      When I swing into a parking lot to turn around, my boot slides on loose gravel.  My bike and I pitch to the left and over, my helmet hard against the asphalt.  I kill the engine, crawl out from under the bike and muscle it upright.      When I reach up to […]

What I Control

Sunset sky with clouds photo

     Weather has a way of putting self-importance in its place – TV forecasters with their brave assuredness, even the most seasoned sailor or cyclist in a great storm on the open expanse.      What do you really control?  To reef or not when the sea goes black, change the angle of attack on a […]

A Good Run

Road with Woods

Excerpt 4 from What Remains As much as I love words, I don’t experience life in complete sentences, especially on my motorcycle. Images and impressions mostly, that I try to make sense of later.   These first miles are slow and hesitant, arms spastic, too cautious in the curves. Less control, I remind myself. More […]

Fear or Excitement?

Woods with a lot of stumps

Excerpt 2 from What Remains: Barbara’s breathing slows and softens. She slips into the deep sleep I want for myself. I do not follow her, adjusting and readjusting, trying not to wake her. I am desperate for the energy morning will demand. I cannot fall asleep.   Is this fear or excitement? Probably a little […]

While You Can

View of a lake from the woods

Excerpt 3 from What Remains: It’s moving up on ten o’clock. Time to get on my way if I’m going.   I clean up the kitchen and pull on a boot, lace it up and pull on the other.   Then I freeze.   All the questions I’ve been swatting away turn back on me, […]

Description of “What Remains”

Image of "What Remains" a memoir of an old man on the road book cover

What Remains is a latter-day road book, travel in the extreme – old man, old motorcycle, thousands of miles of old broken roads. Mountains and deserts and small town America, three hundred potholed miles at a time. Off-center characters in the out-of-the-way places where they carve out an existence. The grit and grace it takes […]


Trail in the woods

I follow my high-minded words around like a supplicant, rarely catching up. When I do, they only smirk.  



“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you’, that would be enough.” -Meister Eckharts