An Inquiry into Values | 01

And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good—
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

These 12 photos seem to be the only existing photos from the 1968 trip upon which the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was based. Mr. Pirsig sent these photos to Professor Henry Gurr, and I just copied them from his site. As you will see, nearly all these photos appear to have been “written into” the book, and I see them as illustrations or visual references for re-reading it.


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 I suddenly notice the land here has flattened into a Euclidian plane. Not a hill, not a bump anywhere. This means we have entered the Red River Valley. We will soon be into the Dakotas ….

Chris and Robert on his 1964 Honda Superhawk, CB77. This is the picture that everyone sees in black and white. It was first sent to the English publisher, Bodley Head. They put it on their jacket and everyone picked it up from there. The location is a rest stop in North Dakota on the way to Oakes at about 5 or 6 PM during the first day out. The storm described in Chap. 3 was fictional.


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By the time we are out of the Red River Valley the storm clouds are everywhere and almost upon us. .. John and I have discussed the situation in Breckenridge and decided to keep going until we have to stop.

Sylvia, Chris, John 1st day. Same location as Picture 1. Although it has been a long day, Chris doesn’t look tired. He is holding a pair of binoculars, and is ready for action.


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The prairie here is huge but above it the hugeness of this ominous grey mass ready to descend is frightening. We are traveling at its mercy now. When and where it will come is nothing we can control. All we can do is watch it move in closer and closer…

Sylvia, Chris, Robert. Haystack at rest stop N.D, 1st day. Same location as 1 and 2. Notice Chris’s red hair. You will also see this color in several later photos and apparently this was his actual hair color. Also note jackets; it must have been chilly cycle riding, despite a whole day of crystal clear sky and intense sun as you see here.


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We drive down a county road from Lemmon, exhausted, for what seems a long, long time, but can’t be too long because the sun is still above the horizon. The campsite is deserted. Good. But there is less than a half-hour of sun and no energy left. This is the hardest now. .. I try to get unpacked as fast as possible but am so stupid with exhaustion I just set everything by the camp road without seeing what a bad spot it is. Then I see it is too windy. This is a High Plains wind. It is semidesert here, everything burned up and dry except for a lake, a large reservoir of some sort below us.

Liewellyn Jones Recreation Area, Shadehill Reservoir, SD. This scene is from the beginning of Ch 6 at the campground in South Dakota. The accompanying text is: .. “Later I turn and see John is up and looking at me uncomprehendingly. He is still not really awake, and now walks aimlessly in circles to clear his head. Soon Sylvia is up too and her left eye is all puffed up. I ask her what happened. She says it is from mosquito bites. I begin to collect gear to repack the cycle. John does the same. When this is done we get a fire started while Sylvia opens up packages of bacon and eggs and bread for breakfast.”


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At a turnout on the road we stop, take some record photographs to show we have been here and then walk to a little path that takes us out to the edge of a cliff.

Roadside Rest Area, Beartooth Pass Highway, MT.  John, Chris and Bob at pass. Note that the colors are all washed out due to high altitude intense sun. For some reason the narrator’s “black-blue sky” is not illustrated by Mr. Pirsig’s 2 photos taken here.


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  …. and then walk to a little path that takes us out to the edge of a cliff. A motorcycle on the road almost straight down beneath us could hardly be seen from up here. We bundle up more tightly against the cold and continue upward.

Roadside Rest Area, Beartooth Pass Highway, MT. Chris, John, Sylvia at Pass.