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Sun, 21 Aug 2005

Road Trip to Maine, part 3

Friday, August 12, 2005

I woke up around 7AM and had the bike loaded and packed within an hour. After checking out of the hotel, I went and grabbed a quick breakfast and then proceeded to Street Cycles in Falmouth.

The service manager, Katie, and the parts guy, Ian, took really good care of me and had me in and out within in an hour. On top of being efficient and quick, their price for the new front tire and labor to swap cylinders on the saddle bags was a bargain; new tire, mounting, and labor for the cylinders was only $167! If you're near Portland Maine, and need work done on a BMW, Triumph, or Suzuki, you should stop by Street Cycles.

When I left Street Cycles my plan was to head into New Hampshire, grab an R, and possibly meet up with a friend of mine from Gainesville who was supposed to be camping in the area. I took US-1 north into Yarmuth for some gas, then 115 into Gray. From there I popped over to US-202 to North Windham, and then picked up US-302 which I took into New Hampshire.

Just outside of Conway I jumped onto 113/16 south bound, and stopped for lunch at a little pub called "Almost There" for a blue cheeseburger. The weekender traffic was backed up heading into Conway, but I was heading out, hopefully away from it all.

A buddy of mine and his dad were doing a weird two-stage trip while I was on the road. The first part had them in Nova Scotia, hiking and camping for a week, and then they flew back home to Gainesville. After spending 24 hours at home, they were going to fly back into New Hampshire and camp in the white mountains.

Allen and I played phone tag for much of the week while I was on Mt. Desert and he was in Nova Scotia, but while I was at lunch I finally tracked him down. It turned out that he was in Gainesville, getting ready to fly to New Hampshire; with the weekend crowd coming in, I decided not to spend an extra day just to have a beer with a guy I see almost every day at work anyway, so I proceeded to make my way out of Dodge.

From the Almost There, I took 113 south to 25. I followed 25 through a number of small towns until I made it to Rumney, NH, and picked up an R. 25 is a decent road, which is well paved in some sections, and cuts through some gorgeous scenary while making its way across New Hampshire, including a few covered bridges.

Eventually I picked up Route 25A, the Governor Meldrim Thomson Scenic Highway, which is a very fun road that runs past campgrounds with names like Lollipippicnic, which is Algonquin for "Silly White Man try to pick good Indian name for camp," on it's way to I-91 in Vermont.

Once pickup up I-91, I made my way south to Massachusetts route 116, which leads into Amherst, and hopefully the final letter of my quest. I stopped for gas and when I pulled into the pump it was $2.75 per gallon, but by the time I left, the price had gone up to $2.84.

I made my way through the town, past the University of Massachusetts campus, until I finally found the post office. Unfortunately, the post office in Amherst, at 141 N. Pleasant Street, lists neither the city or state on the exterio of the building. Not sure if a "University of Massachussets, Amherst" sign would work or not, I decided I would need to find another "A" on the way home, with the worst case scenario being a visit to "Anderson, South Carolina".

Leaving Amherst, I took 116 through the Holyoke state park. The road was a little curvy, but there was a lot of traffic with people heading back to school. Eventually I picked US-202 back up and followed that back to I-91.

I continued on 91 south to I-95 in Connecticut. The night sky started to fill with lightning the closer I got to New York. Deciding that stopping might be the better part of valor, I found a Doubletree in Darien, where for $99 I was treated to royal hospitality.

While I was unloading the bike, Noah's flood erupted around me. Stopping was the wise choice.

Mileage: 415/3284.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Before going to bed the night before, I pulled out my atlas and started scanning for A's up and down the eastern seaboard. When I got near Atlantic City, I picked a town that looked big enough to have a post office, but small enough that it should be easy to find; Absecon, New Jersey.

I checked out of the hotel and was on the road by 7AM. My planned route followed I-95 to the Garden State Parkway, following that all the way down to the Cape May ferry. When I got to the first toll booth on the GSP, I asked the toll maid how far I was from Atlantic City.

"Oh, it's about 75 minutes from here, but being on a bike, you should be there within 30 minutes."

I guess she thought I must look like Nicky Hayden, or something.

While making my way south on the GSP, I noticed two things: 1. The heat was already in the upper 90s, 2. for no apparent reason traffic would come to a dead stop and I lost quite a bit of time.

Eventually, about two hours after hitting that first toll, I made it to exit 40 in Absecon. I stopped into a gas station and asked to borrow the phone book. Sure enough, I was able to find "US Postal Service" under U in the white pages, and I was headed off for my final A.

Once again discovering that left turns are verboten in New Jersey, I struggled to make my way back onto the Garden State Parkway heading southbound towards the fery.

I eventually managed to pull it off, and promptly queued up for a spot on the boat.

What is it with that state and left turns anyway??

After paying my $22, I was told that because I didn't have a reservation, I wouldn't be able to leave until the 2:30 crossing. However, when it came time to board the 1:45 ferry, they managed to find enough room to squeeze me and my little bike on board.

The ferry ride was mostly a non-event, for the most part I stayed next to my bike, working on my tan, finishing up Two Wheels Through Terror, and talking with one or two other people also headed to Delaware.

One of the people I chatted with mentioned that it was supposedly 101F in Atlantic City, egads when would this heat wave break?

After landing, I had one last mission to accomplish. And that was a visit to the Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehobeth Beach.

I followed 1 to 1A, into Rehobeth. Even without a GPS, or decent map, I managed to find the Dogfish Head Brewery without too much of a problem.

I stopped in for lunch, a MahiMahi Ceasar Salad, with a pint of the 60 Minute IPA, followed by three or four pints of ice water with lemon. I also picked up some momentos (hat, t-shirt), and then continued on my way south.

I followed 1, and the traffic, south into Bethany, and took 362 to 54. 54 was a nice little road that took me through rural farmland as it worked towards US-113. On US-113 I continued south towards the Pocomokos, where it merges with US-13.

I followed US-13 south into Maryland and Virginia, trying to make it to the Chesapeake Bridge and Tunnel before the sun set. Because the sun was starting to set, I knew it was going to be close.

Opening the throttle up, I managed to make it to the bridge just before the sun set. I paid my $12 toll and proceeded to follow the bridge.

The Chesapeake Bridge and Tunnel spans 21 miles across the mouth where the Atlantic meets the Chesapeake Bay. It provides a direct link to Virginia Beach and the Delmarva Peninsula, and opened for operation 41 years ago in 1964. It is truly a wonder of engineering, taking the traveler both over the bay and under it.

The sun setting on the Chesapeake Bay was a gorgeous site to witness, but because there was no place to pull over, I didn't get a picture.

When I arrived in Virginia Beach, I found a room at the only hotel available, a Motel 6. It cost me as much as the Doubletree had the night before, but was nowhere near as nice.

Mileage: 385/3669

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Here I am, standing in the shower covered head to toe with lather, when the stupid fire alarm starts going off.


How would MacGyver handle this? He'd probably come up with some idea of using the lather as a fire retardant material, and storm the gates with his swiss army knife in hand.

Of course, I'm not MacGyver. Instead, I opt to rinse off real quick and run to the window to see what my neighbors were doing.

Seeing no one in the hallway, I decide to call the front desk and ask if there is a fire. The clerk, being as helpful as you can possibly hope for, told me there was no fire and that they had been having problems with the fire alarms because they hadn't been changing the batteries.

Say what?? I'm not entirely sure how I feel about staying in a hotel that doesn't properly maintain their fire alarms..

Deciding that there was nothing to worry about, I ignore the bleeting of the alarm and finish my shower.

With the excitement out of the way, I dried off, got dressed, and loaded up the bike before stopping for a nutritious meal at the local Awful House. I had a healthy meal of a pecan waffle and two eggs over medium. The wife and doctor would kill me if they knew how shot my diet had been over the past 10 days.

When I was ready to roll, I hopeed on US-13 south to US-58. While working my way around the Virginia Beach area I was surprised by how big the military and shipping complex was.

When I picked up 58, I followed it west. The section of US-58, west of Suffolk, has been the beneficiary of upgrades made to many of the older US highways over the past five years. As a result, it's a modern four lane road with smooth asphalt, bypassing most towns, with 65mph speed limits.

Having very little traffic, I made pretty good time heading towards Emporia on US-58, and proceeded on I-95 south towards Florida.

Although it warmed up as the day wore on, it never quite got as hot as yesterday in New Jersey had been, and the further south I travelled, the cooler it got. What's up with that?

With the temperatures cooling down, I was able to ride for two hours at a clip without having to stop and soak my shirt in water. This worked out to a gas stop every 150 miles, and I made pretty good time, arriving home 11 hours after I left that morning without any major incidents.

Mileage: 686/4355

Monday, August 15, 2005

Although I was home from my trip, I had one final task. That was to crawl out of bed, and grab a Highway 21 sign.

Florida Highway 21 runs through the bursting metropolis of Melrose, Florida, about 15 miles from my house. I had previously asked the TeamStrange folks if I could just ride my bicycle, but they insisted I ride a motorcycle.

Around 9:30 I left the house, rode to Melrose, and took the final photos for my Grand Tour.

My trip was done.

Posted at: 18:04 on 21/08/2005   [ / ] #

Fri, 19 Aug 2005

Road Trip to Maine, Part 2

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

I stayed up until around midnight the night before reading "Two Wheels Through Terror" by Glen Heggstad. It's his personal account of a journey down to the tip of Tierra del Fuego and back, which included a brief five week stint as a hostage of the ELN in Colombia. Considering I've always wanted to do that ride, I found the book an incredibly compelling read. Even with the late bed-time, I woke up about 6AM ready to get a start on the day.

My itinerary consisted of one piece of business I had to take care of, and then several things I wanted to do. After cleaning up I made my way into Bar Harbor to find a café where I could have a suitable breakfast. It was cool this morning, and I took the scenic route down through NorthEast Harbor in to town.

Within five minutes of arriving in town, I found a little bakery on Cottage Street which advertised that they had "Wild Blueberry Pancakes." Although I'm not really a huge blueberry fan, I had intended to enjoy many of the local flavors while on this trip, and blueberries seem to be a major ingredient in everything.

The pancakes were absolutely first class, and relatively cheap. After breakfast I wandered downtown to an ATM for some cash, and then because my cell phone did not work in Bar Harbor, I went looking for a pay phone.

Finding a pay phone, I put in a call to Street Cycles in Falmouth, Maine. I had already scheduled an appointment with them for a new tire before I went home, and I wanted to see if they could order a replacement saddlebag and have it ready by the time I got there on Friday. Ian, the guy in the parts department, said it would be no problem, and even with the express freight it only cost $369.

After taking care of that, it was time to do the other things on my list. I left Bar Harbor heading south on 3 until I saw a sign for "Otter Cliff Road." This road took me into Acadia, and brought me to a hiking trail on the coast. I hiked the trail, which brought me over a cliff along the shore, and shot a roll or two of film while overlooking the Atlantic.

After that I continued on the Loop Road into the welcome center to pay my entrance fee. Cars normally pay a $20 fee, but us motorcylists get to pay the discounted hiking fee of only $5 per person in most of the national parks, as long as you let the ranger know you're on a bike.

I then continued on the loop road down towards NorthEast Harbor, passing Cadillac Mountain, but getting a pretty good view of it.

I continued down on 3 and had lunch at the Light House Inn in Seal Harbor. The lobster roll was excellent, and inexpensive.

With a full tummy, I decided to head north into Ellsworth to stop at the Honawazaki shop. There was a pretty major scratch in my face shield which had been bothering me, and I hoped I could find a replacement Nolan shield there. Unfortunately, they were unable to help, and so I made my way back onto Mt. Desert and down to the SouthWest Harbor.

A brief aside. Mt. Desert Island is really two land masses, shaped more like two individual lungs, or kidneys, joined together at one strip on the northern side. This map shows what I mean. The "NorthEast" harbor is really on the southern end, but eastern side, of the eastern "lobe," while the "SouthWest" harbor is on the eastern side of the southern end on the western "lobe".

So, SouthWest is really SouthCentral, and NorthEast is really SouthEast. Are we confused yet?

SouthWest Harbor is another small touristy town, but nowhere near as built up as Bar Harbor. I continued on 102 through the SW harbor down to the natural sea wall where I stopped and hiked for a bit.

While taking photos, I ran into a couple riding two up on a Suzuki Boulevard with Florida plates. They looked like they might have been retired, and the bike looked too small to travel two up from Florida, but I asked them anyway.

"Hey, don't tell me you guys rode two up on that thing from Florida, did you?"

"Oh god no, we strap it on the back of the RV."

"Ahhh, OK, where are you all from?"


"Oh, I'm from Gainesville. What are the odds of riding 2000 miles to meet someone who lives less than 40 miles from you?"

They told me that they were retired, and spent their summers traveling around the country in the RV and that this was their first trip to Mt. Desert Island.

I continued on 102A down into Bass Harbor and the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, and stopped for some more pictures.

BTW, to get the shots of the light house, I had to crawl out over the ocean to where these folks are standing:

After working up a pretty good sweat and sunburn at the lighthouse, I went back to the campground and cleaned up.

After getting cleaned up I went to the Bar Harbor Bewing Company for their openhouse tour and beer tasting. I was suckered into stocking up on supplies which I had shipped back to the house, but I found the beers to be yummy and the tour interesting.

I then made my way back into Bar Harbor and had dinner at "Rupununi" on Main Street. Once again I had crab cakes, and they were incredible.

With dinner completed, I walked into the town square and enjoyed watching everyone interact and play. I felt inspired, and wrote a brief fictional sketch of the scene.

This day turned out to be fantastic, the riding was good, the scenary was incredible and everyone I met was friendly. It more than made up for the mishap yesterday.

Mileage: 162/2558.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa!

Damn, there's a baby in a neighboring camp-site and the parents aren't doing anything about it. Hell, my friends got kicked out of a state park for making 1/4th the racket that kid's making.

Ugh, put ear plugs back in, go back to sleep.

Woke up again at 6:30. My sleeping bag was a bit damp from the humidity, so I took it out and hung it up while I showered and got ready for the day.

I was on the road by 9:15AM.

This time, I took 102 south to "Pretty Marsh Road." I stopped along the way and shot half of a roll of film, and then continued to the launching point for the Pretty Marsh Lake.

After that, I followed PMR to the west side of the island, where I joined back up with 102. I followed 102 through West Trenton, and went back down to the Seawall.

Although it was only around 10:30 in the morning, the western side of the island was already in the upper 80s. When I got to the Seawall, the cool atlantic air lowered the temperature to a more palpable 50, or so.

I hiked along the coast for a solid hour, shooting film and watching two gulls fight for a lone rock outcropping. The cold salt air cooled my bones, and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore eased my soul.

After my hike, I continued on 102A to 102. Between Bass Harbor and West Trention is a small turnoff for the Bass Harbor itself. I went into Bass Harbor and stopped at Island Astronomy, however they were closed.

Although Island Astronomy was closed, I was fascinated because Bass Harbor was more of what I expected to find in the various harbors around Mt. Desert Island. The harbor was loaded with rusty old ships stacked with lobster pots.

This was the sort of harbor I had been hoping to photograph, and both camera bodies came out. Unfortunately, I didn't think to pull out the digital camera...

When I had shot several rolls of film, I continued on 102 north until I came across "Beech Mountain Road." I followed the road to the parking lot, and saw that there was a 1.6 mile hiking trail.

Having learned from yesterday, I packed a pair of shoes today in my saddle bags and traded my riding boots in for more suitable hiking shoes. I started working my way up the trail, stopping for the occasional photo.

The Beech Mountain trail was amazing because it started out very warm and humid, but when you turned a corner that left you with a stunning view, the cool atlantic air covered you with the best air conditioning money could buy.

For the most part, the trail was fairly isolated and I only ran into one or two other hikers until I got to the top of the mountain. At the top, there was an observation tower with several hikers relaxing before making the trek back to the parking lot.

When I was done with the hike, I worked my way into the SouthWest Harbor, which is really on the SouthCentral part of the island, for lunch. I decided to break from the seafood theme and went to "The Downeast House of Dogs," and although the food was good, the service was terrible.

With lunch done, I decided to go to the local internet café, "The Mouse Pad," (isn't that cute?), and fire off a few quick emails. I sent a note to Sandy, telling her how great Maine was, and then another one to the geeks and bikers back in Gainesville. When that was done, I decided it was time to go visit Cadillac Mountain.

According to legend, if you hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain right before the sun rises, you can be the first person in the United States to see the mornings light.

I don't know about that, but I do know that it is one of the biggest tourist destinations for visitors to Acadia. Because of this, it was packed to the gills with people and buses, definately not what I had in mind.

There was a little 1/4 mile hiking trail from the top, which I did, bumping and pushing everyone out of the way in an effort to find a piece of privacy. Unfortunately, this trail was not the place to find it.

When I got back to the parking lot, I saw a sign pointing out another 2.2 mile hiking trail. Well, if nothing else, maybe it would be a little less crowded.

This particular trail was on the North East side of the mountain, and afforded a pretty good view of Bar Harbor below.

I found a lone outcropping, and sat down for awhile and collected my thoughts. Here was a place I was able to find peace and quiet, away from everyone and everything.

Work was 2,000 miles away.

School was behind me.

Even the cracks in the bike were not an issue.

I found peace.

After the hike, I went up to Ellsworth to visit the Wallymart and see if I could get something that might buff the scratch in the face shield out.

While in the parking lot, one of the straps for my tankbag broke. Aye, what else could go wrong on this trip??

I repaired it with a zip tie, then continued on into town. Although it was annoying, I had been shopping for a replacement bag anyway, and this just gave me the opportunity to get off my cheap-skate ass and get a new one.

After my visit to Wallymart, I stopped for dinner at Lunts Lobster Pound, which is on 230 in Trenton, right between Ellsworth and Mt. Desert Island.

Lunts is an amazing place. It was built in 1930, and really has that small town, everyone knows your name, kind of atmosphere. There is a communal sink to wash up after you're gorged yourself on shellfish out back, and there were picnic tables where families and friends could gather for a meal under the shade of a tree.

I ordered the Lobster Dinner, and it was $14 with two sides. One tip, they don't give refills on sodas, but they will for tea. Like most places north of Virginia, they don't know what sweet tea is.

The total bill, with tip, the soda, and tax, was less than $18. And I was stuffed.

After dinner, I went back into Bar Harbor and walked around for a bit. Knowing that it was my last night on the island, I decided to find a café and have a piece of blueberry pie.

I stopped at Donohue's, which is also on Cottage Street, and for about $10 I had a slice of yummie pie a-la-mode and a Bar Harbor Real Ale. The hostess was incredibly friendly, as most of the people I met in Maine were, and she didn't act like "oh god, I've only heard that question a gajillion times" when I asked her about living with the winters.

On my way back to the camp-site, I caught one of the most spectacular sunsets I had seen on the trip.

It was a fitting end to my stay on Mt. Desert Island.

Mileage: 122/2680.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The kid woke me up early again, but I guess someone must have complained to the camp staff because within five minutes I heard their car leave and then silence. I got up at 6:00AM, broke camp, and was on the road by 6:40.

My planned route would take me into the interior of Maine, and then back to the coast by Portland, where I had a service scheduled for Friday.

This morning was different from the others I had experienced so far on my trip; US-1 was fogged in and the temperatures were cold. Now, this is more of what I expected from Maine..

I took US-1 into the town of Belfast, where I then hopped on 137. 137 was a pretty decent road, and the fog broke while I was riding it. I made my way to Albion, where I jumped onto US-202.

When I got to Augusta, although I had planned to pick up an A in Auburn, I thought about stopping at the post office and grabbing it there. Unfortunately, the post office in Augusta only says that it is the "Edmund Muskie Federal Building," so I continued with my original plan.

On the way to Auburn I stopped at a large Harley shop and looked around. I was really surprised at how well stocked they were, especially considering that the riding season in the interior of Maine has got to be very short.

Once I got into Auburn I realized that it was a bigger town than I was expecting, and without my GPS (which died, remember?), I wasn't entirely sure how I would find the post office.

But, being the resourceful guy I am (and bashful and modest too), I stopped at a gas station for directions. Asking directions is a novel concept, but I found that although the attendant did not have a clue where to go, he had a map on the wall which showed me the way.

With fresh directions in my head, I made my way to the post office and the mighty A.

After completing that order of business, I continued on 202 into Gray, where I jumped on 100 towards Portland.

Having skipped breakfast, and 11:30, I was pretty hungry when I drove past Allen's, a place that's truly different. It's a gas station. Convenience store. Restaurant. And gardening supply place, all rolled into one.

You can even buy a real officially licensed Larry the Cable Guy "Git-R-Done" hat at Allen's.

I went ahead and stopped in for lunch, and ordered a burger and fries.

Let me warn you, if you ever stop there for lunch, be prepared to share the fries with a small country because they are anything but stingy. They brought me an entire plate packed with the things, and then the burger.

I tried my best, but I could barely dent all of the food, and I reluctantly had to throw it out.

After the lunch, I continued on 100 into Portland, and went downtown to get my bearings. My appointment was in Falmouth, which was about 10 miles north of where I was. Additionally, my cell phone started working and I had a message from Ian saying that he had received the saddle bag and it was ready for me.

I went ahead and went north on US-1 into Falmouth, where I found a hotel. I checked in and proceeded to do some laundry and then went out for a one hour hike around the area.

After my hike, I made a few phone calls to family, then had dinner at "Ricettos". I enjoyed a Harpoon IPA draft, and then walked back to the hotel.

Shortly after getting back, I got a call from Tim saying that was down, and that the site owner was trying to track me down because I had been playing the role of sysadmin there for the last six months or so. I told Tim I was in Maine, nowhere near a computer, but to have Neal call me if he still needed help. I also recommended contacting Mike L. from Salt Lake, since he probably had access to a computer and could help.

After the call, I met and started talking to another lone traveler. His name is Don Estes, and he's from Long Island and was riding a Wingding. We chatted for a bit about riding, he was heading up to Nova Scotia, and I was about to head home.

Finally, it was time for him to go to lunch, and I went into the room and continued to read Glen's book.

Mileage: 189/2869.

Posted at: 20:15 on 19/08/2005   [ / ] #

ESTN 2005, part 1
In May I signed up for the
Team Strange 21st Anniversary Grand Tour. According to the rules of the tour, I must visit individual towns that start with letters which could be used to spell the phrase "TEAMSTRANGE AIRHEADS" and then a route 21. Each town could only be used once, and I had to provide photographic documentation that my bike had actually made the trip. Not being satisfied with taking the easy way for anything, I also decided to tackle the Dave McQueeney challenge, which requires that each town visited be in a unique state; each town and state could be used only one time.

In June I visited the Sport-Touring.Net national rally, which allowed me to rack up a number of states. However, I still needed a few final letters, and I used the idea of a ten day trip to Maine to celebrate graduating college as an excuse to finish the tour. During the trip I burned my buns, met up with some friends for a rally, finished the tour, drank some beer and fine scotch, and ate some bugs (crustaceans).

This is the story of that trip.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

The plan was to meet up with various members of in Fairmont, WV, and then we would all ride to Stowe, Vermont for the Eastern Sport-Touring.Net rally as a group on Friday. My last final was scheduled for 9:30AM on Thursday, August 4th. I showed up to work with all of my gear loaded on the bike, took the final, and was ready to leave Gainesville an hour after the final began.

My route took me up to US-301 through the speed traps of Waldo, Starke, and Lawtey. I hit I-10 close to 11:30, and the temperature was already approaching the high 90s, but considering I had just finished school I was feeling pretty good. The Eagles came on channel 46, and I launched onto the on-ramp just as Don Henley began crooning about living life in the fast lane.

I continued on I-10 east to Jacksonville, where I took I-295 north to 95. It started to rain a little bit on I-95 just south of Savannah, but I was happy for the chance to cool down from the heat. In South Carolina I jumped onto I-26, then I-77 through Columbia.

Although I was making decent time, I managed to hit Charlotte right at rush hour. With the construction on I-77, traffic slowed to a crawl and I easily lost 30 minutes from my pace. On top of the traffic, it was easily 98 or 99 degrees, and even with my camelbak I felt the heat ripping me to shreds.

As I was crossing into Virginia, my phone started to ring. It was a buddy of mine who is currently looking for a Honda 919, and he wanted to ask me some questions about one he found. He asked where I was, and I explained that I was doing 70 on the interstate crossing the NC/VA state line.. I guess the starcom was acting up because he mentioned it was making a little background noise.

Thankfully, the Virginia mountains were substantially cooler, and it helped bring my core temperature back down.

In Beckley, WV, I got off of the interslab and took US-19. US-19 in West Virginia is a decent four laned highway which takes you over the New River Gorge. As the sun was falling, I got a splended view of the Appalachians at sunset.

I continued on US-19 to I-79, and then took 79 North. This stretch of 79 is surprisingly twisty, and I had to keep checking my speed to make sure I didn't out drive the lights on this road.

I pulled into Fairmont around 10:45PM, and was told by the front desk clerk that the others had already arrived and left me a key while they went to dinner. Five minutes after my arrival, Allen, Mark, and Tim arrived bearing gifts of beer. Sean was not in yet, but Allen received a voice mail saying he was on his way and was caught in construction on the western side of WV (I-79).

After having a few beers, we decided to call it an early night. We requested a 5:30AM wake-up call, and left the door unlocked and slightly ajar so Sean could stumble in when he arrived. It was midnight, and for the day I had ridden 806 miles.

Friday, August 5, 2005


The alarm clock was going off. Damn, I didn't remember setting it, neither did Allen. I looked down at it and said to myself, "WTF?!" as I saw it blinking 4:30AM. Apparently some cruel and unusual person left the alarm clock set for oh dark 30 when he had inhabited this room.

After figuring out how to turn off the alarm, I went back to sleep.

5:50AM, my circadian rhythm kicked into gear and woke me up. Wait a second, weren't we supposed to get a 5:30AM wake-up call??

I woke up Allen who promptly uttered an expletive to describe his dismay at the time. He took it upon himself to wake everyone else up, and explain that we must get on the road ASAP -- we had to arrive at the Smugglers Notch State Park by 8PM, or we would be unable to check in for the evening. We had fourteen hours to go 750 miles, with a group of five riders; the mileage wouldn't be so bad for one or two, but group rides are always difficult to keep on track for a decent pace.

We tracked down Sean, who had checked himself into another room so he wouldn't disturb us, and started working on packing everyone up. We were able to hit the road by 6:40AM, which left us with just a little over thirteen hours to go. The front desk guy apologized for forgetting to turn on the wake-up call, but what was done was done.

Tim was volunteered to lead the way, and he punched the destination into his GPS and let it handle the routing. We took I-79 to I-81, then 81 into Maryland and Pennsylvania. We stopped in Cumberland for breakfast around 9:30, and while pulling into the parking lot I realized I had just finished a saddlesore 1000 (1007 miles in 23 hours). After breakfast we continued on I-81 through the town of Carlisle, up to 78 and ultimately Allentown.

We continued on 78 into New Joisey, and stopped in Bloomsbury to get gas. Surprisingly, the legislators in New Joisey must have no faith in their constituants because it is impossible to take a left turn, or pump your own gas. Instead, the rule is that you must take a right turn, then perform a u-turn, if you wanted a right. It took us 10 minutes to figure this out, and then we lost additional time when the station attendant wouldn't let us fill our own bikes. The guys on the ST1300's mentioned that it was already 98F, damn when would I finally be away from the heat?? I was starting to feel heat related edema and a little bit of a headache after the last two days of baking in the sun.

All told, the New Joisey gas stop took us about 45 minutes. None of us were impressed with the state.

We continued north on 78 up to 287, and then took the NY Turnpike (87) up to Albany. Along the way to Albany, we got sucked into a horrible rainstorm. Although it only lasted about 15 minutes, visibility was dropped to near zero and my "waterproof" GPS leaked water and stopped working. At least the rain cooled down the roads..

We arrived in Albany around 5PM, but found ourselves stuck in rush hour traffic. On top of that, there was a car broken down up ahead and one lane was shut down.

It didn't look good, but I called the campground and pleaded our case. They agreed to let us check in up to around 8:15PM, but we still had a ways to go and quite a bit of traffic to contend with.

Once we got past the airport, we were able to break free from the pack and Tim set a blistering pace to make up for lost time. We continued up 87 to the Schroom Lake exit, and went up to Crown Point where were crossed Lake Champlain into Vermont. We continued through Burlington to VT-128, then 104, and finally 108. Coming from the north, we rode through the Smugglers Notch, which considering it becomes a one lane road with no room for a car and a bike to pass head on, makes it a pretty interesting section of road. We arrived at the state park at 8:15PM; I had just completed a little over 1550 miles in the 34 hours since leaving Gainesville.

After setting up tent, we went into Stowe to grab dinner. The restaurant we choose was extremely expensive, and the meal was not worth mentioning. Discouraged, Tim, Mark, and I went back to the campground while Sean went to meet everyone else at the official lodge.

Once arriving at the campground we met up with the Canadian crew (Corbeau, Richard, and Ben), along with Troy, the guy I was sharing my camp-site with. Troy related an amusing story about trying to check in before my arrival, and explaining how he had never met me, knew what I looked like, or knew my last name. However, because I had already let the park know I would be sharing the camp-site, they let him check in without too many troubles.

That evening we stayed up until a little past midnight, enjoying the fine company, plus the libations of single malt, port, or beer, depending on the preference of the individual. Many lies were told about various exploits, but we all still went to bed pretty early.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

My body told me to get out of bed at 6:30 and go take a shower. I fought the urge as much as possible, arguing with myself while explaining that I was on vacation (damnit), and did not need to wake up early. I eventually lost the argument, and got out of bed at 7 to take a shower.

Although I felt we were pretty quiet, apparently we made so much ruckuss that no one camping next to our sites heard us, but the ranger still asked the Canadians and the group I had ridden up with to leave within 20 minutes, all while I was taking a shower.

The ranger claimed he had received "over seven" complaints about the noise made from bikes running up and down all night long, as well as the laughing and carrying on. He even claimed to be sitting outside the camp-site, listening to us make noise well past 1AM.

Yeah, those ST1300's really do make an awful lot of noise, and why would he sit and listen while a "rowdy bunch of bikers" disturbed everyone else, rather than just come up to us and ask us to tone it down .. Besides, we all went to bed by 12:30 from exhaustion, so I wasn't buying the "1AM" story.

Regardless, although my camp-site was not evicted, I believe in solidarity, and these were the guys I had come up to hang out with, so I decided to leave too. While packing up my site, I asked some of the neighboring campers if they heard any noise, and they all denied it. Only one person said he heard a noise, and he happily admitted he complained about it. Considering the manner in which he extolled how proud he was of his achievment, I suspect he embellished a bit to the ranger.

We wound up moving to a campground just south of Stowe on 100, but they didn't open until 9. We used the opportunity to grab breakfast at a little café downtown, which is when I discovered how good blueberry scones can be. These things were not scones in the traditional sense; they were clumbs of blueberries held together with just enough dough to shape them into a clump, and boy were they yummie.

After breakfast, we got checked into the new site. Some of the guys wanted to go to Maine, others wanted to go to the Kankamagus in New Hampshire. Because I had the rest of my trip planned on my SP3, I really wanted to see if I could revive it.

Tim hung out with me while I disassembled it with my leatherman. Sure enough, there was about a table spoon of water in the unit, but I was unable to make it fire up again. This really bothered me because I had my final four destinations for the grand tour, plus a number of breweries and lobster pounds plugged into it for the Maine portion of my trip. Although I lost the waypoints, I had printed out the addresses for the four post offices I intended to visit, and the first one was near Stowe.

Tim decided to tag along with me, and we headed off to Essex, Vermont. Unfortunately, the post office in Essex does not list the state. When I asked the lone postal employee working in the center about this, she went above and beyond the duty of any government employee and told me, "so?".

But, she did say there might be another post office down the road, and proceeded to give me directions to a UPS store. That wouldn't have worked, but on the way I found a municipal office sign which should.

With the E out of the way, we took 116 south to 17, then 17 through Sugarbush. 17 is a pretty nice road, with some decent curves, but one thing I quickly learned is that many north eastern roads have little furrows in them, called frost heaves, which can make travel on two wheels entertaining. But the telelever absorbed it all, and life was good..

After riding 17, we took 107 to 110, and worked our way back to Stowe. Tim and I went to dinner at a decent little sports-bar, and one of the waiters came by to talk with us about our bikes. He kept talking about his Aprilla, and how much fun he has riding it three months a year, and he clued us in on some of the better roads in the area off the beaten track.

After dinner we went back to the campground and met up with the rest of the gang. Corbeau's wife came down from Ottawa, bringing Cadbury the wonder dog, along with very important camping supplies (beer, scotch, and ice). This night we stayed up well past 2:00AM, discussing issues of serious importance like the application of Kantian theory towards the war on terror, and the rising price of gasoline.

Total mileage: 221 for the day, 1767 for the trip.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Most of the people in our group decided to boogie home Sunday morning, but we all went out for breakfast first. Afterwards, Tim, Sean, Guy, and myself decided to ride over to New Hampshire and ride the Kankamagus in the White Mountain region.

Following the directions the waiter had given us the night before, we took 100 north to the town of Eden Mills, where we hopped on "North Road" (or "Eden Mills Road," depending on who you ask). This road turned out to be a gem, with some nice gentle sweepers, and fresh asphalt lacking frost heaves. We followed it north to 58, which put us near the Vermont/Canadian border, a place where most tourists seem not to dwell. Then we took 58 to 5A. We took 5A to 105, which we followed to US 3, southbound.

While heading south on US 3, we stopped in Groveton for an overpriced lunch of burgers and fries before popping onto 110. 110 in New Hampshire is a great little road, it crosses over the northern portion of the White Mountains, but is far enough north of Conway that there is zero traffic on it. Once we crossed the range, we headed south on 16 through the rolling parking lot.

When we met up with 112, we took it over the Kancamagus Pass to I-93. Because we were running short on time, and Sean had to pack up his stuff and leave Stowe that afternoon, we took the fastest route and followed 93 past the "Old Man of the Mountain," who has recently lost his nose, to US-2, then 2 to 15 and 100.

When we got back to Stowe we had dinner at "Pie in the Sky," which turned out to be the best, and least expensive, meal for the entire time we stayed in Vermont.

Although the Kancamagus had potential to be a fun road, it was so backed up with the weekend yuppie traffic that trying to avoid being creamed by a guy in a SUV chatting on his cell phone really detracted from the ride. Personally, I preferred route 110 quite a bit.

Mileage: 311 for the day, 2078 for the trip

Monday, August 8, 2005

Sean had left the night before, so at this point it was just Guy, Tim, and myself hanging out in Stowe. Tim had to return to work, Guy was supposed to go to Portland to visit his relatives, and I was headed to Mt. Desert.

We all went to the Green House and grabbed a quick bite. During breakfast, Guy and I decided to ride together into Maine, and when we were finished, we wished Tim a safe ride back to Michigan and proceeded east.

Our plan to get into Maine was to ride north of the traffic jam in New Hampshire, and shoot across US-2. From there, we would split up somewhere in Maine, with myself going Downeast and Guy going south.

We left Stowe heading north on 100 to 15A, and took that to 15. We continued east on 15 to US-2 and shot across Vermont into New Hampshire. In Jefferson we stopped at the world famous Santas Village to take pictures of the utter weirdness.

We continued on into Maine, and were promptly greeted with 20 miles of mud road the minute we crossed the state line. Not being one to shy away from a little off-road, we continued east bound, but my reserve light came on within a mile of crossing the state line.

This stretch of US-2 was very remote, and passing through the town of Gilead I began to wonder if I would be able to find a gas station before running dry, but Bethel proved big enough to have a station and we filled up there.

We stopped for lunch at a little place called "On Top of the Hill" just outside of New Sharon, and when I came out I found my bike lying on its side. Some of the right side fairing was cracked, and the right side saddlebag wound up getting destroyed because it was dislodged from the mountaing brackets and rubbed into the rear tire. Guy split off to go to Portland, and I decided I needed to call my insurance company, so I made my way towards Bangor, where my cell phone would work.

Although I was annoyed about the damage to the bike, the ride towards I-95 kept taking me through beautiful forests and soft rolling hills. The geography of the region is interesting; the mountainous regions were formed from block uplifting of the underlying strata when two continental shelfs collided, but then over several millenia, glaciers scrubbed down the ridges as they pushed moraines through the region. As the glaciers melted, the moraines were deposited as large smooth boulders scattered throughout the region.

From New Sharon I took 137, which turned out to be quite a decent little road with zero traffic, to 95. I followed I-95 north to Bangor, where I filed a claim with my insurance company. They wanted me to get a quote on the repairs as soon as possible, so I cancelled part of the trip which would have had me working for a day in Vermont so that I could get home a few days earlier.

After that unpleasantness was done, I continued on 1A into Ellsville. The sun was blazing and according to several signs I saw on the way, the weather was between 95-100F.

Once arriving in Ellsville, I bopped onto 3 and made my way to the Mt. Desert campground where I had reserved the last available spot two weeks prior to heading north. After setting up my tent, I hopped in the shower and cleaned up before heading into Bar Harbor for dinner and site seeing.

Bar Harbor survives because of the tourism industry, however it's not annoying in the presentation. There are a number of gift shops, outfitters, restaurants, and the like surrounding the bay. I walked around the harbor and shot a roll of film, focusing mostly on the ships in the bay.

I had dinner at the Fish House Grill, which is right on the corner of the pier. Although it was probably one of the most expensive places in Bar Harbor, it was substantially cheaper than anything I had in Stowe.

My waiter was not a particularly jovial fellow, and he reminded me quite a bit of Kathy Bates' character in the film Misery. However, at his suggestion, I enjoyed two local brews, the Bar Harbor Real Ale and the Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale, along with my dinner of crab cakes.

After dinner, I meandered around the downtown zocalo, watching the families with kids playing in the park. Several of them were enjoying ice cream, and it looked quite good, so I fought my way into the line at the shop and ordered a scoop of the soft serve blueberry. It was divine.

Mileage: 318/2396

Posted at: 13:27 on 19/08/2005   [ / ] #

Mon, 27 Jun 2005

My trip to the 2005 Sport-Touring.Net National
Since its inception, I have attended every national rally that has been held.

On top of being the computer operations manager for my department, I am also a student finishing up a B.A. at the University of Florida. I am supposed to graduate this summer, but in order to do that I need to take courses in both summer A and B. This years rally was held in Montrose, Colorado on June 22nd and 23rd, which fell smack dab in the middle of the break between the summer A and B terms, and I was not going to make this year the first year I missed the meet.

My last final for the summer A term was held on Friday the 17th at high noon, so my departure would be delayed until after the exam was completed. Because I knew there would be some high mileage days needed to make the round-trip within my alloted time frame, I decided I needed to break up the monotony of the road with a diversion. The Team Strange 21st Anniversary World Tour provided a perfect diversion.

The basic rules for the Grand Tour are that I must stop at various different cities, one per state, and the first letter of the city should help spell the phrase TEAM-STRANGE AIRHEADS, and then find a Highway 21 in an unused state.

Highway 21 in Florida is about 15 miles from my house, so that was one of the first ones I knocked off the list. I've also gotten letters in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia from a previous weekend excursion. That left me with 16 or so letters, and until October to complete the phrase, and the route I planned would allow me to pick up thirteen cities towards the Dave McQueeney award. Besides, I figured as hectic as my work and school schedule have been, I'll need someone to come to my house and mow the yard.

June 17, 2005

I left Gainesville after completing my final around 12:30. My route took me along I-75 up to the I-10 junction just north of Lake City, then I-10 to exit 130, U.S. 231. Once on 231 I took it up to Montgomery, where I promptly discovered why I really didn't want to get stuck in Friday night rush hour traffic in Montgomery. Heat, humidity, and gridlock were the name of the day. A sign said it was 95F, and I believed it.

After getting through Montgomery, I worked my over to Selma along US-80. Selma was one of the crucial locations during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. In 1965 some 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma, towards Montgomery along the same route I had taken. The civil rights marchers barely crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which leads into Selma, before they were beaten and attacked by the local "lawmen".

My journey over the Edmund Pettus was quite a bit less controversial, but I found the ride along U.S. 80 to be interesting nonetheless.

At Selma I got an S, but unfortunately the Selma Post Office makes it difficult to prove the location by only listing the city and state on the door of the building. I got creative though, and used the reflection in the door to prove my bike was there without the use of a trailer.

I don't own a car (or truck, or van), but even if I did, I couldn't understand why someone would trailer their bike in a scavenger hunt.

After grabbing the photo in Selma, I headed into Missississississippi (hey cue a Fish Called Wanda and my name is K-k-k-k-ken). I took I-20 to the bustling metropolis of Newton, MS where I promptly got an N.

As soon as I hopped off the bike to grab the photo, I threw away the hookup cord which connects my starcom to my helmet. I'm not really sure what I was thinking at the moment, but in retrospect it probably meant it was time to call it a night, and that's what I did. I figured for the rest of the trip I could just use the PS-2 extension cable I routed in the bike to extend the socket anyway.

With my N in hand, I went and checked myself into the nearest hotel and called it a night. It was 9:30PM EST (all future times will be in EST), and I had just finished 537 miles and two letters.

A lot of negative stuff had been piling up in my life, and I could feel it starting to slip away. The road is good that way.

Saturday, June 18

During the Memorial Day Weekend a friend of mine was in a real bad head-on collision with another rider on the Cherohala Skyway. His pelvis was shattered in many places, and the other rider lost part of his leg. My friend lives in Jackson, MS, and had been flown into a rehab center there from Asheville on Thursday the 16th.

When I first started planning the route, my plan was to stay with him in Jackson, but after the accident, while he was convalescing in Asheville, I forgot about it. When I realized that he was going to be in Jackson while I was riding through, I decided to pay him a visit at the rehab center.

The only problem was when I left Gainesville, I still hadn't found out where he had been moved into. However, I had the phone number for a friend of his who also lives in Jackson named Mark, and I made arrangements to meet up with Mark for breakfast at the Pearl Cafe in Pearl, MS.

The Pearl Cafe is one of those small town southern diners that are just a jewel when you find them. It's one of those places where the good old boys gather around for coffee and jawing on any given Saturday morning. There were about seven or eight guys sitting around a table talking about politics, or whatever, but when I walked in decked out head to toe looking like a First Gear advertisement, they became very quiet and began to eye me suspiciously.

After the waitress came out and took my order, they seemed to loosen up a bit and resumed their conversation. Mark showed up while I was enjoying my eggs, and after we both finished he took me to the rehab center.

I spent an hour or so visiting with Mac, and his spirits seemed pretty good. He's going to be in rehab for awhile, but he wants to ride again so he's motivated to get working on it.

I left Jackson around 9:30AM and continued on I-20 West towards Ruston, LA for an R. While leaving Jackson I hit a bump on I-20 and the starcom power lead jiggled loose. When I stopped for a break I was able to fix it again, but it was still intermittent until Sunday morning when I was able to do a better fix on it.

From Ruston I took 273 into Arkansas, and I stopped in Hope for an H.

As you probably know, Hope is the hometown of Bill Clinton, who if nothing else was one of the most interesting presidents we've had in the last fifty years. People either love him, or hate him, and I'd bet if he could run again he'd probably get elected to a third term.

Hope seems like a pretty friendly place. The gentleman who took my photo apologized to me for the heat wave, as if he had any real control over the weather. I appreciated his sentiments though, but I explained that living in N. Central Florida heat becomes one of those constants you get used to.

After leaving Hope I went into Oklahoma and caught the Oklahoma Turnpike up towards I-40. I then continued west on I-40 until I got to the exit for Tecumseh where I picked up a T.

After I left Tecumseh, I made my way to Oklahoma City and managed to negotiate my way through traffic to the site of the Oklahoma City Memorial right as the sun was beginning to set. I pulled out my 35MM camera and took a few photos of the memorial before hopping on my bike and making a run to a Days Inn on the west side of town.

While at the hotel I checked with a friend of mine, Sean, who was also headed to the national with his father. They were about a day behind me in Missouri, but we made tentative plans to get together somewhere out west.

I went to sleep with 738 miles for the day and 1275 for the trip. There were lane closures on I-40 around MM 170 which slowed down traffic, but I had a pretty good day for only about twelve hours of riding.

Sunday, June 19

When I woke up I felt like absolute hell. My sinuses were blocked up and my throat was sore, and to top it off my ears were plugged and hurting.

I actually had a moment or two of doubt about whether I would be able to complete the trip, but I popped a few Advil and drank some coffee. I also spent ten minutes fixing the electrical short in the power lead to the starcom.

While enjoying the continental breakfast I struck up a conversation with a guy named Dan from Nashville. He and his wife were just starting a five week trip, beginning in Santa Fe, which is supposed to end at the BMW MOA rally in Lima, OH. He was on a KLR, and his wife is on an F650GS, and it sounds like they're going to have a ball.

Since they mentioned they were heading to the Colorado area anyway, I invited them to the national in Montrose.

After a nutritious breakfast of a donut, two cups of coffee, a glass of OJ, and a bagel, I hopped on I-40 and worked my way west towards Albuquerque, with a planned stop in Adrian,TX. Once I started moving my sinuses cleared up and I started feeling better.

The weather in Oklahoma was pretty lousy. Even though it was only 8:30, or so, when I got on the road, Oklahoma was hot, humid, and windy. I really began to appreciate the effort it must have taken to live in a sod house on the plains of Oklahoma before the invention of air conditioning..

About seventy miles east of Amarillo, I stopped at a rest area to answer a call of nature. When I got off the bike I noticed several signs which said, "watch out for snakes." I've never seen a sign like that before... The scenery at the rest area was pretty, so I broke out the 35MM and shot some photos of the prairie.

Texas is an odd place. In Groom, TX, they're proud of the largest cross in this hemisphere, but I was more impressed with their DQ sign. In Conway, they have gift shops which advertise that they have live rattlesnakes you can play with.

Odd place indeed.

I made it to Amarillo around noon, and it was really starting to bake. I grabbed a large Gatorade and water, poured some down my gullet and the rest into my camelbak.

Ten miles, or so, west of Amarillo is a monument to Americana, the Cadillac Ranch. I had no idea I would be passing it on this trip, but because it's always been in my "if I get the chance to see it" file, I pulled over when I caught a glimpse of it from the interstate.

The Cadillac Ranch has ten cars planted in the ground in the middle of nowhere. It is one of those "whacky things" that only a few people could appreciate.

I am one of those people.

I stopped at the ranch and pulled out the 35MM camera and shot about half of a roll of film at the ranch. A visitor to the ranch who was tagging one of the cars allowed me to get a photo of him doing his work. After about thirty minutes, I was ready to hit the road.

In what is really a tragedy to American Nostalgia, the old Route 66 (U.S. 66) has been absorbed into I-40 through Texas and New Mexico. But it still exist for little stretches, mostly for only a few miles at a time, entering and leaving small towns. I decided to go ahead and get my kicks, and I stopped in Vega for lunch. After lunch, I continued on to Adrian,TX where I got an A.

When I crossed into New Mexico I began thinking about some of the great American literature. More specifically I started thinking about the Grapes of Wrath. I suppose the combination of wind, dust, and heading west on Route 66 made it happen. In an amusing coincidence, someone else who made it to the rally mentioned thinking about the same book.

In my case, I started thinking about the Joad Grandmother, who died of exposure. Thank god for Gatorade...

I stopped in Santa Rosa, NM for gas, and met a guy riding a 2005 FJR. Those blue ones sure are pretty.

At any rate, he was on his way home to Houston from a rally in Las Vegas, NM. We chatted for about fifteen minutes before going our separate ways.

While riding along I-40, Eastern New Mexico is a lot like Western Texas, boring and scrubby. However around MM 250 the scenery starts getting better. Mesas, red rocks, and vermilion outcroppings dot the landscape. But they're still few and far between..

I made it into Albuquerque around 5PM, and worked my way to the University Post Office where I got another A.

Right next to the post office was a used book store, and they had a table with books for $1. I picked up two, but the shop was closed with a sign saying they'd be back by 3:30. So, I slid $2 under the door, and one of my business cards with a note explaining which books I'd taken and to email me if I owed more, then hopped back on the bike and took off.

I had some time to kill, and I knew that Monday would be a "down day" so that Sean and his father could catch up. I rode over to the Petroglyph National Monument, and then found a Super 8. When I checked into the hotel I had ridden 558 miles for the day, 1833 for the trip. The road closures on I-40 were in New Mexico between MM 305-300 and 275-265.

Monday, June 20

Since I knew my friend Sean was on his way, I decided to use Monday to see some local sites I've always wanted to visit, and give them an opportunity to arrive in Albuquerque. That meant Monday would be the day I'd visit Chaco Canyon.

I left the hotel bright and early, around 7:30AM. I took I-25 north to Bernalilo, and stopped for breakfast at the worlds most efficient Mickey Dicks. After breakfast I continued on 550 towards Durango, CO where I got a D.

The morning air was quite cold in the desert, and I was pissed at myself for not wearing my heavy gloves. However, I knew it would be warmer in the afternoon, and catching the sunrise in the Zia reservation more than made up for the discomfort of the cold. The red mesas glowed as they were struck by the first light of the day.

After gassing up in Aztec, I continued onto Durango and got my D. I then worked my way west on 160 to 140 South, and followed that to 574 back to Aztec.

When I returned to Aztec, I stopped at the Aztec ruins, which are really Anasazi ruins. I hiked the trail then made my way back to 550 headed towards Chaco.

There are two entrances into Chaco, a northern entrance off of 550, and a southern entrance off of 57. I took the northern entrance, which consists of 5 miles of asphalt and then 16 miles of dirt.

The dirt road (7950) was heavily rutted in some parts, and quite sandy in others. I started out doing between 35 and 40 until I hit the first very loose sand patch, and then decided going slower was better.

When I was half-way through the road I came across a guy using a plow to smooth out the road. The problem was that in order to pass him, I had to cross over a furrow of sand he left in the center that was about 18" deep. I worked my way through the sand, got around him, then worked my way through only getting caught in the loose sand once.

Even with the road conditions, I still managed to make it to the park about 45 minutes after pulling off of 550. Not bad, but I was starting to feel a little tired and my bike was close to over-heating. I checked into the visitors center, and took off for a little hike in the ruins. However, the combination of the head cold, the heat, and the altitude got the better of me and I decided to sit down and rest for a few minutes.

While getting ready to leave I ran into two guys on enduros who had come in from the southern exit. By their description, it sounds like that is the better way to enter and leave the park, but I decided to exit via the way I came. After running the loop through the park, I hopped back on 7950 and made my way towards 550. This time it took me 45 minutes just for the dirt, but I was proud that I made it back onto terra firma without spilling the bike once.

I refilled my camelbak with more water and Gatorade, then stopped in Cuba for gas. When I arrived back in Albuquerque at 6:15 it was 102F. Sean and his father arrived fifteen minutes later.

Total mileage: 508/2341.

My journal has this one note at the end: "Although I'm not really religious, anyone who doubts the existence of God needs to spend time in red rock country."

Tuesday, June 21

I woke up very sick with a hard time breathing. It seems that the exertion from the previous day moved my head cold into my chest.

Not good.

We got a late start and left Albuquerque around 9:00AM. We took I-40 west to Gallup then US-491 north to 264. US-491 used to be known as US-666, but about two or three years ago someone got their shorts in a wad over having a highway with "the devils number" so we renumbered it.

Once on 264 we continued west to Ganado, Arizona where I got a G. 264 was interesting, running us up to about 6500' through some forests. I saw a coyote running along the side of the road..

After our photo op, we hopped on 191 north to Arizona 59. 191 ran along the top of a ledge and was very windy. 59 ran through the middle of nowhere, but parts were quite pretty as we passed through red canyons and cliffs.

We took 59 all the way to the end, and then continued on into Kayenta where we stopped for lunch at The Blue Coffee Pot. We were pretty much the only tourists in TBCP, but the chicken salad sandwich was delic.

After lunch we went through Monument Valley, where Sean and I played a round of dueling cameras. With temperatures over 100F, it was really hot, but just when we felt like complaining we came across a group of bicyclists who were riding from San Diego to Atlantic City as part of the Race Across America. Heck, I figured if they could continue to sit there and peddle, the least I could do is work the throttle.

After Monument Valley we continued on 191 up towards Monticello. Just south of there we were stuck in traffic as there is road construction at the "Devil Overpass". While in traffic we met two guys from Arizona, Rodge and George, who were also headed to Montrose for the ST.N national. Rodge was on an ST3 and George a K1100RS.

We chatted a bit, and then when traffic opened up we stayed as group. However, in Monticello they pulled off to get a room while we worked our way up the Abajo mountains to the Canyonlands Overlook.

After the Abajo, we worked our way to Moab. When we arrived in Moab I decided I needed to find a drug store and get something for my chest cold. I also wanted to make an appointment at a clinic to make sure I was healthy enough to continue the trip.

I picked up some Robitussin caplets because I wanted the expectorant, and made an appointment at the clinic for 8:40AM local time the next morning.

We managed to get the last rooms at a Super 8, and I picked up an M before we had dinner at the Poplar Place. I had the lasagna and a Guinness, and it was as good as I remembered from the last time I breezed through Moab.

Mileage: 485/2826.

Wednesday, June 22

I woke up feeling better than I had in two days. Although the Robitussin seemed to be working, I still wanted to get a professional opinion.

Because we had time to kill, we decided to hit 128 as the sun was rising. I rode with Sean and Pat (his dad) for the first 25 miles, then I turned back so I would catch my appointment while they followed it to I-70.

I arrived at the clinic a few minutes early, but I used the opportunity to fill out the various forms that doctors invariably have for you. I explained to the doc that I was about 2000 miles from home, on a motorcycle, and that I intended to be home by Saturday.

She said that my chest sounded clear, and that it seemed like the Robitussin had done some good. She offered to write me a prescription for a steroid, but that in her opinion I was probably over the worst of it and as long as I paid attention to myself I'd be fine for the return trip.

She also recommended taking Wednesday off, just to give me a day to catch some rest, and she warned me that I may have a relapse shortly after arriving home just from the exertion. I told her we were only heading to Montrose, and then I would take the rest of the day off, and she said good.

We left Moab around 11:30AM (EST), and headed south to 46, which we took to 90, then 141 to 145 to 62 and finally 550. The 46/90 combination was really fun, with some nice switchbacks around the state line. 141-145 were OK, but it rained on us for about ten minutes. 62 was absolutely gorgeous, and we stopped to get a few photos. Once we were on 550, we got stuck in traffic, but we still managed to make it into Montrose by about 3:30 (EST).

I got to meet up with some old friends, and make some new ones. I put some faces together with screen names, and had a beer. I had dinner again with Mary and Mike, and made plans to have dinner with them next year in Virginia. Then, I sat in the hot tub in my room for fifteen minutes, then went to bed.

Total mileage: 220/3046.

Thursday, June 23

The gods were smiling on me this morning, because when I woke up bright and early I felt better than I had in a week. Because of how good I felt, I decided to skip the Robitussin, which would also give me a better gauge of how my body was doing. I packed up the bike, checked out of the hotel, and hit the road by 7:10AM (EST).

I headed east on US-50 towards Gunnison. Aside from a brief stretch where 50 is now a dirt road, approximately 5 miles east of Montrose, the route was perfect. I passed through the Blue Mesa area as the sun was rising and caught one of those perfect sunrises you're lucky to see.

In Gunnison I stopped for breakfast and talked with a few people who were doing Ride the Rockies. After breakfast I spoke briefly with one of the staff and asked if it was a tour, or a race.

"Well, it's a tour. But some people just can't help themselves, and to them it's a race."

Because it was getting cool, I decided to put my jacket liner on and continued west on 50 over Monarch Crest. The elevation might have been high, but the view was perfect.

Before I got to Canon City, I saw a woman painting landscapes along the Arkansas River. I stopped and asked her if she minded being a subject for me, and she agreed, so I shot about half of a roll of film.

The canyon which she had turned into a studio was stunning, red rock walls with green vegetation covering everything. Afterwards, I continued on 50 east towards Canon City.

By this point in my trip I had forgotten about how some people can be assholes, but while I was getting gas I was reminded that not everyone is pleasant. Oh well, I wasn't going to let a dickhead ruin my trip, and I shrugged his comments off as I continued towards Salida and Pueblo.

The route from Montrose to Salida is quite pretty and hilly, but from Salida to Pueblo Colorado becomes a prairie. There were lots of deer along the prairie, and in Pueblo I saw military jets performing maneuvers.

Outside of Pueblo I hopped on 96, which crosses from Colorado into Great Bend, Kansas. Within fifteen miles of Pueblo there were four or five prisons on 96, but after that not a heck of lot else. There was very little traffic on the road, and I started playing a game of counting how many minutes it took before I saw another vehicle.

Most of the time I saw a car within three minutes, but I hit ten minutes at one point.

In Colorado I also saw a large number of cyclists with their bikes fitted with panniers and/or trailers. They looked like they were doing a cross country trek, but they were spread out too far to be part of the same group.

While riding through this region my mind was able to visualize how the prairie must have looked, with bison running free, even just 150 years ago.

Crossing into Kansas was a night and day experience for me because although eastern Colorado had the same flat grasslands, it lacked the wind that Kansas had. The wind was horrendous, it blew my face shield up several times, and kicked up dirt and dust from all of the farms reducing visibility.

I stayed on 96 into Great Bend, then hopped on US-56 to 150, and eventually made my way back onto US-50. I took US-50 into Emporia, where I got an E.

I stopped for dinner, then called my wife Sandy, then Sean and Pat to let them know I was alive, and then my friend Josh to confirm our plans to get together Friday night. After dinner I took I-35 to Ottawa, Kansas where I got a room.

Although I still felt great, I decided to get to bed early because I knew I had a long day ahead of me.

Mileage: 751/3797.

Friday, June 24

I once again got an early start. After checking the tires, and finding the rear down about 2psi, I topped it off and started on my way to Independence, MO. Just like Hope, I was going to add another president to my list.

I followed 35 up to 435 to 70, and pulled into the Post Office around 8:30AM (EST). I then hopped back onto I-70 headed towards St. Louis, and what would be my last post office of the trip.

On the trip east, the sky was incredibly hazy and bright. There was quite a bit of dust, which helped increase the glare and even with my sunglasses my eyes hurt.

Due to lane closures on I-70 in Missouri (MM 50-54, 62-64, 190-195), it took me about four hours to arrive in East Saint Louis, IL. I got my E, and while packing my bike back up a very well dressed gentleman asked if I was lost and needed help.

He told me, "Whenever I see anyone like you, I make sure they know where they're going and not lost."

I appreciated the gesture, and explained what I was up to. I showed him the pictures I had already taken, along with my flag, and he found it amusing. He then wanted to know I knew how to get back to I-64, and I showed him the GPS and explained it had good auto-routing.

He wished me luck, and I took off following the GPS as it took me on a tour through the neighborhoods of East Saint Louis. Everyone was exceptionally friendly, including the many women I met on the street corners who kept asking if I knew what I wanted.

However, they seemed to have me confused with someone named John.

"Hey John, do you know what you're looking for honey?"

At any rate, I made it back onto I-64 safe and sound, and started heading to Atlanta. It was about 12:30 (EST), and I had nothing to do with the fire.

About ten miles east of ESL, I-64 had a few lane closures which slowed traffic down. In the town of Mt. Vernon I hopped on I-57 headed south-bound to I-24. It had been four years since the last time I had ridden through Mt. Vernon, and I swear it's grown by a magnitude since then.

It was a very hot day, and the weather channel later informed me it was near record heat throughout rural Illinois. At the Illinois/Kentucky border I stopped in Metropolis for lunch. Damn, if I was two weeks early I would have caught the Superman Celebration too.

I-24 in Kentucky is longer than I remembered, but it still went by pretty quickly. Amazingly enough, I-24 in Tennessee looked more like Kentucky is supposed to than Kentucky did.

My timing, as always, was impeccable and I managed to arrive in Nashville at 5PM EST, on a Friday. I managed to enjoy rush hour, and then lane closures on I-24 headed to the Noog slowed me down even more.

I stopped for gas about 20 miles West of the Noog, and asked the gas station attendant about how long it took to get to Atlanta. She informed me about three hours, and I believed her rather than my GPS, which turned out to be a big mistake. I called my buddy Josh and told him that I would be in an hour later than originally planned, and well that decision screwed up my plans because when I arrived an hour earlier than expected, he was busy at Stone Mountain with his in-laws while I was sitting in the Cycle Gear parking lot with my thumb up my behind.

Rather than waiting for them to return for a few hours, and rather than trying to get directions to his wife's work, which involved riding into downtown Atlanta, going through eight stop-lights, passing a dozen shops, and taking about 3 lefts and two rights, to pick up a key to their place, I decided to check into a hotel and get dinner.

I found a Holiday Inn Express, which made me smarter by Saturday. And then I enjoyed a nice dinner at a Carrabas. My waitress was Sage, and she was very nice.

I ordered the steak and a beer, and it was good.

Mileage: 850/4647.

Saturday, June 25

One of my wife's friends was celebrating her 30th birthday on Saturday, and I wanted to make it home in time to go to the party. I left Atlanta around 7:30AM, ready to finally head home.

As I made my way along I-75, the sound of my tires spinning against the asphalt made a melody.

Instead of my riding pants, I opted just for jeans today. Around Cordele a light rain started to sprinkle. Rather than stopping to don my rain gear, I let the water soak my clothes, cleansing me of the last bit of muck that had been bottled inside before I went on my trip.

As I crossed the state line, for once, Florida lived up to its namesake -- the clouds broke, the sun shone bright, and the sky was a brilliant blue. I arrived home shortly after 1PM, 4988 miles and 8 days after leaving the week before.

My ride was done.

Posted at: 22:38 on 27/06/2005   [ / ] #

Sat, 31 Jan 2004

My trip to the Florida Keys
Since I've got Bloggorhea today, I figured I'd go ahead and write about my trip to Key West.

About 20 people from Gainesville headed down to Key West last weekend to run the Half Shell - Half Marathon in Key West. It's a pretty serious race you know, it starts and finishes at the Half-Shell bar.

Because I knew Ad was sick, I wanted to get down to Miami on Thursday evening so that I could spend some time at his place Friday. Sandy, Drake, and I piled up into the car and headed down to Miami on Thursday after work. We made pretty good time and arrived at Geordan's house around midnight. Drake and I had a nightcap of Jameson's, then went to bed.

We got up the next morning and headed out for breakfast. While at breakfast, Brian called me to tell me they had to go to a doctors appointment at 10:45. So, we hoofed it over to Ad's place to visit. We were there for about an hour, but then they had to go to the doctors, so we headed down to the keys.

Since Drake had never been to Miami before, I decided to take him through some of the more scenic parts of the city. We took Sunset out to Le June Road, at which point we hopped on Old Cutler. We followed Old Cutler down through Saga Bay to Goulds, and eventually popped out on US 1 around S.W. 230th Street.

I had wanted to visit the Knaus Berry Farm, but I was not sure of their address. However, luck was in my court and I saw a sign from US 1 pointing the way (248th street). We headed to the farm for some yummy strawberries, whole grain bread, and sweet rolls. Oh yeah, and a signature raspberry shake (yumm!).

After the trip to Knaus, we continued south to Florida City. A quick stop for gas and water, and we were headed into the keys.

It's been four or five years since I had been to the keys, and I had forgotten how pretty the area by the biscayne national park is. The glades were teaming with life, the sky was blue and clear, and the temperature was in the mid-70's. A truly better day could not be found.

When we made it to Holiday Isle we stopped at the World Famous Tiki Bar for one of their rum runners. Well, we really had two (one for Drake, one for me). Just as I remembered, they turned my face and extremities numb..

Continuing south, we stopped for lunch and pictures in Marathon. After lunch we finished the trek to Key West.

We spent the weekend in the Seascape Inn which is half a block south of Duval Street on Olivia. It's a nice B&B, but a bit pricey. What the heck though, we were on holiday.

Drake and I stretched our legs by going for a quick two mile run. We ran to the Southernmost point, then headed to Mallory Square. I think the actual total is 2.6 miles and we did it in 21 minutes, not too shabby. After the run it was time for debauchery of the highest order.

We picked up Sandy, Tim, and Rebecca, then headed down to Mallory Square to catch the sunset. The freak show was in full force ("Helloooo Osciiir?"), but amusing. We grabbed a few beers as the sun set and just hung around for awhile.

After sunset we headed to dinner at Mangoes. We picked up Bill and Colleen and their two children, which brought our party up to 9. Mangoes was "OK" but it was probably the worse meal of the trip (Denny's excluded), and it wasn't cheap. If you're going to Key West anytime soon I'd say skip Mangoes and go to Blue Heaven instead..

After dinner it was time for the Duval Street Pub Crawl. We hit a few bars that I don't remember the names of, and some I do. We stopped at the Hogs Breath Saloon long enough to do a couple of shots of Jim Beam, before we finally wound up at Sloppy Joes. SJ's used to be the favored stomping grounds of Ernest Hemmingway, but I imagine the atomosphere has changed since his day.

There was a house band that was tearing up the place. We drank and danced well past 2:00 A.M. when Sandy started to pumpkin.

We headed back to the Seascape to drop Sandy off. On the way back we ran into some street musicians that weren't any good. Drake asked if he could join their band, and then proceed to give them guitar lessons; I have to admit I was pretty impressed with how good he was.

After dropping Sandy at the hotel, we had a comedy of errors trying to find Drake's place. Everyone kept telling us that the address for his hotel was "706 Truman, just like Leonardo's 706" but there was no Truman 706. It turned out his hotel was 709 Truman but we didn't find that out until Saturday...

After giving up on finding his hotel, we managed to lock ourselves out of the Seascape. Sandy, as usual, had her cell phone off, so every effort we made to call her was a complete failure. We tried banging on the windows for the room, but she slept through it. Whoops, we made her dance too hard.

After much consideration, we decided to camp in her car until the morning when I could call the B&B owners and get let into the hotel. We finally crashed around 4:00am, but were back up by 7:15am when the rooseters woke us up.

Saturday I was pretty much a complete wreck. Having only had about 4 hours total of sleep, I was pretty exhausted. However, I persevered and we did some stuff. Drake took off to find his hotel (and he did), and he crashed until 12:30. Sandy had other plans for me, including a scooter rental and riding around the island.

Since we were there to run a race, I thought it might be nice to have a look at the course. We took the scooter and followed the course for most of the 13.1 miles. The course, and island, were scenic and we had fun on the scooter. After the rental we headed over to a crafts fair that was going on, but it wasn't very good. I have to admit I would have thought a crafts fair in Key West would have been better than it was..

Sandy finally agreed to let me catch a quick cat-nap, so I got in an hour of Zzzzz's. After that it was time to go to the half-shell bar and do packet pickup. While there we met up with most of the other Gainesville Running Crew and we made plans for dinner. We went to Blue Heaven, which was, well trying to avoid the pun, heavenly. The atmosphere is great, the food was fantastic, and the prices were reasonable.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to go to bed. We had to get up early in the morning for the race, so off to bed we went.

Sunday morning I woke up at 5am to get ready for the race. The start time was 7, and being anally punctual, I had to be at the starting line by 6:30am. We drove Rebecca and Colleen to the starting line, so they had to deal with my temporal management capabilities. Sorry guys.

Right before the race Iain and Drake finally showed up. They were both wearing 1:45 pace bands, which I thought was a little silly. Iain had never run a race, and in training he wasn't as fast as Drake. Although Drake can run a 1:45 pace, he'd been drinking pretty heavily for two days, and I didn't think it was likely he'd be able to pull it off. At any rate, I decided to ignore their pace bands and do my own run.

Two miles into the run, I was on the east side of the island and the sun was coming up. I had hit the pace I wanted to maintain (9:00) for the first two miles and was feeling good about it. I stopped and stretched out for a minute, figuring the minute I spent stretching at mile two would be worth five minutes worth of cramping at mile 8. Even with the stretching, my third mile was still run in 9:11, so I was still keeping my target pace.

Right after the third mile I saw a lady chasing her dog. The dog had gotten off leash and was "being cute" and playing the I'll put my leash on if you can catch me game.

About 30 seconds after I stopped paying attention to the dog I heard the dog screaming and I turned. Some lady driving an SUV had hit the dog and was dragging it under her front bumper. After about 20 feet, the dog slid under the car and she ran over it with her right rear tire.

I don't know what came over me, but I ran out to her car and made her stop. She was going to leave, and I just started cussing her out. When I say I was cussing her out, I mean I was really cussing her out. I'm still not sure if she deserved _ALL_ of the shit I gave her, but she definately deserved some of it because she was planning on splitting..

I screamed at her for about a minute or two, and finally another runner pulled me off her car. As I said, I was a bit wound up. But, when I was pulled off, she wound up turning around and at least stopping for the lady with the dog. I still feel for that poor woman who saw her dog get run over by some idiot that wasn't paying attention..

After the dog, I went back to the race. It was hard to focus on running, but I tried. I wound up meeting a guy from Rhode Island that had run the same race the year before. He told me that it was much cooler in 2003 because it had been overcast, and so he convinced about a dozen friends of his to come down and run it by promising it wouldn't be soo hot (hahahahaha).

The joke was on him I guess because the warm air felt like someone was blowing you with a hair dryer.

I continued making my target pace of around 9:00-9:10. At the six mile mark I saw Iain and Drake running together about 50 yards in front of me. The story of the Tortois and the Hare came to mind as I watched Drake take off.. Iain was starting to slow down and I passed him right after the half-way split. My split time was 1:01.23.

I asked Iain how he was doing, and he said fine but tired. I told him he was doing well, and continued past him. I kept hitting my marks and felt strong the whole way. At mile 8 I started passing several people that had previously passed me when I was holding back at the beginning. George, you'd be proud!

After mile 9 I was starting to feel a little tired. It was H-O-T, hot. I decided to walk through all of the water stops but do no other walking. I also decided to start dumping water on my head at every water stop. A nice gorilla gave me gatoraid at the 9.5 mile water stop, and I didn't even stop to ask why she would wear a gorilla suit in hot as hell weather..

I kept running strong, mile 10 was in 9:29, mile 11 in 9:03, mile 12 in 9:22, and the last 1.1 miles went by in 10:23. I finished the race feeling strong in 2:02.49 -- almost exactly the same time I ran in the 1999 MCM (2:02.19) with almost two identical split times.

After the race, everyone was concerned about Drake. He ran a 1:55, which is pretty damn incredible since the first half took him an hour. However, he wasn't doing so good -- his face was numb and he couldn't move his mouth. We eventually determined it was probably a mineral imbalance (Dr. Rios thought maybe a potassium imbalance), but we were a little worried. After all, it was hot and they had to call an ambulance for one other runner.

Overall, everyone did well. Rebecca ran a 1:45 and won her age group, Drake ran a 1:55 and scared everyone, Curtis ran a 1:55 and did well, I ran a 2:02 and was happy, Iain ran a 2:11 which was awesome considering he had never ran a race of any distance before, Colleen ran a 2:21, Thor and Jaime finished in 2:46, Janet Galvez also finished in 2:47, and Ginnie racewalked it in 2:56. Fantastic!

After the race we went to Colleen and Bills for Margaritas, and they were great! When the pitchers were gone we went for brunch and mmmmm the food was yummy. If you're headed to Key West, add Cafe Sole to your brunch menu.

When we were done with brunch, it was time to bid several of our friends farewell. Iain, Lynn, Drake, Thor, and Jaime headed back to Gainesville. The rest of us decided to go to the Hemmingway house and play with the kitties.

We did the tour, then went back to the hotel. I sat outside and read for an hour or so, re-reading For Whom The Bell Tolls. We finally decided to go to dinner and took off trying to find a place.

The first restaurant was full, so we moved on to Alice's Restaurant. Although you can't get everything you want at Alice's Restaurant, you can get quite a bit of delicious food there. Sandy and I each had the passion fruit salad, and we split a tuna roll and slice of key lime pie. As good as the food is at Alice's (and it is good), the place is a bit expensive so if you go to Alice's, take your visa.

After dinner, we went back and packed up for the long drive. Sandy and I left Key West at 6:30am and made it home by 3:00pm.

Posted at: 03:32 on 31/01/2004   [ / ] #

Wed, 03 Dec 2003

Motorcycle Travel the old fashioned way
These guys were really tough.

Posted at: 21:26 on 03/12/2003   [ / ] #

Sun, 22 Jun 2003

My trip to the Sport-Touring.Net 2003 National, in Custer, South Dakota.

You should read Part I first.

Part II. From SLC and to Minnesota

I arrived at the BMW dealership at 8:00am localtime, even though I knew they wouldn't open until 9. That was fine, I wanted to have the time to let the bike cool down so they could get started on it as soon as they opened; it needed it's 18000 mile service, annual service, and a new rear tire, and I still wanted to get part of the way into Wyoming before calling it a day.

I pulled out my camp chair and read until 9am when they opened. The guy who checked me in asked, "Where are you from" and I told him. Unimpressed, he said "We've been getting lots of people from Florida lately" -- what, are we lepers or something??

At any rate, they took the bike in, and got started on it while I made myself comfortable in their visitors lounge. Now, if you're a beemer rider and you're near SLC, you really need to check this place out. Their visitor lounge has it all, every single map you can get your hands on, espresso machine, and internet kiosks. I spent most of the morning sending email to a few friends, as well as composing and posting Part I of this report to a few web-boards (note: I've revised Part I after reviewing my journal for the trip, and included route numbers and daily mileage for the curious).

By 1:30pm localtime my bike was ready and I was on the road. Although I really wanted to avoid the slab as much as possible, I knew that there was no other way to make decent time into Wyoming, so I reluctantly headed towards I-15. I took I-15 south to I-80, then headed East into Wyoming (Land of Wind Tunnels).

Unlike New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, the rock formations which framed the road in south-western Wyoming were not red. Instead they were a greenish-blue, as if they were loaded with copper ore. The roads were apparently made of the same rock becaue the asphalt on the interstate had a bluish tint to it. The contrast between the roads and the surrounding countryside produced an eery image when viewed through polarized lenses.

I continued on I-80 to Rock Springs, exit 104, where I headed north on 191. The wind was howling coming from the west, and I rode at a serious lean. A few miles on 191 and I came across a lone rider on an ST-1100 with Tennessee plates. I waved as I passed him, and he decided to keep up. We rode at a rather spirited pace along 191, the wind causing us to work the left side of our tires pretty well, as we raced (not figuratively) along the prairie.

We stopped at a park in the town of Eden, and chatted for a bit. His name was Robert Lee, and he's from Memphis; but I doubt he's named after the famous general from the War of Northern Aggression. He was on his own solo trip and was heading on 191 into Yellowstone. I told him about the national, and invited him on the trip -- offering to give him Josh's meal ticket since Josh was a no-show.

He thanked me, but said he always wanted to visit Yellowstone. We talked for about 20 or 30 more minutes, as if we were two solitary travelers exchanging news from some long forgotten time, before finally heading our seperate ways.

I veered east on WY-28 and headed toward Lander. The wind in Wyoming was howling now, and I noticed that it was such a persistent entity that the tops of many of the surrounding hills were scrubbed clean as if they were bones in an acid bath. The grass could not establish a foothold in the places where the wind continually tore at them.

In Lander I hopped on 789 east towards Riverton. Of course, I ran into that persistent thorn in my side, 'road work ahead,' on 789. There was a five mile stretch where the road was nothing but dirt and gravel, and several other places the road was one-laned.

I stopped in Riverton for dinner, then took 26 north into Shoshoni. On 26 I encountered the most unique single-laned road -- it was completely self-serve. A light stopped one side of traffic for two minutes while it let the other side travel. How odd, but if it works for them...

In Shoshoni I hopped on 20. While on 20 I passed "Red Canyon" which was stunning. Beautiful red hills with lush greenery everywhere. The contrast between the orange and green was very pretty.

Continuing on 20, I eventually came into Boysen State Park and Wind River Canyon. They had road-side camping for $12, so I went ahead and pitched my tent. A valuable lesson was learned, camping in a place with the word "Wind" in the name can be trying; even with my ear plugs in, I still thought I was stuck in a hurricane all night long. I'm sure Lewis and Clark didn't have it so rough when they came through here..

Total miles: 383/3149

Wednesday, June 4th

I woke up bright and early and broke camp in a hurry, mostly to keep everything in my campsite from blowing away. I headed north on US-20 into the town of Thermopolis, home of the worlds largest warm mineral spring.

After taking a few photos, I continued on 20 into the town of Worland, where I grabbed a quick breakfast. It looked like it might rain on me, which would have sucked, so I dragged out the rain gear and prepared for the worst.

In Worland I hopped on US-16 and followed into Buffalo. If you're ever in Wyoming, you MUST take this route. Heading east, it takes you into Ten Sleep Canyon, and then into the Big Horn Mountain range via the Cloud Peak Skyway.

Ten Sleep is a small community with a very artistic feel to it. There are Bed and Breakfasts every ten feet or so, and the whole area is very scenic with rolling hills, snow capped mountains, rivers, and small workshops.

Continuing east on 16, I crossed into the Big Horn National Forest and Mountain Range. The fresh scent from the surrounding pine trees filled my nostrils, and deer were everywhere. US-16 has several gentle sweepers as you slowly make your way to an elevation of 9673'. At 9600', I was almost level with the snow capped peaks, and the view was breathtaking.

I continued on US-16 through the mountain range until I reached the town of Buffalo. I had to hop on the slab in Buffalo, but it wasn't too bad since most of this area of Wyoming is rural. I took I-90 east to exit 153, where I stopped for gas and water. Then I took US-14 north into Devils Tower National Park.

Devils Tower is one of our most recognizable landmarks, and our first national monument. Indian legend says that Devils Tower got it's unique markings when seven young women were being chased by a bear. They called out for help, and one of the spirits raised the ground they were standing on to take them out of harms way. As the ground rose, the bear clawed at the peak, dragging it's nails into the earth, thus creating the distinctive ridges which surround the tower.

Devils Tower is also recognizable from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was the meeting place where the aliens landed to meet with us. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find Richard Dreyfuss anywhere.. :-(

Maybe he was hiding out with Jodie Foster??

I paid the $3 admission, and played tourist. 200 yards into the park there was a field filled with little holes and several cars were stopped. Being the eternally curious sort, I stopped too and quickly noticed several prairie dogs standing up from their holes. Many were just sitting, begging for food. I asked a ranger if I could play "Whack-A-Mole," but he just threatened to throw me out of the park. Some people have no sense of humour.

I rode around to the forbidden side of Devils Tower, and searched in vain for the secret military base. I was denied in Roswell, and once again I was denied any chance to see the aliens from Planet X.

After leaving the park, I headed south-east on 14 until I came into the town of Sundance. Sundance, WY is not the same Sundance that is famous for the indy films, and it's better left undescribed..

Knowing my plan was to arrive in Custer, I hit the slab once again. If you're on a bike, and you're in south-western South Dakota, there's a place you have to visit, and I was on my way there. 35 minutes later, and I was in Sturgis.

I stopped in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum, and took some photos. I asked if they had any postcards in their gift shop, but they reacted as if I was saying, "Mmmphf booklesplat smeagle," and then directed me to a gift shop down the road. You'd think that the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum would have had postcards...

After taking care of the postcard business, I took 385 south. My plan was to ride it all the way into Custer, but I was to be denied this simple wish. You see, it had been awhile since my nemesis had plagued me, and this time 'road work ahead' really had it in for me. Instead of 385, I was directed to take an alternate route (85) into the town of Lead, home of the Gold-Diggers. In Lead, I was directed to a dirt road which stretched 7 miles until it finally arrived back on 385, about 10 miles south of where I started.

Actually, the detour was quite scenic. It took me through a small valley with a pretty cottage, and a stream running right down the middle. Hey, I was in Ponderosa!! I think I see Hos over there!

(an aside) Why is the school mascot for Lead, SD the "Gold Diggers"? Didn't they ever think it through? "And everyone, let's welcome YOUR GOLD DIGGER CHEERLEADERS!" (yeah, great one guys).

Back on 385 south, I debated about whether or not I would stop to see Mt. Rushmore now, or wait until later. I decided it would be better to head into Custer and check in for the national, rather than potentially missing the group dinner.

About 15 miles from Custer, I was once again struck by my arch-nemesis, and was held up in traffic. This time there was some lady from Polk County slowing traffic down on top of 'road work ahead.' I looked down at the GPS, and saw that there was a turn off coming up that would put me right at the entrance to the American Presidents Resort, and would most likely take me out of the traffic. I double checked the route on my AAA map, and it looked good, but I was really curious what those little squiggle marks on the GPS meant...

I took 87 from 385 south to the entrance to Custer State Park, then hopped onto 89. 89 took me right into 16-A, and right next to the entrance to the American Presidents. So, that was my introduction to "Needles Highway" in the Black Hills. What a serious trip that turned into, it's awesome. Forget Deals Gap, this thing has all of the turns, and no damn traffic to boot. And those squiggle marks, well I've been scouring the GPS base maps to find more of them!

I checked in at the camp-ground, paid my $12.50 fee, and setup my tent. About 5 minutes after I finished getting my tent set, some guy on a completely mud covered SV-650 comes up and starts talking. He turns out to be Mike, King Kaz, from North Dakota where he's studying to be an air traffic controller. Hmm, what is it with people and blue SV-650's that are studying to be air traffic controllers? (I know two of them now).

We then met up with Dave from Texas, and shot the breeze for awhile. Eventually it was time to head to the VFW, and away we went. Dinner was fun, I sat next to Carl - "I'm on the road for the next five years, and pass the god damned pepper foo," and everyone had a good time. As soon as dessert was done, Mike and I split to go see if we could catch Mt. Rushmore at sunset.

I took him on 89, then 87, and showed him the road I had found. He was giggling like a school-girl on her first date when he was done riding that road, and to be honest, so was I. It's really a fun little road.

We made it up to Mt. Rushmore, but the monument wasn't lit up and it was too dark to get any decent photos. So, we decided to head over to the Crazy Horse Monument, which was lit up. We arrived at Crazy Horse just as they were closing, but the attendant let us in to check the site out anyway. We went ahead and rode up, and I took some photos but unfortunately they didn't come out.

We headed back to the presidents where I was ready for bed. I went to sleep, and was woken up about 1am my time (I stayed on EST for the whole trip) by mnrstrider (?) telling me that I was silly to leave so early because I had won an award at the dinner. He presented me with my award, "farthest person from home, roughly 1900 miles" which included a $50 gift certificate for Aerostitch.

Thanks! Oh yeah, and at next years meet I'll be presenting a little token to the winner of the award (and it better not be me), hehheheh.

Total miles: 483/3632

Thursday, June 5th

Being bummed out about the photos from the night before, I really wanted to get up to Mt. Rushmore and get some pictures in the morning. I also knew I was planning on heading into Minnesota (Land of Paul Bunion) that day, so I broke camp then told Mike my plan. I said, "I'm going to go to Mt. Rushmore and take some photos, I'll be back in 40 minutes if you want to go riding later."

He was cool with the plan. I headed toward Mt. Rushmore on 385, and got there in about 15 minutes. I took several photos, then headed back to Custer; total round-trip time was about 45 minutes.

Mike, Texas Dave, and myself headed over to the "Internet Cafe" where Dave and I had breakfast. Mike had already filled himself up with a filling bowl of students staples (ramen). At breakfast we discussed plans; the weather looked like it was going to be bad, so Dave decided to head to Colorado. Mike and I wanted to do the other half of needles, then hit the badlands, so that's what we did.

We headed back up 89 to 87, then took 87 south. We had to pay our $5 entrance fee, but that was fine. The southern part of 87 is not as challenging as the northern part, but it was still fun. There are several switchbacks to keep you interested, and it runs through a pretty forest filled with tall pines and birch trees.

In one of the switchbacks I felt this banging on my foot, and realized I was scraping my pegs with a fully loaded bike. 87 eventually ends into 16A, which we followed east to 36, then we took 36 into Hermosa. The route followed several little valleys, with gently rolling hills and forests. Deer were everywhere, and it was very relaxing and pretty.

Once we got to Hermosa, our plan was to follow 40 east for a ways, and then hop onto this road which had no number, but showed up on the AAA map. We weren't entirely sure if it was going to be a dirt road or not, but it was a short cut into 44 and would pop us right through Buffalo Gap and well on our way into the badlands.

About 5 miles down 40 my arch-nemesis struck again. Yes, that's right, 'road work ahead' was at it again. We were stopped for about 5 minutes until we were given the go-ahead. Half-way through the one-lane road I spotted the turn off on the left. Sure enough, it was dirt, but it looked like it was hard packed enough that it would be manageable. I looked at Mike, and he gave me the thumbs up, so off we went.

The road headed north for a mile or so, then veered east. It was packed well enough at the beginning that we were able to make reasonable time (~40mph). About 15 miles into the road though, the gravel was loose and the rear end of my bike was getting a little squirrelly. Not to be one bothered by trivial details like having my rear-end slide out from under me, I kept trekking on, and eventually we came to a junction which had the road I was looking for. We headed due north, and about 10 miles later we emerged on Hwy 44, a bit dustier for sure, but safe and sound.

We took 44 through the Badlands National Park to Cedar Pass. At Cedar Pass we each paid our $5 entrance fee, then stopped at a little cafe. The weather was looking really rough, and I really hoped to make Minnesota by nightfall, so we agreed to split up. I wished Kaz a good ride, and thanked him for the trip, then we each went our seperate ways. I headed North-East on 240, but didn't get more than 5 miles away when the rain finally caught up with me in Cactus Flats.

In the process of putting my rain jacket on, the plastic holder for my chatterbox broke; no more tunes on this trip for me, but this really just emphasized what a poor design the chatterbox is...

I continued north on 240 to I-90, then headed east on I-90 for 12 miles to route 73. I headed north on 73 into the town of Philip, where I got gas and water, then proceeded east on US-14 towards Minnesota.

This area of South Dakota was really empty. Grass prairies spread out in front of me as far as the eye could see. There were several cows, but not much else. About a hundred miles from Philip I arrived in Pierre, which was a medium sized city (probably population 100,000). Between Philip and Pierre I was able to escape the storm, and most of that stretch of road was done in the sun.

After a quick stop for lunch, I left Pierre and continued east on US-14. The area is dotted with large farms, and not much else. Visions of the Stephen King movie, Children of the Corn, flooded my head as I passed several of these farms. Would one of these farms hold a Malachai?

Eventually I started seeing signs on US-14 proclaiming it as the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Highway" -- Laura Ingalls?? Like the "Little House on the Prairie" Laura Ingalls??

Sure enough, when I arrived in the town of De Smet I saw signs proudly describing De Smet as the "Little Town on the Prairie." I always thought she was from Westville, Florida.. I wondered if this is where Nellie Oleson was from too.

Well, the rain started to catch me again, so I stopped at one of the many road-side parks and donned my rain gear again. Although it looked really bad with lightning and thunder crashing around me every which way I could imagine, I never saw more than 10 minutes of rain before reaching Minnesota.

Just before I reached Minnesota I caught up to two other bikers on Harleys. I waved as I passed them, and continued on. When I crossed into Minnesota I noticed windmills everywhere, and stopped to photograph several outside of Lake Benton. As I was taking the pictures, the group passed me again and I inadvertantly got a pretty good shot of one of them waving (or giving me the bird??).

I continued on US-14 into the town of Tyler where I stopped for gas. There was a little old lady trying to figure out how to fill her car (apparently it was the first time she ever saw a pay at the pump type of pump), so I helped her out. She said I had a nice bike and asked where I was from, then wished me a safe trip as I continued on my way.

After filling up, I headed east on US-14 into the town of Florence, from there I hopped on MN-23 into Granite Falls where I checked into a motel for the night. It was starting to get cold, and everything was wet, so I didn't feel like tenting that night. The last entry in my journal for that night read, "242 miles to Duluth, 350 to Canada, and a lake is calling me..."

Total mileage: 572/4204

Posted at: 21:11 on 22/06/2003   [ / ] #

Sat, 21 Jun 2003

My trip to the Sport-Touring.Net 2003 National, in Custer, South Dakota.

Part I. Gainesville to Salt Lake City

Thursday my trip started out OK. Sandy wished me "via con dios" and away I went, leaving Florida (Land of Grey Hairs) at 7:30am. Unfortunately, she also jinxed me by telling me in no uncertain terms that I need to gas up regularly out west so I don't run out of petrol -- I ran out of gas shortly into Alabama (Land of Forrest Gump), 1 mile from the first gas station in the state (Doh!). After pushing the heavily loaded down bike to the gas station, I filled up and grabbed lunch at the worlds slowest gas station, then made my way through Mississippi (Land of Swamps) and Louisiana (Land of Cajuns) towards Texas (Land of the Electric Chair).

Note: I-10 west of Baton Rouge is really messed up because of road construction (I sat in traffic for an hour, I even got off the bike and took photos for posterity). 'Road work ahead' would become a recurring theme, and antagonist, for my trip...

Once I hit Texas I continued like a mad-man until I reached San Antonio, arriving shortly after 11:30pm. I was pretty wiped out, so I just checked into the La Quinta, got signatures for my SS1000, and went to bed.

Total miles: 1035/1035

Friday I headed into New Mexico (Land of Enchanment). I took I-10 west from San Antonio until I hit US-285. I then took 285 north through Pecos (home of the worlds first rodeo) and Carlsbad until I finally arrived in Roswell (Americas first Space Port). I stopped in the International (and interplanetary I must presume) UFO Museum and Research Center.

After my visit to the research center, I headed west towards Socorro on US-70. On the way, I saw the Capitan mountain range, and thought it might be neat to visit the mountains. The only paved route to get there would have put me 160 miles out of my way, but my AAA map showed a 'short-cut' which looked to only have about 10 miles of dirt road.

Since there was a bunch of road construction on 70 through the Hondo Valley anyway, I decided to try my luck with the 'short-cut' to El Cap, and proceeded to head north on NM-368 until it hit the dirt road, 17 miles from 70. I took my chances and off-roaded the first 5 miles of the road until I the road went through a locked gate with a sign that stated unequivocally that it was private property and tresspassers were unwelcome. As if the sign wasn't a good enough deterrant, they had a few cow skulls sitting on fence posts, as if to say "this could be your head on this pike if you cross our property line."

So, I doggedly turned tail and headed back south to 70. Once on 70, I continued west until it split onto 380. I took 380, and came into the town of Capitan, the birth place of Smokey The Bear. I made a quick stop for some gatoraide and met two other guys riding beemers; an RT and an old R75. We chatted for a bit, and they told me they were headed back home to Maine (Land of Frozen Lobsters), and I thought I came a far way...

Continuing on 380, I passed the White Sands Missle Range (where you can buy "Trinitium" from road-side stands), and the "Valley of Fires" which was pretty with the lava rocks and saguro cactii in bloom.

I trekked on into San Antonio, NM, and hopped on I-25 for the 15 mile journey into Socorro, New Mexico (hey does that really mean "help me please" in Spanish???) where I crashed for the night. No, I don't mean "crashed" as in "vehicular wreck" but rather "crashed" as in "went to sleep." The sunset in Socorro was very pretty with the deep reds bringing out the best in the surrounding mountains.

Total miles: 711/1746.

Saturday I took off west on route 60 and saw the VLA (Very Large Array, radio astronomy geeks would know about it), but I couldn't find Jodie Foster anywhere. I guess she's still hanging out in the second base in Japan. The elevation at the VLA was around 6000', and it was COOOOLD! I was really glad to have remembered to pack my jacket liner.

After visiting the VLA, I continued west on 60 into the town of Datil. I stopped at the local greasy spoon, which I think was named "The Grilled Grizzley Inn," and enjoyed a western omelette, with green chili's and all. The waitress and I struck up a conversation about her running; I noticed she had on a "rock-n-roll marathon" sweat shirt. I told her about my two runs at MCM and one run at Disney, and suggested she avoid Disney. I wished her good luck with her running, and continued west.

Always in the search for a good short-cut, I took 60 west to 603, in the hopes that 603 would save me 20 miles or so. It was a dirt road, but I was undaunted. I trekked down it for about 2 miles before giving up; the road was so 'wash-borded' my teeth were chattering and I thought everything was about to fall apart on my bike. I turned around and continued west on 60 to the town of Quemado.

In Quemado I hopped on 36 north through the Navajo reservation. Just a few miles onto 36 and I was stopped because of "road work ahead." 36 was one-laned, and I had to wait for the pilot vehicle to travel 300'. While waiting, I chatted with the flag guy who was pretty impressed I was some idiot on a motorcycle from Florida standing around on a road in the middle of nowhere, but that nowhere being in the desert. Harumph.

After being given the go-ahead, I took 36 until I hit 53, and headed west towards Zuni. A few miles down 53 I turned north on 4 then north on 602. 4 is a really pretty stretch of road which goes through a valley of high cliff walls until it merges back into 602.

I took 602 into the town of Gallup where I stopped for gas and water. After Gallup, I hopped on US-666 (was I on the devil's highway??) up to Cortez, Colorado. US-666 north of Gallup is your typical "Classic Desert" with mesas and plateaus, and scrub brush, and not much else. As stark and barren as it seemed, you could feel the life breathing through the desert; the occassional deer stood and looked from the side, birds flew overhead, and plants were everywhere.

Once in Cortez, I noticed the words "ruins" on my GPS. "Ruins, hunh? Maybe I should check that out" and the 10 minutes later I was at the entrance to Mesa Verde. I went into Mesa Verde, where it looked like it might rain. The ranger said "they're calling for a downpour!", so I quickly setup my tent and sat around waiting for the storm that never came. Oh well, I got to read a few chapters of "Up Country" by Nelson de Mille. After giving up on the rain, I went into the park to look at the Anasazi cliff dwellings -- really neat stuff.

After my trip to through the park, I decided I needed to celebrate my wonderous vacation. I stopped in the camp store and bought a can of Budweiser, the king of beers, to celebrate my travels. That night I cooked Chef Boyardee, and drank bud, and felt like a king.

Total miles: 368/2114

Sunday brought me into Utah (Land of Polygamy). I headed east on the devils highway into Monticello, UT. In front of me were the Abajo Mountains, and they called to me. I rode up to the highest point you can ride (9000'), and got an incredible view of Canyonlands National Park below my feet. Inspired, I headed back into Monticello for some gas and water, then took UT-191 north to UT-211. UT-211 goes into Newspaper Rock state park, and ultimately ends in Canyonlands. Riding around in the valley for a few hours made me wish I had either a dual sport, a 4x4, or less sense because there were plenty of "back country" roads you can traverse to see many neat things.

After Canyonlands I continued north on 191 into Moab. A quick stop for lunch, and I headed down an interesting road, UT-128, which claimed to have 20mph curves for 45 miles. It stretches along the Colorado River, and is pretty scenic with the red cliff walls rising a thousand feet above your head. There were lots of "adventure tour" rafters in the river, and plenty of camping by the side of the road, but I had another destination in mind -- Arches.

I continued North on 191 and went into Arches around 5pm (EST). I arranged to check out the camp-sites, and proceeded directly there. On the way into Arches I ran into another biker on a solo journey across the country. He is from Virginia, but just took a job in Nashville, so arranged an extra month between gigs. I followed him up to the camp-sites, where we chose sites.

I chose unwisely and wound up between some college kids smoking dope and watching National Lampoons Vacation from their portable TV, and some other guy who couldn't stay off his cell phone (he kept calling everyone he knew to say what a lovely time he's having). At any rate, after pitching tent I went for a short hike. My short hike turned into two hours, which included a 30 minute break in a spot where I could hear no sounds except the wind and birds. I think I found bliss..

After my hike I decided "enough with camp food, I'm having a dinner in Moab tonight!" and headed into town. Riding through town I saw a magical sign which called me by name (Guinness Draught on tap), and stopped in at "The Poplar Place". The food was good, the pint was welcomed, and the whole meal (salad, lasagnia, and a pint of the inky stuff) cost $11.

While there I met a guy from New Hampshire (Land of a Thousand Snow Banks) who had just spent the previous two weeks in a 4x4 in the back country, and it showed. However, he also had tales of walking through Anasazi Ruins, finding woven baskets that were still partially intact after 500 years, and just about convinced me I should be on a dual-sport or 4x4 (see above comments about off-roading). I would have really thought he was a crack-pot, but his description of finding the lost City of Cebola was truly enchanting..

Dinner was finished, and I bid the waitress "Adieu" as I made my way back to the camp-site. Just my luck, the sun was setting! I rode through the rich red and pink valleys and hills on my way to the camp-site. The red light flickered off the rocks making their rich colors all the more vivid. I got back to the camp-site just as the sun was going down, and it was really magnificent; pinks, reds, purples and azures everywhere.

That evening, the sky was so clear I laid on my back on a picnic table and watched the stars; I swear it was so clear I was able to make out two satellites at perpendicular orbits (and a dozen or so jet liners, so no, the satellites were not planes).

Total miles: 314/2428

Monday I woke up at 7:45EST (5:45 local time), as the sun was rising. The pink and blue skies were so pretty I had to get a picture of the view from my tent. I broke camp in 15 minutes and went through Arches during the sunrise -- wow. My destination for the day was Salt Lake City, about 250 miles north-west, where I had a scheduled tune-up at the BMW dealership there.

I headed north on 191 until it ends at I-70. I then headed west on I-70 until I arrived in Green River, where I stopped for breakfast. While at breakfast, I met an Viet Nam vet (192nd infantry) who served in '68 (the same year as the Tet Offensive in Khe Sanh). He was returning to his home in Ventura, CA from a trip to D.C. for a big POW/MIA rally that he attended on Memorial Day. We talked for about an hour. The war really screwed up his head, and he's spent most of his life since as a traveling troubadoor (sp?), earning his living as a musician. I bid him good luck on his quest, and continued on I-70 until it reached 191 north.

191 north of Green River was pretty, but we had to stop 3 times because of that 'road work ahead' bastard. There was even one two mile stretch where 191 was nothing but a gravel road. I followed 191 north into the town of Price, where I hopped on 6 north-west to Spanish Fork.

6 was fantastic -- a valley with snow capped mountains surrounding me, a true delight for the eyes. And, although we were stopped for 'road work ahead' once, the 'road work ahead' was to clear out a tree that had fallen on the road..

From Spanish Fork I took I-15 north to Salt Lake, arriving by 2pm (EST).

My first order of business was to find the BMW SLC dealership, just so I knew how to get there on Tuesday when they would be open. Sure enough, the dealership was five miles north of where I thought it would be because it was in NORTH Salt Lake City, which is a completely seperate town. After finding the dealership, I got a hotel in SLC proper, and checked the city out.

It'd been 4 years since I last visited Salt Lake City, and it's changed for the worse. The air quality is down, the traffic is up, and everyone drives like they're from Miami; maybe they are??

I spent the afternoon running some other errands, buying a 128mb CF card for my camera, since I think my 256mb card will be full soon, and some woolite so I could do some laundry. Oh yeah, a shower too; I was a tad grungy after three days in the desert sans shower.

Total miles: 338/2766

Posted at: 19:47 on 21/06/2003   [ / ] #

Thu, 17 Apr 2003

North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia
April 11th
After farting around getting
everything packed on the bike, I was finally ready to leave the house by 8am. I really wasn't sure just where the heck I was going, but I knew it was some place out of dodge. My plan was either TWO in Suches, or this BMW shindig in Cherokee, NC.

I stopped real quick for breakfast at the Mickey Dicks, and by 8:30 was ready to really hit the road. Crap, I had forgotten to charge the chatterbox, which meant no music for me...

I rode on up I-75 to Valdosta, where I stopped for gas at the BP off exit 12. While there I met a fairly friendly guy named George, who I think was supposed to be taking paxil or lithium but had forgotten to take his pills for quite sometime.. He chatted me up for a good 15 minutes before I could finally break free.

Why is it that whenever I am on the road camping by motorcycle everyone wants to chat with me???

About 15 miles after the BP I hit a really bad traffic jam. It took us almost 40 minutes to go a lousey 3 miles because I-75 was turned into a one-lane road at MM29. Between 10am and 11:15am I only managed to clock in 40 hours -- ouch!

It finally cleared up, and I headed north-bound. At 12:30 I stopped in Macon (exit 9 on I-475) for lunch and gas. I stopped and had one of the worlds greatest hamburgers, and boy was it yummy. While at the restaurant I met a guy who wanted to talk about my K1200RS. He apparently wanted a K1200LT, and wanted to chat about traveling and camping by motorcycle...

When I got to Macon I had decided to go to Cherokee, so I called Goddard to ask him which hotel the thing was at. He told me, and I continued to make my way north.

I took the I-675 bypass up to I-285 North/East, then proceeded up I-285 to I-85 East, then proceeded up I-85 to I-985. Pretty soon I was in Gainesville, but I was still 400 miles from home. I continued on I-985 until it turned into GA-365, then took that into 441. From there, I just stayed on 441 heading north.

Just before 4pm I got into Clayton. By this point I was feeling pretty road weary, probably due to dehydration -- I had only stopped twice on the way up and was undoubtably thirsty. I filled up the gas tank and drank some water. I also thought about stopping at the package store for some scotch, but figured there'd be plenty of opportunities in Cherokee...

During the rest of the trip, it was pretty overcast, but there were periodic breaks in the clouds which made everything look pretty.

I continued on into Cherokee, and promptly drove past the best western. I didn't realize my mistake until I was about 5 miles away -- whoops. I turned back, and found the best western. It turned out to be the same one with the rude wait staff that I had had breakfast at last year when I camped in the area, oh well.

I hung out front and met Bruce Smith and Gene Smith, who were not related. Gene and I had dinner around 7:30. Gene told me that it was snowing on 441 southbound from Gatlinburg and that the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed due to snow. It was pretty cold, but I figured there should be some decent riding anyway..

After dinner I went back to my room. The was another blue K1200RS parked next to me. Only this one had what looked like a keg strapped to the back. I met the owner, and he told me that it was an extra 3gal. fuel cell.

I finally went to bed around 10pm. I was pretty pooped, and fell soundly asleep. Total mileage for the day, 486

April 12th
I had breakfast with Tim from Indianapolis and some guy from Tampa. Tim is on the board for the Indianapolis Jazz Festival, and he had some interesting stories. The guy from Tampa was a retired teacher.

After breakfast there was a "group meeting" at 8am to discuss that days events. There was a big deal about an accident that happened the day before, and the event coordinator wanted to make sure there would be no other accidents. I wound up getting together with Gene & Bruce Smith, and Dave from New Orleans for our ride.

We left at 9am, and headed out on the planned course in reverse. The summary is that we took 74 to 28 north, took 28 north to Fontana Village, then on up to the Dragon. We rode the dragon north bound, and stopped at the overlook. At the overlook we met a guy who had been on the road for over a year. We then took the first left past Tallassee on 129, which was TN 72 -- note the Tallassee General Store is now closed, and Geoff's ex-girlfriend was nowhere to be found..

We then took 72 to 411, then 411 to 380 into Tellico Plains. This was the same route Geoff, Lee, and I took back in 2001. After a nice refreshing meal of bean soup, we took the Cheriholla Skyway back into Robbinsville, NC. Then we headed south on 129 until we got to 74. Then north on 74 until we hit the Nantahalla River Road, which we followed until it turned into Wayah Bald Road.

By far Wayah Bald Road was the most technical road we had been on for the entire day, but that's probably because of the twisty turns interspersed with gravel all over the road. We stayed on Wayah Bald until it intersected into 64, then took 64 into 28. We took 28 north, which was one hell of a fun road, until we intersected with 74. From there we headed back into Cherokee.

The farmers in Tennessee and North Carolina had been plowing their fields with the intent of planting this seasons tobacco crops. A rich pungent scent lofted in the air from the rich earthy loam whenever we passed one of the farms. It really was an amazing olfactory sensation.

We stopped for beer in Bryson city; it turns out Cherokee is a dry town, so we needed to stock up.

The order for most of the riding was Gene led, which was the best thing. He has over 30 years of riding experience, and has been visiting the NC area for close to 25 years. Watching Gene ride his R1150RT was like watching Yo-Yo Ma play a Stradivarius -- he was a master practicing his craft. Not a single one of us could keep up with him, even though he was riding a pretty porky touring bike. It just prooves the point that it's not the bike that counts, but the nut loose behind the handle bars.

After the ride, there was a group dinner, which was pretty good. 63 people were at the event, which I guess is a pretty good turn out. I met some guys from Jacksonville, whom I thought I might ride home with (more on that later).

I finally hit the hay around 11pm. The total mileage for Saturday was only 251 miles.

April 13th
I had originally planned on leaving Cherokee by 9am. My thinking was that I should be able to be back home by 5pm, and I wouldn't have to drive like a lunatic to get there.

Andrew and David, the two guys from Jacksonville I had met before, had expressed similar interests in making a 9am kickoff. I woke up at ~7am, and started packing up the bike. While doing that I ran into David who told me they were going to leave earlier than 9.

I asked if they planned on at least having breakfast, and he said that he wanted to get back to Jacksonville early, and that he'd probably just grab something at Hardees. I asked if he'd mind doing a detour on the way back to go ride War Woman Road, and he insisted they were in a hurry.

About 30 minutes later I ran into Andrew, and he was singing a different tune. He said that he wanted to have breakfast with his dad in the hotel, but that he was still on for a 9am kickoff.

I went ahead and hit breakfast in the restaurant at the hotel. I had breakfast with this nice guy from Chattanooga, and we chatted for a bit, but I was done by 8:30am. Because Andrew and David couldn't get their stories straight, I just decided to bail on my own and do my own thing. I was on the road by 8:45am.

On the way out of Cherokee I saw a temperature sign -- 41F, brr, pretty cold for doing 60+ miles per hour. Oh well, I guess that's why the good lord blessed us with heated grips.

I headed south on 441, and just started making my way home. I stopped and looked at the Telila Gorge in Georgia, which was pretty. While there I ran into a harley rider and his wife who were headed up to Cherokee to ride the BRP.

I told him about the BRP being closed due to snow, but gave him some alternate route plans to think about.. He thanked me, and we bid each other a good ride. That's one thing I enjoy about riding -- every other rider I've ever met has always been friendly. Please note, I'm differentiating between "rider" and "biker". I've met several bikers that don't ride, and aren't particularly friendly; you can usually recognize them by which bars they hang out in, or their pride in telling you how many rear wheel horse power their bike puts out.

Just before I hit Milledgeville, I was nearly in an accident. A turkey decided he wanted to cross the road, and he flew right in front of me. When he realized he might be killed, he turned around and flapped his wings as hard as he could back to the side of the road. Although I was startled by the 20lbs avian flying in front of me, I was equally amused by the sight of the portly bird frantically flapping with all of it's might in the hope that it wouldn't become road splatter. Needless to say, I'm glad he made it.

I continued south, until I hit Douglass. I stopped for a quick snack and gas, then headed south again. By this time it had warmed up substantially, and I was *REALLY* glad I had my summer gloves that I could switch to.

By the time I got down towards the southern tip of Georgia, I was feeling really bad. The heat was taking it's toll, and I was not in good shape. Although I knew better, I had only stopped for water twice on the trip down and I was now paying the price. I found it difficult to concentrate on the road, and just difficult to concentrate in general.

I remember seeing a sign for "Willie Johnson Road" and thinking to myself that they couldn't spell Willie Nelson's name properly, and that with all of his tax problems that was nice they named a street after him. Yup, I knew I was in trouble.

The last town in Georgia on 441 is the bustling metropolis of Fargo. Lake City is 34 miles south of Fargo, and I probably would have tried to push on, but a train was going through town and 441 was closed. Sometimes providence really does show you your foibles, or at least looks out for you -- I stopped at the BP and bought a couple litres of water in an effort to recuperate enough to finish the ride home..

One litre went straight into my belly. Another litre was split between my head and my belly. The entire time I just sat on a bench relaxing.. Within 20 minutes the replenishing liquid had its' desired effect and I was feeling like a human being again. I hopped on the bike and proceeded home.

I finally got home around 4:30pm. The total distance I had travelled on Sunday was 462 miles, all on back roads. 441 is still my favorite way to travel to North Georgia because you get gentle sweeper roads, very little traffic, and interesting scenery.

Posted at: 02:02 on 17/04/2003   [ / ] #

Sun, 09 Mar 2003

Greg emailed me yesterday and said "Let's go to Daytona so I can see
Corbin, rather than just going to lunch." We wound up leaving at 9am from Joe's Corner (tm) and made our way to Bike Week.

Once Greg was done screwing around with his bike, and we were able to really get on the road (9:27), we made pretty good time and arrived in Daytona by 11am. I wanted to stop at the Honzuwasaki dealership to get some new rain gear, but they were closed :-(.

After stopping for a moment, we continued on to the Corbin Factory.. Boy, was that a mess because it's right on the "parade route" for Bike Week. Greg and I did our obligatory parade lap, but that was just because we were trying to get to the Corbin parking lot. There's a photo I took while doing our parade lap.

Greg bought himself a new saddle, and then we decided to walk up and down the strip. I'm currently looking for a pair of riding pants, new rain gear, and a pair of riding boots, so we hit all of the shops on Main street.

Unfortunately, there was nothing that I was looking for. I suppose I could have gotten Sandy a leather bikini but I've never really been a big fan of that look.

While we were walking up and down the street, I saw a grungy looking couple which turned out to be Simon and Monika who are on a world tour by GS. I thought it was pretty cool seeing them on Main street since I had just seen their web-site within the previous 48 hours.

Goddard and I then grabbed lunch before heading back in the rain. As I was expecting, it poured cats and dogs on us. c'est liet vie.

Posted at: 22:00 on 09/03/2003   [ / ] #


My photo album
My resume

Presentations and Papers

SAP Filtering 1998
Border Manager 1999
Astronomy Status 2002
Astronomy Update 2003
Linux on a CTX FC2A300
Honeynet Challenge entry