CustomTankBags by LindaT.
Here are some of my adventures. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did ;-) I haven't been doing much traveling in the past few years do to advancing years and poor health. I'm hoping to get to feeling better and getting out more.
|IBA National Meet 2006, Denver, Colorado|
|My Trip to the IronButt Rally 2003
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14
Day 15 Day 16 Day 17 Day 18 Day 19 Day 20 Day 21
Day 22 Day 23 Day 24 Day 25
|MOA National Rally 2003 - or Night of a Thousand Deer|
|Mother of all Potholes|
|Riding in the snow to the tune of 'Singing in the rain'|
My trip to the IBR August 2003
Tuesday, August 6, 2003. Day 1. [top]
So, the plan was to leave at the crack'o'dawn. Didn't exactly work out as intended. Monday I spent the day frantically trying to get everything done. In the process, I hurt my back somehow. This slowed down the whole list of things to do. I did get to the grocery market and bought a large bucket of kitty litter (a necessity). I had a hard time lifting the bucket without aggravating my back more. I strapped it on to the back of the bike and went home. I was careful getting it into the house. The minor electrical mods ended taking far longer than I anticipated. Plus, hunching over the bike did NOT feel so good. By early evening, I decided the crack'o'dawn plan just had to go. I went to bed.
I got up with the intention of being on the road by noon. Close - I actually left at the stroke of 2pm. Dear God, not again. The bike was a little heavy. I was running on the Eilenburger theory - that is, if you're prepared for something to break, it won't break. So I was taking all the tools necessary to change out the alternator belt along with a spare belt. When I got ready to leave, I grabbed the side rail to rock down from the center stand. And it didn't move. I tried again, and this time the centerstand skidded along the ground. I climbed aboard, put it in gear and it slid off the centerstand.
Five miles from my house, the bike starts to miss. Oh great, something else to contend with.
I've decided I really hate the directions that Map'n'Go provides. I can never tell at what mileage each event is supposed to occur. Yes, I know I'm lame. Also, when two or more roads co-habit, the instructions make it seem as if you have to exit to the new road, even when they are the same. Anyway, I got lost right off the bat, while still in VA. Most embarrassing - ended up riding about 20 miles out of my way getting back on track. I finally tried actually following the instructions on a map a figured out what I was really supposed to do. Whew! I finally got onto 33. An amazing road, a wonderful road. Unfortunately, it also goes through Harrisonburg with 50 stoplights. Okay, I exaggerate, there were only 40 lights. At 6 o'clock, I realized I'd only covered 209 miles. Not a good sign. It was obvious to me that I wouldn't be covering 600 miles today. Oh, yes, then there's the rain. The temp is hovering in the low 90s. Then the wretched black clouds start to cover the entire western horizon and the temp starts to drop. Down to 63F and I'm soaked again. Temp stays really low (warms up to 64F) and the rain comes and goes. The clouds in the mountains are wonderful. Seneca Rocks is still fabulous. Weather is not fabulous. Cold and rainy and my 'waterproof gloves' aren't.
I was going to ride late, but I'm in the mountains and I really don't want to ride after dark because of all the deer. I decide to bag it in Elkins and of course, as soon as I decide to stop, it starts to rain - again. I was almost dry. Coming into Elkins, I see an Econo-Lodge, but decide to see what else is available. After I pass through Elkins, I decide the go back to the e-lodge. ACKK! At least it has a restaurant next door. Get into room and try to find a dryer so I can dry my wet gear. Uh, sorry, the dryer is broken. Rats. But, we'd be happy to dry your stuff in our dryer later. Bingo. Such nice people. I try the 'restaurant' next door and it's really just a bar that serves hot wings. Not my idea of a good time. Besides, they don't have any good beer. Call Papa John's (as per hotel literature) and get a pizza delivered with two cokes. Nicely delivered and great pizza. My miniatures of Wild Turkey make the cokes much more palatable. Mmmmm. The weather channel is droning on about nasty weather everywhere. I'm going to try and dodge the bad stuff tomorrow. I may have to abandon my route and hit the interstates to make up some lost time. Now that I've looked at my route, I find I've been off course nearly all day. Oh well. As I said, 33 is a fabulous road. I could ride up to 50 and pick up the route, but 33 goes through Spencer WV - my home town. So of course, I'll have to ride through there, just to see it again. I'll be back on course tomorrow sometime.
GPS stats:267 miles
Average speed 56.1
Trip Timer: 4:54:41
Max Speed 87.2 =)
And then came Wednesday…Day 2 Aug 6,2003[top]
The day dawned foggy and cool. It took me a while to get going and I finally left at 7:45am. Everything outside was wet and very soggy. I took off. After about an hour, I decided to stop at a McDonald's for breakfast. As I was gearing up to leave, a coupla guys stopped to chat. We had a nice talk and I was ready to leave. I rode around the restaurant and stopped to let another car go first. The parking lot was a little off camber to the left and I lost my balance and down I go. I have never hit so hard. I heard a crunching sound on impact. The bike was down on the left side, but it didn't stop at the head, but tipped even farther over. People rushed out of the McD's to help. Three guys were trying to lift the bike, but they had no clue how. I reached over and pushed to wheels down and the guys lifted it up.
Details are a little fuzzy. The left mirror popped off. Someone handed it to me and I put it back on. Someone found a broken part on the ground which I recognized as the lower mount for the saddlebag. Oops. Someone else was directing traffic around the commotion. I climbed back on and took off. On reflection, I should have cooled down first.
The road was nice and twisty, but I had other things to consider. I had pain in my side. The crunching sound I heard was either a) the saddlebag mount breaking or 2) one of more of my ribs cracking. The prospect of having to give up this trip because of a parking lot tip over did not make me happy. I tried to recall what I know about the treatment for cracked/broken ribs. I think there is no treatment, nor does it make any difference if they are broken or cracked. I decided to stop at the hospital in Spencer and ask. I followed the signs for the hospital and didn't find it. I kept going.
I stopped at a Taco Bell for an early lunch and decided to check out my map. Then I noticed the distinctive blue signs that indicate an interstate. Throwing caution and my original route to the wind, I jump on I77 South to Charleston to pick up 64 west. The new route is 77 to 64 to 65 to 74. I'm so far off course and off schedule, I'm not sure what I can do. Tomorrow I guess, I decide if I can go on. Very icky. I stop for the night at Champaign-Urbana. The sunset was nice.
Trip mileage 668.7
Trip Timer 10:03:55
Average speed 66.4
Max Speed 89.6 (eek)
Cumulative GPS stats 935.7
Average speed 62.5
Trip Timer 14:58:36
Thursday Day 3 Aug 7, 2003[top]
Well, I wondered if it could get any worse. I found out.
I spent the night in Champaign-Urbana in a too-nice hotel, in their handicapped room. Nice big bathroom. I'm moving pretty slowly. I remember I have a Velcro strap in my top case that might help my ribs. I get started at about 8am local. I've decided to continue on, but it's still kinda iffy. Everyone at the hotel is very friendly and willing to talk and commiserate. I ride for a wile, but I'm not feeling very well, so the riding isn't very fluid. I notice lots of riders coming from the opposite direction. I figure they are coming from Sturgis. Most (75%) are not wearing s helmet and all but one are not wearing any protective gear. Some guys are not even wearing shirts. Big culture difference.
I stopped at a rest stop to clear yet another ABS fault. I have to remove everything strapped to the back seat. While I'm at it, I figure I should try to check the left saddlebag for damage. Sure enough, the bag has been rubbing against the rear wheel and now I have a hole in my bag. While I'm inspecting the damage, a truck driver stops by to see how I'm doing. He gets a tarp tie down and we try to figure out how to keep the bag off the tire. I think we got it. Another helpful, friendly person.
I stop for lunch and another McD as I love their new salads. I group of folks sits nearby and starts to talk to me. One of the older guys has a Goldwing and we talked about his trip to Alaska. No helmet, no protective gear.
I noticed a drugstore when I first came into town, so I planned on stopping by to get some Ace bandages to wrap my ribs. It turns out this is a supermarket that has a pharmacy and sells alcohol as well. I buy some breakfast bars, 2 ace-type bandages and a fifth of Wild Turkey. What more could I want?
I keep riding, but I've got no rhythm and it's a real struggle. I notice all kinds of police all of a sudden, but my radar detector has been quiet. I get pulled over and get a performance award for 88.23 mph in a 65 zone. I have been nailed by an airplane circling overhead. Me and a bunch of trucks and assorted other vehicles. So much for my V1.
I decide to stop for some caffeine and sugar buzz (chocolate ice cream). I didn't' really work, so I stopped at a rest stop to Iron Butt motel it. I parked near another bike and a woman asked me if I had seen a red headed woman during my ride. No, I hadn't. They had been riding together and she had to stop for gas and they became separated. I wondered how a person could ride with someone else without figuring out how to deal with common stuff like gas stops, potty stops etc. Anyway, I thought I'd take a short nap lying in the soft grass. I couldn't actually sleep as I kept thinking of things I needed to do/consider. I got my laptop and tried to figure out where I was and how far I still have to go. I finally admitted that I couldn't get to Missoula by Friday and called the hotel and cancelled my reservation for Friday night.
I would get there sometime on Saturday. The red-headed woman shows up and we had a nice chat. They were on their way to Sturgis and surrounding areas. I figure I should try to get a least 600 miles in before I stop. I make it to just outside Sioux City Iowa. Motel 6 beckons. Life can be good.
GPS mileage 582.1
Average speed 73.99
Trip Timer 7:52:03
Cumulative GPS stats 1517.8
Average speed 66.4
Trip timer 22:50:39
Max speed 88.23 according to the IL state police. :(
Day 4, Friday Aug 8, 2003[top]
When I checked into the Motel 6 last night, I was waiting behind a group of three who just came from Sturgis. They we so tired as they had ridden SO far. How far, I asked. 450 miles. Ooh, I had to one up them, so I told them I had ridden 600 miles. I exaggerated slightly. They went off to their rooms. I asked for a ground floor room. I was told that the last one was rented by 2pm. I explained that I had a cracked rib and was in some pain and it would be helpful if I didn't have very far to walk. The desk clerk's eyes got big and he said he had a handicapped room that he usually saves for someone with a broken leg or something, but I might qualify. The room was on the far end of the motel (I didn't realize that), but it was really convenient to the bike, so I was happy.
The next morning, I was out trying to gear the bike up, when a fellow came over and asked if I was the woman with the broken rib. I said yes (another slight exaggeration). He said he got the last room and the clerk told him he was right next to the crazy woman who rides with broken ribs. He asked to take my picture. I assented and we had a nice chat. He had come from Sturgis. It was too crowded and too hot. I don't think he had a very good time. I noticed an airhead amongst a group of HDs. He came over to talk to me as well. He and his wife also came from Sturgis. It was a nice old bike.
I finally got out of there way late, but I was moving kinda slow. I stopped for breakfast and really got going. Everything still hurts and there was no fluidity to the riding. I chugged on and on through SD. I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of bikes, and maybe 5% of the riders were wearing helmets and one - one was wearing any protective gear. I know that peer pressure is a powerful thing, but this is a little excessive. Now that I think about it, I think I've been riding exclusively through states that don't have helmet laws since WV. Scary, eh?? I stopped too often and wasted too much time. No rhythm.
I stopped at a scenic overlook with no facilities. There was one other rider there already, so I parked near him. He was from MN and was going to visit a friend/relative in Rapid City. He likes to do this every year. He has an old AMF HD that doesn't like to start when it's hot. I told him my tale of woe and said that I didn't' know what else could go wrong, but I wouldn't want to tempt the gods with a statement like that. I should know better.
I noticed an interesting phenomenon today. The thermometer on my bike got hotter as I rode and cooled down when I stopped. That's the opposite of my previous experience. I thought that maybe the sender had come loose and was hanging close to something particularly hot, but that wasn't the case. It got up to 114F today, but cooled down to 98F when I stopped. Very weird.
When I left the overlook, my new bud was talking to two other guys who had stopped. After I got back onto the highway, I felt something hit my back. WTF, I thought, and reached down to my fanny pack. It wasn't there. I jammed on the brakes and pulled onto the shoulder. The car and trailer behind me made heroic efforts to not run over me. I jumped off the bike on the left side (as per usual), and took off down the shoulder looking for my fanny pack. It only has EVERYTHING in it. Wallet, digital camera, Palm Pilot and assorted doodads. My whole life. I was still wearing my helmet and jacket. I continued walking back the way I had ridden. I took the helmet and jacket off and left them on the side of the road and kept walking back, desperately looking for my pack. I covered about a ¼ mile. I was looking on the road, on the shoulder and in the median. My new bud from the scenic overlook went by. He stopped just short of my bike. I walked back to his bike to tell him the story. He commiserated, but had a date to meet the other two guys at Wall Drug for a drink. Uh, thanks. He went on and I went back to my bike to drop off the helmet and jacket and to keep searching. When I got back to the bike, I saw that the fanny pack didn't actually fall off the bike, but got caught on the right side. OH MY GOD!!!. Thank you Jesus. I put on the fanny pack, and left. I realized that perhaps it might be a good idea to put a credit card and maybe some other docs in another spot for this trip. Duh!!!
South Dakota is more beautiful than I remembered. The huge fields, the strangely rolling hills, the unusual lighting are all so striking. I wish I had time to wander around. Maybe on the way back. The weather is just plain hot. I'm sure glad I have the Rukka as it's way too hot for anything else and I really don't want to ride with no gear. Not the way my luck has been running !!!
I finally got to Rapid City. Traffic was tricky. Locals don't care, most bikes are oblivious. A dangerous mix. There was an accident on the eastbound side involving something (?) and a car carrier which ended up on its side in the median with cars strewn about. More scary stuff. I got past Sturgis - the exit ramp was way backed up. Glad I didn't want to go that way. Then my low fuel light came on. The last several tanks have been the 10% ethanol mix and I been getting shitty mileage from those tanks. I needed to get gas PDQ. The next stop after Sturgis had a gas station, so off I go ISO. I stopped at an Amoco station. No pay at the pump and lots of bikes loitering around. I knew this was going to take a while. I noticed another gas station across the street. There was a truck gassing up, so I decided to go there. It looked like a newer station, so I thought it would be quicker. Oh, yeah. I get over there and the pump says 'out of order', so I move to another pump and it says the same. I ask the guy who's pumping if the pump is working and he is confused. I told him that the pumps don't seem to be working. DUH!! I go back to the first station. And wait for a pump to free up. Ever since my little tip over, I've been very nervous about close quarters, slow speed maneuvers. I get gas and get the heck out of there. Goodbye Sturgis.
Except that I stop for food at Spearfish. Just a nice chicken sandwich at a BK. Strange people floating by. An Asian woman with really long hair (nothing unusual), blond (?), with big, probably fake, basooms. Asian women are not usually known for being blond or well endowed. Another anomaly. An old guy with a long white beard and a shaved head with a much younger woman. Hmmm.
I really need to get in at least 600 miles. Except that my jaunt down the interstate has aggravated my rib pain and back pain (remember that?). I manage to ride 582 and bag it in Gillette, WY. I find an overpriced Motel 6. I can't imagine how a motel in Gillette, WY can charge $66 a night. What is going on here? I think the Sturgis crowd is getting ripped a new on. Too bad, I'm collateral damage. Upon reflection (and reading the rates posted on the door), these must be summer rates.
And all the friendly people I've encountered up until here have disappeared. Except for a guy also staying at the Motel 6. He opened his window to talk after I parked my bike right outside. He just got a 2004 R1150RT. He said he heard me and it sounded like a beemer. He's a traveling salesman, visiting his folks by car and he hit a deer. He's stuck here until his car is fixed. He hit an armadillo with his last bike (not a beemer) and it was totaled. The armadillo survived.
Bike turned 50k miles today.
Stats for today Mileage 582
Average speed 77.2
Trip timer 7:31:55
Max speed 93.6
Total mileage 2099.5
W105 31.900 Whew!
Saturday, Day 5 Aug 9,2003[top]
Woke up too early, but decided to try and pull myself together and get going. I got the bike loaded up and hit the road. The end is in sight and it's way past time to get hopping. So, I stop for breakfast. Back on the road and the bike is running well.
Wyoming seems to be made to run fast. I've been listening to my minidisk player all along, but I'm not hearing much. The fidelity has never been very good, but it's gotten worse and I have a bad connection in the volume control of the handlebar-mounted cb remote. I have to keep fiddling with it in order to hear anything. Most annoying.
But not nearly as annoying as the constant ticking I hear (when I can hear anything). It's not rpm related, in fact it's not bike related, as I can still hear it before I run the ignition. Hmmmm. It reminds me of the Poe story of the telltale heart. It just keeps beating. Something a little macabre to think about while riding.
I had been running at about 82-85 mph in a 75 zone. I figure that probably wouldn't attract too much LEO attention. But now, the road is calling for higher speeds and I'm happy to oblige. As I cross into Montana (finally), I wick it up a bit. Bike wants more and more he gets. When I look at the gps and it says 99.2, I give it a bit more so at least I hit triple digits. Oooh, everything feels smooth and controlled. I decide to not tempt fate running that speed too long.
Montana is unremarkable in its intense beauty. Rolling hills, distant mountains, stone outcroppings - it's all too amazing to take in. I realize that I haven't taken any pictures yet, hardly. I've been reluctant to stop for pics when I need to be somewhere and I'm running so late. I will try and rectify that once the rally starts and my life is my own again.
This state is so big. When I cross the border on I90, I'm at mile marker 578 or something and I need to get off at exit 104. I'll be here a long time. It's gotten routine, gas up, ride, rest a bit, ride, eat, ride, repeat. Except that Montana doesn't believe in fancy rest stops. There are not many and they are barebones - not even soda machines. I like the signs that said something like 'rattlesnakes have been spotted here - stay on the sidewalks'. An Asian tourist filmed the sign.
I stop for something to drink at a BK in Boseman. I start talking to a guy in the next booth. It seems his bike is also parked outside (I didn't see it). He had a mishap yesterday and cracked the alternator case of his Intruder and he's leaking oil bad. He has to add a pint every 50 miles or so. He's ordered a new case and he's arranged for a guy to put it on. He just has to loiter around until the guy gets home. He's been traveling all around and having a great time. He said he's on his way to Missoula as well. I told him when the rally was starting and if he wanted to see something amazing, he should stop by. His name was Tom Meter (I think). Maybe he'll show up.
I make the last gas stop about 100 miles from my goal and I'm ready to be there. I hit those pesky triple digits a few more times, until I get into a construction zone. Slow going for quite a while. Finally my goal is in sight and I even get off at the correct exit. I notice a Kinko's type place near the exit, for future reference. I ask a local in traffic and he assures me I'm on track. There's the hotel.
Made it. I check in and the guy at the desk is being pissy. He says I didn't cancel Friday night, so they're going to have to charge me for it. But I called and cancelled. What's the fellow's name to whom I spoke? Not a clue. I'll have to speak to the manager. Fine, but he's gone until next week and they're going to charge me anyway. Grrrrrr. The guy who was probably working when I called will be in on Sunday after 3pm. I'll have a few words with him. At least the clerk directs me to a luggage cart so I don't have to carry my stuff to my room.
This a very strange hotel. Ground floor is parking, so the building is up on piers. There is a pool in the center and rooms around all four sides that open in. But it's not covered. In Montana. Where it snows. A lot. I can't imagine how this works in the winter. This is a Florida design, not a Montana design.
I see Jim Owen's bike and Leon's bike. I walk over to the rally HQ and don't see anyone I know. Ooooh, cool bikes. I leave a message at for Higdon. I walk back to my motel and get Leon's and Jim Owen's room numbers. Leon is closer, so I knock. Long wait and the door opens. I woke him up. So sorry Leon. We talk for a while and I hear bagpipe music. I think how odd, someone actually likes bagpipes. It keeps getting louder. We go out and there is a wedding procession being led by a piper (and photographer) heading for the Elk lodge next door. We walk back to the HQ. Lots more people about, chat a lot
I met Bill McAvan in the flesh and lots of others I don't remember. Ate a sandwich in the hotel bar and wandered back to sleep. Ribs are bothering me a lot. I have a message on my cell from Greg about whether or not I have two beds in my room. Greg is an internet buddy of mine and is known on the list as The Old Squid (TOS). We've been on the same CBR list for years, but have never met in person. Should be fun. I leave a message on his cell that I'll get a rollaway, so not to worry.
Nighttime in Missoula is very noisy. Lots of loud exhausts and squealing tires. I don't think the noise is rally related.
GPS stats 581 miles
Trip timer 7:11:10
Average speed 80.9 ?!!!??!?!?
Max speed 103.8
Sunday, Day 6 Aug 10, 2003[top]
I got to sleep a little late, but decide I must find a Kinko's and get some business cards printed as I didn't bring any. I printed some but couldn't find them when I went to leave. There is supposed to be one close by, so off I go. I've never done that free internet stuff before and it's way cool. I had 100 cards printed and I went back to the hotel.
The clerk I spoke to on the phone on Thursday is on and he remembers that I called and cancelled. He'll take care of it.
I wandered over to HQ and looked at the bikes again and took more pictures. I found Warchild and Lisa who assured me I was in for the banquet. Lisa said that Higdon was worried about me and hadn't gotten my message. I call his room and talked to him briefly and will see him later at the banquet.
I go back to the hotel and run into Dale and Todd. Along with Leon, the four of us go out in search of lunch and beer. We wandered over to a bar and had greasy, but good burgers and some more beer. Back at HQ, I take more pics, meet more people and I'm surprised at how many folks know of me. Wow, I have a rep.
I went into the banquet with Leon and Dale. The food was good, the intros were interesting, the theatrics were silly but fun. Every rider got his/her flag, badge and instructions. The banquet broke up and all the riders went off to plan.
I went back to the hotel to see if Greg was around. Greg lives on San Juan Island in Puget Sound and we've known each other for years, but haven't never met. He decided to come out to the start of the rally and meet me and he invited me back to visit with him and his Fearless Wife Lunette. He had arrived in Missoula and we talked until pretty late. Finally went to sleep.
No additional miles today.
Monday, Day 7 Aug 11, 2003 Start of the 2003 IBR. [top]
Got up at 7am, took a shower and started packing. Greg helped me get me stuff out to the bike and then he went over to the HQ to gawk while I finished packing the bike. I rode over there and it was a zoo. Warchild went by and he said he loves watching all the riders vibrating in place. The sense of anticipation was palpable.
I got my last few pictures, wished everyone luck and ran into Anton. Voni Glaves stopped by to tell me she enjoys my writing. I'm very flattered. Todd, Anton, Greg, Dale and I setup to take pictures. And then it was time. They faked out all the riders who had queued up at the bottom of the hill and had everyone leaving out the top of the parking lot.
They rode out one at a time with a card with their rider number usually clenched in their teeth. On-lookers cheered and snapped pics. Eddie James dumped his bike right at the start.
After a short time, everyone was gone and Greg and I decided to try Lolo pass. There had been talk that the road might be closed due to the fires, but we thought we'd give it a try. The road was open and it was great. I just wish I was feeling better. My ribs are bothering me a bit. We decided to quit early in Pullman, WA, which is a college town. Greg wanted to see a little of the campus, so we wandered around a bit. We found a cheap motel for the night.
We'll be meeting a friend of Greg's tomorrow for lunch/brunch in Coeur D'Alene, ID and then off to Friday Harbor.
Trip Odo 247
Trip timer 4:25:19
Average speed 55.9
Max speed 86.4
N 46 43.574 W117 11.549
Tuesday Day 8, Aug 12, 2003[top]
Left Pullman and headed for Coeur D'Alene. Lovely scenery on the way. We met Greg's friend Sarah, and had brunch. We screwed up the time zone thing and got there and hour earlier than we said, but Sarah was a good sport and we had an enjoyable meal.
We took off again and headed west on Hiway 2. Another great road. Lots of little towns and farmland in between. Rolling fields of wheat with small towns every once in a while. Very picturesque. We get caught behind slow moving traffic occasionally. Greg is not shy about passing on double yellow. Neither am I. Nothing unsafe, just illegal. Oh, horrors.
We stopped at Dry Falls for a bit. What an amazing place. Some folks who had been watching the plain below when we arrived, said we missed a cougar chasing a rabbit. Too bad. We stopped at a farm that had a fence made entirely of metal tractor wheels. Another amazing sight. We rode and rode and rode. We passed though many types of terrain, from deserts, to passes, to alpine vistas. Such variety.
We finally arrived at Anacortes where the ferry is docked. We catch the 8:25pm ferry and arrived in Friday Harbor by 10pm. Greg is a retired high school teacher who has lived on the island for 30 years and knows everyone, so lots of folks stopped by during the ferry ride to say hi. We saw the remnants of a beautiful sunset and had an enjoyable ride. We got to Friday Harbor on time and rode over to Greg's home. He has a tricky gravel driveway that gave me some pause, but I negotiated it ok. Lunette was very gracious, but I was very tired, so I went to bed soon after arrival. They have a beautiful home that I'm looking forward to seeing in daylight.
n 48 31.725
Trip Odo 483
Average speed 58.4
Trip timer 8:16:09
Max speed 97.7
Wednesday, Day 9, Aug 13, 2003[top]
Awakened by Greg and his buddy Denny, trying to move a shower stall into a bath that Greg is remodeling. Ah, the sound of men working. They were starting to get funny, so I went back to bed to avoid laughing and my ribs hurting.
Shortly thereafter, the major task was completed and Lunette made blueberry pancakes. Yummy. Lunette went off to work and Greg and I went to the county fair to see how their entries had done and to get some things at the store. They hadn't finished judging Lunettes quilts yet, but they had finished the photography. Greg took a first and a second. Woohoo. If there is any justice, Lunette will win as well as her work is gorgeous.
No miles today.
Thursday, day 10, Aug 14, 2003[top]
Lunette won Grand Champion at the fair for her quilts. There is some justice.
I got up late and lazed around most of the day. I did a little painting to help pay my way here.
I went off to find the local internet café to get some email and check out the state of civilization. It's still not so good. Walked around Friday Harbor a bit. This is a very touristy town, so I'm right at home. Lots of hippie like kids walking around. Backpacks, stringy hair, bandannas and blank expressions. Just like me when I was young - back when God was new. I found the internet café, got all my mail, tried to sign up for a piece of shareware that I really like and generally had a good time. Massive power outage in the east. Hohum.
I'll go back tomorrow to try again. Painted some more. Right now I'm sucking down one of Greg's famous Margaritas and loving life. Even my ribs aren't bothering me much. Life is good.
No appreciable miles today.
Friday, day 11, Aug 15, 2003 [top]
Back to the internet café for more internet fix. Weather is a little cloudy today, but it's not raining, so I can't complain. More later. Went to the fair again to wander around. Greg was at the www.sanjuanislander.com booth for a 'meet the old squid' session. I listened to a local band for a while, saw the sights and sat for a bit. A couple was supposed to meet Greg and Lunette at the fair after a while, but I decided that the hot tub was calling my name, so I rode back to their place.
Hot tub was wonderful. Visited with the cat (Gandalf the Grey), had some barley therapy, and generally slugged about.
Crowd arrived. Anne and Reed from Portland. I've decided it's really nice talking to other 'mature' motorcycle people. Another couple showed up, Ellen and John from Seattle. Ellen works for Ride West and was kind enought to bring the parts I needed to fix my saddlebag problem. Tomorrow is fix the bike day. Greg said he'd put it up on his lift for me, so no bending and stooping. Woohoo. We stayed up late talking, then I finally had to crash.
No appreciable miles today.
Saturday, day 12, August 16, 2003[top]
I keep sleeping late. It's not that I'm sleeping, it's just that I like to lie in bed and think about stuff. Anne and Reed had to leave early. Ellen and John went off to the fair. I'm going to work on the radio a bit and hit the i-cafe again and rest easy. Lunette and Greg are going to meet Ellen and John at the fair.
Everybody comes back and they have dinner. Lunnette goes back to the fair to visit with her quilting buddies. Greg takes Ellen, John and me on a tour of the island. We end up on a lovely, rocky beach to watch the sun set. Mmmmm. Very nice.
I really like this lazy thing.
No appreciable miles today.
Sunday, day 13, August 17, 2003[top]
Worked on the bike today. Installed the new side plate, but moved the old pegs from the broken plate. I'm still missing a plastic piece that screws onto the end of the plate for the saddlebag mount, but I think we can kluge something that'll work. Putting the shifter linkage back is harder than it looks, but finally it's all on. While I'm at it, I try to straighten out the right mirror mounts that got tweaked during my fall last November. A little pounding and some washers and it seems better. Mayber the mirror won't be falling off while I'm riding now. I put some interlinked cable ties on both mirrors, so that at least, if they come loose they won't fall off completely. Button it all back up just in time for dinner. Yummy.
We went off to tour some more of the island. We went to Roche Harbor. A nice sized marina with lots of boats. They have a ceremony every evening when they strike the colors. Very interesting. The canon sure did startle me.
Monday, day 14, August 18, 2003[top]
Greg left early on the Blackbird to attend some business. I went down to the i-cafe to get mail. Lunette drove down. We met up at the ferry with the intention of heading for Orcas Island to visit. My bike was shifting weirdly, but I didn't pay much attention. Yet another ABS fault that I cleared while waiting for us to form up.
They are very civilized at the ferry. Motorcycles automatically go to the front of the line and get on first. As it should be, as we can fit into spaces that cars can't.
Orcas is sorta horse shoe shaped with a tall (relatively speaking) mountain. We ride all around - first to a quilt store that's unfortunately closed, then to a restuarant to have lunch. Another great meal. Then to Doe Bay. They have public hot tubs, camping, kayak tours and a rocky beach. Lovely just to sit and watch.
Then off to Mount Constitution. I'm having great difficulty shifting and, in fact, can't get into first gear. The bike seems to be coming in and out of gear while I'm riding. This can't be good. I finally catch up at the summit and I guess I installed the shifter linkage wrong. Greg switches is around and at least I can find first.
We climb the path to the summit and view is breath-taking. It's so clear, the skyscrapers of Seattle can be seen on the horizon. Not to mention Mount Baker and Mount Ranier. All the locals are so surprized that the view is so clear. The sky is blue, the water is blue and everything is just so stunning. I use up yet another set of batteries taking pics. We can also see Vancouver in the distance. Wow. Simple amazing.
We finally leave and stop at another lake side beach. All sorts of people enjoying the beach - lots of kids and families. The water here is actually warm enough to swim in, unlike the Sound water. My shifter has come loose again, so Greg tightens it up again. We walk around a bit and check out the trout spawining stream. Not much water at the moment. We ride off again.
Now I have serious trouble with the bike. I have all the gears, but second isn't right. It still seems to be jumping out of gear. If I stay in first or go to third, it's fine. I decide to try second one more time and this time when it jumps out, it practically pulls my hands off the handlebars. Not good for the ribs. When we get to the ferry landing, we have a wait until our ferry arrives, so Greg takes my bike for a spin to check it out. The diagnosis is not good. I've rounded off the shift dogs for second gear. Oops. Looks like transmission rebuild time. Well, I can still ride it if I avoid using second gear as much as possible.
I have no clue how many miles today.
Tuesday, day 15, August 19 2003.[top]
Finally got around to calling the hotels in Missoula, trying to get a room for Thursday and Friday. No room at the Holiday Inn or the Executive Inn. Oops - should have called sooner, or better still, should have made reservations while I was there. Poor planning on my part.
Lazed around most of the day. When off to the i-cafe for my internet fix, painted a little more for my keep, but mostly just considered leaving in the morning. Greg and Lunnette have been so hospitable, that it's hard to leave. Greg has offered to adopt me. I can't imagine how I can possibly repay such kindness.
I had some barley therapy, and some more barley therapy, so I was downright talkative during the Shania Twain concert on the tube. I told them they could tell me to shutup, but they didn't. I hope I didn't spoil it for ya, Greg.
Went to bed with promises that Greg would wake me at 6am. Uggh. The ferry I need to catch is supposed to leave by 8:10am, so I need to leave around 7:30am. We'll see.
No appreciable miles today.
Wednesday, day 16, August 20, 2003[top]
Greg does indeed wake me a 6am and I try to get my aching body moving. I'm not terribly successful. I have some toast and a banana for breakfast and I have plenty of time. I start collecting my stuff and moving it out to the bike. All of a sudden, it's 7:50 and I not quite ready yet. Greg and Lunnette think I'll miss the ferry, but there's another one two hours later.
I pull myself together and I'm ready. I say my goodbyes and thanks and I'm off. It's a 10 minute ride down to the ferry docks and when I get there, four bikes are already waiting to be loaded. Ah, I'm in time. I join the throng and on we go.
The other riders are all curious about the crazy woman of a certain age who's traveling by herself - all the way from Virginia. The Virginia part always gets their attention. I guess they don't see too many of us around here. One guy lives on the island and is off to a doctor's appointment. Two guys are from the mainland and are on a trip around. The other man mysteriously disappears...
The ferry ride is uneventful. I try to doze a little and my innards aren't completely happy, but nothing critical. I see the two travelers on the bow, so I walk out to talk some more. We're coming into a port, but you can't hear the announcements from the bow. We are speculating as to how many stops this ferry is going to make, when I shout to crewmember 'where are we?'. 'Anacortes' says he. Oops. This is the end of the line and we need to get down to our bikes asap or bad things will happen. Our bikes are blocking the front of the ferry (as we were first on), so no one can get off until we do. Or they'll push us over the side. With the way my luck has been going...
Off the ferry and heading into town to get gas. I didn't want to fill up on Friday Harbor as gas was horrendously expensive - like $2.50 a gallon. On the mainland, it's just $2.03 a gallon for regular!!! Dear God, what has happened?
The plan is to take highway 20 all the way across the state. It's nice and twisty and goes through the mountains. And it's gorgeous. The traffic is light and what little there is, is not difficult to pass. Even the Winnebagos can't stop me. I keep stopping at the scenic overlooks to look. I realize that I'm going to be heading east for a really long time. Up until now, I've been heading west and north, so now it east and south. One of the first overlooks I stop at, even has a ladies room. It was a chemical toilet and I think it needed just a tad more chemicals. I only wish I could have held my breath longer. P-U! And on top of that, the 'view' is blocked by trees!!. I mean really, if you're going to go to the trouble of building a 'scenic overlook', the least you can do is make sure that the 'something to see' is visible. I think there was a dam down there, but I couldn't see it because of the trees. Trees are nice, but I don't need a scenic overlook to see them. I guess the irony escapes them.
Other overlooks had none of the problems of this first one and the views were breath-taking. Someday, I'll add the pics to all this verbiage. As long as I stayed in the higher elevations (above 2000 feet), the temps were fine, but as soon I got below that level, it got really damn hot. One hundred degrees hot, to be exact and I didn't care for it. The land got very dry looking and only the few evergreens were green - eveything else was shades of brown and gray. I've decided I like the alpine look a lot better than the desert look.
Just east of Twisp (dontcha just love that name), 20 was closed due to a bad accident. So I detoured around it. I asked the fellow twice what the names of the towns were where I was going, but I couldn't figure it out. Pateros to Omak - sure I knew it all the time. I stopped for lunch and gas in Pateros and the smoke was getting really thick there. The locals talked about it nervously. North to Omak and I'm back on 20. The smoke kinda ruined to views. Everything looked a little spooky.
I did see a few deer, but none tried to kill me. I got to Colville and missed my turn for highway 20, but I wanted to find somewhere to sit and have a drink, so I found a McDs and went in. It's late enough so that I need to figure out where I'm going to stay. I have two choices for my route - I can stay on 20 and wander in the higher elevations some more, or I can get on 395 and shoot on into Spokane and then onto I90 to Missoula. I90 sounds tempting only that it'll get me to my goal sooner, but boring. 20 back up to the mountains is my choice. Afterall, who knows when I'll ever be back here. The next town eastward is Tiger, so that's my goal. Maybe they have a motel.
The road surface starts to get a little weird. It's such that I can't tell if there's loose gravel or not. Some of the corners are marked with 'loose gravel', so I take no chances and slow down. I like plain old asphalt better.
Ah, no. Tiger is a wide spot in the road, which T's. North is Ione, south is my general direction. But the sign of Ione implies that there are lodging accomodations available, so off I go. I stop at the first motel and they have no vacancies, but point me across the bridge to another. This is a sorta run-down combo RV park and motel. They have a room at 85 bucks and a camping site at 5. Guess which one I choose. The camping spot is right on the lake and is very picturesque. I think about the place I stayed at in Utah on a stream. The mosquitos were quite thick. Sure enough, now that the sun is down, the bugs are trying to eat me alive. I'm pretty far north here - just 16 miles from the Canadian border. The guy who runs the park is a little creepy, but ok. He lives in a doublewide that has an external roof. He apparently has a coupla kids and rides an old Honda. He convinced me to park my bike next to the campsite. I was a little leery riding on the wet grass, but all was well.
Average speed 50.0
Trip timer 8:11:41
Max speed 90.6
Cum miles 3820.4
Thursday, Day 17, August 21, 2003[top]
I didn't sleep worth a damn last night. I stopped reading my Palm Pilot at 10pm, but didn't fall asleep. I heard a giant plop in the water. I sounded like someone dropped a bowling ball in the water. I kept listening for voices, but I didn't hear any. If it was a bear, I was in deep trouble. Otherwise, who cares.
Woke up at 5:30 and went off to the potty. It's too bad my body is really tuned for that middle of the night break, as it makes camping a chore. I always have to been somewhere near the johns. The wonders of growing older. I checked the thermometer on the bike and it said 44F. No wonder I was cold and tried to snuggle under everthing that I had around. I decided that the cold was coming up through my air matterss and if I was, indeed, going to camp more (especially at higher elevations), I would have to get some additional insulation. Walmart, here I come.
I decided that 5:30 was too early to get up, so I tried to go back to sleep. It seems at lot of folks in the RV park have to go off to work, so it got kinda noisy, so I put in the ear plugs and drifted off. I finally woke up at 8:30 and started to pack. It always takes me a while to get going and this was no exception. I wandered over to a grocery store and bought some granola bars and diet coke. Ummmm, breakfast. And she's off!
20 becomes 2 as I cross into Idaho. Still heading east and south toward Sandpoint. Out of Sandpoint, I switch to route 200. Idaho is pretty narrow that far north and I'm through it pretty quick. This not having 2nd gear is a real nuisance. I realize I haven't taken any pics today except the campsite, so I'm determined to stop and the next overlook and take a few.
I pull over at the next overlook, and there are 4 bikes there already. 3 Harleys and a new Goldwing. The 'wing is being ridden by a woman who just started riding this year. Yikes! And she just got it a week ago. Double Yikes! She loves it and appeared to be able to handle it, so I was impressed. Another one of the women was riding her own bike as well. Hotdog - it sure is nice to see other women riding their own. There is actually nothing to see at this overlook. I really don't understand why it was built, but who am I question the higher authority. They told me the smoke would start getting thick the farther east/south I went and they were right.
According to the map, my route would take me right through Paradise. I was looking forward to seeing it, but apparently, I missed it. Too bad.
Seven miles from Missoula, 200 dumps me on I90. I get off at exit 104 and the next thing I know, I'm at the Holiday Inn Parkside and there are bikes everywhere. A coupla riders have already arrived and there are lots of folks standing around kibbutzing. I mention that I don't have a room yet and the general consensus is that it might be difficult to get a room. So, off I go to get a room. I really want to be close, so I can walk to the banquet. The first motel I stop at is 3 blocks away and has a room for Thursday and Friday. Sold! I say. Dump stuff in room and head over to Kinko's to get my internet fix. Back to the HQ and there are still more folks wandering. I decide to have a sandwich in the bar and maybe apply a little barley therapy to my ribs. I end up sitting at the bar with 3 IBR wives. We have a good time. Then, it's back to the room. On the way, I run into Mark Johnson. He needs a modification to the 'gizmo bag' and we discuss it at length. I'll need to add some stiffening to the sides as it kept wanting to flop over. He had a good time, though. Whenever anyone would ask him something about his rally performance, he'd say 'but my shoes are polished'. He finally shorted that to BMSAP.
Back at the room, I find out I can't upload any pics as my compact flash card reader doesn't work. Poop. I don't want to loose any of my pics, but I've got a lot more to take. I decide I'll take lower res pics until I can get this resolved.
I call up Irv to see how things are going on the right coast and, while we're talking, the dogs in the next room start howling. Something I wouldn't expect to encounter in the east.
Average speed 57.2
Trip Timer 4:40:59
Max speed 88.7
Cum miles 4088.3
Friday, Day 18, August 22, 2003[top]
Well, today's the day. I plan on being over at the HQ by 7:30am, so, of course, I'm late. It looks like most of the riders are already there. They have to be in by 8am or they start losing 10 points a minute until 10am. After that, they are time barred. It's very smoky here and the sun looks strange.
Some of the riders look like death warmed over, because they can't check in to the hotel until noon, so there is no place to sleep. This really sucks for them. I see Tricia Taylor (Paul's wife) and she looks rested and happy. We start to talk and then get interrupted. Paul is coming in. He's looking good and he's very hopeful about his finish. I remember last time, I knew who the winner was even before all the riders were in. This time, it may not be so evident as the scoring is much closer. I guess I find out at the banquet.
Bill McAvan is happy that it's over. As is Mark Johnson. And just about every other rider I talk to. I keep looking for Leon, but he's not in yet. The casualty rate for this rally was kinda high. I heard that 8 riders ended up in the hospital, though not all from injuries.
I talk to a coupla of brothers who are Montanans (Curtis from /\/\ontana) and they tell me that Glacier is open and even the Going to the Sun highway is open until 6pm. So, my plans change again. It's off to Glacier tomorrow instead of Yellowstone.
Sometime around 9:45am, Leon putts in to cheers. He stops his bike and everyone starts yelling at him to go and check in as every minute is costing him points. He's really in no hurry and gets his business done. Everyone is looking a little hairier than when I saw them last and Leon is no exception. He looks tired, though not nearly as tired as some of the guys. He sniffs when I say he is the highest finishing 'hopeless' class. "I'm not hopeless" he says. And I agree.
A coupla more guys come in and then it's 10am. It appears that all the riders are accounted for. I'm not sure what that means, but no one else is coming in, so it's time to try and solve my compact flash problem. I ride over to Kinko's and they direct me to a PC repair place. They don't really have time to check it out and it sounds to me, that I should just try and find a new reader. I head off to find a Best Buy or something.
The traffic in Missoula on a Friday noontime is wretched. So many people out driving and shopping. I just don't get it. I wonder if it's like this all the time, or if the fires and tourists have caused this. I find a BB and get a new reader for $20. Next stop, Walmart (just down the street) and I get a foam pad ($5.88) to put between me and the air matress for additional insulation, some trailer hitch wires ($3.97) to try and get power into the Givi so I can charge my laptop while I'm riding, a camp axe ($6.77) to pound in tent stakes, a sharpening stone ($3.97) to keep everything sharp, and something called 'Tireflies' ($7.84) just because. Tireflies are blinking lights in various colors that attach to the valve stem and are motion activated. I wanted red, but decided that red might be illegal somewhere, so I went with UV Green. Woohoo.
Yesterday was deadly hot here, while today it's in the seventies and very overcast and smoky. And now it's raining. At least that will clean some of the smoke out of the air.
All of a sudden I notice that it's 7pm EDT. That's 5pm mountain time and that's when the banquet is to start. I hightail it over there and queue up to get my dinner. I end up sitting at a table with Dean Tanji and his wife and brother, Lisa Landry's husband, Bob St. George and Leon and his guest. Food is okay, but everyone is waiting for the awards to start. Finally it begins. I listen especially for anyone with my bags and they are well represented in the higher numbers. Jim Owen had some sort of mechanical failure and finished way down. Now he has something to shoot for next time. They grind through all the numbers and finally they're in the teens and Leon still hasn't been called. He finished 12th and everyone is amazed and he gets a standing ovation. An amazing accomplishment for a rider on a 250. Then there are 10 left. All the usual suspect are there and they start counting down, until Paul Taylor is the only one left. So, he was right and he got his wish. Apparently he won by a substantial margin as well. Congratulations, Paul. I'll have to get you a hat with my logo on it like the moto racers.
After the banquet, we're all standing around and telling stories, so I decide to call Irv and then my brother. I hadn't told my brother about my transmission problem and he suggests that not going straight home is a bad idea. I thought that as long as I stay out of second, I'm ok, but he makes me doubt that decision. I take an informal poll of knowledgeble BMW folks there and the consensus is that I'll be ok. I may stop by the BMW dealer tomorrow and ask their opinion.
Saturday, Day 19, August 23, 2003[top]
It's never boring being me. Sometimes it's heartbreaking, sometimes it's idiotic, and, on those rare days, it's both heartbreaking and idiotic.
I can't seem to get started early anymore. It has some to do with the ribs, but mostly it's just that I'm so damn stiff in the morning it takes me a long time to limber up. The day dawned gray and rainy. I went back to sleep. When I woke up, the rain had stopped, but everything was still wet. The smoky smell was much decreased.
I loaded up the bike and went to get breakfast. I rolled my new foam pad around my dirty clothes bag and affixed it to the top of my topcase. More on that later.
I had figured a route last night that would take me through Glacier National Park and end at a campground in Wolf Creek - about 380 miles. I figured if I wanted to spend more time in the park, I would just stop somewhere sooner. Ahem. I don't have a printer with me, nor can I download the route to my gps, so I have to actually write down the route. What I failed to do is write down the entire route.
I got to Glacier without much difficulty and the Going to the Sun road was open. The park is burning and I could see lots of places producing smoke. It seems so odd to see a fire and have no one trying to put it out. I took scads of pics. The road was open, but they had many of the overlooks closed to keep the traffic moving and people out of the way.
I ran into an Edelweiss tour right off the bat. All riding beemers (of course) including one bronze colored F650CS. An interesting looking bike. I met a coupla guys from British Columbia on Harleys who were touring and having a good time.
The park is spectacular, the weather was threatening. Logan's Pass is at about 6600 feet and was cold and windy. It really sucked not having second gear going up to the pass. Coming down was less annoying. I think Lake Mary is at 4500 feet. I exited the park at St. Mary's and I felt like I had really lost altitude. I got on 89 and it started climbing. It got to almost 6000 ft before is started to fall again. The terrain was very rugged and striking. My route had me on 89 for 104 miles. Hmmm, there seems to be a problem as the mileages I have written down don't add up to the total mileage that I remember. So, I'll have to play this by ear. Uh-oh. I went by some marshy areas on 89 that startled me. I was thinking this was a fairly arid area, but not everywhere, I guess. I went by what appeared to be a shallow lake and I saw a flock of large birds swimming about. I was curious as to what they were, so I watched carefully as I went by. I'll be damned if they weren't pelicans. What are pelicans doing in Montana? My worldview is being shattered.
I did finally find Wolf Creek, but not the intended way and then found this sign. Dontcha just love those incrutable signs. I laughed and turned left. What other direction would a pinko, liberal, feminazi go? I did find one campsite. It was a gravel plain next to the river (which was quite lovely). There were several picnic tables and one porto. And they wanted $12 a night to stay there (honor system). Yeah, right. I kept going, and going, and going. Feeling much like the energizer bunny, except that I was running out of daylight and I abhor the idea of setting up camp after dark.
I did find Frenchy's Motel and considered that, but it looked a little too creepy for me (if you can imagine that). I got back on to I15. Just as I got to the end of the ramp, I noticed that my foam pad was coming loose, so I pulled onto the shoulder to tighen it up. The road was slightly banked to the left. As soon as I put the kickstand down, I knew it was a mistake as the bike leaned so far over. I felt one of two bad things would happen: a) the bike would fall over or 2) I would never be able to right it, but it was too late. The bike didn't fall over, but I was damned if I could get it back upright again. I tried and tried. Having my rib problem contributed to this dilemma, but I've done this before when I had most of my faculties. I got off finally to tie up the foam pad and discovered that my dirty laundry was no longer there. So, somewhere in Montana, lies a black compression bag with an interesting assortment of feminine soiled clothing in it. Good luck to the finder.
Back at the ranch - I thought maybe I could push the bike to another location. Nope, that didn't work. Next step is to unload the bike in the hopes that a lighter bike will be easier to right. Right side case - off. Nope still won't go. Top case - off. Not yet. Pillion seat load - off. Success. So I ride the bike down the shoulder to a more level spot and then I have to cart all that stuff I took off it to where the bike is now parked.
Did I mention that I was on the shoulder of an Interstate? This has got to be the most sparsely traveled interstate road I've even been on. But none of the few cars that went by stopped to help. That's was ok, I was getting the job done. Besides, it's just too embarrassing to try and explain what happened, anyway.
I had all the bags and junk next to the bike except the top case which was still 50 yards away, when a Montana State Trooper stopped for me. At first, he just couldn't grasp the problem, but he was 6'5" and probably never considered such a thing. He generously went and got the top case. I asked him to hang around until I got everything loaded again, just to be sure. I told him I had been looking for a camping area and he said there were a few about. I mentioned I was worried about deer as I had seen quite a few around already. He said he had just shooed a cow off the road that had wandered in. Now, there's a scary thought. Forget about hitting deer, consider the damage that could be done by hitting a cow. Or earlier, I was buzzing down 89 and was looking at a stream or something on the right. I happened to look to the left to see two horses grazing on the shoulder.
I got back on the road, waved goodbye and immediately realized that I needed gas. Oh, sure, out of the frying pan into the empty gas tank. Helena was the next town, but was about 30 miles away. Hmmm, I might make it. The next exit had no services, as did the next. And the low fuel light was on and only one bar was remaining. I15 in this area is very hilly and twisty - not at all like a typical interstate. You drive out of the hills and Helena is spread out before you - kinda like those shots of LA from the hills. Except that it's not nearly as close as it appears. Or maybe it's just deceptive after dark. I pull off at an exit that doesn't say gas, but I can see a Sinclair sign and go for it. Next, it's back on I15 to find a hotel. I refuse to camp after dark, so I gotta find something reasonable. 'Helena - next two exits'. Helena has two exits?? Isn't this the state capital and it only has two exits? Maybe by daylight this will be self explanatory. Motel 6 bekons. I get the last non-smoking room because the AC was frozen, but now it's all better. He thinks, maybe.
GPS Stats 440 miles
Average speed 58.4
Trip timer 7:31:49
Max speed 93.0
Cum mileage 4528.0
Sunday, Day 20, August 24, 2003[top]
As usual, I got up and going late, so I didn't hit Yellowstone until 3pm. I was braced for the hordes, but they weren't there. Maybe my timing was right or maybe the threat of fires kept a bunch of folks away, but it's not bad here. I stopped at the first picnic area to read the map, make my plans and eat my lunch. I decided I would stay at Grant Village which is right on Yellowstone Lake. I would set up camp and then do some touristy stuff, but leave the bulk for tomorrow.
I went to West Thumb Thermal Basin at sunset. It's close by and right on the lake. I just love the bubbling stuff although bubbling mud pits are my favorite. When Duane (late husband) and I went to New Zealand, we visited several thermal areas and I always would stand in front of the mud pits and say 'bloop, bloop, bloop-bloop' in my best mud pit imitation. Duane thought it was funny. West Thumb didn't have any mud pits, but I have great hope for Old Faithful tomorrow.
When I checked in for my campsite, the woman asked me if I had been involved in any 'jams'. An 'elk jam' I think. Shortly after entering the park, the traffic slowed and cars started pulling over. The road runs right along the Madison River and a herd of elk was grazing. Folks just kinda went nuts. Fortunately, the elk were very blase about all of it. And yes, I snapped a few pics myself. As I was leaving the campsite a little while ago, another herd of elk was walking through. They were also unconcerned with the people peering at them and tiptoeing around. Except me, I was on the bike and, while it's no Harley, it's not entirely silent. Elk don't care.
During my normal bathroom-in-the-middle-of-the-night walk, so saw some serious stars. Wow. But no bears and that was a good thing.
Tomorrow I will work my way through the park, north and east, seeing Old Faithful and lots of other good stuff and exiting through Beartooth pass. I'm sure I'll be missing second gear again.
Monday, Day 21, August 25, 2003
Got up late again, but made up for by skipping my shower. Ewwwww. Loaded up the bike and left for Old Faithful. A bison was out on the outskirts of parking lot and several cars stopped to gawk. I decided that the bison/buffalo was a lot bigger than me and the bike and kept going. Got parked and found out I had just missed an eruption. Wandered about the Lodge and discovered that they have showers, so I decided to take a shower. I felt much better afterwards. I had a little ice cream for lunch and went outside to wait for the eruption. I found a shady spot and settled in.
A family sat down next to me and they were speaking German, I was about to introduce myself, when they broke into an argument. I didn't want to intrude or let them know I understood them. It was weird. Saved by Old Faithful which erupted 10 minutes early and was a serious disappointment. I toured the rest of the site and took more pics. I do love a thermal area. I finally got back on the road.
I realized that I was going to have to push it to be home by Friday, so I decided to skip most of the rest of the stops. I took wrong turn and the next thing I know, I 'm near 'The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone' so of course I go in. It's just fabulous. More zillions of pics.
Off again and this time I mean it. I get involved in several more jams. Two more buffalo are ambling toward the road and everyone stops. I stop too, but several car lengths from the action. The two of them (appears to be male and female), just decide to cross the street and folks are falling all over themselves to take pics. I ride on. Later, I get involved in another jam. I decided to not wait for this one to resolve and ride through it. I asked someone as I went by, what was the critter. A brown bear and these people were in hot pursuit. Not me, I high-tailed it out of there. A chipmunk tried to commit suicide under my bike. I don't know if he was successful or not as there were no remains. Maybe he was lucky.
The anti-destination league is out in force, but I manage to finally get outta Yellowstone. I got onto the Beartooth Highway and it was great. I had no idea how high the pass was and I was duly impressed at nearly 11,000 feet. It was damned cold up there. I didn't take many pics as I'm nervous about stopping on gravel and less than level ground, from my previous experience.
On the downhill side of Beartooth, I came up on two vehicles. The first, an Acura, pulled over to let me pass. I thanked him as I went by. The second was a Dodge truck from Texas and he wasn't moving for anything. I actually passed him in a legal passing zone and took off, not giving him a second thought. About 45 minutes later just outside of Red Lodge, he passed me. I thought, boy, you had to work hard to do that. I must have insulted his manhood. I wanted to stop and have a late lunch or early dinner and figure out where I was going next. On the far side of town, I spotted a taco fast food place and pulled in. Uh-oh, sand and gravel in the downhill entrance and down I go again. Damn! I took off my helmet and started to get things ready and two guys came over to give me a hand. I pushed the wheels down and they pulled the bike up. I asked one of them to move it into a parking space and we chatted briefly. He said he went down doing 65 mph and not wearing a helmet. He admitted he had been extremely lucky and now wears a helmet. I asked him to turn the bike around as the parking space was downhill. He was very kind and accomodating.
I had some food and decided to get to I90 and get as far east as I can today. On the way, I pass through a flock of birds during some sort of feeding frenzy. One of them misjudges and hits my bike. An explosion of feather ends up in my cockpit. Oops. Every once in a while I smell something burning. I'm hoping if I go really fast, all the evidence will blow away. No such luck. I stopped at a rest stop and pulled the carcass off the front brake line. Ewwwww. Sorry birdie.
So, it appears the size of the critters trying to kill themselves is increasing, so it's time to call it a day. Hanton is the only sizeable town in eastern Montana, so that's where I'm staying. I also had a personal best today - I went 36 hours without having an ABS fault. I have finally rigged up a way to reset the faults without having to unload the bike completely - and it works, too.
I promise to get up early tomorrow and get started. I want to see the Crazy Horse Memorial and run the Badlands loop. After that, it's straight home.
GPS Stats Mileage 293
Average speed 50.8
Trip timer 5:45:57
Max speed 95.8
Cumulative mileage 5064.3
Tuesday, day, Day 22, August 26, 2003
I got up at 7 with intentions of being on the road by 8:30. Close, I pulled out at 9. On onto I90 and started cranking out the miles. My route had me on I90 for 214 miles, then onto 16 for 90. That would pass from Montana to Wyoming to South Dakota. I passed a (I think) 1953 Chevy pulling a pop-up trailer. The car was beautifully restored and painted pink. I was impressed. Even the chrome bits were painted pink. A serious pink lover.
I stopped for breakfast somewhere and got into a discussion with an older couple about touring. He had just bought and old Goldwing and was relearning to ride. I suggested the MSF class. He didn't think it was such a good idea until I mentioned learning panic stops and swerves. That got his attention. I showed him my headlight modulator and told him it was the single most important bit of conspicuity insurance that I have. He seemed impressed. They were very nice and left me to my breakfast. I was there long enough that the pink chevy caught up, so I got a pic afterall. See, it does exist.
Finally got to the 16 exit and realized it was the same exit for Devil's Tower. Except it's in the opposite direction. I'll have to save a re-visit for there for another time. 16 is very desolate. There are train tracks close by and lots of trains, but no humans, apparently. It felt very lonely. I started coming on some towns occasionally and that was comforting.
I trudged onward and started looking for Crazy Horse. I didn't think it could sneak up on me and I was right. I paid my admission and went in and watched the orientation film. I like the whole idea of the memorial, but I wish there were more obvious Indian involvement. It's amazing already, so it will only get moreso as the work progresses.
Left and headed back to I90 via Rapid City. Traffic is icky without second gear. I suppose I'm frying the clutch, too. The exit for the Badlands Loop is the same as Wall Drug. So, there were plenty of signs. The last time I was here in '96, the loop road was dirt and gravel and some paved. I was hoping for an improvement. I was not disappointed. I think that this is my favorite park as the Badlands are just so amazing. I stopped so often to take pics, that I wanted to leave my jacket and helmet off, but didn't. I've been just too clumsy on this trip to even consider not using all my safety equipment. Oh, and did I mention it was deadly hot?? When I first got into the park, there was a sign that said something like 'info and lodge 24 miles'. I didn't really think about that until later, when I realized I could stay in the park. I got to the lodge and one cabin was available, so I snatched it up. I had dinner at the restaurant of a buffalo burger (which was indisguishable from a beef burger) and am looking forward to some star gazing tonight. So far, the local wildlife is cottontail bunnies and magpies.
As predicted, the stars are wonderful. The Milky Way is plainly visible and Mars is spectacular. The desert sounds are less than idyllic. The hum of 23 air conditions and the occasional cricket. Oh, well, you can't have everything.
The cabin is cute. It's fully equipped with an air conditioner and a bathroom. No TV and no phone. And no three prong outlets either, so the pc is running on battery power. I guess I'll have to throw a three prong adapter in to the kit.
Tommorow, once I'm out of the park, will be make serious miles time.
GPS Stats mileage 427
average speed 69.1
trip timer 6:10:47
Max speed 99.7
Cumulative mileage 5491.5
Wednesday, Day 23, August 27, 2003
Got up early and was actually checked out by 8:30. I saw a bluebird and the resident bunny. I take this as a good sign. Took a few more pics on the way out and then started riding through South Dakota. Damn wide state although not as bad as Montana. Finally made it to I29 and had to ride another 75 miles to get to Iowa.
I stopped at a rest stop to check the oil again. This involved taking all the bags off the bike as it's too heavey to get up onto the centerstand otherwise. I was there taking it easy and talking to all the other bikes rolling through on their way to Milwaukee for the 'Party'. There were three guys with blow-up mascots on their bikes. Batman, Hulk, and Spiderman.
Planned on getting to the other side of Des Moines, but a storm convinced me to stop early. Now that I'm really on my way home, all this acreage between me and there is just a nuisance to be dealt with.
GPS Stats mileage 526
average speed 77.5
trip timer 6:46:47
Max speed 96.6
Cumulative mileage 6017.2
Thursday, Day 24, August 28, 2003
My allergies hit me like a ton of bricks during the night. Consequently, I slept poorly and feel like shit today. I amazing that I can travel 6k miles and see all sorts of wonderful things, but I get within on thousand miles of home and I have to deal with sneezing, runny nose and general unpleasantness. I guess I was lucky that it didn't happen when my ribs were really painful. I went in search of a drug store to load up on claritin. It took 3 different people giving me directions for me to find the drug store. They kept referring to a street called Prairie Dog. There is no street sign with that name.
Finally got drugged up and took off, but my misery meter was pegged and had to stop often. I have to do at least 600 miles today or tomorrow will be a real struggle.
I almost made it.
GPS Stats mileage 597
average speed 71.5
trip timer 8:21:11
Max speed 89.7
Cumulative mileage 6614.2
Friday, Day 25, August 29, 2003
Left the wretched motel and took off. Immediately crossed into Ohio. I've heard so many bad things about getting ticketed in Ohio, that I'm really paranoid. AND it's the start of a holiday weekend, so the cops will be out in force. And they are. The V1 saved my bacon quite a few times today.
I took some long stops for breakfast and lunch as I was feeling poorly, then kept on riding. I stopped at a rest stop in Maryland for a while. I talked to a couple there riding in a real hotrod and on their way to a show. It wouldn't start when they went to leave. He poked at it a bit and it fired up and they were off.
I used to have a 1000 mile butt. Not any more - either the butt has changed or the seat has changed. I vote for the seat. That and my right hiway peg is too close to be used comfortably. I'll have to figure a way to move it back a little.
I finally get onto I66, so I know where I am. The left mirror popped off the bike. I had used several cable ties to tether it, so it didn't go far. I pulled off at an exit and noticed that there was a Subway there. I would fix the mirror and get some dinner as I have no food in my house. As I was fixing the mirror, a fellow stopped to talk. He asked me if I had gotten wet. It rained some in Ohio, but that was all. He said a storm had rolled through there and had dumped 3 inches of rain just a coupla hours before. I guess I was lucky. We talked bikes for a bit. He has a Harley, but he works as a mechanic at a BMW car shop.
Everybody wants to know where the crazy woman with the overpacked bike is going. I stopped at the sandwich shop and got a sandwich. Guys from the pizza place next door wanted to know what I was up to. I guess a woman of a certain age on a bike is easy to talk to. I've noticed that a lot on this trip. People were always talking to me, asking me questions and were seemingly astonished that I was doing this and doing this alone. It didn't seem like such a big deal to me, but what do I know?
GPS Stats mileage 560.5
average speed 68.3
trip timer 8:15:02
Max speed 88.5
Cumulative mileage 7174.7
Bike starting odo 47878
Ending odo 55449
Night of a thousand deer... Or my adventure riding to the MOA national in Charleston WV.
I got a really late start on Wednesday. I wanted to leave in the morning to arrive way before dark. It didn't work out that way. I wanted to not ride all interstate as there are lovely roads in WV. That didn't exactly work out as expected either.
I ran my route from Maps R Us or whatever that piece of software is called. I glanced at the instructions and it appeared to me, that if I stayed on 55, I would be fine. I stayed on 55 and I wasn't fine.
I didn’t get started until 2pm, but I still thought I would make it by dark or shortly there after as it was supposed to be a 7 hour ride. It was 104F on I66 west and I was wearing my Rukka gear without the lining. Near the end of I66 the temp started to drop and the sky looked threatening. And it started to rain. It stopped raining. I got onto I81 south for 4 miles and then off onto 55W. Life is good. Temp still dropping to 92F. It started to rain again, this time in earnest (or West Virginia). Still too hot to put on the lining which would keep me dry. I got soaked in just a few minutes. Temp still dropping, but much faster. Got down to 68F in short order and I'm soaked. Hmmm - not feeling too cold, but the rain doesn't seem to want to let up. After several hours of wet and cool, I decide I need to A) eat something, 2) get my liners in and iii) get dry clothes on. In Petersburg, I find a McD, order a salad and change clothes. The locals are intrigued by a 'woman of a certain age' riding a motorcycle alone and all want to talk to me. Once that dies down, they go back to discussing false teeth and where to get them. I'm finally warm, dry and sated and take off again, still on 55W.
In Elkins, 55 and 33 split and I think maybe I'm supposed to go with 33? Nah, stick with 55. I never look at the directions while I'm riding. Hell, I can't even walk and chew gum at the same time. Besides the road is ok and the scenery is nice and it's not raining very hard.
I putter along another 70 miles or so and realize that perhaps, just perhaps, I've made an error. I stop at a restaurant and ask directions. Yep, I'm off course. The proprietor (long gray pony tail and fan of Frank Zappa), asks if I like to ride in the mountains?? It will be twisty. Uh, yeah, I think that would be acceptable (ooh, ooh). He gives me directions (backtrack to 15 and stay on that until Regional Jail sign and turn right) with the caveat that there will be fog. Ok, I can handle that. It's now 7pm and very gray with patches of drizzle.
I get on 15 and it's a nice road. Some gravel on the turns, but not bad. Pretty good surface and lots of twists. Oh and deer. Did I mention the deer? It's dusk and the deer are out in force. I came out of a blind turn and there is a deer looking in the other direction. I slow down and hit the horn. Startled, the deer looks at me and bounds off. Not much of a close call. Then another deer, then another deer, then one I have to brake really hard to not hit. Then one I don't even see as it's standing in the brush 4 feet off the road, until I'm right next to it. Fortunately for me, s/he/it decides to bound away from me. Pucker moments abound. And more deer. One already dead. But lots of live ones. I keep slowing down.
At 8:40pm I finally see the Jail sign and turn toward my salvation. Another deer jumps out of the bushes. I yell at him. I finally get to a town and the interstate. I'm saved - I think. Until I see a deer on the side of the interstate. Looking at me. Measuring me. Considering suicide. Deciding against it.
I get to Charleston at about 9:45pm and it's really dark. I can't find the campsite and try to get directions from another rally attendee. Turns out he's as confused as I and he sends me off in the wrong direction. I find some bikes riding around and throw myself on their mercy. They are on their way back to the campsite, so I follow them.
Aside - I'm supposed to stay in Billy's trailer. Billy has a nice enclosed trailer that he set up for 'camping' with a toilet, microwave, heater, air conditioning, and TV. Billy is staying in a hotel with his wife. I find the trailer and it's locked with no one around. My camping gear is in the trailer. After much fumbling, I find the correct phone number and contact Billy who graciously comes over to unlock the trailer.
I get some sleep.
Irv (R11S) and I (R11RT) went for a ride today. Not far as Irv had some other things he needed to do. We rode out to Leesburg the long way and had lunch at a greek fast food place. Very nice (high 60's ) weather.
On the way back, I was leading with two cars ahead of me. The front car signaled for a right turn and I was watching him. The car in front of me slowed for the lead car. All was as it should be, when I looked at the road surface as my front wheel disappeared into a pothole - no, make that a crater. Boom, the gps jumps off the accessory shelf. Fortunately, I always have a back up tether on it. The tankbag comes undone on one of the three points that hold it down. AND my front wheel feels decidedly funny. Doesn't want to steer and starts making me plenty nervous. I, of course, can't actually see the tire while riding, so I start desperately looking for somewhere to pull over. It's takes nearly a half mile before there is any shoulder at all. I keep telling myself not to use the front brake. I'm not sure why, but I know it must be a bad thing. Finally get stopped on a gravel shoulder, get the side stand down with difficulty, and, lo and behold, I have a flat tire. Not just flat, but with an inch long slit in the sidewall. AND a dent in the wheel. Did I mention we were out in the middle of nowhere?
Next step, get out tire repair kit and pump some air into the tire just for grins. Yep, that hole really goes all the way through. No fixee, no ridee. Oh yeah, when did that roadside assistance run out? Just two weeks ago. So, I called the president of our local BMW club who has a coupla very nice trailers and he graciously came out to rescue us. Well, me, Irv waited with me because he's such a gentleman.
Now, picture this: Billy (owner of trailer) drives out 40 miles in his Suburban (?) and 3 rail trailer, bringing his wife who's recovering from foot surgery and can't walk. Did I mention that Billy hurt his back last week? Irv (not the weight lifter type) with various aches and pains and me (the delicate flower?). All 4 of us (Joyce did some supervising)trying to wrestle a 620+ pound bike up a ramp when none of us were really 100% (or maybe even 50%). The bike got hung up on the centerstand on the first try. Got hung up a little higher on the side stand. Third time was the charm. It must have looked rather amusing to see a bunch of old farts struggling with a big, black shiny motorcycle.
Funny thing, it was much easier to unload than to load ;-). Thanking Billy and Joyce profusely. Good thing - I ordered tires last week. Bad thing - I need to get my wheel straightened. More bad things - I now have three bikes that are out of commission. RT with bad tire and bent wheel, CBR with leaky master cylinder and KLR with indeterminate starter problem. And I own no 4 wheeled vehicles. Irv loaned me a spare. Life - it's always an adventure.
Returning from south FL January 2003[top]
I've ridden several undocumented ss1k's to Florida as my mother's house is 1033 miles from my house and an ss1k is the most efficient way to get there and back. So, today at o dark 30 (actually 12:32am), I left my mother's house to return home. Hohum, uneventful trip. The V1 was, of course, indespensible again. I fill the long hours by guessing exactly when I'll arrive at various 'checkpoints' like South of the Border and the Virginia State line. It's just a little game I play while riding.
I was making very good time and hit the VA state line dead on, which puts me 150 miles from home. I had an overall average of 64mph and was feeling pretty good even with only 3 hours of sleep.
As these things go, the last 50 miles is always the worst. That's when you're close enough to smell it but still have to ride it. I expected this trip to be no different. The last 50 miles were the worst, but not for the reasons I anticipated. As I was leaving the Richmond area, I noticed this white stuff on the grass and trees. What?? I was in Miami just a few hours ago and now there's snow on the ground. Well, at least it's only on the grass and the temp is still above 40F. My thermometer has been giving me a little trouble this return trip as it spontaneously changes from Fahrenheit to Centigrade and back with no discernible cause.
What's that? The temp is dropping ominously and that white stuff is still falling in places. I'm too close to give up, but this is exactly the sort of conditions I'd always thought I'd hate to have to ride in. And here I am. At least the road is just wet (I think) and there's a salt truck up ahead. If only there was some way to get these jackasses to slow down a bit. I really don't want to go 70, but if I go any slower, I'll get run over.
Ah, yes - the HOV lanes to the rescue. Nice, completely separate lanes that are currently going my way. Hop right on. Oh wait, the only way off these things is a long uphill ramp. Oops, I'm committed, and yes, that stuff is starting to stick to the road. Okay, I slow down and try to get comfy, but the white knuckles are consuming my attention. I think I have the dreaded 'monkey death grip' on the handlebars.
Here's my exit and my, that ramp looks snowy. I manage to stop at the top without falling over. I have to make a hard left between some narrow traffic islands and I can see the snow that has accumulated in my path. The light changes and I take off reeeeeeaaaally slowly. The bike is sliding around and I'm saying bad words not under my breath at all. I decide to put on my emergency flashers just to let everyone know that the lunatic on the motorcycle in the snow KNOWS this is a bad idea and please to leave me alone. I think about my route home (it's only 5 more miles) and realize that, that nasty hill is a dealbreaker and decide to take the alternate, though longer route.
I get off at that exit and the road is very slushy. I'm sliding again and I'm ready to throw in the towel. I'm passing my bosses street, so I turn in thinking I can throw myself on their mercy and maybe they'll take pity on me and bail me out of this unpleasantness. The big problem is that their street is on a hill, so it's a one way trip. I start down. Two thirds of the way, I realize that I can go no further and need to start summoning my rescue. Except of couse I've stopped in the street and can't get off the bike and it's so slippery I can't put down the side stand.
So, I'm standing and holding up the bike and trying to make a phone call. I neglect to take off my helmet, so I can't hear what's going on on the line. Chaos ensues. I take off my helmet and call again, only to get their answering machine. Oops. You mean they're not home to rescue me??? I call dependable Irv and he is willing to try and pick me up. It's just his RX7 is not good in the snow, but he'll risk it. That still leaves me holding up my bike. A fellow across the street is shoveling snow and I plead for assistance. Being a Canadian, of course he's willing. He eventually allows me to park my bike in his already shoveled driveway to be retrieved tomorrow (or whenever the snow clears). Irv shows up in his RX-7 with the top down, gear is retrieved and I'm delivered home. Ride over.
Later, I realize I have messages on my cell phone, so I call to get them. The first is from this morning from my boss telling me that it's started snowing so I should get as far north as I can and then find a motel. Oops! The second is from IBR 2001 4th place finisher Paul Taylor, telling me that he saw me in the HOV lanes riding in the snow. He said I was 'focused'. Yeah, what you said. He said he was taking his brother to the airport and saw a bike up ahead. It must be a BMW. Why? his brother asked. Because it's being ridden in the snow. Impeccable logic. And he called me an 'animal' in a nice sort of way. If only he knew how much I didn't want to be there. As soon as this adrenaline wears off, I'm going to sleep. Someday...