Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30, 2015

Left Wall SD at around 8:00 going east on I-90 for 82 miles and turned south on rt. 83 heading to Valentine, NE.  What beautiful roads and scenery for hours on end.  The two lane south had maybe 3 cars on it over 90 miles and the road crested the hills then did S curves through the bottom and back up.  I guess I was expecting flat but not at all.  A great morning ride in 40 degree weather.  The electrics made it a comfortable ride and the wind that I had been dealing with in SD either was blocked by the hills or had died out.  I arrived in Valentine in time for lunch and ran into this crew:

There were maybe 10 parked in front of a restaurant so I ate there.  Very good home cooking.  When I came out they were getting ready to push one that didn't start.  I joined in and was amazed by what little effort it took to push start these.  It is a club of 15 or 20 that own model A and Model T cars and periodically they take trips for lunch together.  They are from Lincoln, NE. 
After lunch, then realizing that due to time change i had lost an hour, decided to go another 120 to the town of O'Neill, NE.  So far my rule of looking for a motel after 3:00 pm has been a life saver.  For the last 6 days I have gotten one of the last rooms when I stopped and rejected at one.  All the travelers seem to be booking one day ahead and all of the motels have been sold out by 6:00.  Word of warning to fellow travelers.  Most of these towns on rt. 20 are very small with maybe 2-3 mom and pop motels and maybe one Econolodge or Super 8.  I am having a great time, well until I remembered I had to do my laundry.  Quick and easy at the laundramat and now for an early to bed!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Slow start but a gang busters finish!

Left Rapid City around 11:00 due to continual rain all night but the winds came in and dried out everything quickly.  50 degrees and one heck of a breeze.  Took 16 out of Rapid City to 16A around Rushmore but the high winds and fog caused me to pass by with a few picture moments and move on to Crazy Horse some 17 miles down the road.
I fixed it!

ugh, don't know how to fix that but the road was really twisty and beautiful.  I took some video but can't download it now and I will do that when I get back.  Crazy Horse was worth a stop to I spent an hour browsing and watching the movie.

Crazy horse is 200 years from completion but it is going to be huge!  The museum was wonderful and I really want to go back and spend a day.

I left there around 2:00 and travelled back on 16 to Rapid City and my GPS told me to take SD 44 to get to The Bad Lands.  I didn't know or check but SD 44 takes a gradual SE route and you enter the Bad Lands scenic highway 240 from the southern end ending up on I-90 in Wall.  I had hoped to go south and end up in Nebraska so a little change.  The Bad Lands were beautiful.

The park is a definite see if you can get here.  I was warned by the ranger that many of the roads in the park are dirt and they have had flooding and some are impassable.  Where have I heard this before. So ending up in Wall was not bad and I will make time on I-90 tomorrow before I turn south to NE.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015 starting the return

Stopped in to Fort Collins BMW and they fixed my rear view mirror, new tires TKC70's and found a potentially dangerous problem.  The front axel pinch bolt had stripped its' threads and the axel could have come loose.  No part available in the U.S. So they resorted to an old fix, drilling out the threads and inserting a helix steel thread.  This is a temporary fix and will be good for my trip home.  It is so nice having a left and a right rear view mirror!  They also changed the oil and a new air filter.  The 2 hour service stretched out to 6 hours but they handled all the work and I got in a nice 50 minute ride into WY.  Tomorrow I am off to the badlands and will be taking pictures!  The trip begins again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday, May 26th -- packing up for the trek home

Next stop
Ft. Collins for the repair of my bike and a new set of tires.  Tomorrow morning I have a 9:00 am appointment for the bike then off to Wyoming.  I will remember to turn on my spot locator while I intend to see Rushmore then down into SD across on Rt. 20 to Iowa and the bucket list location ......The field of Dreams!  I will then go south through Illinois to Kentucky and my cousins in Nashville, TN.  I am excited, the weather looks good but it always does before I turn on the bike!  That is when the powers that be decide I need a good washing!  No high speed interstates for me on this one and no hurry.  In reality I am just trying to avoid all the weather I saw in OK, AR, MS!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23rd, Boulder, CO

The ride in from Trinidad was cool with light rain.  I have kind of gotten used to the rain.  The weather forecast is for steady warming over the next week.  The trip has been a constant learning about riding, packing, about people and about places.  Yes, the rain has been a downer but a regular old rain is not a problem since on only one day did the rain get through to me!  That day we should have stayed in bed but there was safety in numbers so we booked 275 miles through OK when if I were alone I would have taken a day off.  The bikes, with all the running lights on, probably looked like a comet.  The ride up from Trinidad was cold so I plugged in the electrics and was cozy all the way into Boulder.  
 The visual stimulus has been constant.  The TN mountains were beautiful and we were on dirt trails.  Eastern TN became very flat into MS and at rest stops people would come up to us asking what we were doing and many times apologized for the bad weather.  At one stop a man came over, he was around 80, telling us that he wished he had done this as a young man.  Another man came over to warn us about the roads and produced a map to show us a better route.  
The BMW dealer in Tulsa wanted pictures and bent over backwards to arrange for tires a our future stops and to find me repair parts.  He liked my duck tape windshield repair!  

I am in Boulder now visiting Ryan and Alex and it is great to see them again!  It has helped having a day off the bike yesterday.  The swelling has gone down in my ankle and I can almost walk without a limp.  Would I do this trip betcha!  The only changes I would make are time of year and bringing the big bike for all of the roads.  The thumper has run like a dream and has been very comfortable except in the gusting 20 mph winds.  The light weight of the bike lets it get blown around quite a bit.  I am enjoying Boulder and will check in from time to time then I will be in the road again on Thursday heading home.  I am working on a return route that is warmer and dryer!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015 Trinidad, Co

And now there are 3 remaining.  The 333 miles from Woodward, OK were chilly, but dry with 20 mph gusting winds.  Got to see the countryside for the first time and it was very pretty.  A few rocker pumps for oil and gas but mostly cows, buffalo, and of all things camels.  Kind of blew me away.  Also of note, horses grazing by the road with no fences.  Don't want to hit one of those guys.

At Clayton NM Keith started his trek south toward Santa Fe while John, Sam and I headed up to Trinidad CO.  John and Sam haven't given up on finding the TAT and doing some of it.  Had breakfast with John this AM and he is going to suggest to his son that they go south to Santa Fe then Arizona to find warm dry weather.  It is 40 degrees and raining this AM but by 10 it stopped and is warming up to 50.  So this afternoon I will be on my own heading to Boulder, 220 miles.  With the joy of electric coat and gloves to see my son Ryan for a few days.  An easy day for me.  Pictures have been sparse but I promise some more on the trip back which I need to start planning.  I doubt I will give Mississippi another shot at me again.  Probably going to loop north to SD then Iowa for the Field of Dreams.  Looking for a nice 2 lane country road and taking my time.

The route I had originally planned to Boulder would have taken me to Leadville, Steamboat Springs, Estes Park then into Boulder.  A great plan but it is 20 degrees in Leadville, and I think the road through Estes Park is closed due to heavy snows.  I will store that plan away for a future trip.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

First there was one, then there were two and now we are four!

May 19th, Locust Grove, OK.  At least it wasn't raining yet.  The desk clerk had helped us with the decision to leave the TAT and move on.  Keith suggested that we go into Tulsa and try to get my mirror fixed so a 40 minute ride later and we were there.  The people at BMW were great, giving us water and maps of OK while ordering the part I needed and having it shipped with tires to Colorado for my turn-around to head home.  We also met another John and son Sam from Hilton Head on their way to Alaska doing the TAT first and they had given up on the TAT.  We left and later met up with them at a gas station 40 miles down the road.  After lunch we decided to travel together.   We were headed to Woodward OK.  Like someone that you have seen to much of again the storm clouds were building.  Wow, big time.  Three hours of driving rain, mud washed across the highway, rocks washed out on the road and the temperature was down to 46 degrees.  We were all wet and trembling as we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express.  They had a hot tub!  Within minutes we were in the tub relaxing then....The power lines outside the hottub came down and out went the lights.  We looked out the window and a truck had hit the pole and continued into the ditch next to the hotel.  We ran out to help him and saw the damage.  I guess his accelerator stuck or he missed the brake but he ran by our bikes hitting and totalling 2 trucks and a car while taking out the pole.

The 2 trucks on the left were severely damaged and the front of a car.  the bikes were fine.
Our fleet of BMW's were ok.  If the desk clert hadn't let us under the awning they would have been gone.  We finally had some good luck.  Maybe we could even see the sun tomorrow, I wonder what it looks like.  I, the optimist, brought sun glasses and sunscreen just in case!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hard to take a picture when you are swimming in water!

We left West Helena heading toward Locust Grove, OK.  A simple thought was to get out of AR!  We made good time and sometime after we passed Beebe we decided to split and meet up again in Locust Grove OK.  Keith wanted to spend a night in Ozark National Forest and Camp.  I wanted a hot shower and electricity.  I took the scenic road through the forest and broke my number 1 rule, never drink on the bike.  At the top of the mountain a group of Harley riders were watching the approaching storm and having a beer!  They waved me over and I had to button up for the rain any way.

These guys were great, Okies with beer.  We stood around and talked for a while with the storm approaching and they were worried about me!  They had no helmets, goggles or rain gear and I was well covered.  After the beer they followed me and pointed out the turn that I was looking to make.  A beautiful ride and I would like to see this area again.  I got in to Locust Grove, OK AT 6:00 PM and had dinner.  At 7:15 the phone rings and it is Keith, in the lobby!  He had a tough day.  The trail was a muddy mess and a ranger in the park told him he should leave since everything was flooded and they weren't letting trucks go out.  So, sadly, he gave up .  
The night clerk at the Best Western was a cyclist and told us to stay off all the gravel roads on OK due to flooding!  He said it was terrible so we are giving up on the TAT.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Well who knows what will come tomorrow?

We pulled into Sonic, high dining, in West Helena, AR had a lovely hotdog and onion rings and we rested.  We got on the bikes and were on our way out when I noticed a curtain of significant rain coming at us.  At the last second we ducked under the overhead awnings for the drive-in and  a gust that had to be in the 40's started hitting us and driving rain. 

 The shelter was shaking and the thought crossed my mind that sometimes these things liftoff!  It held and in 10 minutes it calmed down to a drizzle.  Don't know what it would have been like had we gotten out on the road.  We have just gotten storm warnings for tomorrow with flooding so we are on alert.  Thinking about going out early and trying to get north of Little Rock since the storm is between us and the capitol of Arkansas.  At worst we will again hit the highways and stay out of the flooded areas.  Pictures to follow.
The trip here was very good with us taking the back roads, paved, and enjoying the small towns and farmlands.  It was a short ride of 3 hours so we have had time to rest up here.  The bikes are all gased and in good shape.  We will see what tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Oh, no a day of Rain

Woke up to heavy rain and a forecast of more to come!  Probably going to wait a bit and see if it will let up

Day 2 off to a wet start!

We may have to wait a bit because the skies have opened up!
Well at least the mud has washed off.  The crushed ankle from my fall yesterday seems better probably because it is swollen.  If we go today we will bypass the mud and live to fight another day.

Well, it did rain and I discovered that waterproof boots not only keep the water out but as in the case of my fall in the creek crossing they keep the water in!  The boot for my sore ankle was still soaked and it felt good.  We have arrived in Corinth, MS since with buckets of rain coming down and another water crossing that we have been warned about we took the slab!  About 180 miles and an easy ride but gusting wind and driving rain made it a bit nerve racking.  So now on to maintenance!  The chain has been cleaned and lubed.  The tension has been adjusted.  The oil checked.  And now the badge of honor......The duck tape is being applied to the windshield to hold it together until Colorado or home. I think there is one more day of rain then we have 3 days of good weather before tornado alley and I hope that stuff happening now goes away!


good as new!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 1 on the TAT!

A beautiful morning in Tellico Plains and we were out the door at 8:00.  Witt road is the start and in the 1800 it was a trail for wagon trains.  It has worn a bit.  You could see where storms had dropped trees across and someone came through with a chain saw.  My best description is that at best a jeep could travel it. Lots of ruts and rocks and then there are the 4 water crossings.
The first I hit a bit too fast and water splashed up over the windshield then over my head!  But the bike kept going and I made it through and was followed shortly by Keith?  Then the second was the 20 yard wide pool so I slowed down a little and as the bike met resistance I accelerated and BOOM!  Buried in the middle was a rather large rock and the bike rose up and rolled over on me, pinning my right leg! Ouch, my first fall!  Keith came running and we were able to get the bike up and started first crank.  I got across and by now Keith had discovered is trunk open and many things were gone.  Rather than cross he doubled back to search for items on the trail.  He found most of it but in the process dropped his bike 3 times.  The damage report:  1 smashed metal bag on his bike, a broken windshield and rear view mirror on mine!
Sorry I didn't have the Sena camera on my bike but it was a pretty ugly fall resulting in one very sore right foot.  The bike is all wet and so was I.
The first 50 miles was challenging but beautiful.  The following 150 was on gravel roads and paved roads so bad that you wished they were gravel.  The worst so far is the roads paved 40 years ago with tar and pea gravel that hasn't been repaired since.  People continually wave at us and at stops want to find out what we are doing.  We are not expecting this amount of challenge tomorrow but we are expecting stormy weather.  We did have one detour today.  We were on the right road but popped over a hill and came on security gates blocking the road!  The guard walked over to us to let us know we weren't going through!  We figured that out.  Since our maps were drawn up a chemical Co had bought 500 acres blocking the trail.  He told us we had to find a way around the plant.  He also wanted us to tell everyone to stop coming this way! A great day and we got through the challenges.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 13, 2015 - Tellico Plains, TN

Just got in!  The weather has been great.  Spent one day riding up to Asheville stopping to have lunch with my friend Duncan in Winston Salem then dashed up Old Fort Mountain.  It was a hot ride with temps approaching 90 but after Statesville a cold front caused the temperature to drop 10 degrees and was very nice.  Stayed in Asheville with my good friend since childhood Larry Rosenberg and his wife Kathy.  A great 2 days catching up and touring Asheville.  Had Lunch with Judy Carver at a great Thai restaurant on Charlotte Street.  Wish I could eat there tonight.  Visited the cemetery to see the placement of Robin's and Bill's headstones and they did a great job.
Left Asheville this morning at 10:00 heading to Murphy, NC then Rt. 68 North to Tellico.  Nantahala Gorge is a must see on that ride and the rafters were already in the water.....Brrrrrr!  I am settled in at the Inn doing laundry and waiting for Keith to arrive from Southern Pines and we will start the Trail tomorrow.  The first day has 3 water crossings and the third one is treacherous.  Wish me luck!