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Day 1 (April 21)
Hot! Gas prices in Florida were the highest we've encountered thus far. Stopped in Chipley,FL.
After we left Tallahassee, we encountered pockets of Jasmine fragrance (very pleasant) all the way to Mobile,AL. Stopped in Biloxi MS. What a disaster zone and it only got worse as we got into the Gulfport area. Spent the night in Biloxi so Debbie could play the slots.
We went out of our way just to view some of New Orleans. Whole neighborhoods were deserted and the high water mark was plainly visible on the houses from the Interstate. We took US 190 to I-49. Should anyone else take I-49, I urge you to start with a full tank of gas. Stopped in Alexandria,MS.
Shreveport,MS; more slots
We only rode in the rain briefly when we left Shreveport, LA. The temperature dropped drastically after we cleared the rain, it got down into the 50's. The traffic around Dallas was a little testy, much like Atlanta, but we survived it. Stopped in Vernon,TX, a small town between Wichita Falls,TX and Amarillo,TX. The motel was a Best Western with a restaurant and a bar (how relaxing that was; I didn't count how many). And the food was good too.
Day 6: April 26
Total miles covered so far - 1,696
Temperatures started out at 42 F this morning and warmed up to 72 F this afternoon.We've been doing OK with our riding. And I don't know why, but my butt settled in the first day with no discomfort since then. It used to take me three days to toughen up. We are staying at a Hampton Inn tonight in Tucumcari,NM for 2 nights. Why? We're going to catch up on laundry and this is a nice place (the hotel) and only $65.00 a night. Also, there is a good, make that a strong, chance of rain tomorrow, so tomorrow is now scheduled to be laundry day. There is a Denny's directly across the street so that takes care of meals. So, one more day of travel (300 miles more) and we start the tourist routine.
Day 7 : April 27
By the way, we started day 6 at an elevation of just over 500 feet and finished at over 4,000 feet. And talk about dry, just breathe through your mouth 2 breaths and you mouth has gone dry. You have to try really hard to even begin to work up a sweat and climbing up the stairs was taxing to say the least. I lied. We didnt stay a second night in Tucumcari like I said. Debbie watched the weather channel and it looked like the weather system we were concerned about was going to arrive a day later. So, we rode on. It sure did get windy though. We stopped at a Flying J in Albuquerque for lunch and from there the wind (mostly strong cross winds) was really wicked. My poor trailer was wagging like a dogs tail. The temperature stuck at 64 F till lunch time then went up to 78 F. The sky was blue and clear, perfect riding weather, except for the wind. The scenery, well think about all those western films with Indians war parties lined along the edge of buttes ready to attack, thats the vision that dominated my thoughts.We stopped at the town of Grant on I-40 because we were both tired out from fighting those cross winds and it also looked as though it might rain soon. Actually, it was raining but it a was a VIRGA rain. That means that the rain evaporated before it could reach the ground. The relative humidity was around 17% which explains the reason why. You could see the rain falling from the clouds and then just vanish.
Day 8 : April 28
We (Debbie) got our laundry and ironing done last night. At this altitude low landers like us were huffing and puffing at the slightest provocation. Were presently at an elevation of 6,456 ft. Our room was on the first floor and the laundry on the second floor. Need I say more? So we were ready to hit the road again. HOWEVER, the morning weather report said the temperature was 35 F, the humidity at 9%, and neither of us wanted to start off in that. The forecast was still calling for rain and some snow (eeek). The sun was shining brightly but more clouds were west of us and so we just took the day off. It did snow but not where we were. I decided to try cleaning the bikes. Well that didnt work too good. The water in those pressure, self wash facilities is not clean. On the way back to the motel I noticed Id lost a screw out of the mounting bracket for my left wind wing. DAMN. I cant ride with it like that. So I removed the wind wing and went into the heart of Grant looking for a screw. I found a suitable substitute at a chopper shop and things are now back together again. Tomorrow, we're going to Canyon de Chelly.
Day 9: April 29
We took our time getting ready to hit the
road as the morning temperature was 31 F. Burrr!
We arrived at Canyon De Chelly around 2 PM, checked in to the Holiday Inn located at the entrance to the canyon, then took Debbies trike along the south fork rim stopping at all the scenic overlooks. The scenery was so unique we decided to stay over and take the tour down into the canyon.
Tomorrow down in the canyon.
Day 10: April 30
Well, we did it, down into the canyon on a 3 hour tour. Our transportation was an old military surplus ¾ ton 4X4. From the canyon rim, the canyon floor looked smooth and flat. Much of it was soft sand which required a 4X4 to negotiate and it wasnt so smooth. An abundance of bumps made the ride a little uncomfortable for us and we had the best seats in the truck. The poor people at the back of the truck got bounced around like a rubber ball. At the outset the canyon walls were only a foot tall while 5 miles into the canyon the walls towered 700 to 1000 feet above. The canyon wall colors were various shades of reddish brown to beige. There also was an abundance of cottonwood and Russian olive trees along with some areas being cultivated. Our guide explained that the Indian people who lived there had been granted a parcel of land by the government which could never be sold and could only be owned by the original family (descendents). The cliff dwellings, which were many, were all in a state of decay and off limits. Every Indian homestead had a Hogan (Hogan ; Navajo house: a traditional Navajo dwelling made of logs and mud, with a roof of earth. The door to the dwelling always faced the morning sunrise.) Im glad we went there and would recommend such an adventure to anyone. Tomorrow, Monument Valley.
Day 11: May 1
Another bright sunny morning greeted
us today. Following breakfast and topping off the gas tanks we were off to Monument
Valley. The temperature was 64 F with light to no wind. We only had to go about 160 miles
so I was keeping the speed down so we could enjoy the scenery better. Arriving at
the visitors center around 1 PM with an appetite we ate first, then took the trike into
the valley on a 17 mile loop road. Well let me tell you, that road was no interstate. It
was so rough you could seldom get out of first gear and often came to a stop then creep
over a rock. After 2 miles I gave up and went back to the visitors center. Whats
more we and the bikes were covered with dust. We shouldve taken one of the tour
vehicles there. So, should anyone decide to go there, take the tour vehicle. The scenery
is spectacular. After that we stopped for the night at a nice motel called Desert Rose in
the town of Bluff. The owner was outside admiring our dirty bikes and offered to let us
use his water and hose to clean them up. Bless him! He was the kind of folks I grew up
with in the country.
Day 12: May 2
During the night some wind and a
light shower negated the cleaning job we did on the bikes yesterday.
Day 13: May 3
to Bryce Canyon.
Surprisingly gas prices have been lower in out of the way places. Some as low as $2.89/gal. I think the most weve paid so far has been $3.14/gal.
We saw several deer today. Fortunately all of them were content to just graze and not challenge the bikes. And for the first time in 3 days we got a weak cell phone signal that sometimes dropped your call. The canyon scenery was great and it seems that they have opened several additional overlooks since we were here last (10 years ago.)
Total miles so far: 2,662
Day 14: May 4
An easy day, only 86 miles from Bryce to Mt. Zion. Once again the Golden Age Passport gets us in the park for free. SUCH A DEAL!
The entrance to the canyon was 5,800 feet elevation. The floor was 3,666 feet below, and the highest peak at 8,726 feet. The road in was a series of switch-backs and hair pin turns. A group of Harleys, about a dozen, were coming up out of the canyon and passed us about mid-way through the mile long tunnel as we were going down. I think they all had straight pipes and the sound and vibration was nearly unbearable as they went by. Am I glad we ride a Gold Wing.
The park has changed since we were here 10 years ago. Now, you cant drive the entire park without a special permit for certain areas. To compensate that, they have shuttles that run every 7 minutes that will let you off at any of the parks special features. The canyon is still one of the most beautiful places Ive ever seen and its enormity and magnificence is only highlighted by its narrow width and towering walls. The canyon has an abundance of cottonwood, spruce, juniper and cedar trees. I guess I sound like a broken record raving about the beauty of the places we visit but every word is true and I apologize if it bores anyone. Hiking and rock climbing are major activities here and we did see a couple of climbers hanging by ropes on the vertical rock face of the canyon wall and some had hiked trails all the way to the top.
On the south end of the park is the town of Springdale. Plenty of motels and restaurants to choose from here. Getting a room was no problem because the season is just getting started, which translates into lower prices. We chose a Quality Inn which furnished a good continental breakfast.
Some rainy weather may catch up to us by tomorrow. If so, I foresee another laundry day. Washing vehicles is against the law here so the bikes will have to stay dirty.
Day 15: May 5
We decided to take the risk that the chance of rain was minimal and hit the road. We had to go through Mt. Zion park again for the shortest route to the Grand Canyon. About half way there the weather began to threaten us. I was hoping for more virga rain and for a while I thought wed luck out. WRONG! The good news was it didnt rain like at home. The bad news was we were meeting a weather front head on. The rain made the road look shiney, which was spooky, and the temperature dropped like a rock. Before we knew it, it was down to 48 F so we added a few layers of clothing. It took us about an hour before the sun shone again and the temperature shot up to 50 F.
Once again I had selected the scenic route, US 89A. We started out with a full gas tank and it was a good thing we did because there were very long stretches with nothing but Indian roadside stands selling their hand crafts. Finally, the town of Cameron had a trading post/restaurant/gift shop and gas station by a US Post Office. Thank heavens for that. I had 200+ miles on that last tank of gas with about 1 gallon left. Fill em up, all four tanks.
With gas tanks and stomachs full we turned north on AZ 64 and the wind suddenly picked up and I mean strong. The speed limit was 65 but I was nervously holding 50 to 55 and really getting jostled around. Not fun any time let alone when your tired. About 15 miles later it eased up.
Alas, after covering almost 300 miles for the day, we reached the Grand Canyon N.P. We were both tired and just wanted a room for the night. So we decided to try the lodges within the park. It must have been the school trip time of the year because there must have been a zillion kids swarming over all the lodges. That was enough to convince us to search out of the park, settling on a Best Western in the town of Grand Canyon.
Tomorrow the canyon.
There aint no hole in the ground like the Grand Canyon!
Day 16 May 6
Before I forget, our fill up yesterday was @ 3.19.9/gal.
The local temperature last night was supposed to get down to 30 F. I didnt go out to verify that. Besides, it had warmed up into the 50s by the time we got rolling.
This Best Western is very nice and pricey too. But then everything here is, including lodging within the park. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
The Park Ranger working the entrance at the south gate was from Lake Whales. Small world. There was a significant smoke cloud rising from the park. The Ranger explained that it was a controlled burn to make the forest less susceptible to lightening caused fires. I guess there are plenty of lightening strikes because I saw a lot of trees obviously struck by lightening. One big ponderosa pine tree was split in half from about 30 feet down to 10 feet above the ground.
As soon as we got into the park we parked the trike in the first convenient parking lot and caught one of the shuttle buses. What a blessing those shuttles are. There was no such thing when we were here last. If we had to find a parking spot for every point of interest we certainly would have gotten discouraged. They run every 15 minutes and cover all the trail heads and view points. No, we didnt take any hikes down into the canyon because Id never make it back out.
Every canyon seems to be a little different in some small or big (no pun intended) way and this one is no exception. There aint no hole in the ground like the Grand Canyon! You could see the Colorado River from several view points and where trails were visible you could see the hikers etc. from the rim. Debbie actually found the lodge on the north rim using her binoculars from one of the view points. It will be opening in a couple more days. We spent all day, 10 AM to 4:30 PM, missing only 2 or 3 view points. We were tired and ready to call it a day.
And to whom it may concern: I had spaghetti for dinner, without a bib, and spilled or spattered not a single drop of sauce.
Tomorrow: On the road again.
Day 17: May 7
The day went good through breakfast until I took the first load of our stuff out to the trailer. There was a tour bus parked astride several parking spaces with its front bumper facing the side of my trailer within 10 feet. I opened the trailer lid, walked to the side with my back to the bus and bent over to arrange the contents when the bus driver decided to test my nerves and give me a blast of his air horns. I almost whacked my head on the trailer lid and came very close to needing toilet paper. Piss me off? I guess it did! I turned around and saw the driver laughing hysterically at the results of his prank. I looked at him and said thanks a lot you smart ass! I went back inside to get the rest of our stuff. The bus was still there when I returned so with pen and paper in hand I recorded the pertinent information off the bus. Well this made the driver nervous so he came over and said I apologize. I told him that he only blew the horn because I was riding the motorcycle and he said you guys are all alike. Im now in the process of sending a letter to his company, AAA and Best Western regarding the incident.
Sticker shock! The gas stations dont post their prices and we pulled in to gas up near the motel. WOW! $3.49.9/gal. Debbie had plenty with her auxiliary tank so I just put in 2 gallons.
Ive been hearing a squeal from
the front wheel (probably the brakes) and decided I should get it checked. So, we detoured
to Flagstaff hoping to find a Honda dealer. WRONG. No dealer here, they closed. We still
needed to do laundry or Im going to have to start wearing last weeks underwear. We
checked in to a Hampton Inn and Debbie did laundry.
Day 18 May 8
Up & at um first thing Monday
morning (not necessarily the crack of dawn). Managed to get to the Hampton Inn continental
breakfast before it closed. So, off we go to Prescott. Since we were intruders ,so to
speak, (dealers non-scheduled work) I decided not to take the scenic (Alt 89) but used the
interstate instead because its faster. The GPS gave me a bad turn near the dealer onto a
dead end street. Had it been a through street everything would have been OK because I
could see the Honda shop when I made my U turn. Nobodys perfect. It was
a nice ride there, I-17 almost all the way. Two hours later they worked us in, checked
everything out and concluded it was desert dirt causing the noise.
We had our lunch while we waited so when they finished we were ready to go.
North on US 89 to I-40 and westward ho! I know Debbie can smell Las Vegas because she is so easy to get along with. It was getting close to 5 PM and our next opportunity for lodging was coming up in a small railroad freight stop of Seligman, AZ. Seligman is supposedly the origin of Route 66. Who am I to question that? This town is in the middle of nowhere but there are a couple of small motels and restaurants there so we took a chance. Turns out, the owner also owns the restaurant Road Kill Cafe adjoining the motel and offers a 10% discount if you show your door key. How convenient. But, remember the freight stop, I think theres going to be a lot of activity here tonight and its only 150 yards from our room. Weve had three freight trains stop or pass through in the last half hour. Lets eat here Deb!
The waitress took our order, then I said Debbie, lets have a beer, were done riding today. The waitress asked Draft or bottle? And I said how big are the glasses. I can give you a 24 oz. draft .. OKAY!
It took a little while to prepare our mealsh sho we worked on the beersh. I finished mine and could shee Debbie wasshneeding shome help sho we traded glasshes. Boy, am I relaxeshd.
The food didnt come any too soon, as you can tell. Im sure I can sleep it off before morning because Id better not be late tomorrow. Shes got Vegas in her sights.
Theres no internet service here so this will have to wait till tomorrow. Till then ..
Day 19 May 9
Total miles to date: 3474
Oh my aching back! I
didnt hear much from the railroad during the night but that bed and mattress were
something else. I mentioned that Seligman was at the origin of Route 66, well this motel
was probably built at that time and more than likely the mattress dates to that time too.
Enough about that.
As we neared Hoover Dam, all traffic
had to pass through a security check. The security officer in the line I was in asked to
see the content of my trailer, which I obliged. At his satisfaction we were moving again.
Another mile or so and the dam came into view.
Only 15 miles to the hotel and I could sense that Debbies excitement was building when we talked on the CB. Later I said the GPS says 4 more miles to the next turn. Debbie said no, I know where Im going; Ive been out here enough. I said OK, you come up here and lead, which she did. The GPS called every turn before she made it. We parked in front of Tower II which is where our room happened to be.
Debbie showed the clerk an invitation from Excalibur offering a free nights stay but told her we were a week early for that . The clerk said we should go to the VIP area for check-in. The VIP desk worked some hokus pokus and told us she qualified for a two nights stay for free. OK, sounds good to me. We got our stuff and up to the 18th floor we went. Nice room, two queen beds and a view of New York New York right across the street. We could see the Coca Cola and M & M store front from here too.
I hooked the laptop to the Ethernet but it wouldnt work. Called the front desk and they sent maintenance up to check it out. I need to regress a bit here.
When Debbie was on another trip, she lost her travel pillow and in Flagstaff there was a Wal-Mart across the street from the motel so off we went for a pillow and stuff. She picked out her pillow and I told her to get a pillow case that had bright enough colors so we couldnt go off and leave it somewhere. She picked a bright one ok. But I didnt appreciate the colors yet as it was still in the package. Well, at Excalibur, she tossed the travel pillow on the bed. This pillow case looked like a rainbow special, if you know what I mean.
Now comes a knock at the door, I opened it and was looking straight at the stomach of a giant of a man. It literally startled me. His head barely cleared the doorway. The pillow stood out like a sore thumb and this guy couldnt miss it. I dont know what he was thinking but I noticed he kind of kept his back turned to the pillow. Now that the internet is fixed, the hair dryer wont work, so I called for maintenance again and guess who shows up. Right, the giant. This is not my day! Turns out he was a really nice guy and had relatives in Pompano Beach.
Day 20 : May 10
This day started at a leisure pace, Im up around 7 and Debbie is up around 8. With grooming complete we headed for breakfast. Along the way Debbie said lets stop by the perks desk and see what other perks might be available. The clerk gave her a $50.00 certificate and Deb also got a perk coupon for breakfast entitling us to enter through the VIP line. That was good fortune because the other line was near 20 people long waiting to be seated and we were seated immediately.
With hunger satisfied we decided to go to the M & M store about two blocks away. Well Debbie is like a kid in a candy store, so to speak. The good news is the trailer doesnt have much room for extras. So back to Excalibur so she can play the slots and I took the shopping bag of M & M stuff to the trailer. As I approached the trailer there is this Hispanic guy bending over detaching the cargo net securing the cooler to the trailer tongue. I walked up to him tapping him briskly on his back saying Hey buddy, what the hell do you think youre doing? Oh I was just looking. And I said BULL SHIT youve got no business messing with this! Just as I said that, one of the hotel security guys came up on his bicycle and I knew right then that this dude was history. The security guy immediately called for backup and before you could blink there were 3 more uniformed security guys on the scene. I explained what had transpired and the security manager (who also rides, a big plus) arrived and told me that this intruder was a guest at the hotel and would be evicted immediately. They explained that I should move the bikes to an area where they have a camera specifically monitoring motorcycle parking.
I called Gambler Debbie on the cell phone and said get out here to the bikes, NOW and hung up. I knew that little bit of information would get her there as fast as her little legs could carry her. It worked.
Security asked if I wanted to press charges. I asked if that meant Id have to return to Vegas and was told yes. Well Debbie might want to come back but not me so I said not if I have to return, unless its tomorrow. They cuffed the guy and I dont know where they took him and we followed a security guy to the motorcycle area with the bikes and went in to the office to fill out a report.
What an exciting day this turned out to be! If I hadnt walked up when I did, who knows how far it might have gone. This guy might have taken the cooler, thought it was so easy that he should go back and get something to haul it with and tried to take the whole rig.
Now, back to those perks. Now Im wondering just how much money has she lost here to justify all these perks? Scary, huh? And its only 1:30 PM. Except for supper, I wont see her again until 1 AM, if Im awake.
Hopefully now, were over the undesirable excitement. Having just a wonderful time. Later!
More on May 10:
I did a mileage check this afternoon and it looks like well top a total of 9,000 miles to Nashville, assuming we dont have to bypass anything else. Then I cleaned yesterdays bugs off the windshields. It is so dry here that you have to hurry before the water dries.
Day 21: May 11
Great day! . Another perk! . We got another free breakfast. According to Debbie, All these perks have accumulated from her previous visits to Excalibur when she came here with her gambling girlfriends. The Excalibur is where they always stay. And now you know the rest of the story.
It was somewhere around 10:30 by the time we got our act together. Bottom line, the only thing we had to pay for was use of the Internet, ($10.99/day) times two days. We rode a couple of blocks from the hotel, filled up on gas @ $3.69.9/gal and got rolling on I-15 across the Mojave Desert. The temperature rose steadily until it peaked out at 97 F. That was getting a little uncomfortable. Thank heavens we didnt have Florida humidity too. We stopped for lunch in Barstow, CA at a McDonalds. This one was unique in that it shared the facility with two or three other vendors and the structure was a collection of 6 railroad cars (3 freight & 3 passenger cars) interconnected to form a dining collage.
Another gas fill up and we turned northwest on CA 58. This road took us by Edwards AFB which we could see in the distance. About 50 miles short of Bakersfield, as the highway rose up into the Tehachapi mountain range we encountered a large windmill farm (possibly 100 of them) with most of them in service. I couldnt help but wonder just how much energy was generated there.
We approached the outskirts of Bakersfield right at the start of rush hour. We were both tired out from the heat so I took the first motel we came to, a Hampton Inn. And wouldnt you know it, there was a Chinese restaurant adjacent to the motel. What luck! We freshened up, had diner, cleaned the bugs off the windshields, covered the bikes and crashed for the day.
Tomorrow the giant redwoods.
Day 22: May 12
Once again we made a leisure start. In a conversation with the ladies caring for the continental breakfast area we learned of lodging within Sequoia NP and so I called and booked a room at the lodge.
Most of the ride to the park was north on CA 99, basically a California freeway that came up the California farm valley. There were countless vineyards and citrus groves extending as far away from the highway as you could see. Some of the orange groves were in bloom lending that sweet fragrance were all familiar with to the ride.
Some fields were being cultivated by big diesel tractors pulling disc harrows and creating a lot of dust. The good news was the wind was blowing it away from us. Too, there were a few Texas sized stock yards loaded with cattle going to market. Again, the wind was in our favor but in spite of that, their aroma still made its presence known.
In the town of Visalia we gassed up and headed east on CA168 and about 20 miles later we reached the foothills and some really gorgeous scenery. The road was kind of a bikers dream, gently twisting through the hills above the shore line of a beautiful lake, first left, then right, then back again. I was thinking how much Chapter M would like this ride.
As we gained about 1,000 feet in altitude we came to a place called Three Rivers and stopped at a place called Gateway Inn for lunch. This place was really neat, built on the bank of a 20 foot wide river. There was a deck extending out to waters edge for outdoor seating and the water rushed through the rapids creating a low roar. Looking at the menu I found grilled emu burger so I just had to try that. It was very lean, more so than buffalo but good. Its time to go.
The road steepened and the curves tightened now as we neared the park. Stop at the gate, show my Golden Age Passport and I just saved another $20.00. I love it! I noticed a sign that said there were no gas services within the park. Good thing we gassed up when we did. Upward we go, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 and then 7,000 feet and there they are, the giants of the world. Absolutely beautiful, the oldest living thing in the world. These trees are the most beautiful reddish brown color to my eyes. We stopped at the The Sentinel tree then on to the Sherman tree grove where the General Sherman tree, some 3,000 years old, and many other younger giants reside. AWSOME!
It has been another long day so were off to the lodge, diner, a shower and to bed.
Tomorrow Kings Canyon.
Day 23: May 13
There is still an abundance of snow around here. The TV news said that the warm weather was causing the snow to melt too fast and could cause flooding. Since water flows down hill I thought wed better get going if we wanted to descend into Kings Canyon. We stopped at the Grants Grove to see the General Grant tree ( the largest of all) then on to the canyon.
Down and down we went, seems like 4,000 feet to the river at the canyon floor. And it was flowing strong, obviously well above normal, roaring through the rapids. I noticed that there were no kayaks in the river. The temperature at the bottom was 74 F, then at the top going out it was 64 F then back down into the farm valley it was in the low 90s. Talk about banging the stops. When we stopped for gas I had about 1 gallon left.
Time to regress a little.
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
LESSON: Never trust someone who is not in the business youre inquiring about to be able to give you the straight scoop.
When we got to Oakhurst there were no vacancies. So we took off for Mariposa, 26 miles to the northwest. Its now 5:30 PM and guess what, Mariposa is booked too. I asked the clerk at a Best Western to call ahead to a Best Western at Merced. So, off we go another 38 miles to the west. Finally, a place to sleep.
It has been another long day and its time to rest.
Day 24: May 14
While we had dinner last evening, looking out the window, we noticed a guy admiring Debbies trike. He came into the restaurant, saw us sitting there and asked if we were from Florida. Yes! So am I he said , from St. Pete. He wanted to know if we rode the trike all the way out here. So Debbie filled him on a few details.
Following dinner it was bug removal time before retiring for the day.
The morning continental breakfast was over by the time we got there. By the looks of things it was pretty skimpy so we didnt miss anything. So, north we went on CA 99. We stopped at the first McDonalds we came to, wolfed down some fast food and continued north to CA 120, east on CA 120, I-205, I-580 to I-880. South from there to CA 84 where we had a little mix up. There was a toll bridge on this highway and stopping at the toll gate I told the attendant Im paying for both bikes. She said $5.00 please, I paid her, she asked if I wanted a receipt which I declined. So we took off. Then Debbie frantically called me on the CB asking if paid for her and I said yes, why? Deb said well the attendant tried to flag her down like she wasnt paid for. Well I guess $5.00 wasnt enough for both of us. In Redwood City, after thinking about it, I decided to call and brief the authorities to find out what to do. A supervisor told me not to worry, if we get a notice in the mail to write in the appropriate place that we paid the fee and if there was still a problem to call him personally, that a record of our conversation was now in their data base. He supplied his name and badge number should I need it.
Gene Henry: There was a huge RC flying field beside the highway as we neared Redwood City with lots of room for takeoffs and approaches. Just my style. The highway was significantly higher than the field such that we were looking down on the flight action.
The rest of the day ,after 1 PM, was laundry time. Tomorrow well go the 30 miles to downtown San Francisco and play tourist for a couple of days.
Day 25: May 15 Total mileage to date 4,492
As usual the Hampton Inn had a good continental breakfast.
Going north on El Camino Real I kept looking for a bank ATM so I could get some cash but all of the banks were on the other side of the street. I couldnt help but wonder if there were some sort of ordinance that no banks locate on the east side of the street.
It was time to ride on the Pacific Coast Highway ( CA 1) so we cut west across CA 92 and headed north on CA 1. CA 92 was a really nice ride, twisting and turning, up and down, through the hills. Alas, CA1. Seven miles into the coastal ride was a sign that the road was closed at Devils Slide so we did a 180 and went back from whence we came. Best laid plans, etc, etc.
Last night when I set the ride plan in the GPS I selected the shortest route calculation. I shouldve picked the fastest route. I dont know how much longer the shortest route took but it had to be significant. Not only that, the city speed limit was 25 mph and even that was too fast because this route was 10 years over due for repaving. This is not wining, its just a statement of fact.
Finally, the Holiday Inn. Its now 1:30 PM and were both hungry. And guess what, Fishermans Wharf is only 3 blocks away and Im thinking Dungeness crab for lunch. It was big and delicious. I think the waitress was impressed that we knew how to get the most out of those crabs. We didnt tell her we learned that in Alaska. And what better to go with crab than a cold beer. Were done with riding today so why not!
We meandered around the pier a bit then took the cable car to China town, wandered around looking in the different shops ( my least favorite pastime.) The fog is rolling in and its getting colder. Time to give up for today. Tomorrow well take a city tour and leave the driving to someone else.
Day 27: May 18
It seems that every day (almost everyday) has some unique feature(s) that are noteworthy and today was no exception.
Hurray for Golden Age Passport once again.
Yosemite was spectacular. Starting with the ride in, CA 120 was my ideal of a dream road. It was smooth, it was wide, it was twisty and little traffic to deal with. You could run at the speed limit and roll into the curves, back and forth, for miles while you climbed 6,000 + feet into the Sierras. There were still patches of snow lingering amongst the trees at that height and above.. I dont know how many other roads like this one there are but I never once felt like I might be reaching the limits of my riding skills and thats what really made it special to me. Roads we missed were CA 41, CA 140 and CA 120 east of the valley. CA 140 was closed due to a land or rock slide and CA 120 was closed near or at Tioga Pass because of snow.
After topping 6,000 + feet , we descended into Yosemite valley. Half Dome was the first mountain to capture my attention even though it was 3 or 4 miles away. El Capitan was obscure by its own mass and orientation from our view point. Down and down we went to the valley below. The gray granite shear cliffs stagger my imagination as to how they came to be. We caught glimpses of Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls as we navigated the valley floor. We stopped for pictures at Bridalveil Falls but could not get as close as wed like because we (and the camera) were really getting soaked from all the spray given off by the cascading water. The only negative was that the trees had grown so much since I was here 22 years ago that it was hard to get a good view without bending my neck so far back that it was making me dizzy. As for the river, well, it had overflowed its banks and was threatening some of the campgrounds and even entered some parking area as a result of rapid snow melt.
I must say that this is still my favorite park.
We had lunch and then began our return to reality but on the way I enjoyed CA 120 again. Two hours later we were back at the motel and having dinner. When we walked to the restaurant we saw four 1800s (2 up) in the parking lot preparing to go in for dinner. When we finished eating we chit chatted with the folks with the bikes. They were close friends as a result of CMA membership.
Day 28: May 20
Two days ago, Debbie called Yellowstone and reserved 4 nights in the park. Only trouble is, there is a gap between the 2nd and 4th night. They said to check frequently to see if something opens up to fill the gap. OK, well do that. That being said, we thought an extra day in Tahoe would be nice so I called the desk at the Best Western where were staying and extended another day.
Feeling good about planning an extra day in Tahoe we listened to the weather channel and learned a storm was developing and heading our way with snow forecast for the mountain areas which means we might not be able to get out in time for our Yellowstone reservation. On the way in to Tahoe there were signs along the highway about the possible need for chains. CHAINS ! That word is almost as exciting as AVALANCHE ! And now the prediction for SNOW, its just too much for an old winger like me.
Looks like we need another planning session.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.
OK, we skip the extra day in Tahoe and get over the mountains where itll be warmer. We can deal with the rain much better than snow. Whew! Vacations can sometimes be hard.
We breezed right past Reno. Sigh. THAT WAS EASY! We stopped in a town named Lovelock, NV for gas and a break at McDonalds. While we were resting another beautiful 06 1800 parked beside us. The rider and grandson (I think) were examining our bikes and then came inside. We started talking right away about this and that. The man identified himself as Curtis Siekert. Turns out hes a retired former career Marine who spent significant time in Viet Nam. He explained that hed just recently purchased the bike (he had at least one other bike already) and dedicated it to his son who had lost his life in Iraq to friendly fire. I noticed the familiar flag with one star indicating a lost loved one to war on the left faring pocket of his bike. He also had a notation on the windshield in memory of his son. Curtis was an extremely friendly and very humble man and I could somehow feel some of his pain as we talked. He asked if he could have it inscribed and I told him certainly and that there would be vendors at Wing Ding that do that very thing. I promised to investigate this when we got to Wing Ding and get in touch with him. We exchanged email and residence addresses before we continued on our way.
73 miles later we stopped for the day at a Holiday Inn Express in Winnemucca, NV. There is a casino in the motel and tomorrow will be a stay-over laundry day. Funny how things work out
.Day 28: May 19 total miles 4936
When youre using a GPS in strange territory, pay attention to the names of places you will pass through. Why? Well we took off this morning, with a plan, and traveled about half way to Lake Tahoe, ignoring three posted warning signs about highway 4 being closed. Finally Debbie said maybe we better check this closed business out before we get any further. I agreed and within another mile or so we came upon a Ranger Station, stopped and inquired about the signs. Do these signs mean that we cant get to Tahoe this way? Three Rangers looked up and with a smile said yes it does. I guess I really looked stupid. So I asked what route I should take? CA 88 was their answer. I checked the GPS and it said we only had 77 miles to go from here. Then I reprogrammed the GPS and the new distance to our destination was 170 miles. DRAT !
So off we go on our merry way and all was well until we got close to Tahoe. As we climbed up into the Sierras, cloud cover moved in (we had expected the possibility of rain.) And the further up we went the colder it got. Now thats not unusual but it turned out to be more extreme than expected. At about 6,000 feet patches of snow were among the trees. At 7,000 feet there was lots of snow and it started to rain. And what do I find myself following but a cattle truck. I'll skip the expletive. Jerry Costel, do you remember last September? At 8,000 feet there were signs Warning possible avalanche Now Im already stressed and those signs didnt make me any more comfortable but the road was dry. And at 8,500 feet the temperature had dropped to 43 F. BRRRR! At least the rain had stopped and at last we started down into the Tahoe basin We quickly gained 12 degrees F in our decent and that made life a whole lot more tolerable except for the fact that my bladder was begging for relief and we still had another 34 miles to go. In case youre wondering, I made it.
Since Lake Tahoe is a high interest location I made motel reservations in advance. We checked in, got organized, then went to dinner. We chose a Hard Rock Café for a change. The food was good but pricey. And now that dinner is over where do you think Gambler Debbie is while Im recording the days events?
One other side light, at 70 miles out, my gas gauge registered on the lowest white mark and at near 30 miles the fuel light came on. The good news, it was mostly down hill now. It ll be interesting to see how much fuel it takes to fill it up tomorrow.
Day 31: May 21
About an hour before Minnemucca, I noticed a plume of steam off to the right coming from some sort of industrial equipment. When we got closer I saw several small plumes of steam venting from the ground and realized that this was a facility for harnessing thermal energy for what ever its purpose.
As we neared Minnemucca, a Railroad paralleled the Interstate and we were running even with a freight train. Since a little boredom had set in I decided to give a blast of my air horn when I got beside the lead engine. I didnt expect to get a response from the engineer because I didnt think hed hear it. Well much to my surprise he did hear it and gave me a blast of his air horns. Not much comparison here. Anyway, that broke up the monotony so I gave him a big thumbs up. Maybe the engineers get bored too.
Today was laundry day again. Seems like it was just yesterday we did that. The Holiday Inn Express we stayed in didnt have a guest laundry but it did have a CASINO. Now I wonder why Debbie said we could stay here as we came into town.
The desk clerk gave us instructions to get to the nearest Laundromat so off we went. As we pulled up, we saw that there was a pressure car wash adjacent to the Laundromat. What luck, I can wash the bikes while she does the laundry. By the time I finished the bikes, Debbie was finished too.
There was a possibility of rain today and I thought washing the bikes would guarantee some rain. Guess what, I was right. Today was also supposed to be a windy one, and it was. Put wind and desert together and you get a lot of dust. So now the bikes are all dusty and soon it rained, not like at home but just a few drops by our standard and what do you know, weve got dirty bikes again, less the dead bugs of course. Maybe I should become a weather control expert.
Kind of a dull day, huh?
Day 32: May 22 Miles to date: 5355
Correction: Minnemucca should be Winnemucca
Our start this morning made one skeptical when viewing the sky. It was cloudy and predictions were for rain and warnings for flooding conditions abound. Regardless, we were ready to roll. It was cool (leather weather) but I forgot to check the temperature. Maybe I just didnt want to discuss it; just let the sleeping dog lie.
As we traveled east on I-80, the sky was overcast with pockets of dark clouds all around us. The good news was Mother Nature must have smiled on us because, except for one sprinkle, we wove our way between the clouds that were leaving their mark. What a blessing! As we started out, we had about 600 miles between us and Yellowstone NP. Our route today followed I-80 to Wells, NV where we will go north on US 93. Looking north from Wells, no services or towns of significance exist till we get to a border town named Jackpot at the Idaho / Nevada line some 70 miles from Wells. The distance in itself is no big deal but looking at the sky and listening to the weather band station talking rain and flooding, convinced me it was time to stop. AND THE RAIN CAME ! AND THE TEMPERATURE DROPPED ! Good timing Dennis! This rain was heading straight up the corridor with US 93. There was talk too about snow around 7,000 or 8,000 feet and the map shows a pass at near 7,000 feet.
I suspect that well have no cell phone or Internet service for a few days so dont be alarmed if we dont get through for a while but Ill get something out when possible.
Wow, great news ! When Debbie called for lodging in Yellowstone we asked for May 25,26,27,28 & 29. There was nothing available for the 27th. So, we booked the other 4 nights and hoped for a break before arriving. Well, I just called and the lady I talked to found a room for the 27th so were covered now. Well have to change location within the Park 3 times but were essentially doing that now. While talking to her, I happened to mention our motorcycle trip and learned she raced motorcycles when she was younger. Small world ! You never know when a common thread will pop up.
435 miles to Yellowstone.
Day 33: May 23
Barb Henry: Saw my first butterfly today. It WAS yellow.
I stuck my nose out the door and decided not to go outside yet. The sky was clear but I noticed there was more snow on the mountain just south of our motel. Im still looking for a dealer to do our oil changes. So far Ive struck out twice.
I called a dealer in Heyburn, Idaho (Cycle
City) and got a Yes, well take care of you. Heyburn was a little over a hundred
miles from us. We had a quick breakfast, gassed up, and hit the road. The little town of
Wells was about 5,000 feet elevation and within a few miles we were up to 6,000 feet. No
WARNING: That tire and the two before it were done at Barneys. Whats more, one of the screws securing the rotor cover was so tight it could not be loosened. Could the lowest price be the best deal? FOOD FOR THOUGHT !
So, by the time we finished up there, six hours had passed. Through most of it, the owner Nolan Bailey, a very nice guy and Gold Winger himself, kept in touch with the progress. We had some lengthy conversations. He said that he always helps a traveler and hopes if he ever has a problem that a dealership would extend to him the same courtesy. He told me he has put as much as 13,000 miles on a bike in a month.
I could see that the workday was drawing to a close and commented about that. Nolan said not to worry that theyd finish it up. And they did. I think we left the dealership around 6:45 PM. I call that great service. Thanks Nolan.
Tomorrow, continue to Yellowstone.
Day 34: May 24
We spent the night at Burley, I-84, exit 208. When I climbed on the bike this morning it felt very heavy as I turned the handlebars. So I decided to check the tire pressure front and rear. The front tire was 18 psi and the rear 22 psi. Wow! I dont understand whats going on here. Supposedly, the mechanic set them both at the oil change. I pumped them up to normal and we headed up the highway being ever conscious of how sluggish the bike might steer. By the time we got to Idaho Falls I decided to check pressure again. The front was down a couple of pounds. We checked the tire tread all the way around using a squirt bottle of water to look for bubbles. Non were found so off we went.
Weve got one more day until our Yellowstone reservation starts. So, why not detour to Jackson Hole for a night. There are some of the nicest gift shops there and that will be a good cure for those withdrawal symptoms from leaving the slots and Yellowstone fever from not yet getting to her favorite park yet. Im sure the shopping queen will like that. In fact, even I enjoyed those shops the last time we were here. So I think Ill tag along. I really have such a big heart!
We exited I-15 onto US 26 and soon we were snaking along with the Snake River. Back in Twin Falls when we first crossed the Snake River a bridge took us over a deep gorge with the river below. The gorge was lined with a dark brown rock vertical rock walls. Further down (or up) the road there were large volcanic lava beds all around. Soon we reconnected with the Snake River. Snaking through the valleys on US 89 with the Snake River was a smooth beautiful ride to Jackson Hole clinging to the mountain sides.
We got a room at the Four Winds Motel just a block from the old shopping area. That way I wont have to walk so far back when I tire out. As soon as we were settled, we took off for the shops. No excitement here.
After dinner, I checked the tire pressure again. Both my front and rear tire are down. Ive got to find another Honda dealer and it looks as if Cody, WY is my best bet. Ill call in the morning for help.
Day 35: May 25
This morning was chilly but tolerable. As soon as I my daily prep. I ventured out to check the tires. Much to my disappointment the pressure was down again, just as low as last evening before I pumped them up. Now Im stressed, but good, about this situation. So, I went to the Gold Book again, picked the four closest Dealer/shops and programmed their addresses into the GPS. They were in Dubois, WY, 79 miles; Cody, WY, 179 miles; Idaho Falls, ID (2), both about 87 miles. It was too early to call them, assuming they open at 9 AM so we got loaded up, headed to McDonalds and had breakfast. At 9 AM I called Dubois who only work on ATVs. Cant figure why theyre in the Gold Book. Then I tried Action Power Sports in Idaho Falls. BINGO, theyll help me. I told them itd take me about 2 hours to get there and they said no problem. Now, Im certain we wont be able to make our first nights reservation in Yellowstone so I called Yellowstone Travel and explained my situation. These reservations were paid in advance. The attendant I reached asked some questions about the reservation and I told her all I could give her (from memory) was the confirmation number because my confirmation was done by email and that was in the laptop and I was riding the motorcycle. Well that comment stopped her cold. She said youre what? I said Im riding a motorcycle. After she digested that she said OK, Ill take care of it. WHEW! XOXOXO
GPS took us a shorter route than the one we
came in on. WY 22 to WY 31 to US 26. If youre ever out this way, dont miss
that ride. Roughly 2 hours later we reached the Dealer. They took me in immediately and
started checking things out.
Just plain water sprayed on a small leak will not bubble. They used soapy water and isolated the front leak right away. Make that both leaks. They were side by side, about an inch and a quarter apart on either side of the tread center. Thats odd the tech said, Ive never seen that before. They were tinny holes almost invisible to the eye. Then he checked the rear tire. I couldnt believe it, the same two tinny hole pattern. This is too much of a coincidence. But what couldve done that? A staple? There are no metal fragments remaining. So what then? Ive heard of a nasty trick played on some unsuspecting driver. Penetrate the tire with a small syringe and that will leave a small slow leak that is hard to find. Could be thats what happened. Ill never know. Anyway, $523.00 and 1 ½ hours later we were moving again with 2 new tires. At least I got 6,000 miles out of them. Turns out we couldve made that first night after all but its too late now. The stress has subsided now, we got the problem fixed.
Our new target for today is West Yellowstone, MT. We picked up US 20 which took us all the way there. Curtis & Kim Palmore: we got a room in the same motel the four of us stayed in in 97. Only this time I got a downstairs room. I didnt want to be hauling our stuff upstairs if I didnt have to. Oh yeah, Bear Tooth Pass just opened this week but snow plows are on duty. So, tomorrow we start Yellowstone.
The weather forecast is calling for possible rain and thunderstorms in the area tonight. Temperatures will dip into the 20s and 30s at night with highs in the 50s and 60s daytime. Whats even worse, there calling for snow above 6,000 feet and were well above that. Not a pretty picture. Wish us luck.
We may not get cell phone or Internet service after tonight until we head for our next tourist attraction. So if you dont hear from us for a couple of days youll know why.
Day 36: May 26
It was pretty chilly this morning with a noticeable breeze. West Yellowstone is in Montana less than a half mile from the park gate. Once again we sail right through with the Golden Age Passport.
What a beautiful place. The air smells so
fresh and the sky so clear if you dont look to the west. Over there are the
threatening clouds. Last night they forecast rain then snow above 6,000 feet, Now
theyve lowered that to 5,500 feet. Theyre closing in on us.
Our first stop was Old Faithful and right on time the geyser performed its spectacular show. Of course we sat on the benches up wind from the geyser. Our second stop was to check in at the Lake Hotel. A wise move because they are overbooked. Where have I heard that before. The best we could do was 2nd floor of the annex. In itself, thats not bad but theres no elevator and our bags are mighty heavy. So when I finished huffing and puffing we took off along the Yellowstone River to Hayden Valley looking for wildlife. There wasnt much to see today, a few geese, half a dozen buffalo, an elk and a couple of caribou. So much for that.
Dinner time was at hand and while there is nothing unique about that, it is worth mentioning my meal, roast prime rib of Bison. It wasnt as tender as beef prime rib but the flavor was terrific and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance to try it out.
Tomorrow we have to move to another location for one night then back to the Lake Hotel for two more nights.
Because we had to detour back to Idaho Falls for the tire problem, we missed being up close to the Grand Tetons and Lake Jackson on the way here. So, weather permitting, we may go there tomorrow. I say weather permitting because the cloud cover has set in and nobody is backing off on the prediction for snow.
Day 37: May 27
This morning greeted us with an overcast sky. But we didnt let that deter us from getting out and going somewhere. Last night we discussed the possibility of not seeing the Tetons because of not having come through the Grand Tetons due to the tire trouble detour and decided , rain or shine, we should ride down there today. Once we finished breakfast and put on our rain suits we were ready to roll. Im not sure what the temperature was then but it didnt matter. We gassed up and I put a couple pounds of air in the tires and away we went. The speed limit in the park is 45 mph which was fine with me so we could enjoy the scenery more.
There was a lot of fire damage along the route from the 88 fire but nature was definitely in the recovery mode. Areas blackened and/or totally wiped out were unbelievably green with new growth. The new trees, mostly chest high to 6 feet, were so thick you could only see a few feet through them. It gave one a lifted up feeling to see that all was not lost and the beauty of the park was springing to life. There was also a lot of un-melted snow and even a lake still 70% covered in ice.
Continuing south it wasnt long before the Grand Tetons came into view. AWSOME! And then, at the base of the mountains was Jackson Lake. Ron and Jim, Youll be happy to know that your namesake is still as beautiful as ever. We decided to take a lunch break at a lakeside restaurant. Our table was in full view of the mountains. I couldnt ask for better than that.
We knew that bad weather was heading our way but decided to go a little bit further south before heading back to The Yellowstone Hotel. It was only minutes before rain or snow was getting through the mountain pass to our west so I said we should probably turn back now. Within 20 minutes the rain started and the temperature dropped from the mid 50s to the mid 40s. As our altitude increased the temperature dropped, ultimately to 37 F. BBUUURRRR! And the rain seemed to come down harder. Nothing like a Florida storm but annoying. It seemed to take for ever to get back to the hotel and my hands were freezing. Debbie was smart, she put on her electric gloves and vest while I kept those thin deerskin gloves. Kind of makes you wonder about me, doesnt it?
Finally, the hotel is in sight. I couldnt wait to get inside to get my hands and feet warm. The luggage can wait I said. We quickly got a cup of hot coffee and sat down at a table in a mini lobby while recovering from the cold. And guess what? Within 20 minutes it had started to snow, big flakes and lots of it. You could see the wall of snow coming across Lake Yellowstone. While riding back I had been listening to the weather band radio, knew it was coming, so I was relieved to beat the snow to the hotel.
Kim & Curtis Palmore: Theyre closing Bear Tooth Pass as we returned to the hotel. Seems like same time, same station.
We went outside and Debbie took some pictures of the bikes with snow on them. Snow showers are supposed to continue throughout the night. Just cause for more pictures, huh!
What will tomorrow bring?????
Day 38: May 28
Guess what. We forgot to check the alarm clock and it went off at 5:30 AM. We managed to get back to sleep until 8:30.What will today bring?
SNOW ! COLD ! WIND ! PATCHY SUNSHINE!
Well, the bikes were covered with snow and so was the ground. I had to thaw the lock on the trailer with my thumb so I could get something, Debbies make-up kit. Later, with make-up in place, Debbie took a couple more pictures. The good news, by 11:00AM it had all melted but it stayed cold with snow showers off and on all day. SNOW SHOWERS: more than flurries but not enough to lock you down. On top of that, something Debbie ate didnt agree with her so we stayed at the hotel in a huge sun room with picture windows all around looking directly Lake Yellowstone. Great view when you could see it. As the snow would move across the lake (right to left from our view) the mountains on the other side of the lake would appear, then disappear. In fact, at times you couldnt see 100 yards off shore. All this was no big deal to me but Debbie was just fascinated with the snow. How does that go: like a kid in a candy store ?
It is down right chilly here in the hotel. I checked around and verified all thermostats slaved to 68 F. The only long sleeves Ive got are a sweat shirt and two sun screen shirts. Debbie just purchased 2 long sleeve shirts. And guess what they have for air conditioning, (not that we need it) oscillating fans, one in each room. And this is an expensive hotel, (DONT ASK.) . I know, its seasonal.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION !
Weve got another day here. Maybe well take one of the tours and leave the driving to someone else.
Checking the weather forecast doesnt leave much promise until after were gone from here. I havent checked out the conditions at Glacier NP yet but it may be much the same. This weather system is rather large and slow moving. The temperature is supposed to be in the 20s Tuesday morning. That makes it a sure thing that well get a late start, hoping for sunshine. One way or another, we gota go cause our reservation runs out.
Day 39: May 29
It was early to rise this morning, 7 AM. This early stuff is hard for Debbie but she managed without a complaint. Maybe its because were taking the tour around the lower half of the park and shell get to see animals, wild animals. I can be a pretty wild animal on occasion . I know, its not the same thing.
The bus driver, a really pretty girl, was very knowledgeable about the park, its geology and its inhabitants. We stopped at a geothermal area in the west thumb zone and she showed us a thermal pot at waters edge where fishermen used to catch lake fish (trout) and dip them into the thermal pot, still on the hook, and cook them. Talk about fast food!
Then on to some hot springs, mud pots, steam vents and a geyser. It was interesting that the hot springs were of different colors. The color was caused by the chemical composition of the water which would reflect and absorb different wavelengths of light. Some were brilliant blue, some dark blue and some turquoise. Just beautiful. In addition, each spring had its own temperature which determined which bacteria thrived around their perimeter, lending yet another color (some orange, some brown etc.) to the springs appearance.
Next was Old Faithful and lunch. We ate in the cafeteria at Old Faithful Lodge where the food was really good, then went outside to watch the geyser erupt. That was all well and good but, (there is so often a but), the sky was solid light gray clouds. That took away from the eruption because at our view point it was like white on white. Glad we stopped there on the way into the park.
The entire day was a cold and windy one and I didnt have any ear muffs. I knew I forgot to bring something. I think it stayed in the high 30s and low 40s all day. And that too was a challenge to my bladder, I didnt miss a single stop.
We crossed the continental divide in route but you couldnt see anything, just like crossing the Mason Dixon Line, you dont see anything. North / south, east / west, they ought to draw a line somewhere that you can see.
The animal population was mostly quite a distance from the road today even at Hayden Valley so about all we saw closely were a few buffalo, a couple elk, a caribou and a coyote and would you believe it, a half dozen white pelicans.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is a marvel to see. The falls was near maximum flow as were the rivers throughout the park. In some areas the water level had overflowed the river bank. The canyon walls are so unusual because of their color, shades of yellows orange and brown.
Further up stream is the fishing bridge where fishing is now prohibited. It is said that fishermen used to stand 3 deep, from end to end, trying to catch fish. Here you can see real well just how high the water level is and this is where we saw the pelicans.
Next stop was the hotel. Good, we are both tired and ready for dinner. It was a long day, 9 hours in all. The good news is we didnt do the driving and so had the opportunity to fully enjoy the wonderful scenery.
While we were eating (a light super) it started to snow again. It has snowed every day since we arrived. I think this time it snowed more than before. Debbie grabbed her camera and went out into the elements to take pictures of the bikes with all that snow on them. I just didnt think Id see a day such as this. Yesterday evening, I went to the desk and booked an extra night in case we got locked in by the snow. I can cancel in the morning if the roads are clear.
Day 40: May 30
Yes, it snowed much more last night than before. The temperature was supposed to go down to 21 F during the night. I dont know if it did or not because you werent going to get me out there to find out. I was concerned about the battery in my bike because it is original and cold weather is bad on batteries. Count them up, 4 years and 4 months old. By 9 AM the sun was shining and the snow was melting and evaporating rapidly. We had until 11 AM to check out and I planned to use every minute of it
Outside, I scrapped the snow off the bikes and trailer in all the strategic places and loaded the trailer. Then I nervously tried to start my bike. The engine turned over a couple of times and then stopped. Oh Oh ! I tried it again. Same results. The third try was the charm, it roared to life. Well, maybe not roared, strained would be a better word. Im thinking the battery voltage must have been close to 11.5 volts which caused the master relay to drop out. OK, got one running, now for number 2. Debbies bike did ROAR to life. Whew, I can stop worrying about that now.
Now the last obstacle is getting past inclement weather and out of the park. We can see there are threatening clouds ahead but theres no choice about which way to go. It has to be the lowest elevation. As we rode along passing through Hayden Valley we began to see more buffalo and soon encountered a large herd right beside the road. How about that. For 3 days weve been searching and when were leaving, hurriedly trying to escape the snow, there they are and theyre about to start crossing the road in front of us. When a herd crosses a road its a lengthy process and could take 15 or 20 minutes because theyre in no hurry and traffic remains at a stand still. Well, Debbie just had to stop and get a couple of pictures. The clouds ahead are not more than a mile away and I can see that snow is coming down. I didnt say anything but my brain was screaming lets go, lets go because I was having flashbacks to 97 when we crossed Bear Tooth Pass in a snow storm. Debbie got her pictures, put the camera away, put on her gloves then cranked up her bike. Gee whiz, ( I had something else in mind) the first two buffalo were climbing the incline to the road. I looked, no traffic, and hit it. I guess that surprised the animals and they stopped cold. SIGH !
The snow, its coming down strong. The road surface was cold enough that the big flakes stuck and I mentally stiffened. Were at about 7,700 feet and climbing and the temperature has dropped to 36 F. Another half mile and we broke out of it and I took a deep breath. If we can avoid that stuff a little longer maybe well top the pass and start down hill. The elevation rose to 8,270 feet then finally the numbers started lower. I think were out of it, over it , were going to make it. West Yellowstone here we come. Oddly enough we ran into sleet as we entered town but I can deal with that. Its just a couple of blocks to the motel.
Once checked in and in our room, we couldnt wait to turn on the TV. There was no TV at the hotel. You never realize how much a part of your life something is until its gone. If I hadnt had the laptop and Debbie her IPAQ and electronic solitaire game we wouldve had to read something or heaven forbid carry on a conversation with each other.
The rest of the day will be laundry day, TV too.
Day 41: May 31
Would you believe it? The skies were clear this morning. NO SNOW! Of course, weve left Yellowstone. And the temperatures will return to normal too.
US 191 to I-90 to US 287 to I-15. Stop at Great Falls, Montana. What a ride today was. I sound like a broken record talking about the roads and scenery but US 191 and I-15 were terrific. US 191 paralleled the Gallatin River winding gently through the mountains. I seems that there are no rivers up here that arent swollen to the limits of their banks. Later on I-15 we wound through more (not so high) mountains with different colored rock (red, gray, olive green) sprinkled with spruce, lodge pole pine, ponderosa pine and aspen trees, passing back and forth over the Missouri River. I didnt know an interstate highway could be so special. There were many reasonably tight curves but none that you couldnt take safely at the state speed limit (75 mph.)
Along the way, we encountered two semis hauling huge propeller blades for a windmill generator. They had interference vehicles that would block the fast lane when they approached any curve where the truck needed extra room. Why? Because their load was too long for them to be confined to a single lane.
Our day ended at a Holiday Inn Express. And how convenient it was, there was a Golden Corral right across the street. Naturally we had dinner there, and of course, I got my share from the ice cream machine.
Day 42: June 1
Today started out like any other. I got confused and didnt believe the GPS and made a wrong turn. Once we got me straightened out things went smoothly. Back on I-15 and before you knew it we were away from town. Two nights ago I called the ranger station in Glacier NP for a road condition report. It wasnt good. The Run To The Sun road wasnt open through the park so I decided to by-pass Glacier for now and head for Banff. Seems simple enough doesnt it. Well it was, at first. I had programmed the GPS to go to Calgary in Alberta and I shouldve set it up for Banff. We got to Calgary OK but on the east side of town and it was rush hour and 81 F when we got there. I actually started to sweat for the first time in weeks. I decided to go through town to the west side before stopping for the night. Guess what. There arent many motels on the west side of town and in the heavy traffic, I missed what few there are. So we continued on toward Banff (96 km to the west) and found a little motel in the town of Canmore just 26 km from Banff. No Internet or cell phone service here. Its been a long day, close to 500 miles.
The ride here was ho-hum, many prairie farms, big ones, for the most part. The land is almost totally flat for miles and miles. I did notice several old thrashing machines which separated the grain from the stalk and havent been used for probably 50 years or more. They were parked along the highway apparently looking for some antique collector to buy them. I also spotted some current model diesel farm tractors with four wheels on the steering axle and six wheels on the drive axle. I cant imagine what a set of tires cost for those babies.
Twice today we crossed a river named Oldman River and also saw some domesticated elk and antelope confined to fenced compounds.
Alas, the Canadian Rockies, rugged looking mountains, but you dont notice how they appear to leap from the earth until you get up close and personal. To me, they look different than those to the south and more rugged except for maybe the Grand Tetons. They are also host to quite a few glaciers. The green of the forest against the gray of the granite is very pleasing to my eyes and I just cant seem to get enough.
Day 43: June 2
It was a short ride into Banff this morning, about 30 km. When we got to the park entrance I asked the Ranger if my Golden Age Passport was accepted here. I really didnt expect her to say yes so her no answer was no surprise. It didnt hurt to try. They give you a receipt which normally must be kept visible in your windshield that states your term of visitation. She said since we were on motorcycles that we should keep it on our person while here. OK, no problem here.
We understand that no person or business owns any property here, it all belongs to Banff NP and everyone must pay ground rent. I noticed that there were no run-down looking places. Guess no one has a choice but to keep things in good condition. Maybe that is a good thing for a place like this.
We went straight to the motel we hoped to stay, the High Country Inn. I figured that since we were so early (11:30 AM) thered be no shortage of rooms and within an hour we were settled in for two nights stay. Now that weve taken care of that there are a lot of shops to visit in town (walking distance.) Its very touristy although there are some really exclusive shops also. Pricey? Very! All of them. And Debbie did good, I have to admit. Me? I was just along to pay the bill, as usual. But believe me, Debbie is quite capable of handling plastic by herself. She has had lots of practice.
There must be others but Banff is the only town I know where no matter what direction you look youre going to see mountains, beautiful mountains, that project power and might. Of course there is a railroad going through town and when those diesels blow their horn it sends a lonely echo rippling through the surrounding mountains. What a place!
Wed heard that the highway going north to Jasper was in poor shape.
Jasper is a town about 100 miles to the north, within Jasper NP. As we were roaming around
town we found a building identified as Park Information so we entered and
asked about the roads. A lady representative began answering our questions but when we
said we were on motorcycles, a gentleman stepped up and took over the conversation. Turns
out he rides, a Harley, and strongly recommended we take the ride and mapped out a route
that would by-pass the trouble spots. SO, guess what were doing tomorrow? And
itll take all day.
Day 44: June 3 7368 miles to date
Today I did one of my classic screw-ups. For some reason I had the distance from Banff to Jasper in my mind as 100 miles. WRONG! Its closer to 200 miles. As a result we took off toward Jasper with me thinking we could turn it around in 7 hours. WRONG! It really took 6 hours up and 4 hours back. There was an Alberta Classic Running Relay Race in process all the way to Jasper resulting in many slow downs. Coming back I was pushing it to make that a 4 hour trip. The highways of interest are Alberta 1, 1A and CANADA 93.
Now for the scenery. It was awesome. When we entered the area The mountains looked as if they were in an unfinished state of being carved by some giant hammer and chisel with none of the works being complete. There were 3 closely adjacent peaks named The Three Sisters welcoming us to the area. Some of the peaks appeared to be honed to a sharp edge that would cut like a piece of paper can. Others were formed like multiple columns side by side standing sentinel over the valley below. One looked like a WW II battleship. And still others were coated with snow to the extent that huge glaciers had formed. In fact there was at least one on which you could take a specially equipped tour bus ride and get out and walk around on the glacier. They were rugged, rugged, rugged mountains. Did I mention that they were rugged? The many lakes (most were still partially frozen) tended to be emerald to teal in color and the rivers were an off-white, with a slight pale green tint, as a result of the minerals picked up from the mountains as the snow and glaciers melted. We also encountered at least a half dozen big horned sheep on, beside or crossing the highway.
There were quite a few tours of Japanese people in the area. They were most interested in our bikes, especially Debbies trike and there was plenty of chatter among them about it. I guess they dont have bikes like those in Japan. Many were taking photos of the bikes when wed stop where their bus stopped for them to take a pictures.
Up and up we went to over 6,700 feet where the
temperature dropped to 43 F with snow flurries. All the while we were passing runners,
widely spaced along the highway, competing in the relay race. I was cold with heavy
clothing and they were dressed in
Finally, back in Banff, we swapped our boots for sneakers and walked to dinner. We were both plenty tired.
Day 45: June 4
Today we began our return to the US and as we headed southeast, The Three Sisters bid us farewell. When we neared Calgary the GPS guided us around the city. This time I remembered to program the GPS correctly, like to the front door of the motel where were staying tonight.This was just a ho-hum day. Other than domestic animals I only saw a couple of antelope and miles & miles of flat prairie farm land.
Day 46: June 5
night it rained while we were in the comfort of the motel room. What luck! By morning
everything was dry, the sky was clear and crisp and we were ready to role.
Our objective, Glacier NP. We got there close to 11 AM and went into the Visitors Center for info. One of the Rangers was very helpful. We learned that you could only penetrate the park 13.5 miles from the east entrance and 14 miles from the west entrance. Also the winds were very strong. Why no further penetration than that? There were 30 foot snow drifts blocking the roadway in the impassable zones and thats where the best scenery is. OK, Im convinced that I dont need to go there.
There was a nice lodge at the highway where we turned so we doubled back to see if there was somewhere we could have lunch. Thank goodness the restaurant was a open because there wasnt anything for many miles after that. I had a buffalo burger, medium rare, that was excellent. I highly recommend it but if you cook them well done they get very dry and sort of tough for a burger.
We met a group of riders there and would you believe they were from Sarasota? One of the riders had a flat tire that they had plugged for the second time and they were going to search for a BMW dealer for a new tire. Yes, I think they were all riding Beamers.
So now what? On to the next point of interest, Rapid City, SD.
Once we got back down to the prairie elevation we still had those cross winds so as soon as we had an opportunity to change direction, we took it. In Browning, MT we picked up US 2 which put the wind at our backs. What a relief that was. After we got in the middle of nowhere Debbie called on the CB that she lost power. Oh oh! Now what. And these Wings have been performing flawlessly. We pulled over and I went back to check it out. Turns out Debbie had reached forward to hit the button to check the ambient temperature and her glove, I guess, brushed the kill switch. No wonder the bike lost power. I flipped the switch to run and everything was OK. Whew! They still run flawlessly! We stuck with US 2 all the way to I-15 then turned south to Great Falls, MT. Hum! Seems like weve been here before. It was time to call it a day.
Day 47: June 6
Its that time again. Seven or eight days sure do fly by. Its time to do laundry. Maybe I can find a car wash and clean the bikes while Debbie does laundry. I dont think theyve ever been that dirty before. They are so bad that we both feel embarrassed when a stranger comes up and talks to us about them.
By the way, remember the three tires we replaced? Well I think I know what happened. Back on day 31 when I washed the bikes in Winnemucca, the car wash bay had a drain trough down the center of the bay, end to end. The trough was covered by steel grating. When I pulled into the bay, both times, I put both my tires and the front tire on Debbies bike in the trough on the grating. There must have been some metal protrusions right where the tires went. Otherwise how could both bikes have the same puncture pattern on our tires. Remember, Debbies rear tires sustained no problem. I feel relieved that I think I understand what happened. Now I can put it out of my mind because it has really been bothering me.And speaking of washing the bikes, tomorrow it is supposed to rain. Weather control is working.
6 PM June 6
The laundry is done, the bikes are somewhat cleaner and our bellies are full. Obviously this exciting day is coming to a close. Tomorrow we head southeast toward Rapid City, SD. Well head out on US 87/ MT 3 possibly stopping in Billings, MT for the night.
Day 48: June 7
Another leisure start (10 AM) for the day. Gene Henry, This was your kind of start the day.
From the motel window we can see the Great Falls airport and at the entrance they have mounted a late 40s, F-86 fighter jet on a pedestal such that it is free to rotate and as such it acts as a weather vane. Neat huh. Ive never seen that done before.
As we left Great Falls the temperature was 66 F and dropped to 64 F as soon as we exited town and there it stayed until at least noon. Then as our elevation got lower the temperature got higher till it reached 87 F. Thank goodness there was little to no humidity. The terrain was rolling hills , big hills, with lots of green grass and many herds of cattle, mostly black angus. Jim Parish, I kept thinking about your wild west cattle drive excursions.
There were rain clouds around but we managed to avoid all but a few drops. Tomorrow we may not be so lucky. Our lunch stop was an Arbys in Billings, MT and here is something to remember: I ordered a chicken salad sandwich but to my surprise the chicken was nearly non existent. However, if you like apples and grapes, youll love their chicken salad sandwich. I like apples and grapes but once was enough for me. Life is full of surprises.
We logged in just over 300 miles today and stopped in a town named Sheridan, WY, at a Holiday Inn. Turns out theyre having a customer appreciation day with freebies: cheese, crackers, veggies and free beer and wine. Well now, who are we to look a gift horse in the mouth. So, Debbie and I both had three drinks before dinner. Why not, it was free and were parked for the night.Tomorrow were targeting Rapid City, SD. Were thinking about detouring through Sturgis on the way. The big rally isnt till August, in case youre wondering.
Day 49: June 8
With only 250 miles to go we decided not to be in a hurry. There was light cloud cover that seemed to shade our path for at least half of our days ride. When the shade vanished, the temperature went up to 89 then settled in a range of 82 to 87 F. Thats not so bad, but after all the cool weather weve been in, it felt pretty warm. Again, there was plenty of wind from the southwest. The good news was it didnt rain on us even though it was forecast. The view from I-90 near Sheridan overlooked a vast and beautiful green valley to our south that would make anyone want to live there. That is until the winter set in.
Aside from all the cattle, there were many
prong horn antelope along the highway, 10 yesterday, maybe a dozen or more today. They
show little concern for the highway traffic as they graze close to the road.
Ive been having trouble with my reverse switch sticking in the engaged. This would usually happen when thered be traffic waiting while I fiddled with the switch trying to get it free. So Ive been being selective about where Id park so I could back down hill and not need reverse. When we got to Rapid City I headed for the local Honda dealer and got a can of contact / brake cleaner. A couple of shots of contact cleaner around the push button seemed to solve the problem, I hope. Time will tell.
Day 51: June 10
Once again the best laid plans etc. has fallen by the wayside. The prediction of severe thunderstorms deterred our tourism. So, to make the best of it, today turned into a laundry day. A womans work is never done. As it turned out the rain didnt start until around 3 PM so for all practical purposes, the day was lost waiting. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.
Day 52: June 11
Tomorrow is better, much better. Ahhh The Black Hills. Such a beautiful place. And great roads in excellent condition. From Rapid City we took US 16 to US 385 to the Chief Crazy Horse Monument. In the visitors center, there is a 1/32 scale model located so that you can view it and the real thing at the same time. The face of Crazy Horse is finished now, only a small portion of the work yet to be done which has no scheduled completion date. The reason, in part, is because the family responsible for, and in charge of, the project refuses to accept government funds and be saddled with governmental controls and slow governmental action in order to perform the tasks at hand. So, it is entirely funded through public donations. When the sculpture is complete, there will be a city and university established at the base of the monument. There are many authentic impressive Indian cultural artifacts on display there plus a 20 minute film showing the history of the project. Turns out the man who started the Crazy Horse sculpture worked for the man that did the Mt. Rushmore sculpture. You cant beat credentials like that. From there we took US 385 to US 16 to Custer State Park. This too is a beautiful park only on a much smaller scale than Yellowstone. You can expect to find many of the same animals there. The mountainous rock formations appeared to have boiled up out of the earth leaving rounded shapes rather than jagged ones. Here there has been a massive effort put forth to clean up the fallen trees and branches to reduce the fire danger. Stacks of wood and brush are scattered throughout the forest. We had traversed most of the park before we found two herds of buffalo but many small groups of prong horn antelope were scattered throughout. Animals are what Debbie wanted to see so the ride was a successful one. If you plan on a visit to this area I recommend towns like Hill City, Custer or Keystone for lodging. There you will be and will feel like more a part of the beautiful environment, away from the city. Of course you get what you pay for. Tomorrow, Deadwood, another gambling town. I wonder why Debbie would want to go there? ? ? Must be the historical value. Thats it, historical value. Im so smart!
Day 53: June 12
Ahhh, the Black Hills. I said that before didnt I! Ill say it again, Ahhh the Black Hills!
If there is a road to Heaven when you die, it must be in the Black Hills. Go any place, pick any road out here, its going to be a beautiful ride. We left Rapid City on SD 44 and connected with US 385 into Deadwood. The highway wound through the forest and across green meadows liberally sprinkled with cattle and beautiful horses. The gorgeous scenery just didnt stop. I couldve ridden all day and never tired of the road or the view. Theres been a great deal of effort within the Black Hills National Forest to improve the health and safety of the trees. Almost the entire ride here (44 miles) the trees had been thinned out and brush and dead limbs cleared.
Deadwood is a little town nestled in the mountains with lots of history and plenty of casinos. Now who on earth would be interested in casinos? At most the width of the town is maybe 5 or 6 short blocks by a couple miles long. Nice and cozy. The hotel were in has a casino and more importantly, a buffet restaurant. You cant believe the prices, lunch (regular $5.99 each) for the two of us totaled $6.98 with the senior discount. SUCH A DEAL! By the way, I squeezed in two dishes of ice cream for desert. The dinner buffet is $10.99 each before the senior discount. Ill find out how that balances out later.
Well start south toward Denver tomorrow. That assumes that the Florida gambler doesnt hit a jackpot. Heaven forbid! If that happens Im sure well have to stay at least another day so she can give it all back.
Frequently, people stop and admire Debbies trike and ask questions about it. Needless to say, that stimulates Debbies circulation, to say the least. That bright candy red helps too.
Day 54: June 13
By the way, yesterdays discounted price for lunch wasnt the senior discount, it was from Debbies perks. I was wrong again. Can you believe it? Me, wrong!
Our bikes were absolutely filthy this
morning. The valet parking lot across the street was just dirt. Apparently the wind blew
most of the night and sometime during the night a light sprinkle came through. They
were so bad that when we got back to Rapid City I told Debbie we were going to give them a
bath at the first pressure wash we find. I didnt hear a dissenting word so I knew it
was bothering her as much as it was bothering me. They only got a lick and a promise but
it made us feel proud of our bikes again. Now thats very important as you all know.
We finally gave up and called it a day when we entered a little town named Lusk. Thats LUSK with K not a T. Its a small town and the motel recommendation for dining was a local pizza house. Guess whats for diner.
Tomorrows another day and we should be high in the Rockies again in the afternoon. Do I sound like Im spoiled???
Day 55 June 14
Well I am spoiled ! And when we start heading east Ill probably be a basket case, either because Im hot or more likely because I know how uncomfortable Debbie is. Nashville is 1,200 miles + from Colorado with no mountains in between. The only option here is to start early in the morning, but Debbie likes to sleep in.
Checking the gas gauge and
the GPS mileage I decided we had enough gas to make the Interstate. The desk clerk had
said the Interstate was only 40 miles away. The 40 miles was back-tracking and I
didnt want to do that. My gas was just over half full so I figured that was plenty.
Second, I didnt count on such strong head winds (25 to 35 mph).
Ok, so weve got
gasoline, were on the Interstate, it should be smooth sailing to Estes Park.
The temperature is rising and fast. It was 86 F when we got to the Interstate and before we could get to Fort Collins it had reached 102 F. I know Debbie is beside herself with this heat and you all know that when momma aint happy, nobodys happy. Truer words were never spoken. We took a lunch break in Lovelace then started through town and into higher country. By the time we got to Estes Park the temperature had dropped all the way down to 92 F. I was hoping for the mid 80s.We had taken US 34 from Interstate 25. This road winds up the Big Thompson Canyon beside the Big Thompson River. This river flash flooded, I think in the 80s, and killed a lot of people that were camping and picnicking in the canyon. Ultimately the road becomes Trail Ridge Road, The highest continuously paved road in the nation. It exceeds 10,750 feet elevation max. within the Rocky Mountain National Park, not quite as high as Pikes Peak, but continuous. Pikes Peak is a dead end, you come down the same way you came up.Well explore the area tomorrow, right now were tired from the heat.
Day 58: June 16
Today started off a little different. Around 6 AM I could hear the pitter patter of sleet on the window. Theres a difference between the sound of sleet and rain on the window. I knew the forecast was calling for a winter storm on the east side of the continental divide so I just rolled over and went back to sleep. It was an uneasy sleep because wed already decided to move to another location for a couple of reasons. Anyway, I knew I couldnt sleep to late because this motel had a 10 AM checkout time We were leaving two days earlier than planned and I didnt want to leave myself open to any hassle with the owner about a full refund for the two unused days. Both of us were ready to roll by 9 AM. That was pretty good for us.The checkout and refund went smooth and we were off to breakfast. The motel add listed continental breakfast in their add but they didnt have it. Debbie went to the office and questioned them about it. The motel gave us $5.00 coupons for breakfast at a local restaurant which was OK. No, the coupons were not perks.
Before we left the motel, I had called the Park information office to check on road conditions on Trail Ridge Road. The information provided was that the road would be clear. I had already made a motel reservation in Frisco for tonight. So the plan was to go across Trail Ridge Road through the park on our way to our next destination. We stopped at the gate to the park where I was going to flash them my Golden Age Passport when the ranger told me the road was temporary closed. Drat, Drat and Double Drat! Best laid plans, etc. Does this qualify for another WRONG ?
Well, were already booked in Frisco and Im not going to get caught on these mountain roads at night because they didnt open the road soon enough for us to get through so its go for Frisco by an alternate route.
It was kind of a strange weather situation today. To the West was a ridge of clouds which were the cause of the road closer and to the East the sky was dark with rain cloud. Could we possibly thread the needle and get through without bad weather? Guess it doesnt matter, were committed. So off we went.
It looked as if I was going to luck out, we really were threading the needle. We traveled south on CO 7, 72 and 119. On CO 119 we topped 9,375 feet and 46 F. Debbie said she saw 42 F along the way. By the way, Debbie had her electrics on so she was toasty warm. I was OK , just my toes, thighs and finger tips were a little cold. Im so tuff !
Then Debbie had a scare. Somewhere along the way a deer came from her right. Debbie caught a glimpse of it in her peripheral vision. WHEW ! It almost hit the back of her trike. It all happened so fast that nobody could do anything to help the situation. It was just blind luck that she squeaked by. I never saw a thing.
Anyway, as CO 119 neared I-70 life began to change. We had been trucking along behind a rain shower so the roads were now wet. Then, a turn onto I-70 West found the roads to be dried out because of the volume of traffic. I thought we had it made now, we only had about 25 miles to go. WRONG! Looming ahead was an angry cloud just waiting for us. About a mile short of the Eisenhower Tunnel, it started to snow Oh no! I wonder how far west this snow goes. Were humming along at 11,100 + feet and 65 mph and its really coming down. The speed limit drops to 50 and swoosh, were in the tunnel. In a couple minutes were out of the tunnel and headed down hill and as quickly as the snow started, the snow stopped. Thank heavens for that.
Exit 203 and were off of the Interstate and the Best Western is right there. We relaxed in our room for a little while before getting our luggage. Once our stuff was in our 4th floor room I decided to get busy on todays email. At this point in writing .OH, OH ! The fire alarm just went off. Weve got to evacuate. I grabbed my jacket and laptop and we headed down the stairs, all four floors. Soon after we got outside a fire truck arrived, then a second one and now a third. There are firemen are all over the place. What next sport fans. I wonder if well have to move? Its still pretty chilly and there were a bunch of kids in the pool. Theyre all standing outside wrapped in towels, shivering. Poor kids.
Nobody seems to be able to find out what the problem is. Theyre pulling out the big hoses, I guess as a precaution. Rumor has it there was smoke in the electrical room, what ever that means. Hotel attendants brought out stacks of blankets for the kids from the pool. After 30 to 45 minutes it was decided that everything was OK. Supposedly a belt on an electric motor broke and the motor overheated due to running without a load. Thats what we were told anyway.
Now that that excitement is over its after 7 PM and we need to eat. The resident dining room was up and running, the prices were right and that brought our day to an end.
Tomorrow, laundry. Maybe I can get the bikes cleaned up.
Day 59: June 17
Talk about a ho hum day. Laundry, bike washing and meals. There will be at least 2 more laundry days before we get home.
It is so dusty out here, just as bad as the pollen season at home and just as hard to keep up with. To top that off the pressure car wash here was way over priced, 50% higher than usual. One good thing about when we get home, I can take the time and resources to do it right. Im sure itll take a while after so many miles. The bikes will probably never be the same again.
If that wasnt exciting reading for you, imagine how exciting it was for us.
Day 60: June 18 Total miles to date: 9,574
As you can see from the mileage above, my first guesstimate of 8,000 miles bit the dust long ago. Next, I estimated 9,000 miles. Now I know the total miles will probably exceed 11,500 by the time we get home. So much for my accurate estimating.
Today was much better than yesterday. The Golden Age Passport scores again.
Youve all heard of Pikes Peak and its elevation (14,110 feet), well heres one up on Pikes Peak. The mountain is Mt. Evans not far from Denver. Our route was I-70 to CO 103 to CO 5 and it goes without saying that there were plenty of curves. The elevation is 14,130 feet and the road is paved all the way to and including the top parking lot where parking spaces were at a premium. You can walk (make that climb another quarter mile) to the very peak which is another 264 feet or so higher. Pikes Peak is only paved up to about 9,000 feet, the rest is gravel and dirt. Anyway, the temperature up there was 48 F in the shade when we got there but the wind chill took it down into the high 20s.
Ive noticed several areas where there are a lot of trees dying so I inquired about it when I encountered a Park Ranger. He explained that the bark beetle was very active now. I asked if there wasnt something that could be done about it and he told me that it was considered part of the natural ecology.
There were several mountain goats roaming the area. Theyve been there when we visited this spot before. Theyre not too bashful either, you can approach them to within 10 feet or so if you have the nerve. Me, Im giving them all the room they want. No butts for me! The view from Mt. Evans is spectacular in any direction. Debbie got some pretty good pictures in spite of the hazy conditions. Check out their website at http://www.mountevans.com/Index.HTML for some good photos. At this elevation youre close to 3,000 feet above the tree line so there are no obstructions to the view. It was obviously a popular spot for motorcyclists. All brands were represented. And believe it or not, there were a lot of bicycle riders there too. We had passed countless bicycles going up and down. They must be in great physical condition to do that. Personally, I found myself feeling a little light headed above 12,000 feet and I was sitting. Some might say Im a little dizzy all the time.
Tomorrow we relocate again.
Day 61: June 19
Did a leisure start today, only 170 miles to get to our next stop, Manitou Springs. I-70 west to CO 91, to US 24 . This will be a good jumping off point for Pikes peak and other local attractions. On the way, we stopped in a small town named Leadville, a former mining town. It is the highest incorporated city (10,152 feet elevation) in the US. It is located close to the head-waters of the Arkansas River. The first time we crossed that river today it was little more than a creek and eventually grew to a small rushing river and it still has a long way to travel. As we headed south on US 24 we passed the Collegiate peaks, namely Yale, Harvard and Princeton, all three equal to or greater than 14,196 feet high. I dont remember hearing of them before and likely you havent either. Trust me, theyre standing tall.
Cripple Creek, another former mining town, is within 50 miles of Manitou Springs and there is shuttle service from here to there. Guess what Cripple Creek is noted for these days. The shuttle service works like this: Cost = $23.00 round trip; At Cripple Creek shuttle riders are given $20.00 for gambling. See, the transportation only cost $3.00! The Casinos obviously know theyre going to get the $20.00 back, plus. I will try to find something else to occupy my time today while shes gone because Ive already seen all the other attractions there on a previous visit and I dont plan on sitting around that town for hours, waiting.
Day 62: June 20
This morning was interesting, particularly breakfast. We walked up the street in search of a restaurant for breakfast ( no continental at the motel) and decided on the second little place we came to. There were only 3 people dining there at the time. As the minutes ticked by, the patronage grew. Now, years back, when Wing Ding was held in Louisville, KY, there was a Grateful Dead concert held at the same place, same time, as Wing Ding. Everything went OK there, but there were two distinctly different social classes present. Well, as the restaurant clientele grew, it was obvious that a similar sort of conditions existed here in this town combined with an abundance of artists and folks with likely different preferences than ours. The food was OK but I was relieved when we were done and out of there.Tomorrow, weather dependent, well tackle Pikes Peak. From down at our present elevation (6,239 feet) I cant see any snow up there.
Day 63: June 21
I must admit to an awful lot of anxiety anticipating the ride to the top of Pikes Peak. Weve done it before so I knew what to expect. What troubled me was the hairpin turns after you climb to the dirt and gravel section of the road. My concern was, since you cant see around the hairpin curves, that someone coming down the mountain would be cutting it tight and limit my space, when I might be swinging wide into my left track. If I hit the brakes then and Id be down and on the low side. Imagine trying to pick up the bike under those conditions. Well, none of that happened and other than a lot of dust, the ride went somewhat OK. There was a storm cloud to the west of the mountain and there was virga rain plainly visible. Whats so bad about that, you ask? The rain was below our elevation and moving our way, accompanied by some lightening. Of course the view was very poor and the temperature was 41 F. We didnt stay too long and when we went to the Pikes Peak sign to have our picture taken it had started to snow. What is it with us and snow on this trip? We decided not to wait out the bad weather and move on. The temperature was now 39 F. The ride down was much easier than going up. What was wrong with the ride? There was an abundance of washboard road surface which was really rough. For me, I could maneuver around a lot if it but Debbie couldnt with those 3 wheels under her and the vibration evidently loosened the screws securing one of the trunk hinges to the point where the nuts fell off.
I inquired at the motel where I could find a hardware store. The directions given were perfect. Trouble was, the store had moved to a new location. Now what? I asked a passerby and got some new directions. I found the shopping center described, I think, but no hardware store. I remembered a NAPA store and stopped there but they didnt have the right hardware but they told me how to get to a Home Depot. It was a good ways off but I found it and bought the hardware I needed. Back to the motel and secured the hinge.
Debbie decided to catch up on the laundry. I knew we couldnt get on those bikes with clean clothes on so I took the bikes to the car wash. They were filthy from all the dust on the Pikes Peak Highway. This car wash was A-OK. It even had very clean rinse water and the price was the best Id seen. I know well feel much better in the morning when we climb on those Wings.
Day 64: June 22
Today we finished our list of places to go in Colorado. We rode through The Garden of the Gods in the foothills outside of Colorado Springs, just off US 24, then went north on I-25 stopping at the Air Force Academy visitors center, then on to Denver. Here, we went to an Air Force Museum in one of the remaining hangers from the former Lowry Air Force Base where I took my technical schooling 53 years ago. The hangers are all that is left now. The rest of the base has been developed into public housing and business facilities. The museum display was all bunched up and roped off in the hanger in preparation for some reunion or something tomorrow. I guess the highlight of that visit for me was a B-1 bomber there where I was able to walk up and see just how big that aircraft is. HUGE!
From there we worked our way to I-70 for the long haul east. The weather had been threatening all day but we managed to avoid the rain and hail. Once out of town though, the wind caught up to us. According to the radio it was blowing 20 to 30 mph and coming straight at us until the last half hour when it changed to a cross wind. Then the temperature dropped from the 70s to the 60s then 50s, all within 70 miles. There arent many places to stop along I-70 in eastern Colorado. After passing three small settlements having at best one motel but no restaurants I was worrying that we might have to continue farther than we wanted, especially since we were catching up to a front with severe weather. Finally, a settlement named Limon was host to a truck stop, restaurants and several motels, captured us for the night. This day has been long enough.
Day 65: June 23
Today were going to loose an hour when we cross into the Central Time Zone. As we rolled along I suddenly came to the conclusion that the state of Colorado must have stolen a large parcel of land from Kansas because we got into the plains soon after we exited the foothills of the Rockies. I wonder If Bob Dole knows about this? After yesterdays wind and cold, today was great. The temperatures were comfortable (low 80s) and the winds were calm to light but always from the south. The south wind is dominate out here. That is obvious when you look around because all the unsheltered trees are bent toward the north and the branches all grow or try to grow northward even if the growth starts on the south side of the tree.Oh yeah, The rough washboard Pikes Peak Highway vibrated Debbies trike so bad that both her low beam headlights failed. She still has her High beams and driving lights so were OK till we get to a Honda dealer. I know itll cost more having them do it but with all the troubles I can get into trying to affect a minor repair, Id rather have them do it. Besides, Id like to get the oil changed again, Its been over 5,000 miles. I know that the book says 8,000 miles but if some dealer can work us in Id feel better.
Well see what tomorrow brings.
Day 66: June 24
It started raining in the middle of the night and continued into the morning. I was sure that we were going to have a wet day on the Interstate. I searched the gold book for Kansas dealers and found one in Hays. I called the Honda dealer in Hays but they didnt do Gold Wings. Next, I called one in Salina, KS, 96 miles east and got a busy signal. Rather than waste more time, since we had to go east anyway, we took off. The rain I feared, stopped, and the Interstate was dry. What luck. After 50 miles or so, I called again while we were riding and got through to the service dept. and a commitment to take care of the headlight problem. Strangely enough, this was a dual dealership. Odd bed fellows to say the least: Harley Davidson and Honda under the same roof. Go figure. Anyway, as soon as we got there, they immediately started on her bike and within 30 minutes, had us on the road again. Thats Honda in Salina, KS. My hat is off to them.
Next stop was a Dairy Queen somewhere on I-70 because I wanted to try their Peppered BLT sandwich. Debbie had tried one yesterday and I tasted a piece of the beacon (spicy hot) and liked it. If you like spicy stuff, try one, it was good.
There was one of those racks of pamphlets advertising local attractions at the DQ and Debbie spotted one for a Harrahs Casino about 15 miles north of Topeka on an Indian Reservation. Guess where our next stop was. HARRAHS, of course. We thought wed be able to get a room there at the Harrahs facility so that was the plan. Well, WRONG, Debbie didnt have enough points on her Harrahs card so they refused her lodging. Let me tell you, that really PISSED HER OFF, and me too for that matter. There wasnt any other motel within 15 miles so there will be no gambling in Muddville tonight. Im so disappointed!
Back to I-70 and eastward we go. Before I knew it we were on a toll section of I-70 when I was ready to quit for the day. I had forgotten about the toll. I got caught on that I-70 toll thing back in 1979. There were three exits for the town of Lawrence, midway between Topeka and Kansas City, that had motels so we took the 2nd exit and found a Holiday Inn. Our first pick motel was booked.
We dont have much farther to go to get to Kansas City. There were going to turn south and go to Branson, MO and take in a couple of shows before moving on.
Till tomorrow then .
Day 67: June 25
Branson, MO. The rain that was threatening stayed behind us, thank goodness. Traffic
was medium to light which made for a relaxed ride. The heat, well it stayed in the 84 to
86 F range all the way. I was surprised to find non-Interstate, four lane, highway
speed limits set at 70 mph. And this was not limited access either. Needless to say, it
kept my attention more focused. I do believe that some Pinellas county old-folks must live
around, here judging how they pulled out on the 70 mph highway when traffic was bearing
down on them. Like I said, it kept me more focused.
Day 68: June 26
Oh, its so relaxing when you dont have to get up and pack for the days ride. We went to the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater, just for me because they have a classic 1957 automobile collection museum. Now thats right down my alley. They had about 50 four wheelers in mint condition on display, two of which Id never seen nor heard of in my life. They all were beautiful vehicles, something the guys would definitely appreciate. After the cars, we went to a Titanic exhibit which took near 2 hours to explore. Its amazing how much standard cruise accommodations have advanced since the days of the Titanic.
Dinner and cocktails with friends topped a very pleasant day. Tomorrow, the road again.
Day 69 & 70: June 27 & 28
Today is another ride day and you might say a ho-hum day. In other words no excitement and nothing unusual happening. I set our target for St. Louis, MO for the day. Why go there? Well, we decided to rendezvous with Barb and Gene Henry in Indiana on the way to Nashville and that is on the way. Besides, the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) is in Muncie, IN and both Gene and myself are members. So tomorrow, Gene and I are going to go over to AMA headquarters to see what flying field activities are going on.
There was one thing of interest observed on the way through the St. Louis area. There was a wolf pack working the I-70 corridor with in the city. You remember the Florida wolf pack, dont you? A Group of highway patrol officers working a small stretch of highway with their radar giving out lots of tickets to speeders. What made this one special? The troopers were all driving identical plain black Chevy pickups. I breathed a sigh of relief after I cleared the patrolled area because I couldve gotten a ticket too.
We spent the night on the east side of St. Louis because when I stop over night around a big city I always like to start the next driving day on the outgoing highway so I dont have to deal with stop & go rush hour traffic.
Wednesday was supposed to be another Interstate day, and so it was, for a while. About 80 miles from Indianapolis we ran into highway construction. The trucker CB conversation indicated the backup was 6 miles long to where we were and that sun was blazing hot. So, I after creeping along for a mile, I told Debbie wed better take the next exit and go north to US 40. That was a good move but a lot of trucks were doing the same thing. That made it slow going through Terra Haute, IN then things sped up OK.
For quite a while Id been eyeing this thunder cloud up ahead and as we neared Indianapolis this cloud had its sight set on Dennis & Debbie. I had asked Debbie earlier if she wanted to go ahead and put the rain suits on and she declined. You know me, once I get in the rain I want to keep moving and If I can do that I can keep relatively dry. So were going merrily along when all of a sudden the traffic bogs down to a stop and it is pouring. Deb, we shouldve put those rain suits on. Notice how perceptive my hind sight is? Those rain drops were cold.
We finally broke out of it when we had about
30 miles to go, just enough to kind of dry out a little. Then Gene called me on the cell
phone and acted as a GCA Controller helping us home in on them. A full hour later than
expected, we touched down at their location.
Day 71,72 & 73: June 29, 30 & July 1
The next two days we spent at Gene and Barbs sons house enjoying Indiana hospitality.
Gene did a little research to find out what was going on at the AMA facility before we rode there. As luck would have it there was nothing important going on. All the good stuff starts the same time as Wing Ding. Oh well! Best laid plans etc. We did go for a ride with local Wingers for dinner. Other than that, nothing special took place.
Time to roll on. We got started at 9:30, met Don (Mouse) and Penny (Lucy) Young at 10:00 in Greenfield, then headed south. It was intended to be off Interstate all the way. We spent the night in Owensboro, KY at an Executive Inn. It was the only thing we could get as we didnt make any reservations and being 4th of July weekend all the normal places we stay were full. What was it I said back in California, make reservations when going to a place of interest. What makes Owensboro a place of interest? Its 4th of July and many folks just go to a hotel or motel having a pool for the holiday.
It was plenty hot today. I think it peaked out at 92 F and the humidity was higher than weve been experiencing lately. I was leading and pretty much stuck to the speed limit because we didnt have all that far to go and the scenery was just fine. Tomorrow night well be at the Gaylord and weve got reservations.
Day 74: July 2
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, were finally getting to Wing Ding. Weve got 150 miles to go and its going to get hot so we got started around 9 AM. Regressing a bit, yesterday the GPS suddenly seemed to get lost and stopped showing our route on the display. So I activated the recalculate function and I must have selected fastest instead of shortest route and before you know it we were on Interstate highway and traveling 30 miles farther than planned. I dont know why things like that happen to me but they do, and Im good at it too.
I think we arrived at the Gaylord around 12:30 or so, checked in, but couldnt get our rooms until a little after 3 PM. We met up with Tracy and Sharon Dunn and lounged around the lobby till we got hungry and headed to the food court for some lunch. Returning to the lobby we found all available seating taken so we wound up sitting on the floor in a hallway, leaning against the wall, waiting for a call from the check-in desk notifying us our rooms were ready. Finally, a little past 3 PM the call came through, we got our things from the trailer and got settled in our rooms.
11,926 miles and 74 days later, we finally made it.
The talent show was scheduled for tonight so thats where we went. The show consumed 2 ½ hours and was great because GWRRA has a lot of talented members. Sharon and Tracy couldnt get a room until July 3rd so they bunked in our room for the night.
Day 75: July 3
This was only the beginning of another saga, The Case of the Never Ready Room. This story kept going and going and going (sounds like a familiar commercial doesnt it). It is 10:30 PM, July 3rd and theyre still not in their room yet. Finally, at about 10:45 PM, Sharon called to say they had moved into their room. Can you imagine, Sharon had registered before 9 AM and just now got into their room. During this time, weve encountered all of our attending Chapter members, been around the vendors twice, had lunch and dinner before they got their room.
Day 76, 77, 78: July 4,5 & 6
And now its time to pack our bags and load up the trailer for the long hot trip home. Well depart in the morning after a good nights sleep.
Day 79 & 80: July 7 & 8 Mileage to Wing Ding 11,926
The partys over, Its time to call it a day
We loaded most of our things in the trailer last evening so now its just a few odds and ends to take care of so we can hit the road. By the time breakfast was over and we mounted the bikes it was 9:45. Debbie prefers to sleep late when possible. Me, I like to be up around 7 AM, even if there is nothing planned for the day. With that said, we decided to try I-65, US 231, I-10 and US 19.
We said our good-byes to Gene & Barb Henry, our next door neighbor at the Gaylord. Good-byes are always sad and this was no exception. They were going to take the Natchez Trace south but I didnt think I had the time to spare due to an up-coming doctors appointment.
Im sure we were both anxious to get home. Its been one long,
long trip and were both tired of living out of suit cases and motel rooms. As it
turned out, the path we took was somewhat longer than the shortest possible route. The GPS
kept wanting to go through Atlanta via I-75 where the trip home wouldve been only
710 miles. As it turned out we covered about 790 miles. Oh well, whats a few more
miles tacked on to a trip like this. By days end Friday, we made it to Marianna, Florida.
That left us with 300 miles to go.
All that said, were home now and trying to get back to a semblance of normalcy. Thank you all for listening. I hope you all found some pleasure in reading my babbling and if anyone just deleted this mess, please spare me the pain and dont tell me. I have such tender feelings.
Bottom line total mileage was 12,703 miles as indicated by the infamous Honda odometer. What kind of gas mileage did we get? About 2 gallons per hour. The bikes performed flawlessly. Would anyone not expect that from a Gold Wing? And it was a great trip filled with some of the best riding in America. Is my butt sore? No! Am I ready for another trip? Yes, in about three months. I can hear the Rally In The Valley calling. Will I take the long route? NOT LIKELY! IN FACT,