Saturday, June 06, 2015

Day 10 - Friday - June 5th

Almost forgot about yesterday.  Was tired but needed nourishment so found a local restaurant called Boardwalk.  They close at 9:00, I ordered at 8:30.  My dinner was very good.  Ordered a rib eye steak, (sorry we are out of baked potatoes), took french fries.  Started out with a bowl of soup, Italian Gumbo.  Told the waitress it just did not sound right, she recommended it highly so I tried it anyway.  Most excellent (wish I could get their recipe). They also served a cinnamon/apple bread and several pats of butter. Luscious. Then came steak and potatoes.  Only a good steak, as it had a large amount of fat. Then dessert was a single scoop of ice cream with blackberry syrup all over it.  I was very satisfied when finished and the cost was only $17.

Had an apple for my breakfast (rather poor complementary breakfast selection).  Traveled down the interstate until I picked up US-12 again and headed into Bowman, ND.  Refueled and headed south to Spearfish, ND.

A lot of beautiful country.  I love it all.

On construction spot and was stopped by the flagger for about 20 minutes.  She was a young lady, going to nursing school and working a summer job.  She actually really likes doing it.  Says this particular job does not pay much, on $14 an hour.  But last week she was working on in Minnesota that was a state job and they paid $34 an hours.  And, there is a lot of overtime.

Anyway on to Spearfish and I rode into town on the tail end of a thunderstorm.

Ending mileage for the day was 163,752 and the daily total was only 262.  Total miles since starting is 3,891.  Pretty good trip all things considered.

Day 9 – Problems arose on this day – Actually June 4, 2015

Upon leaving my motel I see a beautiful church outlined against the morning sky just a few blocks away so I twisted and turned to get nearer. This is a beautiful church and I took a couple of pictures.  The link above will take you directly  to it.  The twin spires looked great early in the morning.

Stopping to fuel up I found a Jalapeno Burrito which I devoured for my breakfast,  Sorry, folks, but did not find a Denny’s this morning.

Several times in the past few days I have seen a billboard advertising a Testical Festival.  Had no idea what it was or where but driving past a tiny little town I saw a sign advertising it again.  The town was Ryegate and although a very small hamlet it had a nice little park alongside the road shaded by cottonwood trees, so  I parked under said trees and walked around for a bit.  A street sign at a crossing showed the names to be First Street and First Avenue.  Very innovative thinking on someone’s part. 

What happens in Montana, I hope stays in Montana.

After taking a few pictures the bike failed to start right up.  It clicked once, then twice, then started.  Zoom, on down the road.

Next stop was in Roundup, Montana.  County seat of Mussellshell County.  The population of the entire county in 2010 was 4,538,  Small town but it had County Courthouse, and IGA food market, two motels (one closed and for sale), and one gas station. 

I filled up and again bike clicked and failed to start.  I finally pushed it away from the pumps and alongside the building and started thinking.

Click sounded so I figured it probably was not the switch.  The click sounded like it came from under the seat.  Unpacked the bike, pulled off the seat, got into tools and found the volt meter.  Checked the battery and got12.56 volts.  This bike needs 12.7 volts I believe to start it. 

Found out there were actually two parts houses in town so walked down about a quarter mile and they actually had one that would fit.  Purchased the battery and went back and installed it and first try the bike was running.  Put bike back together, reloaded luggage, set the dead battery on top of my T-bag and drove down to the parts house to reclaim my core deposit.

My gas receipt was timed stamped at 1:30.  The receipt for the returned battery core was time stamped at 3:10.  I was very pleased to have only been stopped for 1 hour and 40 minutes before being back on the road.

I was originally planning to stop  in that town for the night, but really wanted to get away from there.  It took me about another 140 miles to find a motel in Miles City, Montana.

Ending mileage 163,490 for daily total of 434 miles.  Total for trip so far is 3,788.

Day 8 - June 3, 2015

Today I rode along the Clearwater River for a very long time.  Beautiful river and roads.  Then my route took me off on a subsidiary river that flowed into the Clearwater River.  Heading up to Lolo Pass you know it will be interesting when you see the sign that says “Winding road ahead next 99 miles”.  And, right after that a sign that warns of rocks on road.

Curvy, mountain roads are neat and normally not a problem for any motorcycle rider.  In fact a lot them ‘live for curves’.  I did not think much of road imperfections until it started to rain about half way up.  Minor flaws are adjusted too on the fly.

This road was slightly different.  You may have heard the phrase ‘washboard road’.  Well this road had minor corrugations that made if feel ‘uncomfortable’ when riding in the rain.  This condition did not seem to appear on the straighter portions of the roadway.  Another roadbed flaw was the tire track areas seemed to have pressed into the subsurface just a little.  Not near enough to be called a rut but like a slight depression.  If you got out of your tire track just a little to the left you were on a very slight hillside that wanted to push you back to the right.  Then you went up on the right side and it wanted to send you left. 

That condition was on the whole road intermittently. Just enough to make you feel like you were constantly working to keep the bike running straight.  The biggest problem was facing the side-to-side variations along with the corrugations on the road while riding in the rain.  Just enough to make you work harder that you realize and give you tense muscles in neck and shoulders.

Stopped at the top and visited the information center.  They have several small colonies of Columbian ground squirrels.  Very similar to prairie dogs but slightly smaller.  They consider them a nuisance as the dig around the foundations of their buildings.

Got to Missoula, Montana and decided that I would go on to Helena for the night.  DID NOT CHECK WEATHER RADAR!  Big mistake.  About half way the sky turned a horrible black and the roads were wet.  Stopped and checked radar and it confirmed bad weather ahead.  At least it was headed northeast.  So I waited maybe 30 minutes and started off again.  About 12 miles later it started raining on me, and the temperature was dropping.  Finally made the summit and started down and the bottom dropped out of the clouds.  When I was about 10 miles from Helena I saw a lot of white on the side of the road and sometimes a pile in the road.  Also, the fields were white.  It was snow, a good inch deep.  For me the temperature was only down to 45, so it must have happened just before I got there.

Ending mileage for this day was 163,056 for a total on the day of 472.

Day 7 - actually June 2

Left John Ellis’ pleasant home and his two sweet Corgis after a very nice breakfast around 8 o’clock.

I started with just a long sleeved t-shirt as the temperature was reasonable.  However, I immediately started climbing in elevation.  I started getting cold fairly soon.  Lasted for about 55 miles and stopped at put on my lined denim shirt.  It was 49 already.  Got up to 55 when I stopped at the Crater Lake junction.  Did not take to time to make that detour.

By the time I got to Madras, Oregon it had climbed to 62 degrees.  Temperature stayed in the mid-60s for the rest of the day.

For you Texans where we think everything is bigger, you really need to see that Columbia River.  That is a lot of water flowing to the ocean.

Had a real problem finding a place to lay my head that night.  I checked in three different towns and finally found a very low class one in Richland, Washington.  At least it was cheap.  One of the places said the reason was probably all the school graduations.

Ending mileage for this day was 162,584 for a total on the day of 476.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Day 6

Awoke in Fallon, Nevada at 57 degrees and nice clear skies.

With prior experiences with leather jacket, fleece lined denim shirt, and starting out on a cool morning and then suffering all day long I decided to wear a light, long sleeved t-shirt.  Rather on the cool side for sure.

Departed Fallon in the very brisk morning and got cold very quickly.  Rode to the town of Fernley, just before Sparks, NV and took the exit to get onto I-80.  Surprise, there was a Denny's and I was cold.  Guess what I did?  Yep, right into the parking lot and had breakfast again at Denny's along with several cups of coffee.

I cannot believe how much the city of Sparks has grown since my last visit to the area.  I took the exit onto US-395 north and could not believe it was 3 lanes of traffic each way and those coming into town were packed tight in all lanes for several miles.  Rush hour in Sparks.  It was 8 o'clock.

At least it had warmed up a little bit.  Beautiful start to the day.  Moved over the line into California and realized how much I had missed the state of my birth.  After leaving Susanville it was wonderful.  All the redwoods and pine trees smelled good.

I did pass the area of one of their large forest fires last year around the Hat Creek area,  You could still smell the burn.  I had one area of construction with a flagman controlling things.  Was only stopped for about 10 minutes.  The flagman warned me to look out for the deer.  That morning they had picked up 4 dead deer along that highway.

Overall, the entire trip today was pretty uneventful until I arrived in Yreka and called my new friend John Ellis ('Farther' on the VRCC board).  He had offered to put me up for the night.  He met me at a Shell station and let me to his home.  Very comfortable and pleasant surroundings.  He even fed me pizza for dinner and has offered to cook me breakfast in the morning.  (Sorry, no Denny's tomorrow).  And even now I am using his computer to do this update.  What a friend.  Even did two light loads of laundry for me.

Although the day warmed up from the past two days, today it stayed on the 60's for me all day.

Total mileage at the end of the day is 162,107.  This makes the lowest total miles for a day yet at 312.
Day 5

Packed my leather jacket back in pack and wore my fleece lined denim shirt.  Started the day at 62 degrees and felt good.  It even dropped to 57 on me and then it got HOT.  Finished the day with the temp for the last hundred miles of so at 96 degrees.

I love traveling US 50, even though it is two lane road it does have minimal traffic.  Two beautiful areas were Spring Valley and Steptoe Valley.  Both were large valleys between mountain ranges.

One thought for the day was when the view made me think of a book by one of my favorite authors, Louis Lamour, called “To the far blue mountans”.

After pulling into Austin, Nevada for fuel and standing outside eating a bear claw and drinking a bottle of water I had an unusual discussion with fellow travelers.  Two young ladies pulled in driving a white car, went inside and made their purchases.  Upon exiting the store they stopped and started talking.  The one stated that this was the third time they had seen me.  The first was when I was stopped at a rest area talking to the driver of the only other car there.  The second time was when I passed them sitting back off the road under a tree eating their lunch.  At that point the lady talking stated that she had told her friend that they had better not pass me because she thought I was a cop.  She said with my silver helmet, blue sleeves, and the black motorcycle I just looked like a cop to her.  And the third time was at that fuel stop.  Never been taken for a cop before.

Ending mileage was 161,795 for 482 miles today.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day 4 - First mistake for the trip

Woke up before sunrise and packed up my gear and loaded the bike.  Evening before I asked a fellow for the best place to get breakfast in Monticello early.  He said the only good restaurant did not open until 8:00.  So I decided I would ride in to Moab, UT and find nourishment.  Fifty five miles and I would be awake and ready for food.

I found a favorite breakfast place called Denny's.  Familiar menu, familiar logo, always reasonable.  Here rears the ugly head of my mistake. While paying my bill I noticed that I still had my motel key.  Yes, and older, small town motel that still used keys.  So, back to the motel to turn in my key and then proceed with the ride.  Just a 110 mile detour for my day.  At least I had the flexibility to handle it without a problem.

After leaving Moab I went to Arches National Park.  Sure glad I brought my Senior Pass with me this time.  Awesome rock formations.  I did not go all the way in and back, just part way.  When I left the motel that morning it was 45 degrees.  I had unpacked my heavy, leather jacket and by the time I got into Arches up amongst the rocks it was in the mid-eighties and I was roasting when not moving.

Don't trust your GPS if your instincts tell you something is wrong.

When I left Arches I set my GPS for Green River, UT.  GPS said it was over 300 miles.  OK, I guess.  I got up to I-70 and it told me to turn East.  That seemed wrong even though it still said it was over 287 miles away.  A few miles down the road, I pulled of the road and stopped the program and reentered the town.  Ahhh, surprise.  Green River is only 27 miles away in the opposite direction.

Instinct wins again.

After leaving Green River (around 4,000' elevation) I started climbing.  Got into construction again.  No, they are not working on the weekend, but one lane is closed going east and west.  My luck I got in a line of cars behind an 18 wheeler (?) pulling three trailers on this long uphill grade at 20 mph.  That was a long 10-15 miles.  And again very hot, still wearing that leather jacket.

Pulled into Salina, UT and the first thing I see (initial surprise) are seagulls.  Maybe you know, maybe not, but when Mormons were first settling in Utah the had a plague of locusts and out of nowhere appeared these seagulls who devoured the locusts and saved their crops.  I had forgotten all about that and it may not be totally accurate.  Perhaps you can research it on the internet.

Ending mileage for the day is 161,313 for a total of 457 for the day.
Day 3 - Fun, fun, fun.

Could not connect my computer at motel last night.  Well, accessed, but allowed Local Access ONLY.  Day 4 had same problem, so went to Denny's next door and set down, plugged in, while ordering dinner, asked for a password and they tell me that their internet is not functional.  Came back for motel office and am using their office computer.  At least that works.

So, on to day three activities.  Departed Santa Rosa, NM and stopped for the night in Monticello, UT.

After leaving the Interstate at Albuquerque, I headed north on US 550.  I have traveled 550 in Colorado and it was a beautiful ride.  This one not much different.  550 was very beautiful for about 25-30 miles.  Just fantastic mountains and wild colors.  After that ran into construction for a while and then a flagman, and then stopped and sat and waited.  Very hot sitting in the sun even with the engine shut off.

After getting settled into my motel and finding out that my computer would not work, I got frustrated and walked outside.  Motel is right on US-191 (I think).  Watching traffic and looking down the road about 50-60 yards from me I see a deer walking across the road.  Car honked at him and he bounded off.  Looked like a spike or forked horn.  No big rack, but definitely a buck.  Then a few seconds later a doe bounds across the road after him.  I started walking down the road towards where they came out and two more came out and crossed the road, maybe another 40-50 yards further down.  Very surprised to see that activity.  Right in town, although it is not a very big town.

Ending mileage for the day was 160956, which makes the daily total at 433.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Day 2 - Finally out of  the rain

After a peaceful nights rest in Sweetwater, TX, loaded up and put on my rain jacket, just in case.

Dodging thunderstorms again.  Coming up on one approaching Plainview I started to pull off on a county road and wait under an overpass and check the radar picture.  But, I could not exit.  Water had the exit ramp flooded.  I was riding in 3" of water and decided to get back on the highway.  Surprise, the water was completely covering over the slow lane and into the fast lane.  I got past it and stopped under the overpass anyway.  At least it was about a 5' shoulder.  After waiting a good half hour for the radar picture to improve I decided to venture forth again.

This storm was still hanging onto Plainview so I cut west on Texas 194 and followed it up to  I-40.  Best choice of the day.  No rain other than a few sprinkles.

Headed west on I-40 and stopped in Tucumcari, NM to look around the Blue Swallow Motel, which some of you have been to in the past on the New Mexico ride-ins.  Met the new owners then stopped at Denny's for a late lunch.

When walking out  of Denny's I went around the corner of the building and saw about 15-20 bikers riding in a group called U.S. Military Veterans.  Decided to socialize a bit and ended up recognizing one of the riders.  We had shared a Spring Break Ride about 2 years ago to Las Cruces, NM.  He is from Fort Worth and they were headed into Arizona for their ride.

Leaving Tucumcari I was pelted with a short, hard shower, the worst of the day, but it only lasted  about 5-10 miles.  Stopped in Santa Rosa, NM for the night.

Ending mileage for the day was: 160,523, which made exactly 400 miles for the day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 1 - I am tired

Woke up this morning and checked the weather.  Another big thunderstorm is bearing down on Houston.  It was still north of us so decided to take the wife out to breakfast at the New York Bagel Shop.  Most excellent as usual.  Probably why it is one of our favorites.

Got back home and it was still sprinkling but it looked like it was moving more to the east and just a little to the south.  Put on my rain gear and headed west along the southern edge of the storm.  Had rain for about 50 miles and broke out into sunshine.  Nice surprise.

Clouded back up and started some light sprinkling, so decided it was time to refuel as I was about 20 miles from Austin.  Checked weather radar again.  Another big thunderstorm was moving into Austin from the south so decided to wait a while and check its progress later.  Second check showed it centered on Austin AND another cell was following it a little further to the west.

When the first one cleared the southern edge of Austin I took off as my route was around that side of town.  I got through there with just wet roads then angled northwest and managed to slip right between the two cells.  I did not want to hit Austin around lunch time with ongoing construction and thunderstorms.  Plan worked out but set back my timing for the day.

I stopped about 90 miles later in Brady and a lady asked if I was headed south.  I replied I was headed north.  She said that was good because she had just heard on the radio that 4 tornadoes had touched down in Blanco County.  That would have been the thunderstorm that I managed to avoid.

After that the day got hot.  I finally stopped in Sweetwater and got a room for the night.  It was already after 6 and I had started just after 8 this morning.  About 10 hours and only 421.7 miles.  Bike just purring along.

Ending mileage for the day: 160,123

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 - Back to blogging - Hope you enjoy my trip.

Today is May 26,2015 and due to a request I decided to try updating my blog.

Cannot believe that 2009 was the last time I wrote anything. Nobody has bugged me about it so I guess my blogging was not missed.

 Hopefully this time you may find something to interest you as I undertake this journey on my motorcycle over the next 2.5 weeks. Early tomorrow morning, the good Lord willing, I will depart upon this epic adventure.

When I bought this motorcycle in 2007 I had two goals in mind. I wanted to ride at least 10,000 miles a year for the next five years and I wanted to travel to all of the lower 48 states. This July I will have had the bike 8 years. The bike had 25,450 miles on it when purchased. As of the start of this trip the bike has traveled 159,677 miles. I have logged 134,227 miles in a little under 8 years. That averages out to over 16,000 miles per year. However, I still have not completely covered all of the lower 48 states.

 This trip will cover: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma. I really do not know if I will ever complete the lower 48 as I will still be missing the northeast corner of our great country.

 Well, now you have an idea of what I am planning on doing. Hopefully, I will be able to communicate some of me experiences to you. Hopefully, I will be able to access this on my laptop while on the road.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Food for thought - politcal

I recently came across this cartoon which was made in 1948. It is still pertinent today.

1948 Political Cartoon