‘I’ve been everywhere, man’

August 7, 2018

SPEARFISH — People have started calling him “Everywhere Man” since Wayne “Boz” Bostwick, of Tomahawk, Wis., started carrying around the lyrics to “I’ve Been Everywhere,” a song that lists 92 locations around North America, with him as he travels by motorcycle on a quest to make it to all of those places.

“It’s all a journey,” he said.

The song, written by Geoff Mack in 1959, made famous by Lucky Starr in 1962, and covered by several musicians throughout the years, including Johnny Cash, has the chorus, “I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere, man, Crossed the deserts bare, man, I’ve breatherd the mountain air, man, Travel, I’ve had my share, man, I’ve been everywhere.” It includes places like Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, and many more, and Bostwick has researched locations, as there is more than one Spirit Lake in the United States, for example – a community in Iowa, as well as a lake in Washington. He keeps track of where he’s been and takes photos of him with his current motorcycle, a 2018 Twisted Cherry Harley Street Glide “extra” special Trask Turbo, the 33rd Harley he’s ridden through the years.

When people ask him where he’s headed next, Bostwick responds, “Everywhere!”

He hasn’t been to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in more than a decade and is excited to see a group of friends dubbed the “Kalizona Boys,” representing California, Arizona, Minnesota, and more.

“I love the Black Hills. It’s just amazing. This is definitely my favorite rally,” Bostwick said, describing that he has attended many of the major motorcycle rallies across the U.S.

His quest to make it to all of the locations within “I’ve Been Everywhere” is not the first goal he’s attempted while traveling. Bostwick has three grown children, and when they were young, his daughter asked him how many places he’d been, and as he described some of his rides, she counted more than 25 states he had visited at that point.

After getting in a serious motorcycle accident about 15 years ago that left Bostwick with multiple broken bones, 264 stitches, and three plates in his head, after he recovered, he painted a Harley motorcycle red, white, and blue, with an eagle on the side, and made it his mission to get a photo of it by every single state sign to which he could ride. The first year, he rode 5,000 miles in seven days, getting 33 state signs in photos. The next year, he rode another 5,000 miles in a week to get the other half of the country and Washington, D.C, and the third year, he rode to Alaska, hitting the Yukon and Northwest territories along the way. All told, he rode to 49 states and 10 Canadian provinces during these solo trips.

Bostwick next started hitting up the highest points of elevation in states, with 24 highest points found in three riding seasons.

Bostwick, who serves on a fire brigade and works in maintenance in the motorcycle industry, has long loved motorcycles and riding them. When he was 5, his family moved to Tomahawk, Wis., where he remembered seeing a big building in town with the letters, “AMF,” on it. He didn’t know what that stood for or what happened in the building, but a few years later, he went bowling and saw the same letters on the bowling balls and bowling pins.

“AMF” referred to AMF, Inc., formerly American Machine and Foundry, one of the United States’ largest recreational equipment companies that at one time owned Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.

Bostwick eventually learned this after he received a Schwinn Stingray bicycle for his birthday, complete with a banana seat. He rode it by the building one day and got compliments from the employees leaving the building, and he asked what it was they did inside. They pointed to some nearby motorcycles and informed him that they painted the motorcycles, and when he heard that, he went home, took his bicycle apart, sanded it down, spray-painted it Harley orange, bought knobby tires and motorcross handlebars and seat, and knew that he wanted to work with motorcycles. He got his start in the industry at 19, when he was hired as a rough sander at the Tomahawk factory, and a painter there allowed Bostwick to use his station at the end of a shift to learn how to paint.

“That’s what’s so cool about it. I love to actually custom-paint my bikes, and then take them for a ride,” he said. “And then it’s the people you meet.”

Bostwick took many motorcycle trips through the years, never remembering to take photos, and one year, when he was meeting up with friends in Sturgis, he decided to go across North Dakota, since he had never been there before. As he rode, he thought it was awesome, so he took a couple of extra days and rode all the way to Washington before swinging south and heading back to Sturgis. He knew he would be late meeting up with his friends, and he knew they’d never believe him if they didn’t see it, so he bought a one-time-use camera and took photos of all of the state signs as he traveled. When he arrived and his friends wondered where he had been, he threw the stack of photos on a table – and they were incredulous, telling him that he was crazy.

“I said, ‘No, I just like to ride,’” Bostwick said.

He’s accumulated stories over the years, and one his friends still tease him about is the time he came out trying to find his brother’s vacation home in the Hills. He didn’t know exactly where it was located, and he had ridden all the way from Wisconsin in one shot, so he was tired, but, thinking on his feet, he went to a local pizza shop and asked them to deliver a pizza to the address. When they wondered why he wanted it delivered, seeing as he was there in person, he explained that he needed to follow the delivery to the address – and when he showed up, he could greet his brother and friends with a fresh pizza!

On another occasion, he arrived at his brother’s vacation home, let himself in using the keypad, and traveled back into Whitewood, stopping at Bullwacker’s Saloon. He spent 45 minutes outside chatting with a couple who heard his turbo and wanted to talk about his motorcycle, and then once inside, he started chatting with another man who turned out to be the owner of the Harley dealership in Sioux City, Iowa. After the dealership owner, whose riding name was “Rooster,” left, Bostwick got to chatting with a group of truck drivers who were fascinated to hear about his goal of hitting all of the places in “I’ve Been Everywhere.” They played the Hank Snow version of the song on the jukebox and told stories about how they, too, had been to many of the places in the song.

After an enjoyable evening, Bostwick headed back to his brother’s home, only to discover that the keypad had died, making it impossible for him to enter. To make matters worse, his cell phone also died while he was trying to contact his brother, so Bostwick headed back into Whitewood. The bartender at Bullwacker’s was cleaning up and allowed him to charge his cell phone, and he was able to get ahold of “Rooster,” who immediately came to the tavern and ended up offering Bostwick a place to stay that night.

It’s these experiences that make riding so enjoyable, Bostwick described, and he never plans too far ahead, since plans may change, depending on who he meets and what places they recommend. He packs light and stays in hotels along the way, though he never makes reservations ahead of time.

He jokes that if someone sees his motorcycle on a trailer, they should call 911, since it must be getting stolen, but he admitted that he did trailer once, to Daytona, when there was snow on the ground.

Sturgis remains his favorite rally, and it will soon hold a souvenir from Bostwick. He is sending a jacket, featuring his nickname, “Boz,” from the Tomahawk, Wis., Emergency Response Team, which features the Harley-Davidson Motor Company symbol within the emergency services bar and shield. Bostwick had stopped at the Sturgis Fire Department to pick up some T-shirts, and he knew that there was no better place for the jacket to be on display than in Sturgis.

“This is the best riding, hands-down,” he said.

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