Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Grayling Michigan to Sudbury

It was still unseasonably warm in Grayling when we climbed on Quicksilver for the last day of the trip. I didn’t realize that the south end of town fed directly into the southbound I-75 so we took a little warm-up run down to the next exit before flipping over and headed north.

The leaves are changing colour in a sporadic manner. Some areas between Grayling and Gaylord were ablaze with reds, oranges and yellows, but most trees we saw were still green. I guess the 80 degree temperatures have them confused. I know I am.

We stopped for fuel at Mackinaw City and then assaulted the Big Mac. As usual, the outside paved lane was closed for maintenance and we were forced onto the steel grate centre lane. However, as I have found throughout this trip, the last vestiges of my anxiety when riding are gone. This is the first time in a long time that I have crossed this bridge without having a single twinge. Life is good.

They are doing a lot of work on I-75 in the Upper Peninsula. This was badly needed since this road had been making me think of the cowpaths that Sudburians travel on. Someday soon, it will be a fine place to travel. As we approached the Soo, we came under some serious looking cloud cover. Fortunately, the border crossing was quick and trouble free. This is the 16th time we have crossed this year.

As a strange tie-in with Sherm’s trip home, the passed through Albuquerque, New Mexico while the balloon fest was in full swing. The big news in the Soo was that a balloon from the festival, trying for distance, had come down near Ranger Lake north of town when they ran out of burner fuel. Apparently another one came down north of Thunder Bay. The crews were fine and I guess both bush locations beat a descent into Lake Superior.

We stopped at Mom’s for a bit for coffee, lunch and catching up on some details. Dave is doing well and has made it back to Edmonton. Keeping and eye on the weather, we left after noon.

Forty miles east, the clouds let up and we found blue sky again. Near the old round barn, I saw this clump of brightly coloured trees surrounded by green.

We stopped at the OPP detachment in Blind River looking for a friend, but she wasn’t there. Then there was another pit stop at the scenic picnic area alongside Serpent River.

The rest of the trip was uneventful but a little bittersweet since we won’t be riding anywhere else, other than a few local rides, until spring.

The ES trip took eleven days and covered 5,102 Kms or about 3,000 miles and averaged 40.1 MP(US)G on the highway at 75 MPH or more. After almost not going, I’m glad we did. Old friends, new friends and (now) twisty roads.

This will probably be our final bike post of the year. This Blog was intended to just cover 2005, but I just changed the title bar and will continue to use it next year. I’ll spend the winter re-reading what I wrote this year. Also, stay tuned because I expect I may add some snowmobile trips and other winter travel to the Blog in the meantime.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Eureka Springs Arkansas to Grayling Michigan (Two Days)

We headed out of ES about 8:00 AM Central Time. With the sun in our eyes, we threaded our way back up to Branson via 21, 13 and 86 taking care because it was deer time. Didn’t see a thing this time.

We hauled up Highway 65 with a brisk tailwind and swung east on I-44 at Springfield. After fuel and a Mickey D breakfast, it was a straight and uneventful haul to St. Louis. I normally cruise about 125 KPH (75 MPH), but that wasn’t fast enough for this road so I hiked it up to 130. It was warm enough that we stopped briefly to remove the jacket panels and go to mesh.

In a gas station near St. Louis, we met a couple from Michigan on a ’05 Wing. They had a ’03 but won this one at the Honda Hoot. Not bad. Straight through St. Louis with clouds threatening to the north and on across Illinois. There was a brief shower at one point but it cleared. We stopped for the night in Terre Haute Indiana at another Drury Inn. I had been listening to the NASCAR race on the radio and was able to catch the last 30 laps on TV after we checked in. Then it was off to Cracker Barrel for supper.

This morning was warm and clear. We had the hot Drury breakfast and then loaded up and continued east. Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Lansing. Traffic was still not bad and moving briskly. One thing we did notice as the radio kept reporting near record high temperatures was that the leaves had not changed as much as in prior years.

We decided to stop in Grayling, Michigan for the night. This is a small place with several hotels and restaurants. At 6:00, the temperature reading in front of the bank was still 81F. After supper at Patti’s Restaurant, with good food, large portions and friendly service, we watched some TV and then turned in for the night.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Eureka Springs Day 5

We held the Memorial Service to remember fallen members at the Iron Horse this morning. Dino Hutchings presided over the service and Piper played Amazing Grace. Sherm has some photos in this new Blog: http://estrippart4.blogspot.com .

After the service, Sherm and K&P took down their campers and prepared to head out. We headed for the Smokehouse Restaurant on the far side of town, but they were busy and it looked like we wouldn’t have seats for our nine people anytime soon. We headed back across town through what was now sever thousand Corvettes to the Sheraton Buffet. Breakfast was great. Near the end of the meal, the Oregonians slipped away and hit the road.

Sandy decided to take a nap back at the room to see if she could shake a headache, so I went riding with a group on some twisty highways south of ES. Some of you may remember my difficulties with corners. I’m happy to tell you they are behind me. The last stretch, I rode second behind Brillo. There are two versions to this ride. Snake contends Brillo tried unsuccessfully to shake me off his tail. I maintain that Brillo and I took a leisurely ride and, for some reason, the others didn’t keep up.

After getting back, Eagle gave us a scare as he started having bad chest pains. He has a coronary history. I’m grateful that Ron “Buck” Prior was there since he has been through it and took charge. Six Pack Jack Ward, our motorcycling MD, was called down and checked Steve out while an ambulance was summoned. After an evening in the Berryville medical facility, Steve was released with a diagnosis of angina. He was back at the fire before bedtime. He has been under a lot of stress this week as Kelly’s right hand man. Steve is a good friend and a great guy and we’re glad it was only a scare.

We spent the evening talking around the fire. The last night is always bittersweet as we know the end of the gathering is upon us. Much of the time is spent talking about when we will get together again. There was a NANMRA run. This is the North American Nude Motorcycle Riding Association, and this was the first time I cane ever remember a two-up ride. The riders shall remain nameless, but rest assured they were NOT on a GoldWing.

Finally, about midnight, we bid the remaining people good night and turned in.
Tomorrow we head east.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Eureka Springs Day 4

It was a warmer Friday morning. I was a backup as a checker for the poker run so I wandered over to Ride On’s room at 8:45 but all the checkers showed up on time. I missed some excitement as the checkers, while on their way to their various checkpoints, were first on the scene of a single vehicle motorcycle accident. They acquitted themselves well and the last word we had was that the riders, although with some serious fractures, were doing well.

I spent the day wandering around the Iron Horse chatting with people and working on the agenda for the banquet this evening. Dinner was scheduled for 7:00 with a cocktail hour starting at 6:00. We got there at 5:00 to make sure everything was in place. It was.

I asked Sherm in he would take some photos and post them to a Blog as the evening went along. We didn’t have a webcam, so this was the best we could do to share the evening with those who could not attend. He did and excellent job, as you can see here: http://esbanquet.blogspot.com .

We had Croft Long, Product Manager for Kawasaki’s cruiser bikes, join us for the evening. I had met Croft in Durango back in 2000 and it was good to see him again. The dinner was excellent and the speeches were short. At the end, the ROK guys drew for a few items including leather jackets and bike covers. Not too shabby. And the MC didn’t step on his tongue too badly so it was a good evening.

After the cold night Wednesday, I never thought I would be riding back from the banquet at night in shirtsleeves. I threaded my way through the gathering Corvettes back to the Stables where we listened to a DJ with a spectacular singing voice and some Karaoke singers who did not. Lucky Al did well with the mike and so did Kopperhed.

After the music ended, it was time to turn in.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Eureka Springs Arkansas Day 3

It was cool this morning, even by my standards. JT Pendleton was serving coffee to the huddled masses in front of their room as we waited for the sun to rise high enough to make it worthwhile to dry off the bikes.

Kelly, Eagle, Sandy and I headed up for breakfast with the Riders of Kawasaki representatives, Channing and Brian, at the historic Crescent Hotel (link). ROK is the Kawasaki sponsored club for people who ride their bikes and the Crescent is the most haunted building west of the Mississippi. We’ll be having our banquet there tomorrow night. We covered details of the Reunion and it looks like everyone is on the same page.

After breakfast, Sandy and I took our turn in the registration barrel making sure everyone who was arriving had meal tickets and had a chance to participate in the two raffles we have going on. This is a good job because it is an excellent chance to meet new people.

After registration, we spent the afternoon milling around socializing with old friends and making new ones. I took a short hop down to the AlpenDorf to download my messages and post the Blog. No problem with the weather today since the sun was shining.

Oldman from Texas ran over a deer with his Vulcan 2000. The deer fell down and he ran RIGHT OVER it. Coyote tells me the only sign on the bike was deer hair on the tire. I wish they could all turn out this well, although Bill says he was shaking for quite a while.

Back at the Iron Horse, members were gathering as mealtime approached. The Iron Horse staff were preparing to serve us as the sun went down. The BBQ included chicken, pork, beans and salad. We sat with Thomas ‘Wiliedog’ Gates and his wife Pam from Shreveport, Louisiana. Chunk Keisling of Wisconsin joined us with a lamp so we could see what we were eating.

After the fine dinner (thanks Phil and Janie), we adjourned to the parking lot for the first raffle giveaways. Eagle did a fine job announcing and he, Kelly and Lucky Al from New Jersey managed to give away a whole table of donated goodies as we stood around shivering. Did I mention the temperature dropped severely at sundown? There will be more goodies at the dinner tomorrow night courtesy of ROK.

After the raffle, the parking lot cleared out quickly, leaving those of us residing at the Iron Horse sitting around the firepit chewing the fat until we turned in for the night.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Eureka Springs Arkansas Day 2

We woke up early and visited with some of our fellow HIS residents for a while. Then Sherm, K&P, Sandy and I made the obligatory daily visit to the WalMart Supercenter in Berryville.

From WalMart, we headed back through downtown Eureka Springs and north on 23 until we turned off on a side road to a place called Beaver. We stopped at a General Store that was built in 1901 and visited with a pair of Harley riders from Oklahoma. Continuing on, we rode until we reached Highway 62 where we headed west to the Pea Ridge Battlefield.

Pea Ridge was a critical Civil War battle where 26,000 soldiers met to decide the fate of Kansas and access to the Mississippi River. The Confederate general made a critical mistake on the second day when he boldly moved to attack the Union forces but neglected to bring up his supply wagons. Low on ammunition, they lost the battle and were eventually driven all the way back to the state of Mississippi. With weather threatening from the west, we didn’t take time to drive through the seven mile battlefield but the Visitor Center was very informative and the Ranger filled us in on a lot of details.

Here is Sherm taking one of his famous pictures in front of the Center.

As mentioned, there was a serious cold front moving in from the northwest, so we headed back down Highway 62 towards ES. The roads here sweep and wind through the Ozarks and the riding was excellent. We stopped to check out Blue Springs but didn’t get past the gift shop since they wanted $7.25 to enter and we felt this was a little steep.

Continuing on, we stopped at the Glass Church, a privately built non-denominational place of worship built with wood and glass and set in a beautiful grove of trees. It was also free.

Here’s Sherm in a penitent moment.

We returned to the HIS with Sherm while K&P went back into downtown ES to shop. Sherm sorted his pictures and I wrote yesterday’s Blog entry and then Sherm and I headed back to the AlpenDorf to get on-line and do our updates. As we worked at the picnic table out front, I could see the cold front approaching while thunder rumbled in the distance. Then the lightning started flashing. Finally done, we headed back the four miles towards the HIS as fast as our two plus two wheels would carry us. The rain was starting to spit and severe wind gusts were blowing debris onto the roads. Coincidentally, we caught Karen and Preston who were returning from downtown. Then we passed them and continued on at Warp 9. As we pulled into the HIS, gusts were blowing plastic chairs around and I was hit with an empty beer box. We beat the deluge by no more than thirty seconds.

As a precaution, we moved the bikes under the overhang.

This didn’t matter much since the rain was coming sideways but we figured it would help if we caught hail. Then we stepped back in the room and watched a mini storm surge as the water rose to within an inch of flooding the room.

Fortunately, the violent storm was brief and we were able to adjourn to the deck while a light rain fell and then abated.

We ate in the HIS restaurant with Six Pack Jack Ward and his riding companion Randy from Savannah, Georgia. They rode to ES via Kansas City so the could qualify for an Iron Butt Bun Burner certification. This involved riding 1,500 miles in 36 hours. Jack shows up many different places and is one of the serious trans-continental VROC members.

After supper, I took the computer to the deck to catch up on the newsgroup messages I had downloaded earlier. There were a number of friends there and we discussed things, swapped stories and met new people until about 10:00 PM when I decided to head for bed. Sandy was already in the room where she had been catching up on the Wednesday TV programs.

Anyone reading this Blog might wish to check out Sherm’s pictorial account of what we’ve been up to. You can find it at http://estrippart3.blogspot.com/ .

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rolla Missouri to Eureka Springs Arkansas

It was a little cool this morning in Rolla, but we weren’t in a hurry. The hot breakfast at the Drury was a buffet with biscuits, gravy, sausage and pancakes plus an assortment of yoghurt , juice, cereal and pastries. We enjoyed it before mounting up and continuing west on I-44.

Down the road, we encountered some low lying cloud that misted on us so we stopped in a rest area to put on the rain pants. As we came back out onto the highway, we found ourselves behind a red 1500 Wing with Missouri plates. He was running about our speed so we tucked in behind and followed him to Springfield where we both turned south on Highway 65. He got off a few exits down and we waved to each other as he went down the ramp. This is one of the pleasures of motorcycling, sharing some miles and moments with a total stranger of kindred spirit.

As we approached Branson, we stopped in one of the tourist information places to get a list of upcoming shows in case we want to stop there for a few days after the Reunion is over. Then we cruised the main strip to see what had changed. There are new places every time we go through here. At the end, we cut down over Table Rock Dam, the structure that created the massive, man-made Table Rock Lake, and took a winding road back to Highway 65.

A short distance south on 65, we cut off on Highway 86, a favourite winding road that would take us to Berryville, Arkansas. Not too far down this road, we were carving through turns and catching up to a white Cadillac when a large buck with many points on his antlers decided to run out between the car and us. I hit the brakes hard in case there was anything else following him but I guess he was alone this day. Not really close but a reminder to be vigilant.

We entered Arkansas in the middle of the small, somewhat rundown town of Blue Eye, Missouri and then followed a pair of log trucks into Berryville, which interfered with our enjoyment of the remaining curves.

The Iron Horse Stables is a small motorcycle oriented motel and campground located between Berryville and ES. This will be our home until Sunday and will also be Reunion Central. Sherm, Karen and Preston from Oregon were setting up their camper trailers when we arrived. Janey checked us in and we unpacked. A variety of early arrivals trickled in throughout the afternoon.

Sherm, Karen, Preston, Sandy and I wandered into Berryville for some lunch and had sandwiches at the Ozark Café in the downtown square.

The town has been here since 1850 and the restaurant had toys, models and paintings of more John Deere equipment than I ever managed had existed. Afterwards, we wandered back to the Iron Horse to visit some more.

About sundown, a group of us headed into town looking for food. After a less than heartwarming welcome at Sparky’s, we found a buffet place that was just about to close. They welcomed us with open arms (business had been slow) and we chowed down. The ride back to the HIS was done carefully in the dark. Everyone spent the rest of the evening sitting outside the rooms swapping tall tales until the last of us went to bed about midnight.

A short note about communications is in order here. No phones in the rooms. The cell phone is connecting to a company that doesn’t recognize my phone despite the Digital North America package that is supposed to work everywhere. For Internet access, we have to run down to the AlpenDorf motel about four miles up the road where Lucky has WiFi set up. Our access to the outside world will be sporadic, so please bear with me over the next few days.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Montpelier Ohio to Rolla Missouri

There were a few flies in our room this morning as a result of having left the door open last evening. Although I am not good at smacking them, I noticed the large bank type elastic I use to hold some cords together. Shooting the elastic at them wiped out the entire bunch in less than a minute. Now I have a sport to keep me amused on the road.

The roads were still wet this morning but the sky had stopped precipitating. We took our time and put on full rain suits before heading out about 8:00 AM. We followed secondary roads to the Fort Wayne, Indiana by-pass and followed I-69 towards Indianapolis. As we had breakfast in a roadside Mickey D’s, we talked about stowing some rain gear since the pavement was drying out. Sandy suggested not to. Smart lady, since we caught some active rain while skirting Indianapolis on I-465. This was the last rain of the day.

The miles rolled by effortlessly. Terre Haute, Effingham, St. Louis. I phoned Sherm from a rest area in Illinois as we were removing our rain gear. He, Karen and Preston were in Branson and would be catching a couple of shows and spending the night. He suggested that if we turned the wick up a bit we could get there this evening. I said we would see, but that’s another 440 miles and it was already noon.

Near Greenville Illinois, there is a federal prison next to the Interstate that looks like a bunch of Microtel hotels stuck together. Out front, there is an obstacle course/training facility that, today, had many police cruisers. Officers in fatigues were running some kind of exercise in the field. First time I have ever seen any action there.

As we left St. Louis on I-44, the traffic eased up and we ran until we needed fuel in Rolla Missouri. It was 4:30 and we had covered almost 600 miles so we called it quits. They have a Drury Inn here. Nice rooms, hard wired High Speed Internet, a manager’s reception from 5:30 to 7:00 with beer, win and snacks plus a hot breakfast in the morning. It cost more than I would have paid in Branson, but not unreasonable. We had supper at a Steak ‘n Shake. Another first.

I talked to Mom tonight and she said if you laid out the route I took to get here it looked pretty odd. I had to agree. Ted Boyd, if you are reading this, you were right about the way to go. The weatherman was wrong and I was wrong to listen to him. But WTH, if I had gone the right way I’d still be waiting to meet Scruffy.

We’ll be in ES fairly early tomorrow. Then the fun can begin. Oh wait. We’ve been having fun all along:-)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Erie Pennsylvania to Montpelier Ohio

There is a law of motorcycle travel. It says your chance of encountering rain is inversely proportional to the amount of rain gear you are actually wearing. More on this later.

All the hurricane coverage on CNN and The Weather Channel means that you can’t get any weather conditions reported for anywhere else in the country. The normally comprehensive and useful information was totally missing so we were pretty much in the dark about what was going to happen in the area we would be traveling today.

There were forecasts of rain predicted for Erie, Cleveland and Columbus so we started west on I-90 under overcast skies wearing full rain suits. At Mentor, Ohio, I got a report on the Weather Band radio on the bike that it was raining in Indianapolis. In an attempt to stay north of this, we continued west on the Ohio Turnpike through Toledo instead of cutting southwest at Cleveland to Columbus.

It looked good for a while, but about fifty miles from the Indiana line we stopped for fuel. Since the sky hadn’t changed and the temperature was pushing 80, we took off our jacket rain liners and stowed them. Sure enough, fifteen miles later we ran into a wall of water. Four miles after this we pulled into another service center and went in for lunch while high winds and driving rain scoured the parking lot.

An hour later, the wind had died down and the rain was reduced to a drizzle so we suited up, rain liners and all, and headed out. This proved to be my second mistake as, within ten miles, the heavy rain had returned with even greater ferocity, reducing visibility to NIL. We bailed at the first exit showing lodging. Luckily, the toll booths have roofs over them. Unable to see, I pulled into the first motel, an Econolodge, and found we were in Montpelier Ohio. They tell me there is actually a town around here somewhere.

That was about 2:00. We spread things out to dry and, after a while, went over to the adjacent Country Fare restaurant for the meat loaf special. The rain has been a steady drizzle all afternoon and is forecast to continue tomorrow morning, but what do they know anyway.

We’re about 750 miles from Eureka Springs and we have two days to get there. It looks like we will get in the familiar groove tomorrow (Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Springfield) and try to ride out of it. A good day tomorrow and we can coast in on Tuesday.

Another law of motorcycling is that you have to endure the bad days so you can appreciate the good ones.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Sudbury Ontario to Erie Pennsylvania

It was clear and cool this morning as we finished packing and loaded up the bike. I am a last minute packer, which drives Sandy nuts, but by the time I start doing things I have planned everything out in my head and it goes quickly. That’s the way it was this time.

We headed out under sunny skies at 42F. Traffic was light and we covered 150 miles before needing a pit stop to get rid of the morning coffee. I was happy to find gas was just over $1.00 per liter after the panic buying on Thursday, but I am also afraid that this will be the price for the foreseeable future. I guess we’ll have to cut down on groceries so we can keep traveling.

With a full tank, we headed south and stopped at a Tim Horton’s in a service center on Highway 400 just north of Toronto. Lunch was a sandwich combo we split and I filled my Butler mug with black coffee. Heading on, I took the easy way and jumped on the 407 Highway, our overpriced, privately owned toll road that took us all the way to Hamilton with very little traffic. The bike was humming nicely as it pulled its way through a stiff headwind.

Before we knew it, we were at Fort Erie where we stopped for more gas before crossing into New York. A fellow at the gas station was checking his windshield where it had been struck by an errant 2x4 that fell off of something. No damage. Better him than us. It turns out we have a common acquaintance, someone who works for my former employer. Small world once again.

The border crossing was quick. No line-up, no request for ID. A couple of basic questions and we were on our way. Again the run to Erie was uneventful, although there were a few NY State Troopers lurking in the medians. I figured that if they didn’t stop the tanker truck doing 85 MPH, I was pretty safe.

We got settled in our room and I called Tom “Scruffy” McCalmont. Tom and I have been trying to get together for several years but he has always been otherwise occupied. We first exchanged Emails when I mentioned on VROC that I saw a Vulcan Classic suspended from the ceiling in the Quaker Steak & Lube Restaurant in Erie. He dropped me a line to say he had bought it. He is now on a Nomad.

Tom and Linda showed up and took Sandy and I out for supper at the same Steak & Lube. Good food and fine company. Can’t do any better than that. Thanks Tom and Linda and I hope we see more of you again soon. Here are Sandy, Tom and Linda in front of the restaurant.

Hurricane Rita must have heard I was planning on going around her through Memphis, because she appears to be hitting Memphis now. The flanking plan is in the dumpster and we will take a close look at the weather patterns tomorrow before deciding how to proceed. Stay tuned because I don’t have a clue where we will be tomorrow night:-)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Catch Up

I guess I left everyone hanging back in July when we hit the Soo. Sorry about that. The ride home was uneventful and we parked the bike to decompress. We decompressed for quite a while.

Since then we attended the local Freedom Rally the first weekend in August, the first time in about seven years we have been able to do that. After that, we made a run down to Interlochen, Michigan the third weekend of August for the annual Michigan VROC gathering and had a great time. Then we made the 26th Annual Cyclefest near Waterloo Ontario and enjoyed that as well. Heather and I setup up the Observation part of the road run.

There was a very sad van trip in late August to Stafford Virginia to attend the memorial service for Rick "Wolfman" Jakubas, VROC #3, one of the driving forces behind VROC , who died in a motorcycle accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rick was accurately described as "the heart and soul of VROC" and we will miss him.

Right after the Stafford trip, I headed to the Soo where my brother Dave had been hospitalized for a severe but unknown illness. Dave lives in Edmonton, Alberta but was home visiting Mom. Some hotshot doctors finally diagnosed Addison's Disease, a condition where the adrenal glands shut down. On the plus side, it is controlled with medication.

There have also been some van trips back and forth from Cambridge in the interim to visit the kids.

Tomorrow we start the last trek of the season. We're leaving the trailer at home and heading for Eureka Springs, Arkansas for the VROC Fall Reunion. Unfortunately, Hurricane Rita is headed the same way so this will be an interesting one. The current plan is to ride due south and then head west, hooking around behind it and arriving Tuesday. Rita was supposed to pass through the western Arkansas area Monday. Unfortunately, the latest projection shows Rita stalling around Texarkana so we may be in for it, although we could always hold up in Memphis and be a little late getting to ES.

We'll play this by ear and try to keep the Blog updated as we go.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Duluth Minnesota to Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

We departed the KOA through patches of fog and made our way to I-35 into Duluth. It was a quiet Sunday morning with little traffic so I have no idea how I missed the exit for Highway 2 East. I did deduce, when I noticed there were no longer Highway 2 signs and downtown Duluth was on my left side, that I was headed for Thunder Bay if I didn’t take some corrective action so we did a flip at one of the interchanges and headed back. After a gas stop, we made our way around at street level until we found the correct road. We did pause for a moment when an ambulance pulled out of a parking lot without looking, but you come to expect those things when you ride a bike.

When we got on the bridge over to Superior, Wisconsin, the fog became so heavy that we couldn’t see the harbour. Actually, it was so thick that the lines on the road and the bridge rail were all we could see, but it dissipated as soon as we were on dry land again.

The trip across 2 to Ashland, where we stopped for breakfast, and on to Michigan where we cut off on Highway 28, was uneventful. As usual, the temperature rose along with the humidity. Gas and water stops were all we did, although we did get a bit of cloud cover and about three drops of rain near Newberry. Eventually, we reached I-75 and turned north for the short hop to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and the International Bridge.

I wondered what the traffic would be like at the border. Amazingly, as we came down in Canadian Customs, there were no vehicles waiting and we pulled right into an open booth. I guess the security here is different from out west because, after the usual questions, the young fellow let us go without so much as checking our driver’s licences.

We made it to Mom’s house where I discovered that the wiring problem with the trailer signal light had returned. Not sure if this was a problem with the wires or with the isolated wiring harness relays, I shook the plug while Sandy watched the lights. Since it came and went as I shook the plug, I assume that the live sixth wire is making contact with the signal light wire somewhere in the harness. Good. Better that than a problem with the relay unit which would be much more complicated. Something to check when we get home, starting with the plug I wired first. It’s not that I don’t trust my own wiring prowess, it’s just that the guy who wired the other end was a factory professional installer so I’ll go with the oddsJ)

Mom was a bit under the weather due to the heat and the fact that she had fallen a few days before. She assured us that nothing was broken, but she was moving a little slower than usual. We visited for a while before turning in for the night.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Estevan Saskatchewan to Duluth Minnesota

Although the temperature dropped off a bit overnight, it was humid right from first light this morning. We were up, packed and on the road by 6:00 AM Mountain Time. We ran in a light haze down to the border at North Portal passing coal drag lines looking like prehistoric creatures in the fog. The flat terrain had been rendered hilly by these monsters.

As expected, the U.S. border guard was bored silly at North Portal. He asked us every question he could think of and then thought up a few more. Then, a first, he wanted to see inside the trailer. For those who know how the trailer works, you know this is no small feat. I opened the lid about a foot and he was happy.

Once across the border, we took Hwy 52 down to US 2 and then east into Minot. The rest of the day was uneventful as we pushed east into a quartering headwind with the bike letting me know at every fuel stop just how hard it was working. I don’t believe I have ever gotten worse mileage on this bike.

We rolled past Rugby, the geographical center of North America and Great Forks where we crossed into Minnesota. At Crookston I showed Sandy where I acquired my written warning for speeding a few years ago. At Bemdji, I noticed that one of the tail lights on the trailer was on even though the bike was off. A strange situation, but rather than debug it I pulled the very hot bulb and deferred troubleshooting until we stopped for the day.

A few miles down, I wondered if the other light was working so I stopped at a small gas station to check. It was OK but we spent a while there because there was a fellow with a new silver ’05 Wing with only 300 miles on the clock. We talked for a while and answered a bunch of questions he had.

Continuing on, the road went down to two lanes and tree cover blunted the effect of the wind. Gas mileage improved and we arrived at Cloquet (pronounced like croquet) Minnesota where we grabbed a bite and then found the KOA. The tally was 620 miles in 11.5 hours. After setup, we showered and spent some time in the hot tub before returning to our site.

The wiring problem had automatically fixed itself before I could try to troubleshoot it. This means either that it has gone away or that it is intermittent. I hate debugging intermittent problems. Time will tell.

Cloquet is just outside Duluth so we’ll have an easy 400 mile day tomorrow to the Soo.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fort McLeod Alberta to Estevan Saskatchewan

Before I tell you about today, a short word about Fort McLeod. With the RCMP Museum, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, the Frank Slide site, live theater and numerous things I have yet to discover, I’ve put this place in my plans for a three or four day visit sometime in the not too distant future.

We were on the road by 6:30 this morning. It was a little cool by a nice morning all told. I checked the tire wear before I left and found the rear Elite 3 is only showing 4/32nds tread left. At this rate it will barely make it home and the tire will be done at about 8,000 miles, which is less than the 12,000 miles the stock D250 gave and well below what I had hoped. Maybe the E3’s are not the answer for me. I have some figuring to do when I get home.

The first tank of fuel took us to Medicine Hat where, as is our style, we stopped for our usual Mickey D breakfast. The Redhill McDonalds was the worst experience I have ever had in that chain. There was only one person ahead of me in line and it still took ten minutes to place the order. And the order was wrong anyway. Many people were milling around in the back, but nobody seemed to be accomplishing anything. I took the time to fill out a comment card.

From Medicine Hat there was not a lot interesting. We traversed several hundred miles of broken down asphalt masquerading as the Trans-Canada Highway. Saskatchewan needs a bigger roads budget. At Moose Jaw, we swung southeast on 39 bound for the US border.

After about 40 kilometers, a grain elevator appeared on the horizon. It took another ten klicks before we reached it. When we did, this was right across the road.

We had found the legendary location where they film the externals to the Canadian TV show Corner Gas. The town of Rouleau Saskatchewan, a wide spot in the road, subs for the fictional town of Dog River as the elevator will attest.

Here I am in gas pumping mode.

This is probably the show that most typifies Canadian humour today. At the start of Episode One, an Ontarian pulls in and comments “Pretty flat around here”. Brett Butt, playing Brett Leroy the proprietor, looks at the linear horizon and replies “Really? I hadn’t noticed”.

The temperatures continued climbing as we continued towards Estevan, where I had reserved a site in a Regional Campground. As we hit town, someone said the humidex was 42C, about 107F. We’re set up here now with the weekend camping crowd and it has cooled of as the sun got lower. The mosquitoes are now out.

Tomorrow, we will cross at North Portal and head down to Minot North Dakota. From there, we will follow US 2 across ND, Minnesota , Wisconsin and will catch 28 in Northern Michigan. This will take us to the Soo, hopefully Sunday evening. From there, it’s a short hop home on Monday.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Oliver BC to Fort McLeod Alberta

It was a pleasant morning. We were folded up and rolling by 7:00 Pacific Time, making our way back down to Osoyoos. We fueled and started to climb. And climb and climb. The town looked very pretty as we looked back.

Highway 3, the Crowsnest Route, is a great way to cross BC. It twists and winds, climbs and drops, across several ranges and through a number of valleys. Saw a bunch of deer including three bucks standing together in a field. They were so perfect that Sandy pulled a Scotty and thought they were artificial until they looked over when I honked the horn.

Got to the Mickey D’s at Castlegar at 10:27. By their clock. SOB’s had already shut breakfast down for the day. All that speeding for nothing. We had an early lunch.

East of Salmo, we saw cattle and burros sharing the same field. The horns on the one here reminded me of a Spanish fighting bull.

Somewhere in here we lost an hour as we switched to Mountain Time.

We crossed the path we did last year going to our Rally in the Rockies but stayed on 3 after Cranbrook. We went way down and ran in a valley for a while before starting the climb to the Crowsnest Pass.

After going through the pass, we skirted a number of very small towns including Lundbreck, home of a very famous VROCer named Jim Siegelaar. We also passed a wind farm larger than the one we saw in West Texas. The locals here say they are adding new windmills all the time.

We reached Fort McLeod about 7:00 PM Mountain and set up in the Daisy Me campground. Free WiFi, but this is the first time we have had mosquitoes to contend with all trip. Tomorrow, we will continue east.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Vancouver to Oliver BC

The rain stopped overnight so we packed, hooked up and were on our way slightly after 8:00 AM. Highway 1 was busy as we left the Vancouver area due to rush hour, but we jumped in the HOV lane (buses, cars with more than one person and motorcycles) and did quite well. It surprised me ho many vehicles had only one person in them.

A word about Vancouver gas prices. The Chevron station next to Mal’s has two prices. During the early evening, gas costs $0.899 per liter. Any other time is $1.019. Mal tells me that there is a 3.5 cent discount, but the cycle is daily. We didn’t fill up in Vancouver. By the time we got to Abbottsford, about 50 miles east, the price was a more manageable $0.799. But, to make up for it, it started to rain. We put on our gear and continued.

At Hope, where the original Rambo First Blood movie was filmed all those years ago, we branched off on Highway 3, the route to the Crow’s Nest Pass. At the pullout near the beginning, we saw another GL-1800 towing a Bunkhouse camper trailer. We stopped to see if they needed any help, but they were just putting on their Gerbing gear. We followed them up through the rain and cloud and fog at a conservative pace, winding our way up until we came to the visitor center in Manning Provincial Park. We stopped to chat. Rick had a ’02 Wing with 136,000 Kms on it and a dog in a carrier on top of the cooler on the tongue. The dog was somewhat put out since, when Rick rides alone, Woody travels on the back seat.

We continued on and stopped at Rick’s place near Keremeos for coffee.

Then it was on to Osoyoos to visit the Lees-Ure Lite Trailer people. I pulled in and found Nick in the shop assembling a trailer. I told him I needed a roof rack and he asked if I was “That Guy Who….”. I was. He checked out the trailer and got a new roof rack. While he was installing it, owner Rick Lee rolled up in his Hummer. WE talked a bit and then young Amanda, one of the people I had been dealing with on the phone, showed up. Soon, the rack was installed and we were on our way.

We headed north up 97 to Oliver (which bills itself as the Wine Capital of Canada), where we got a site at a very nice KOA just north of town.

After we set up, we went across the road to a pub for supper. Then we came back and I got on-line to check the mail. The setting sun caught the cliff behind us, making it really stand out.

Now comes the question of the day. Which way do we go tomorrow. The Okanagan lies to the north taking us back up through Rogers and Kicking Horse Passes, The Crows Nest Pass and Lethbridge lie to the East and Kalispell Montana and US Highway 2 are south of us. All roads lead to home. I don’t know which way we are going but we will kick the priorities around tonight to see if we can reach a decision by morning.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Still More Vancouver

Mal and Sandy took Jan to the airport yesterday morning. We spent the day in low key mode but managed to find time to watch the entire first season of Corner Gas on DVD. Rouleau Saskatchewan may be on the itinerary on the way home.

We were going to leave today but it rained non-stop and the departure date wasn’t critical. Just laid back for another day.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

More Vancouver

Another day in Wonderland. I spent the morning catching up on my bookkeeping and then we went across the bridge to catch a movie. We settled on Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Not bad, but not quite as good as the hype led me to believe.

We then took a leisurely drive up to the Cypress Point Provincial Park overlook. This is about 2,000 feet up the side of the mountain behind West Vancouver and looks out over the entire delta area. Truly a spectacular vista.

On the way down, we toured a new development of multi-million dollar homes clinging to the side of the mountain. I’m not sure who will live here but they will have an excellent view and possibly a tough time getting home in inclement weather.

When we returned to the apartment, the air had cleared to the south and Mount Baker finally put in an appearance lit by the setting sun.

Although this volcano lies 85 miles away in Washington State, it feels some days that you can reach out and touch it.

It was a quiet evening since Jan will be leaving in the morning for a summer program that will see her train in Southern Ontario and then be doing science fair/teaching at First Nations reserves across Canada.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I always find a stay in West Vancouver relaxes and revitalizes me. This is my favourite city. Even though the place is overpopulated with Starbucks and there isn’t a Tim Horton’s to be found, the pace is laid back. I spent the first part of the morning sitting on the balcony watching the cruise ships as they made their stately way under the Lions Gate Bridge on their way to Alaska. Sandy and Jan decided to go shopping, so I took advantage of the lull to give myself a long overdue haircut.

When I was presentable, Mal and I jumped in his Miata convertible and went to meet the ladies for coffee. This car strikes me as the direct descendant of the old MGB, a car I loved and revered as a true sports car. Nimble and not overpowered, it just looks for winding roads to play on. Some day. The rendezvous at a Starbucks went well and we all sat outside and had some indescribable caffeine drinks that I like but need a barista interpreter to order.

After coffee, Mal and I returned to his apartment and then took a walk around town looking for a bookstore. The used books place we found on Marine Drive had to be the most cluttered I have ever seen but there was a system. Behind narrow aisles stacked with used magazines and shelves of paperback and hardcover sorted by category and author, I found science fiction and fantasy combined together. I selected Stranger In A Strange Land, which I have a yearning to read yet one more time, and Stardance by Spider & Jeanne Robinson. We had to have the obligatory chat with the owner, an older gentleman sorting books just inside the front door, before we left. On the way back, we walked a bit of the beach and stopped at the liquor store for more wine.

Supper consisted of more pizza and Greek salad, a fine light but sustaining meal, washed down with more wine. Then I found the NASCAR race on Mal’s computer, which masquerades as a TV, and was pretty well lost for the rest of the evening.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Coos Bay Oregon to Vancouver BC

Happy Canada Day.

The trailer had been packed and connected last night so all that remained was to have coffee and head out. Our few days here were great and Pat and Sherm have shown us true Oregon hospitality. They are an example of what makes VROC great.

We headed out about 7:00 AM looking for Highway 101. Just before the turn off Virginia Street, I stopped and waited for a light to change. It took a few minutes to realize that there was NO traffic light at this particular intersection. Luckily no one had come up behind me to wonder what was wrong with this particular Canuck.

Once I figured out the lights, I turned left on Highway 101 and headed north for Florence. This is a very nice road that wanders and curves along the coast. Traffic was light so we relaxed and watched the scenery go by. When we reached Florence, my wildlife radar switched off as we went through town. Bad move since, just past the McDonalds, Sandy grabbed my shoulders and shouted “deer, deer, deer”. Sure enough, a doe and fawn were wandering out on the street ahead of me. We stopped and let them figure out which way they wanted to go.

As we left Florence headed north on 101, it became clear to me that I had missed a turn since we should have left heading east on 126. I stopped and double checked with a local and then went back and found the intersection I had missed. Now headed east, we followed a river and then wound our way up and over the Coastal Range as trees were so thick they hung over the road. There was even a short tunnel at one point. We reached Eugene and found BMW of Western Oregon on 126.

Sandy’s only real complaint on the bike was that she gets cold much faster than I do. At the BMW shop we rectified this as Madeline found a Gerbing heated jacket liner, gloves and silk glove liners that fit her. The liner plugs into a plug from the bike battery and the gloves plug unto the liner. A rheostat that lets the wearer control the amount of heat governs the whole thing. A friendly young man from the service department hooked the cables to the battery since all my tools were buried deep in the trunk. Sandy put on the liner and plugged in. The gear cost a few bucks, but the first priority of any tourer is to keep the passenger happy. I was also pleased to see that Visa Security wanted a call to verify that I was me after the fraud problem back in April.

It was still cool as we jumped on I-5 northbound and my faithful partner was happy with the warmth. The ride to Portland was uneventful except where traffic backed up at one spot. What triggered this was a minor accident on the OTHER side of the Interstate where a pickup and trailer jackknifed. What is it with people that make them slow down and rubberneck causing unnecessary traffic jams?

We passed into Washington and, once we went through Olympia, the idea of traveling during rush our on the Friday of the July 4th weekend didn’t seem like such a good one. It seems the coast from Olympia through Tacoma, Seattle and Everett is like one long city. Traffic south bound was frequently stopped and we were held up several times for accidents and a few more times for reasons that never did become apparent. North of Everett, traffic thinned and we were able to get moving again.

After listening to Vancouver radio, we opted to follow I-5 right to the border. I was surprised on this double holiday weekend that we only had a three-car wait to get to the booth. The female officer took out driver’s licences and then, for the first time I can recall, asked for our birth certificates. She asked a few questions about who we were and then asked about what we bought. I disclosed (always disclose) and then she asked Sandy’s maiden name. She got 90% on that one so the young lady decided we were of sufficient character and standing to be allowed back into the True North Strong and Free.

I had mapped out my route to West Vancouver using a very high level map. As a result, I missed the intended exit. I took another one headed north figuring it would reach Highway 1, AKA The Trans-Canada Highway. It eventually did after a tour of every red traffic light in downtown Surrey. We rocked in on 1 over the Second Narrows Bridge, through North Vancouver and then down 15th street to downtown West Van, a descent that reminds me of San Francisco. Mal has a nice apartment overlooking Ambleside, Stanley Park and the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
He was waiting and we got the trailer unhooked, parked and covered and the bike parked beside it.

Mal had pizza and Greek salad (and some wine) ready and we spent the evening catching up with him and Jan.

Oh, the pillbox I thought I had left in Ely or Eureka with my blood pressure meds turned up, of all places, in the bag I carry the computer, camera and phone cables in.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Coos Bay Oregon - Maintenance Day at Sherm’s

Today I got to experience what a well set up garage is like. We rolled Quicksilver onto the lift Sherm has built into the garage floor and hoisted it up to working height using the air compressor. After chipping Mormon cricket carcasses off the drain plug, we drained the oil and replaced the filter. A quick trip to the Honda shop yielded a new grommet to replace the one that was missing on the oil checking panel and a new crush washer for the drain plug. After refilling it with Amsoil, we rolled both bikes out and washed and waxed them. Sherm, master bike detailer that he is, did a much better job on Kokopelli than I did on Quicksilver. Mine was, as my friend Ted says, “good from far but far from good”.

After the bikes were done, we took a tour of town stopping at the Kawasaki shop to meet Harold, the local Kaw dealer. We visited Subway for lunch and then went back to Harold’s to take some pictures. Returning home, I spent some time updating the blog and Sherm and I went to the neatest little computer shop I have seen in a long time for some advice. Pat had prepared another excellent supper and then I rearranged my trunk while Sherm edited trip pictures. We’ll repack the trailer shortly and I expect it will be yet another early night.

I called Lees-Ure Lite today and Dian told me they had racks in stock so I told her to look for us about Monday. I also called Gerbing’s about getting Sandy an electric jacket liner and gloves to make her more comfortable on those nippy days. Bob gave me the number of a BMW dealership in Eugene so I called them and it looks like they have sizes in stock that will fit her. If we leave here at 7:00 AM tomorrow, we should be there shortly after they open. Then we’ll head on north and be at Sandy’s brother Malcolm’s place in West Vancouver tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Coos Bay Oregon - Riding Around

The day started with Sherm taking me to the Bay Area Athletic Club for a workout in the pool. This may not sound like too much, but with flotation cuffs attached to your legs it is difficult to keep from floating upside down. Add foam dumbells in the water and you can get some good exercise since it is non-stop. The gang of regulars who hang out there are fun, and I enjoyed meeting Ace, George, Bill and all the ladies. Then we got ready to ride.

I’ve ridden great roads including those around North Georgia, North Carolina and West Virginia, not to mention the mountains of the southwest, that have been billed as some of the best motorcycle riding in the world. The roads around Coos Bay are every bit as good.

Pat came out of retirement and climbed on behind Sherm as he set out to show us the area. We went to Shore Acres where we checked out a park on the Pacific that boasts an excellent view and has some beautiful gardens. We then twisted and wound our way over to Bandon for lunch and a stop at the Cranberry Sweets Company where they have plates of samples of their wares. After sampling many things, I bought a pack of cranberry jelly covered in various types of chocolate. We then stopped at a place that has free samples of cheese. If we had these at home, I’d never have to buy food. We then explored some more winding roads and finished with a tour around the bay. We also stopped at an old motorcycle shop that, while closed, displayed the largest collection of antique outboard motors I have ever seen. In the front window I saw a 1954 green Johnson 5 ½ horsepower outboard that was a dead ringer for the one my uncle owned and that I remember using when I was a kid at my grandparents fishing camp on Buckhorn Lake. Talk about old memories.

Returning home, Sherm and Pat’s friend Ronda joined us and we went out to a small restaurant for supper. The special was pork roast and the servings were generous. The server was funny and engaging.

We returned home and Sherm hooked his cameras up to the TV to give a slide show of all the pictures he took on his trip. I admire his eye for both subject and composition as anyone who follows his blog can plainly see. I dozed off in my chair even before the strawberry shortcake was served and again retired for the night before too much longer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Reno Nevada to Coos Bay Oregon

During the night, someone stole Sherm’s mug from the holder on his handlebars. We had a discussion about what motivates people to do things like this but the bottom line was that Sherm would not be able to drink coffee or water while riding for the last leg of his journey.

The mighty Atlantis Casino did not have any coffee we could find anyway, so we checked out and headed north on I-395 towards Susanville California. At the Nevada California border, we stopped at Bordertown, a small, quiet casino and restaurant for breakfast. It was a good one. After we were fed and (more important) caffeined, we bid Steve farewell since he would be turning north towards Alturas before our next gas stop. We rolled north and, as planned, he turned off just before we stopped for fuel in Susanville.

After Susanville, we headed across northern California towards Mount Shasta on beautiful two-lane roads. There were redwoods and meadows, hills and curves. It was a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Sherm and I kept up a continuous conversation on our CB radios as we went, solving most of the problems of the world. Near Mount Shasta, which was ringed by clouds, we turned north on I-5 and rode until we were across the Oregon border where we stopped for fuel.

As we got back on I-5, Sherm radioed and said his speedometer had stopped working so I pulled off at the next exit and he led back roads into Medford. From behind I could see his taillights were out as well so we figured he had blown a fuse. We stopped at a Jack-In-The Box and found, sure enough, the taillight fuse was toast. After replacing it and blowing the new one at once, he disconnected the trailer and the next one was OK. Good that the short was isolated somewhere in the trailer wiring so he left it disconnected and I went second to provide signal lights for the cars behind us.

We ran up over a series of summits on I-5. At the last one, Canyon Creek Pass, I commented on how it was less dramatic than the others. Little did I know. We were coming downgrade with concrete center barricades and Sherm ahead of me just out of sight in a left hand curve. I was passing a logging truck when I came around the bend and saw a sea of stopped brake lights. I had a quick glimpse of Sherm going to the right shoulder as I grabbed all the ABS brakes I had and looked for a gap. Since I was in the left lane and could see an RV locking up behind me, I squeezed up against the left barricade and tried to get out of the line of fire. The ABS performed flawlessly and I stopped sort of the car ahead while the RV driver ended up slightly right of me. As we moved through the stopped traffic to join Sherm, the logging truck driver looked out and said “Close one”. It seems that a lane reduction had backed up farther than they expected.

Pleased that we had avoided certain disaster, we headed a little further north and then took another excellent two-lane road that led us to Coos Bay. Finally we were at Chez Acord where we met Pat and the “girls”. Pat is a very nice lady and they put us up in their 5th wheel, which had been moved into their driveway for the occasion. Pat made a very tasty supper and we retired relatively early.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Evening in Reno Nevada

As dark fell, we gathered and found a cab to take us downtown. Nice Lincoln cab, friendly driver. He dropped us off in front of Harrah's by the Reno sign. We walked up the street and then down the street going through a few casinos on the way. Lost a few shekels in slot machines, but nothing serious. We took a detour through Fitzgerald's Casino and saw something interesting we had to get a picture of. This one is for you, Slots.

After hiking across the bridge over the Truckee River to see Sherm's favourite (WiFi) coffee shop, we headed back up the street to catch a cab. To our surprise, we got the SAME driver. Didn't even have to tell him where we were going.

Now we're back and retiring for the night. We'll part ways with Steve, who has been a great riding companion, in Susanville California tomorrow and will continue on the Sherm's place in Coos Bay Oregon for a few days. I am looking forward to NO CRICKETS:-)

Ely Nevada to Reno Nevada

The words for today are Mormon and Cricket.

We waved goodbye to Bob, Barb and company as the GoldWings thundered westward out of Ely. Actually, Sherm had to honk his horn because the Wings under full throttle didn’t make enough noise to get them to look up.

There was that sign again. Highway 50. The Loneliest Highway In America. This part sure was. As a counterpoint, a steam engine running parallel to the road gave a jaunty toot of the whistle and wave as we went by.

We ran for an hour or so until we reached Eureka where we stopped for a fine breakfast at the Owl Club Casino & Restaurant. While there I was able to get a picture of Sherm, the elusive blogmeister, at work. Before we were done, Barb, Bob, Las and Terry arrived. We were, in fact, being followed. This place wasn’t so lonely after all.

We left first again, roaring silently up the hill headed for Austin. Things were going well until we reached the turnoff to Tonopah. I saw black spots running across the road and realized we had come to the leading edge of the Mormon Cricket invasion Sherm had described on his outbound trip. As we continued, they got thicker and the dead crickets on the road started to become a layer. In addition to traction issues, smashed crickets have a very pungent odour to them. This continued, off and on, as we went up over the summit and down into the small and very antiquated town of Austin. We stopped and walked around checking out the old buildings and discussing crickets with locals and tourists alike. There was also a family from Colorado who had just lost their windshield to a deer. Last word was that highway crews were using snowplows to the west to clear squashed crickets off the road.

With fear and a little loathing we headed west looking for more crickets. We passed a rank smelling eastbound snowplow. Soon we came to a sign saying “Slippery Road Next 8 Miles”. And it was. The road was covered several crickets deep and all I could think as they crunched under the tires was “Rice Crispies”. Eventually the crickets thinned out and we got back on good old pavement again. Parts of the bikes and trailers will need a pressure wash soon.

The next thing we came to in this land of wonderment was the Shoe Tree. I don’t know what possesses people to throw their shoes up in this otherwise ordinary tree, but it certainly is a must see if you travel this way. I looked for snakes in the gully it grows in but I am still 0 for 978 in my serpent search. Before we left, Barb and Bob roared by and Terry and Las pulled in.

We followed T&L across a dry lakebed towards Fallon. We saw several pairs of jet fighers rolling in and making practice runs on the Navy range south of town. When we stopped for gas, Barb and Bob (who had stopped to see petroglyphs) caught up to us again. They rolled on ahead towards Carson City while we took the road leading to I-80 and Reno.

The Reno traffic was a little hectic as we found our way to the Atlantis Casino. Finding a place to park while we checked in was a little tricky as was finding a parking place for the night which would accommodate the bikes and trailers. We got her done, showered and then wandered over to the Casino. Sherm and Steve each parlayed a 50 cent contribution to the slots into a $2.50 fortune before we quit while ahead and went to Toucan Charlie’s Buffet and Grill for dinner. After the buffet, I was considering looking for a maternity shop to find some pants that would fit.

We’re taking a break right now but will be heading downtown after dark to see all the lights.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kanab Utah to Ely Nevada

We packed the gear, connected the trailer and joined Sherm and Steve for breakfast in the lodge. There were a few people about getting ready to leave, while others were already on the road or still asleep. After checking out and getting fuel, we headed north up Highway 89.

A ways up, we turned west onto Highway 14 towards Cedar City. This was a great road. In just over 40 miles of twists, we got to see cedar and aspen stands, lava flows, snow, high meadow, Zion from a distance, steep canyons and red rock cliffs. This is definitely a must see road if you are ever in the area. It was cool up top and some people donned extra gear.

In Cedar City, the terrain flattened and the temperatures climbed so the extra gear cam off. We set out across some very empty terrain on Highway 310 North. About 50 miles up the road, we came to Milford Utah and stopped for gas. For a little town in the middle of nowhere, Milford is very nice. As we turned NW, we found Penny’s Diner at the end of town. This was a surprisingly nice place withy a 50’s theme, good food and reasonable prices. And WiFi. Sherm hooked up and posed some pictures to his new blog. BTW, if you want to see more photos of this part of the trip, you can see his new blog at http://kanabtocoosbay.blogspot.com. Just before we left, the power went out and he missed his last post. We also had trouble paying since the cash register wouldn’t work.

From Milford, we continued NW, crossing the Nevada line and picking up another hour. North of Baker, we turned west on Highway 50, billed as The Loneliest Highway In The World. The terrain was varied, with rolling dry valleys, low mountains and larger snow covered peaks in the background. Sherm and Steve pored over the map. I'm not sure why because there was only one road. We saw very few vehicles along here.

After a while, we arrived in Ely Nevada. This little place looks like it has seen better days. We had reservations at the “historic” Hotel Nevada and Casino in downtown metropolitan Ely. This six-story high rise dominates downtown and was the first fireproof building in Nevada when it was constructed in 1929. It’s seen better days but we’re comfortable. After checking in, we walked around town looking for ice cream. Since almost everything closes on Sunday here, we ended up back in the casino restaurant.

After the snack, we went up to check out our rooms, which had been made up in the meantime. It was a surprise when a door across the hall opened and Bob and Barb, VROCers from Carson City we had said goodbye to in Kanab, popped their heads out. Small worlds continue. We moved our gear from the bikes up to the 4th floor rooms and then went down to the bar for our complimentary margaritas. Then it was back to the room to figure out which dial-up connection to use to get on-line.

About suppertime, Terry and Las (friends of Bob and Barb) arrived after an extended tour of Zion. We settled in the casino restaurant and had some pretty good meals. Somehow, Terry ordered prime rib even though it wasn’t on the menu. We made fun of him because he didn’t know the price but when the bill came, the slab of meat cost him less that $9.00.

Now we’re sitting around the rooms and relaxing in anticipation of another day on The World’s Loneliest Highway. Tomorrow we are booked into a flashy hotel/casino in Reno.

BTW, there are two Honda GoldWings parked in the lot, both bearing the licence plate VROC. One is from Oregon and the other Ontario. I’m waiting for someone to ask the question so I can tell them it is the mark of a Kawasaki Vulcan club:-)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Kanab Utah - Red Rock Rally Final Night

The gathering in the parking lot was subdued as people mingled and said their goodbyes. It took us over two hours to cover everyone we could find.
I’ve been to many VROC rallies and Reunions over the years. The V2K Rally in Durango in 2000 was a special one because of the broad spectrum of people from widely varying places who attended. This, to me, has been the best since then for the same reason. The mixture of people and the spirit of being part of a huge family made this a very special gathering and I am very happy we were able to be here.

Jack and Barb Foree and UteMike Bernard deserve a huge round of thanks for daring to imagine this could happen and then making it so.

Kanab Utah - Zion National Park

Today all the Ontarians hooked up with a crew of Georgians and decided to see Mt. Zion National Park. It’s a short ride up Highway 89 to Mt. Carmel Junction where we turned on Highway 9 west towards the park. After a few miles of open road turning into a small red rock canyon, we came to the park gate. Our National Parks Pass got another workout and the sign said 11 miles to the Visitor’s Center.

After five miles or so of running through the red rock canyon, we came to a line of backed up traffic. A sign said there was a tunnel ahead and we could see a ranger stopping the traffic. After a while, a line of cars, RV’s and bikes came out of the tunnel towards us. When they had passed, we were allowed to go. Although the tunnel road is painted for two lanes, it twists and winds for over a mile through the mountain. When we came out the other side, we were perched high on the wall of a deep canyon and we descended through a series of switchbacks down to the floor where we followed the winding road to the Center.

This was the most spectacular National Park I have seen so far. The towering multi-coloured peaks surround the canyon and its offshoots. We checked out the Visitor Center and then caught a free tram, which took us up a side canyon along the North Virgin River where normal traffic was barred. The further we went, the better the scenery got. Some places, the only way to see the top of the canyon was through the open roof of the tram. The trams stopped at various places to let people on and off at hiking trails and viewpoints.

When we returned to the Visitor Center, we got back on the bikes and headed back to the switchbacks and up to the tunnel where we had a short wait. This gave me a chance to get a photo of Norm and Gary backed by some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. By the time we got to Highway 89, we turned south and started traversing the front of a very nasty storm system. We raced the storm back to Kanab and only got a little wet, although the winds were starting to get violent. We got safely back to the Parry without incident.

All Caught Up

It took quite a while but now that I have WiFi access in the dining room at the Parry Lodge, I've updated the last week's worth of blog entries.

Anyone interested in what we are doing here at Kanab can also bookmark my friend Sherm's blog. Sherm prefers to post pictures with captions and gives a great view of what everyone has been up to. We'll be going up to Oregon with him tomorrow.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Kanab Utah - Red Rock Rally Around Town

Most of the riders headed out in various directions this morning. We decided to take a day off and hung around town. After visiting with people through the morning, Normie decided that a visit to the frontier town movie museum would be in order. It wasn’t far so we decided to walk. I lead the way but my internal compass was off so we have now seen both ends of town. The museum was basically a gift shop with a western town constructed out back. Some items from old movie and TV sets are on display.

After the museum, we returned to The Parry and I worked on the blog for a while before taking a nap. I woke up later to more rain and thunder. Although this is supposed to be the dry time of year here, you’d never know it the way the weather has been happening.

Jack and Barb Foree, who are the driving force behind this gathering, managed to put on a fine dinner for everyone. They didn’t want us to take up a collection to help cover their costs but we did anyway and have to find a way to give it to them.

After dinner, the evening consisted of socializing in the parking lot. This is the most diverse gathering of VROCers that I have seen since Durango in 2000. It was important to be here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Moab Utah to Kanab Utah

We’re getting better at packing up. It took a mere twenty minutes to get ready to go. We hooked up with Scotty and Marlene and run into town to meet UteMike and Brent, a Colorado rider who joined us.

I led the group north on 191 to I-70 and then west to Green River. The terrain was mostly a flat desert with some low canyon walls in the distance. After Green River, we continued on and turned south towards Hanksville. As we approached Hanksville, we passed red rock needles and buttes and then some badlands type of features with a palette of colours striping the eroded walls. We turned west at Hanksville heading for Capitol Reefs National Park and Torrey.

The road through Capitol Reefs winds through a narrow canyon. We stopped at one point to view the Capitol Dome, and again to view some petroglyphs or native pictures carved in the rock face (picture). At the visitor center, we took a scenic drive down through the park and back.

Heading west again, we reached Torrey and stopped for lunch. Dan from Salt Lake City joined our group and, after a quick bite, we headed south on Highway 12. This is a spectacular road. With the trailer, we dropped to the back of the line to let the others rock and roll. After a short run across the desert, we started up a mountain sweeping back and forth through curves lined with pine and aspen trees. As we got higher, the trees thinned out to high meadows and, at one point, a snow bank still hung on at the side of the road. We stopped several times to enjoy the scenic overlooks.

After a while, we left the trees and grasses and came to the place I had been dreading. The Hogback. This is a stretch of road several hundred yards long that has a series of curves. There is no shoulder to it and both sides drop steeply away from the edge of the pavement (look for link). Miss either side and you would have a fall of several hundred feet or more. It seems that Utah doesn’t use guardrails. This put my acrophobia to the test. Despite being almost paralyzed, I managed to get across it and join the rest of the crew on the other side. From there, the drop into Escalante Canyon continued to hang on the edge of cliffs without rails, but the drop was only on one side or the other.

Coming down to flat land, we again encountered, Brillo, Deb, Batman and Ace at a gas station. They headed out first and we followed shortly although we stopped once to don rain gear since it looked like we were heading into another afternoon rain. The weather immediately brightened up.

We bypassed Bryce Canyon National Park and turned south on US 89 towards Kanab. About 25 miles short of town, the wisdom of donning rain gear became apparent. The downpour was heavy and lightning was flashing across a dark sky. We pushed on and found our temporary home, the Parry Lodge, at the center of town. This place was apparently built so that TV and movie actors would have a place to stay while filming in the area. Shows as diverse as The Outlaw Josie Wales and Planet of the Apes were shot in the Kanab area.

The gathering was well underway, and the rest of the evening was taken up with greeting old friends and meeting new ones. This was why we came.

After midnight and an evening of rain, it was time to turn in for the night.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Moab Utah - The Arches, Canyonlands and the Sunset Grill

The winds had abated by morning. This is beginning to sound like a familiar story. Slammer and Toby were going riding and then were going to pack up and head south for Monument Valley. We’ll see them tomorrow in Kanab.

Scotty, Marlene, Sandy and I headed into Moab for breakfast at Mickey D’s and then headed a few miles north to The Arches National Park. It is known for unusual and interesting formations carved by water and wind from red sandstone.

When we finished it we had some time before our noon rendezvous with Utemike in Moab, so I led them on a ride up Highway 128, the one we came down yesterday. The road was more fun without the trailer on and Scotty was impressed with the high red rock canyon walls on both sides of the Colorado River. Rafters were floating downstream and looked like they were having a ball.

We got back into town and parked the bikes in front of the Visitor Center, which was our assigned rendezvous spot. Since we were still a bit early, we headed across the street to a juice bar and ordered ice or smoothies, depending on our preference. Just as soon as we sat down outside, Mike pulled in across the street.

After refreshments, we headed north again for Canyonlands, the other national park near Moab. There is a long access road and, after we got up onto the mesa, we could see a couple of local rainstorms, which were shedding frequent lightning bolts. The further we rode, the more it looked like our paths were going to intersect. Finally, thirty miles in, there was a sign indicating the park gate was one mile ahead. We made ¾’s of that when large raindrops started to fall. The ranger at the gate looked at our park passes and waved us through so we hightailed it to the visitor center, another mile down the road. Amazingly, the heavy rainfall stopped about one hundred yards short of the parking lot, but not before lightning struck very near us. I’m trying not to take this Utah weather personally.

After waiting a bit, we figured it was clear out in the park so we headed for Grand View Point Overlook, another twelve miles down the road. In fact, it was the end of the road since it was at the tip of a promontory surrounded on three sides by huge canyons. It is hard to look on something of this magnitude and not be consumed with awe. While the original storm was behind us, another was moving in and started shedding some precipitation, so we headed back. On the way, we checked out other scenic lookouts. I didn’t mention the road before, but it has many twists and curves rated at 25 MPH, although Mike led us through them at a more sporting pace. Part way back, he took another road to the Upheaval Dome parking lot. This is significant because you can’t see the dome, caused by a subterranean salt layer, from the lot. Oh no. It is a ¼ mile walk uphill to the viewing point. Mike and I walked up while the others opted to remain at the bottom. It was interesting, but I have no pictures since I forgot my camera in the bike.

When we got back down, Scotty and Marlene had already headed out. Rain was starting again, so we hightailed it back to the main road and then headed out. It was necessary at one point to pass a very slow car in the middle of three consecutive 25 MPH switchbacks to maintain out momentum. We caught Scotty and Marlene just before the main highway.

In town, Sandy decided she had enough riding and so we set up a meet time with Mike for tomorrow morning and headed back to camp to do laundry and get cleaned up.

Scotty decided he wanted to have supper at the Sunset Grill, a restaurant high over the north end of town. We rode down there and climbed an atrocious hill to the place. It was originally the dream home of a man named Charlie Steen who had discovered uranium in Moab in 1952. Food was good and view was great. On the way back, I saw a familiar face in front of a motel in town. Brillo, Deb and Batman from Iowa and Ace from Hamilton were settled there for the night. Ace mentioned having met Six Pack Jack Ward at a highway intersection in the middle of nowhere. I guess we really are taking over Utah:-)

We’re pre-packing tonight to be ready to leave at 7:00 AM. Next stop, Kanab.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Strasburg Colorado to Moab Utah

The winds had abated this morning and it dawned nice and clear. We broke camp and were on the road shortly after 6:00 AM headed for Denver on I-70. After breakfast and fuel on the west side of Denver, we started up.

I’ve never run west of Denver on I-70 before. This has been my loss because it is a beautiful road. The climb out of the city is steep and seems to go on forever. As you get way up it suddenly occurs that some of these people must have mountain goat blood since there are houses, very luxurious looking ones, built way up the mountainside.

We stopped at a visitor center at Livingston and checked out things to do there for a future trip. Continuing on, we marveled at the mountains and the towns down in the canyon. We also passed UNDER the Continental Divide through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Through Vail, you could almost smell the money.

After leaving Vail, the canyon widened into a very dry desert valley as quickly as if someone had thrown a switch. This continued until we reached Glenwood Canyon. I’ve never seen an elevated Interstate Highway, double-decker in some places, built through a canyon before. The canyon ended at Glenwood Springs and we were back into arid valley again.

After a quick lunch stop in Grand Junction, we crossed into Utah and started down Highway 128, the Scenic Byway that was also the shortcut to Moab. It was a bit daunting since it twisted and wound its way across barren terrain. That was until we got to the Colorado River. Then the road wound along the river through one of the most spectacular red rock canyons I have ever seen.

At the end of the canyon we reached Moab so we hunted down the KOA on the south side of town. My temperature readout on the bike was 40C, which is about 104F. When we pulled in to the KOA, two red Vulcans belonging to Scotty and Marlene, VROC friends from Adrian Michigan, were parked in front of the office. Before we registered, Toby and Slammer were shouting at us as well. It was like old home week. I parked the bike and trailer in front of our campsite and took a moment to have a cold Pepsi Slammer offered. While enjoying the cold drink, I saw an RV try to make the turn around where the bike was parked. He didn’t hit the trailer hard, just took a small chunk out of the gel coat. This will be a reminder to me not to leave the trailer where inexperienced drivers can hit it.

We set up and then headed out to look for food. If you are ever in Moab, I can recommend the Stagecoach Grill. I had an excellent chicken fried steak and Sandy had fried chicken.

Fed, we adjourned back to camp where storm was just approaching. Last year in Moab it rained on us. It hardly ever rains in Moab but here it was again. Gusting winds added to the effect. After visiting with a couple from Custer SD on a Harley trike, we called it a night and went to sleep to the sound of the wind gusts beating on the camper.