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 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.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Omaha Nebraska to Strasburg Colorado

What can you say about traveling across Nebraska in 100-degree heat? It was a long day. We headed out early and stopped once in Kearney for breakfast. We stopped again in front of the antique car museum so I could walk ¼ mile back up I-80 to pick up Sandy’s Frogg Togg rain jacket, which had escaped from the zippered enclosure on top of the trailer. A mini-incidentJ I decided I was tired of the cover flapping and so we hit a rest area where we removed it and stuck it in the trailer.

In Ogallala, we stopped for a Subway sandwich. While we were getting ready to leave, one of the couples on the GL’s from the Omaha campground pulled in. It seems his tire temperature warning system was reading 179 degrees, above the 176 warning level. Since I don’t have one of these, I didn’t worry about mine. Larry and Susan, I hope you made it to Ogden safely.

We left I-80 and took I-76 towards Denver as the heat continued. At Brush, we turned south on Colorado 71 to a place called Last Chance. This road had some one-lane construction and the bike heated up as we followed a pilot car for several miles at a blistering 12 MPH. At Last Chance, we turned west again on US 38 towards Strasburg where the KOA was located. We had been watching some big storm cells build, so I switched over to the weather radio. Holy Oz, Dorothy, there were three severe storm warnings in progress.
We beat the storms to Strasburg and got set up. Immediately next door there was a Texas BBQ place. It wasn’t Cooper’s, but it was OK. By then, one of the storms was catching up with us. The winds were so severe that we took down the camper to avoid damage and wait it out. Typically, it stalled right over us for hours. Finally, we decided it was safe and put it back up in time to go to bed.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Boscobel Wisconsin to Omaha Nebraska

After coffee and toast at the Unique, we headed west to Prairie Du Chien and then took Iowa secondary roads until we connected with I-80 West at Des Moines. The ride was uneventful and we arrived at a KOA on the west side of Omaha in late afternoon.

We set up camp and went for dinner. After we got back, two other GL-1800’s pulled in and set up near us. They were both heading for a Christian Motorcycle Association gathering in Ogden Utah.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Boscobel Wisconsin - Gays Mills, Prairie Du Chien and Pike's Peak

Chunk Keisling of Wisconsin and Jim Ayres of West Virginia were planning a ride of Wisconsin back roads so we joined them. First stop was Gays Mills for pie, a tradition we started a couple of years ago. Then we crisscrossed the county roads east of the Mississippi river until we ran out and we headed down to Prairie Du Chien to visit Cabella’s, a large outfitter’s store, and Wal-Mart.

We crossed the Mississippi into Iowa and went south on the Great River Road, stopping at Pike’s Peak (no, the other one) to enjoy the view (Chunk on the left and Jim Ayres on the right). We then headed further south, caught a small ferry back across the river to Wisconsin and returned to Boscobel in time for the catered supper at the park.

The evening found us back around the campfire but it was an early night since we were heading north in the morning.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Boscobel Wisconsin - Galena and Dubuque

After a breakfast at the Unique Café, the group ride set out this morning for Galena Illinois, a small historical town just south of the border. It originally mined most of the world’s lead supply but now caters mostly to tourists. The group leader did a fine job and all sixty bikes arrived in Galena in style. The group broke up to explore town.

A few of us walked the main street, checked out the shops and had lunch before riding up to take a tour of the home of Ulysses S. Grant. The house, given to him after the Civil War, stood on a hill overlooking the town and held many of the original furnishings. He was in this house when he learned he had been elected President of the USA.

After the tour, I led a small group over to Dubuque Iowa and north along the Great River Road. We stopped in Balltown to enjoy an overlook Sandy and I discovered last year but skipped a visit to the oldest bar in Iowa. We went on to Prairie Du Chien for ice cream and then we returned to Boscobel via Highway 60, which runs along the north side of the Wisconsin River.

We spent another evening around the campfire on Fly hill.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario to Boscobel Wisconsin

The day started cool and turned overcast in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After we went through Escanaba, it started to clear and warm up. By the time we turned due west south of Oshkosh Wisconsin, it was quite hot.

We arrived in Boscobel on the banks of the Wisconsin River in late afternoon. We went to the City Park where they let us camp on top of what we call Fly Hill after an Iowa VROCer. This rally has several social milieus depending on whether you are camping or which hotel you stay at.

After setup, we went downtown to Snick’s Fin and Feather, a bar that has become one of the gathering points of the Great River Run Rally. Bikes were parked in a side street next to the bar, which had been blocked of by the town for our use. VROCers abounded and we stood around talking until sundown when the motel people went back and we headed for the park. A fire was already going and we sat up around it until quite late.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mom on Quicksilver

Here's Mom on Quicksilver at the start of our ride. She was still smiling after it was over:-)

Sudbury Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

We left about noon and got into the Soo just before 4:00 pm. The weather was cool and an angry sky threatened but there was no rain to speak of. This was probably because we were dressed in full rain gear. Whatever works.

I took Mom for a ride on Quicksilver. She tells me she enjoyed it. This is kind of a family tradition with each bike and I hope to get her out for a longer run before the summer is over.

We're just about to sit down to a lasagna dinner and will probably hit the hay early since we will be leaving shortly after sunup. It's only 500 miles to Boscobel, but I want to get in early enough to get set up before supper and socializing at Snick's.

On the road again........ :-))

Ready to Roll

The trailer is packed, the bike is packed and in a few minutes the computer will be packed. Almost time to hit the road.

The sky is overcast and occasionally spitting rain. The temperature is cool. We will head for my Mom's in the Soo tonight and then run the 500 or so miles to Boscobel Wisconsin tomorrow. Sunday we depart Wisconsin for points west.

Stay tuned for more developments as they happen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Getting Ready To Roll (Again)

Quicksilver came back from J&R on Friday with new tires and oil and the Air Wings installed. The trip was uneventful, especially since there were no more speeding tickets.

We will be heading out tomorrow for a trip that will take us to Boscobel Wisconsin, Kanab Utah, Coos Bay Oregon, Vancouver BC, Osoyoos BC, possibly Edmonton Alberta and home. We should be gone about a month or so, but that is flexible and depends on how much fun we are having and how much we stop to explore.

The stop at Osoyoos is to get a new rack installed on the top of the trailer. Although the damage to the original one in the drag chute incident was relatively minor, it annoys me every time I look at it. I called Dian at Lees-Ure Lite, told her the story and the price she quoted for a new rack was so reasonable I couldn't pass it up.

Now, in my usual style, I have put off packing and preparing until the last possible minute. Now I have a busy day remaining ahead of me getting everything ready to go.

BTW, after weeks of no rain, it looks like it will start tomorrow:-(

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Quicksilver Goes to the Shop

Before the big trip west, it was time for Quicksilver to get new rubber and have a few things looked at since it has almost 20,000 km's on the clock. My dealer, J&R Cycle, is about 200 miles south of us in Stayner, Ontario. I decided to leave the bike for a couple of days so, rather than ride down and have Sandy come and get me in the van, we loaded up in the trailer and WHOREd our way down. For those not familiar, this VROC acronym stands for We Haul Our Rides Everywhere and refers to towing a bike on a trailer.

The trip down went fine. We unloaded and gave Rhonda a short list of things that needed doing. I'm having them install the Baker Air Wings since it involves drilling and I am a "measure once cut three times" kind of guy. I did install the Hand Wings (bottom of the page) myself before the KSL trip and they worked great. I also looked at the new Dunlop Elite III tires, which look pretty good and should both grip better in the rain and last longer than the OEM D250's. We left the trailer there and will go down and get everything on Friday or Saturday.

On the way back, sans trailer, I was moving along at a steady clip on four lane roads south of Parry Sound. Our vehicle is an '03 Dodge Caravan. The cruise was set at 120 KPH in a 100 zone, not quite fast enough to catch anyone's attention. Somehow I got involved with two other cars, a Grand Am and a Toyota Corolla and they would gradually pass me and then slow down a touch so I had to pass them again. Finally, as the Toyota was creeping past me once again I put my foot down and hiked the speed up to 140. My plan was to get a mile or so ahead and then go back to my original speed but the SOB's stuck with me. About this time I passed an on ramp that leads down trough a rock cut and I saw a white car sitting hidden on the side of said ramp. I figured it was a cruiser but didn't see anything following for a few miles. Then he was there, passing the traffic and pulling in behind me. The lights came on at the next straight stretch and I pulled over.

Provincial Constable Brown was very polite. He told me he clocked me at 135 in a 100. That's 85 in a 62 for my non-metric readers. I told him I'd seen him on the ramp and couldn't dispute his claim. After going back to the cruiser he returned and told me that 35 over would have cost me $265 (including the ubiquitous surcharge) and four demerit points. Since I had been honest and cooperative, he dropped it to 19 over which will only cost me $67.50 and three demerits. I hadn't attempted to drop any names either, although I really don't know why.

This is my first speeding ticket in 17 years and it ticked me off that I hadn't been paying more attention but I've been driving so fast for so long that I guess I was overdue. Now I need to avoid the second one or it can have an impact on my insurance rates.

Anyway, nothing else happened on the way home which is pretty much the way I like it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Stecoah North Carolina to Sudbury Ontario (Two Days)

The two day trip home was uneventful and we are becoming very familiar with the route.

We rolled out of KSL yesterday morning ten minutes behind our planned departure time of 6:30 AM. There was some fog and haze on the mountains as we headed up 74 past Bryson City and Waynesville to I-40 and over to Asheville. As the clouds dissipated, it got hot and sunny. We stopped again briefly in Abingdon and then rolled continuously up I-81, I-77, US19 and I-79. The traffic was relatively light and we had little difficulty with the two major construction zones south of Pittsburgh.

Exactly twelve hours after we left KSL we were in Erie, Pa after having covered 690 miles. We went to Cracker Barrel for supper and then turned in early. (Sorry I didn't call, Scruffy, but we were beat. Next time.)

There were storm systems moving south of Lake Erie this morning but we eluded them. The 400-mile run from Erie was uneventful. The border crossing, as usual, was perfunctory and again the traffic wasn't too heavy. I broke my own rule and took the 407 to avoid the QEW fiasco in Oakville. About 75 miles south of Sudbury the clouds changed to steady overcast and the temperature dropped but we only got a few drops as we approached the outskirts of town.

All in all, it was a memorable trip and we look forward to heading that way again.
Now it is time to mow the lawn, get new rubber, an oil change and whatever service the bike needs and get ready to leave the middle of next week on our big western trip. The bike has just under 20,000 km’s on it. Not bad considering we picked it up March 30th. It’s been running like a top and is everything we hoped it would be.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Stecoah North Carolina - Maggie Valley and the Cherohala Skyway

Jax from Tennessee has stepped forward to take the lead role in setting up the Southeast VROC (SEVROC) rally for next year. He thinks that, after four years at Lake Lure, it is time to change the venue. Saturday morning, a contingent of people set out to check out Maggie Valley as a likely site. We stopped in Bryson City for breakfast (a different restaurant this time) and then rode up the winding, scenic rode through Cherokee to Maggie Valley.

The site is ideal. There is a friendly, reasonably priced host motel with several others of varying luxury within a stone’s throw and adjacent campgrounds. Restaurants and other amenities are nearby. Everyone seemed favourably impressed. That done, we adjourned to a scenic lookout for some photos and then headed back through Cherokee where some of the group stopped to do some shopping. A few of us continued on back to KSL.

From KSL, five bikes set out to explore part of the Cherohala Skyway. We planned to run as far as the Tennessee State Line since there was an absolute need to be back for supper. This was ribs and fried chicken night. The road wound down to Robbinsville and then it was a tight, twisty road through the trees up to the start of the Skyway. When we got there we found an excellent road with sweeping curves of varying radii and no traffic going our way. Gunslinger set the pace as we cruised through the turns. All to soon, it was time to turn around and head back to KSL. I decided, considering the probability of early morning fog, not to head out this way in the morning towing the trailer. We would return the way we came instead.

I have one complaint about the ribs and chicken. There was way too much. And it was so good that I couldn’t pass up seconds and thirds. And then there was the pecan squares for dessert. Truth be told, the three suppers at the lodge were the best meals we had on the trip. Thanks to Fred and Mo for all the work.

We tore down the screen room and awning tonight in anticipation of an early getaway in the morning. My stay at the campfire was brief since I needed to be on my toes tomorrow. I did make the rounds at the fire saying my goodbyes. Happily, many of them consisted of saying we will meet in a few weeks in Wisconsin or Utah. I love the way things have become. Our gatherings are now like a little Brigadoon which appears briefly in one place and then, a while later, reappears elsewhere. More and more VROCers are going transcontinental and this is a good thing. Anyway, it was off to bed early and I was lulled to sleep by the sounds of friends laughing, talking and enjoying themselves.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Stecoah North Carolina - Around Kickstand Lodge

So much for all the stars. Rain started in the early morning and continued sporadically after we had gotten up. A group of us went up the road to Tootie’s Café for a breakfast that COULD be beat and then came back to the Lodge. Every time it looked like it was clearing, it started raining again.

Shortly after we got back from breakfast, Fred got some sad news. One of our members, an outspoken and colourful character named Greg Karle, was overdue. An Email arrived from Greg’s girlfriend telling us that, while he was on his way down to KSL, he had suffered a heart attack and passed away. Life is, as always, unpredictable. RIP, Greg.

With the rain coming down, we abandoned any plans to ride the challenging roads although others did set out for either The Dragon or the Cherohala Skyway. Wompus solved my electrical connection problem by finding an adaptor in his trailer and giving it to me. Thanks, Mike, we’ll make good use of it.

Eventually, during a lull in the rain, we set out for Bryson City to grab some lunch with Gunslinger and CC Rider. We stopped at the Smokey Mountain Restaurant. This proved to be yet another mistake in our culinary tour of the Smokey Mountains. It’s hard to describe the meal precisely, but suffice to say you won’t find the place in any Michelin Guide. After eating, we hit a Dollar General store to get a Frisbee for Erman’s dog Brina. Brina is a German shepherd that had ridded in from Virginia in a stake trailer pulled behind Erman's bike. A truly amazing dog, although she did demolish a Frisbee in short order. We made a stop at the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) store and then headed back to KSL.

After a lazy afternoon, the dinner bell rang and we were treated to more of the fine KSL repast. This was followed by more sitting around the campfire swapping tall tales. I had a chance to spend some time talking twins to Highside and his lovely wife, Julie. They are from Alabama and are expecting twins, conceived in vitro, in the fall. The only exciting moment was when SOMEONE put an empty bottle of Gentleman Jack, complete with cork, in the fire. I noticed when there was a pop and something whizzed by my ear striking Fred in the shoulder and then hitting Julie’s arm on the ricochet, leaving plastic residue in both cases.

Cargo, as usual, pulled in and set up late. We went to watch and, where possible, help. When we got back to the fire, people had started to turn in. The last few of us finally gave up after midnight and wandered away to our respective beds. BTW, the sky was clear again but I was not hopeful this time.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Fayetteville West Virginia to Stecoah North Carolina

Today dawned with a light and steady rain drizzling down, but it was fairly warm. The camper didn’t leak. This would be a good test to see how tear down of the new trailer would work in less than ideal conditions. And it worked great. All the bedding and gear was arranged inside and then we put on our rain suits, climbed out and folded it down. The big trailer cover was left inside for simplicity. No fuss, no muss. We hooked the trailer up and got back up on Highway 19 southbound.

After a quick breakfast in Beckley and a forecast of steady rain and high winds, we pushed on down I-77. We had a couple of respites from the rain, but only as we were going through the East River Mountain and Big Walker Mountain Tunnels. At Wytheville, Virginia, we swung southwest on I-81 towards Tennessee and the winds were now at our back. Seems like we had been here before. Oh yes, about a month ago.

We stopped for a snack in Abingdon Virginia as the rain stopped but, by the time we had finished, it caught us. We departed the Interstate southbound on back roads I know that wander the countryside and take us past Bristol Motor Speedway to Johnson City Tennessee. The weather improved and the roads dried as we connected with the new Interstate 26 towards North Carolina. This highway winds its way up over a mountain range that marks the border between the states and on the downgrade we stopped again at the new visitor center.

Shortly after we pulled out, what will hopefully be the incident of the summer occurred. I don’t know if I have described how the trailer works but it flips out lengthwise from the front to the back. The roof becomes the floor and all the poles are sewn into the top so it sets up by itself. This is all held in place by a clasp that I had put a clip in to hold it closed. Well, being spatially challenged, I guess the clip was a little to small and rotated itself around to where it could slip through a slot in the latch. I was rolling down the 6% grade thinking all was well in my little world when the clasp released and I had a quick vision in my rearview mirror of a large burgundy camper trailer all set up at about 65 MPH. Holy drag chute, Batman! Setup time on this unit is advertised as 30 seconds but I think it went up this time in about 0.2. I pulled over on the paved shoulder with visions of destruction dancing in my head. Sandy headed back up the road to get the rain fly, which was lying about 100 yards back while I put the bike in neutral and climbed of to check out the damage. Dumb move #2 because one should never leave a bike in neutral on a 6% downgrade. I wasn’t quick enough to stop the 900-pound Wing from rolling forward off its stand and falling over on its side.

OK, I’ve had better days. I went back up to get the pole that props the trailer open for access, which was lying, in the fast lane. Three lanes over. Luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Then I had a chance to use the new motorcycle pick up technique to get the bike vertical while Sandy put the side stand down and I clicked it solidly into first gear. Now for the trailer. Surprisingly, nothing appeared broken so we flipped it back closed and realized that the bulk of the shock and abrasion had been absorbed by our new $8.00 camp chairs that had been bungeed to the roof rack. The chairs were a mess and the bungee cords were shredded but, other than small bends in the rack rails, we seemed to be just fine. Thank the road gods for small miracles. I used to solid hook from one of the ruined cords to secure the latch better than before and we continued down the mountain to Asheville.

The rest of the trip to Kickstand Lodge in Stecoah was uneventful. As I approached the village I wondered how hard it would be to find. Not hard at all, since there was a large sign right after the road narrowed to two lanes.

We pulled in, recounted our tale and demonstrated how the trailer sets up. Actually, I set it up three times looking for a level spot. Fred and Mo have done wonders with KSL. Office, house, camping cabins, a bunkhouse, pristine shower facilities and a covered area with picnic tables greeted us. The property is green and grassy and trees shade much of it with a brook babbling down one side and a frog pond in the middle. There is even an artificial alligator patrolling the pond.

As people showed up we did the greeting thing and then we had an excellent dinner prepared by Mo under the awning. The evening was quiet and we adjourned at dusk to the fire pit where we kicked back until we each, in our own time, decided to go to bed. Just before I folded, I saw the clouds had cleared and the stars were twinkling, giving me visions of a good riding day tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Cambridge Ontario to Fayetteville West Virginia

Let me say right off the to that this was a perfect riding day. Sunny, warm, everything one could want. Instead of fighting the QEW from Hamilton, we took Highway 20 to Niagara Falls and made good time without the stress of dodging big trucks and psychotic drivers. Border crossing was easy and the trip through New York, Pennsylvania and West (BG) Virginia was uneventful.

I stopped at the WV Welcome Center for a campground guide to look up a place in the south end of the state to spend the night. It looks like the only campgrounds in that part of the state are in the New River Gorge area and cater to white water rafters. The Rivers Campground in Fayetteville looked promising so I phoned them. (For the first time ever, my cell phone worked in WV.) They were located at the south side of the New River Gorge Bridge and had room. Boy, did they have room. There were 600 people there for rafting on Memorial Day Weekend, but tonight there were three high school graduates from Chillicothe Ohio and a couple of rafting guides. We set up in a serviced RV site and then found that the electrical plug wouldn’t fit the special high amp RV socket in the pole. Oh well, we didn’t need juice tonight anyway.

At the recommendation of the bartender (who was closing the bar at 6:00 PM), we wandered over to Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit for supper. We split a Belly Buster order of ribs and didn’t have room for desert. By the time we were done, clouds had rolled in and a light rain was starting so we headed back to camp. Sandy crawled into bed and I donned my Frogg Togg jacket and wandered down to the campfire the kids and guides had going. Barry, a slightly older guide, recounted how he had quit a good paying job in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to become a rafting guide. He had also hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia and set fire to a Frogg Togg jacket while still wearing it. (I eased back from the fire.) We talked everything from business to NASCAR until it was time for me to turn in.