John Otterbacher
Author, Speaker and Adventurer

A Clean Getaway


I am worn out now, a staggering exhaustion at the end of a day on the road.  All the motels in town are sporting “no vacancy” signs.  I park my motorcycle to look around and settle on a strip of lawn at the well-shadowed end of a pricey hotel parking lot.  I go back and […]

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 […]

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, […]

A Motorcycle Ride

an empty two-lane road surrounded by grassy hills under a mostly-sunny blue sky

Excerpt 1 from What Remains: At a weekly get together, I tell friends I will be away for a while.   “Three, four weeks, a motorcycle ride. Get reacquainted with backroad America.”   Several glasses stop short of open mouths.   “Three, four weeks, alone, on your motorcycle?”   “Yup,” more sheepishly than I intend. […]

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 […]


Arizona dessert

Around the bend a high riding four-wheeler, passenger waving frantically as they pass, too late now, gravel into gulley, nowhere to turn around, into a washout, sides funneling down into a tire-wide tracklet, rock ahead, up onto the wall to miss it and over, upside down into an adjacent arroyo, cycle on top and gear, heft […]