Local takes Slow Ride Home to The Dome

Dome Theatre Owner Chelsea Sanderson, Justin Barnes, and Betsy Billings pose outside the theatre on the day of the interview with The Montanian Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian.


By Brian Baxter


As this reporter was headed down to the Dome Theatre to interview the man who lead the efforts in filming the documentary, Slow Ride Home, an old Rock and Roll song titled Slow Ride was playing in my head. The lyrics begin, “Slow ride, take it easy.” The song is by the group Foghat from their 1975 album Fool For The City.

In the city of Libby, Mont., I met a guy who at first reminded me of some of the Harley-Davidson riders that I used to roll with back in the 1970’s. Justin Barnes greeted me with a firm handshake and a big smile. Well groomed and bearded, this guy has huge shoulders and an athletic build.

As it turns out, Justin is an athlete. Born and raised in Libby, he accepted a baseball scholarship after graduating high school in 2005. He then went on to attend Shoreline Community College which is only a couple  miles north of downtown Seattle. Barnes studied  communications, which in turn got him an internship position at a radio station, and ultimately a full-time radio gig. His current position is Midday Afternoon Radio Personality (10 a.m. until 2 p.m.) and Social Media Director of MOVIN 92.5 FM in Seattle, Wash. Anyone can listen to him via the online stream at MOVIN 925.com or using the free MOVIN 92.5 mobile app available on Android or iOS.

After saying hello to Chelsea Sanderson, owner of the Dome Theatre along with her husband Byron, and meeting Barnes’ girl friend Betsy Billings, we took a seat in the unique Dome Theatre and had a chat. His dad, Tracy Barnes, recently retired from U.S. Bakery after 30 plus years as a salesman for the Libby and Troy route. His Mom, Joni Barnes, owns and operates Nelli O’s Salon in Libby. His sister, Juli Cooper, is a pharmacy technician at the Cabinet Peaks Medical Center.

The movie, Slow Ride Home, will play on Monday, August 17 at the Dome Theatre. It depicts Barnes and his crew through Cannonball Run,  a stretch of travel from Florida across the United  States to Washington. This 3,700 mile trip took 11 days on 125cc scooters.

In what’s been described as brave, daring, and courageous by friends and stupid, dangerous, and foolish by their parents, Slow Ride Home is a documentary film that follows Seattle-based scooter club Soldiers of Destiny, on a cross country scooter ride from the white sand beaches of Florida through some of the most beautiful and sometimes desolate pockets of the U.S. before finally arriving home in Washington state.

Barnes and ten other guys rode long days on the road from Fernaudina Beach, Fla. to Mukiltea, Wash. The road warrior group will also be riding their scooters to Libby for the showing on Aug. 17. These gentlemen, who rode only back roads, opened their hearts to the fullest extent to support Highway To Heal, and raise awareness for the Moyer Foundation. The foundation has been rebranded as Eluna, and can be found online at ElunaNetwork.org. The mission of Eluna is to support children and families impacted by grief or addiction.

“Our innovative resources and programs address the critical needs of children experiencing powerful, overwhelming and often confusing emotions associated with the death of someone close to them or substance abuse in their family. No child should have to face these struggles alone, and our unique programs bring kids together to ease their pain and provide the tools to help restore hope.”

The film, Slow Ride Home, has been awarded one of the top films of the year by the Ellensburg Washington Film Festival  and will be shown at the festival in Ellensburg from October 4-6 this fall. This prestigious film festival is celebrating 15 years of bringing notable films from around the world to Ellensburg, and for bringing film lovers from around the Pacific Northwest and beyond to enjoy them.

In his typical, smiling, and humble way, Justin Barnes related one powerful quote. “The debt of regret is one you’ll never pay back,” he said.

He expressed that he is glad he undertook this adventure. To see the movie and support Barnes and Eluna, come watch Slow Ride Home at the Dome Theatre on Monday, Aug. 17.  See Barnes’ role in leading a squad of road warriors across the expanses of the entire United States for a good cause. And remember, take it slow.