Summer 2008 Ride

Summer 2008 West Coast Ride

During the summer of 2008, I took my first cross country ride on my 2006 Harley Davidson Electra Glide.  I had been dreaming of doing this for quite some time so in August 2008, I packed my bike and headed West.  I rode alone and didn’t have any particular route planned other than to go through West Virgina and through Sturgis.  Other than that, it was simply a matter of riding west towards California.

Click the following link to see some photos. to download the file, right-click and choose “Save Target As …” and change the file extension from .DOC to .WMV. This is necessary due to limitations of WordPress.
Summer 2008 Ride Pictures

Saturday 8/2/08

It was sunny and 75 degrees when I left home at about 10:30 am on Saturday. I stopped to fill up with gas and reset the odometer to record the beginning of my 3 week journey to the west coast. The goal for the first day was to get to West Virginia.

It wasn’t long before I realized how long of a ride this is going to be. As I crossed the Hudson river, I noticed that the sky was getting dark. I was about a ½ mile from exit 23 of the Thruway when I felt the first drops of rain. So, I stopped under a tree on the side if I787 donned my rain suit. I got back on the bike and started towards the Thruway. By the time I got to the toll booths, the sky had opened up and the rain was pouring down.

As I stopped at the toll both to get my ticket, the attendant said “Not a very nice day for a ride is it?”. I responded “Nope, it’s going to be a long day”. This prompted him to ask “How far are you going?”. “California” I said. He looked at me and just shook his head and said “Be careful.”

As I started down the road, I started wondering whether I should just turn around and go back home and wait for the rain to end. What a wimp. I’m going to be riding a motorcycle across the country – it’s going to rain somewhere. So, I got over it and decided to keep on going.

The rain just got heavier and heavier. I was having a tough time seeing more than 50 feet in front of me and could only go about 45-50mph. This continued for about an hour and a half. The rain finally subsided as I got to Kingston.

The rest of the day wasn’t too bad. The route I was taking seemed to have been right on the edge of rain until around 5:00 when I finally saw the sun peek out from behind the clouds a couple of times.

I stopped at a gas station in PA. Regular unleaded gas was $3.59 a gallon and 92 octane was $3.79. When I filled up in NY this morning, 93 octane was something like $4.31 a gallon and regular was $4.09. Cigarettes were $31 a carton for the cheap ones and $43 for the name brands. I think they’re around $55-$65 a carton in NY.

I stopped to get a coffee at Dunkin Donuts in Hagerstown MD around 6:30 pm and saw that I was only about 15 miles from my original destination of Hagerstown. It seemed too early to be stopping so I looked at the map and picked another town about 60 miles away called Romney. I got back on I-81 and then exited at Rt 50 which brought me through Virginia and into West Virginia. Around 7:30 I started getting into the mountains. What a beautiful road. It’s exactly how I pictured West Virginia.

I got to Romney but the hotel that the GPS directed me to didn’t seem to be there so I decided to keep on going over Rt 50 towards Keyser where the GPS told me there was another hotel. By this time, it’s about 8:30 and it’s starting to get dark. What a shame because from what I could see, the scenery was getting even better. Rt 50 is a nice smooth winding road that goes through valleys between the mountains. I can’t wait to get mack on the road tomorrow morning when the sun is out.

I found the hotel in Keyser and got the last room they had available. It’s about 10:30 now so it’s time to go to bed.

Start Time: 10:30am

States traveled: NY, PA, MD, VA, WV

Miles Traveled Today: 502

Total Miles Traveled: 502

End time: 9:30pm

Ending location: Keyser, WV

Sunday 8/3/08

I got up around 6:00 am and had a couple of cups of coffee. I took a shower and for some reason, I decided that I would shave my mustache off. It was getting long and trimming it with a razor wasn’t working too well so I took it all off. Looks a bit odd because my upper lip hasn’t seen sun in 25+ years.

I got started around 8:00 am this morning. It was a nice bright sunny day. The plan for the day is to take a nice ride through the mountains down Rt 219.

The mountains are wonderful, the road is smooth and winding. A very nice ride. Elevation in the mountains was 2500-3500 feet.

There was a short section of the road that seemed to be some type of wildlife crossing. I saw a medium sized black bear on the side of the road. I slowed down and tried to get the camera, but he ran off into the woods. About 250 yards later, there was a deer waiting to cross the road. Since I had the camera in my hand, I got picture of him. Finally, another 250 yards down the road there was a flock of turkeys. There were only 2-3 adults but there were about a dozen babies.

Speaking of pictures, I stopped a couple of times to take pictures and also took quite a few as I was riding. Most of them are acceptable. Not studio quality but they illustrate the ride reasonably well. The canon camera seems to over expose pictures when there is bright sunlight. I don’t really like that. On the other hand, it comes out of my pocket and turns on very quickly and the time between photos is pretty fast too. That’s nice when you’re riding and trying to get a picture real quick before driving by the subject of the photo.

I quickly realized that when you see a sign with the squiggly line and 25 mph, that there are going to be some sharp turns ahead. Many of theses sections of road are steep uphill or downhill turns. I saw signs indicating downhill grades from 6% to 9%.

It was a little chilly up in the mountains but not uncomfortable. There were some wind generators atop the mountains that look big when you’re standing next to them. There were a lot of butterflies flying around. Not large groups of them, but I saw one ever couple of minutes.

When I got the to end of the mountain ride, I hopped on I-64 and started heading west. I went past Lexington KY and decided to get to the other side of Louisville KY so that I wouldn’t have to be driving towards a big city first thing Monday morning.

In 350 miles of interstate highway, I didn’t see any police at all. The speed limit is 70 mph and everyone seems to drive around 73 mph so that’s about how fast I went for most of the day. People use their turn signals when changing lanes and keep right except to pass. Very refreshing to see that people drive like they’re supposed to.

Kentucky is nice. Mountains, farms, and lots of horses around Lexington. I’m sure that if you get off the interstate there’s plenty more to see. I’ll have to go back there some day and spend some time riding some of the local roads I can get to Kentucky in 1 ½ days pretty easily so that would be a nice short vacation someday. For now, I’m just keep moving towards the west coast so that I can spend time out there.

The wind feels weird without a mustache. It seems to push up my nose more. Apparently, the whiskers helped to deflect some of the wind. I got lots of sun today driving west into the bright afternoon sun so the color of my lip should even up in a few days. There were no clouds to speak of so it was direct sun all day and I definitely got some sun burn.

I ended up in Georgetown Indiana at a Motel 6. I’ll probably start seeing corn sometime tomorrow.

Start Time: 8:00 am

States traveled: WV, MD, KY,IN

Miles Traveled Today: 565

Total Miles Traveled: 1,067

End time: 8:00pm

Ending location: Georgetown Indiana

Monday 8/4

The morning was bright and sunny and around 65 degrees. I filled up with gas and started West on I-64 at around 8:15 am. It wasn’t long before I started seeing lots of corn fields. You can smell a corn field before you can see it. Indiana and Illinois have a lot of corn fields.

At around 11:30 am I was about 20 miles outside of St. Louis when it got hot. One minute it was a nice comfortable ride and 5 minutes later it was too hot to wear my jacket. I wanted to get past St Louis but had to stop get take my jacket off. I stopped at a gas station to fill up. One of my cards wouldn’t work but fortunately, the other one did. I figured that the card reader or the card just wasn’t working.

Since I was stopped I figured I might was well eat lunch so I stopped at a Jack-In-The-Box. There was a bank across the street and the thermometer said it was 99 degrees. As I was leaving, a somewhat geeky looking guy came over to me and asked if I eat at Chili’s. I told him that I do eat there sometimes and he handed me a 2-for-1 coupon. I thanked him and declined to accept it. I told him that I was traveling alone and suggested that he give it to someone else.

The ride across Missouri was brutal. It was hot and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so the sun just kept beating down on me all day. When I got to Kansas City I had to stop to get something to drink. I had been drinking a lot of water and needed to refill. Again, when I tried my credit card, it was declined. Something is wrong here.

As I headed North on I-29, the heat continued. The road is getting flatter and there’s more corn. There are some small hills and trees and of course, corn fields. I didn’t take many pictures because it was just too hot and the camera strap around my neck was annoying as it rubbed against my sweaty sunburned neck.

At around 7:00 pm it started to cool down a bit. Finally, it was getting comfortable. I was hoping to make it ti Sioux City but stopped at a Super 8 Hotel about 30 miles South of Sioux City.

When I tried to use the credit card at the Hotel, it was declined. So, now I know that it wasn’t the card reader or the magnetic strip on the card that was bad. I paid with my other card and went to my room.

I called the credit card company and found out that they had locked the card because they suspected fraud. Apparently, when a credit card is stolen, the first place the thief goes is to a gas station. When they say the card being used at multiple gas stations and hotels across the country, the blocked the card. After 20 minutes or so on the phone explaining that I was on a road trip, it has been re-activated and should be OK now.

It was a long day. 763 miles in blistering hot weather. I haven’t decided where I’m going tomorrow. I can certainly make it to Sturgis – it’s only 400-450 miles. I might wait until Wednesday to go into Sturgis.

Start Time: 8:00 am

States traveled: IN, IL,MO

Miles Traveled Today: 763

Total Miles Traveled: 1,830

End time: 9:00 pm CST

Ending location: Onawa Iowa

Tuesday 8/5

I sit here writing this tonight in my tent with thunder and lightning and moderate rain coming down. Not that that’s so bad, but I may be stuck in the tent because the zipper isn’t working. It only opens about a 10 inch gap along the top of the door that I had to “dive” through to get in out of the rain.

Anyway, it was a nice day of riding today. About 90 degrees and rather pleasant while riding.

I started out riding North on 29 and no more than 5 miles from the hotel, the State Police had a bunch of people pulled over. Apparently for speeding because a group of three guys that blew by me were stopped. I saw a few more police officers throughout the day so I kept the cruise set to the speed limit.

As I approached Sturgis, I saw a sign for the Badlands National Park so I stopped there and took the road through the badlands. Pretty spectacular. I took quite a few pictures and some videos as I was riding.

At the end of the Badlands loop, I stopped at Wall Drugs. The signs are alongside the road for hundreds of miles so I had to stop in an see what was there. It was OK, but nothing all that special.

Instead of going right to Sturgis, I decided to head towards Mt Rushmore and find a spot to pitch the tent. I really didn’t want to camp out with thousands of other people near the bigest bike rally in the world.

I found a nice little place where it only cost $25 for a small patch of hard, rocky dirt to setup the tent on. After setting up the tent I went into town to get some dinner. As I finished dinner, I started hearing thunder and seeing lightning so I headed right back to the campsite. This is when I found out that the zipper was messed up. I spent about 10 minutes trying to get it to open and finally just decided to slide in through the small opening because the rain was getting heavier. I was tempted to just cut it open but since it was raining, that didn’t really seem like a good idea. It is nice and quit here and the mountains are beautiful.

Start Time: 9:30 am

States traveled: Iowa, SD

Miles Traveled Today: 530

Total Miles Traveled: 2,360

End time: 8:00 pm MST

Ending location: Somewhere near Mt Rushmore

Wednesday 8/6

I woke up after a surprisingly good night of sleep laying on the ground. I messed around with the zipper on the door of the tent for a while and finally gave up and just tore it open so that I could get out. While I was sitting outside, I noticed a deer about 30 feet up the hill. I took the tent down and packed everything up and headed through town to see Mt Rushmore. Mt Rushmore was only about 3 miles away.

I stopped in Rapid City for gas and coffee and then proceeded on out to Sturgis.

I found a spot to park and started walling around. Some of the vendors weren’t open until a bit later. I bought some glasses, a couple of T-Shirts, a pouch for the windshield, and another bag for the tour pack rack. The duffle bag that I’ve been using isn’t waterproof.

I left Sturgis around 11:30 and headed towards Deadwood. After cruising through Deadwood, I rode through Spearfish Canyon and onto I-90. Spearfish Canyon was a beautiful ride. Lots of log cabin style houses.

Wyoming is full of wide open space. Along with cows and horses, I saw quite a few deer or antelope. I’m not sure exactly what they were.

As I approached Buffalo WY, the mountains appeared on the horizon. I could see a patch of dark clouds and it was obviously raining hard. Luckily, the road veered away from the storm so other than a few sprinkles and some wet road, I missed the rain.

At Sheridan WY, I exited I-90 and took RT 14 West towards Cody. This road goes through the Bighorn National Forest so it seemed like it would be a nice ride.

RT 14 is a wonderful road for riding a bike. Going up and down the mountains is a series of slow sharp turns that bring you directly up the mountain via a series of switchbacks. The mountains are steep and jagged covered in trees with patches of exposed rock. All of the trees seem to be the same species – some type of pine tree.

As I got farther up into the mountains, it got quite a bit cooler. I stopped twice to put on extra clothes. The highest altitude that I saw on the GPS was 9,067 ft. At this altitude, the bike clearly had less power. The ride down the mountains was just like the ride up the mountains – lots of steep switchbacks. As I descended, it got warmer again and I stopped to take my jacket back off.

After leaving Bighorn, the road reverts to relatively flat prairie all the way to Cody. Between Greystone and Cody, there are very few curves in the road. For the most part, the road goes perfectly straight for about 10 miles, makes a slight course correction, and continues straight and flat. It almost seems like when they were building the road the built straight for a couple of days, checked their map and realized that they were a bit off course so they made a correction and continued straight ahead.

There are quite a few bikers in Cody and I was fortunate to find a room to stay in. Tomorrow is Yellowstone.

Start Time: 7:00 am

States traveled: SD, WY

Miles Traveled Today: 460

Total Miles Traveled: 2,820

End time: 8:00 pm MST

Ending location: Cody WY

Thursday 8/7

As I was getting ready to leave the hotel this morning, I started talking with a woman from South Dakota. She had heard that there was a fire at the East entrance of Yellowstone. She suggested that I enter Yellowstone via the Northeast entrance instead. So, I got my map out and went over the route with her and she showed me where to go.

I drove around to the front of the Hotel to drop off my room key and started chatting with some other bikers who had been to Yellowstone yesterday. They showed me another road that goes through Bear Tooth Pass and told me that I should just go to the top and turn around and backtrack down to Yellowstone.

The weather was as close to perfect as can be. Sunny but not hot or cold while riding. I hit a few sprinkles of rain a couple of times but it was never enough to get wet.

On the way out to Bear Tooth Pass, I missed a turn so I stopped a what I guess was a Bar and asked for some help with directions. The lady that was working there explained that there was a road back a few miles that I had missed but suggested that I go through Belfrey and Red Lodge instead and that way I would be making a complete loop and would see both sides of the pass. So, that’s what I did.

Bear Tooth Pass was outstanding. Big beautiful mountains, slow winding roads up the side of the mountains, and incredible views. I stopped quite a few times to take pictures so hopefully they’re better than most of my moving pictures. The highest elevation I saw on the GPS was 10, 977 feet.

As you descend out of the pass, you go through a small town and directly into Yellowstone. My hopes were high after seeing Bear Tooth Pass but sadly, much of Yellowstone has suffered from fire damage. It doesn’t look like they are recent fires, but there are hundreds of thousands of dead trees all throughout the park. I’m not saying that Yellowstone is a bad place to go, it’s definitely worth seeing. After all, I just drove around the park on the main roads. There are many hiking trails and places to camp so you could certainly spend many days exploring all that Yellowstone has to offer. However, it does appear that the park may be a victim of it’s own beauty. There are so many people driving around, motor homes that have broken down and being towed out, and cars pulling on and off the road that it seems like it may have lost some of the wildness that you think of when you hear about Yellowstone.

I drove through about 2/3 of the park and finished up at Old faithful. I asked someone when it was scheduled to erupt again and was told that it was going to be about an hour. To kill some time, I wandered around the rest of the area and saw a bunch of other smaller geysers and hot springs. There was a sulfur like smell all around the geysers and springs. The bacteria that grows in this hot spring water is quite colorful and looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Just about the time I was returning from this little hike, it was time for Old Faithful to erupt. Hundreds of people gather around and sit there and wait. It’s not and exact schedule, it varies slightly. Eventually, it began to erupt and it certainly is a wondrous sight. The water and steam shoots up 50 feet or more.

I decided that it was time to get going and head towards Idaho to find a place to stay for the night. Idaho has some nice mountains and was quite scenic. After going through the mountains, the land flattened out some and you could see some agriculture – presumably potatoes.

All-in-all, another great day of riding. Not a lot of miles, but some incredible scenery.

My face is burned despite using sunblock for the past few days. I’m looking pretty beat up and weathered now. My face is covered in tan spots, red spots where the skin has peeled off, and a fair amount of skin in the process of peeling. Hopefully I’ll look better in a few days. Oh yeah – I’m still pretty white around my eyes where my sunglasses protect my face.

Start Time: 9:00 am

States traveled: WY, MT, ID

Miles Traveled Today: 357

Total Miles Traveled: 3,177

End time: 8:30 pm MST

Ending location: Rexford Idaho

Friday 8/8

I got on the road around 8:30. I decided I would take a ride through Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. The weather was nice with sunny skys and 70 degrees. As I got to Salt Lake City, it got quite a bit warmer. There was a lot of traffic and some road construction that took about an hour to get through.

About 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City the sky started looking darker ahead of me. So, I stopped and pt on my rain gear and headed back out on the highway.

The rain and wind started getting stronger and before long, it was getting difficult to keep gong. I had slowed down to under 50mph because the wind was so strong that I had to lean over to keep going straight. There really isn’t anywhere to pull off the road safely so I kept going.

After about 30 miles. The rain and wind slowed down and finally stopped. I got to the exit where I needed to turn off to go to Bryce Canyon and decided to go ahead and head for the canyon. The sky was still quite dark and I could see long bolts of lightning through the mountains.

It rained on and off all the way to Bryce Canyon. There was a section of the road called Red Canyon that had some nice red rock formations. I took a few pictures even though it was raining.

I got to Bryce Canyon and started taking pictures. The rocks are spectacular. By now it was getting late so I hurried along the road to get as many pictures as possible. The lighting was kind of dim because of the dense clouds so I hope the pictures look good. For the most part, it didn’t rain so that was a plus. I met a couple from the Netherlands who were awed by the sights. There’s nothing like this in the Netherlands.

As I left Bryce Canyon, it was apparent that there was no time to go to Zion so I plotted my course back out to I-15. It was a long ride through the back roads in the dark. The ride was cold and there were many deer along the way. There were some really nasty grooved roads, sharp turns, and a motor home that was going pretty slow down the mountain making the ride out of the park a long one. All this was on dark wet roads. It was not a pleasant ride.

I finally got out onto I-15 and decided to get to St George to find a room. I got into my room at around midnight. Aside from Bryce Canyon, it was not such a good day.

Tomorrow I’m going to go over to California to see Kaydee and Steve.

Start Time: 8:30 am

States traveled: ID, UT

Miles Traveled Today: 688

Total Miles Traveled: 3,865

End time: 11:30 pm MST

Ending location: St George Utah

Saturday 8/9

It was warm and sunny when I left the hotel this morning. By the time I got to Las Vegas, it was starting to get hot. Just outside of Las Vegas, near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I stopped for gas. There were some fighter jets flying around overhead and landing at the airport.

After leaving Vegas, I headed out I-15 across the Mojave desert. By this time, it’s really starting to get hot. I stopped in Baker CA, the Gateway to Death Valley, to get gas, food, and a drink. The thermometer said it was 102 degrees.

I can’t believe all the traffic on I-15 through the desert. Both directions have relatively heavy traffic moving along at 75 to 80 mph.

The ride through the desert was a hot one. There were probably 10-15 cars broken down alongside the road. A pleasant surprise was that there don’t seem to be any bugs in the desert. My windshield was almost as clean at the end of the day as it was when I started.

Just after getting gas in Victorville Ca, I ran into stopped traffic. As I was sitting there, I saw a motorcycle pass me going between lanes of traffic. My first thought was that the guy was nuts for doing that. Then I saw a second bike pass me. My bike was getting hot so I started thinking that maybe it was OK to split lanes like that. When I saw the third bike go by, I pulled out an followed him through the traffic. When I got to the front of the traffic jam, the backup was caused by a fire alongside the road.

Late in the afternoon, I arrived at Kaydee and Steve’s house in Mission Viejo. They took me to Universal City for dinner and showed me some interesting places along the way. The freeways here have some rather heavy traffic even at 11pm.

Start Time: 9:30 am

States traveled: UT, NV, AZ, CA

Miles Traveled Today: 420

Total Miles Traveled: 4,285

End time: 5:00 pm PST

Ending location: Mission Viejo, California

Sunday 8/10

I didn’t do any traveling today. Instead, I just hug out with Kaydee and Steve. I finally washed the bike. After a week of riding with two days of rain, it was filthy. We went to the beach this evening and walked around for a little while.

Monday 8/11

I left at around 6:30 this morning in order to beat the worst of the traffic on the freeway. I’m headed up the coast along US 1 and 101. It was cool all day today. Along the coast, the sky was cloudy and the temperature was probably in the 50’s. I had to put on my chaps along with a sweatshirt and my leather jacket.

As 101 moved a bit inland, the sky cleared and the temperature rose to a comfortable level. However, as soon as I moved back out towards the coast, it got cloudy and cool again. There were a number of occasions where I would have liked to take pictures, but visibiliy was limited so you really couldn’t see much of anything.

Despite the cool weather. the ride along the coast was very enjoyable. As you move north, the beaches are replaced with rocky coastline.

About 60 miles south of Monterey, I stopped to take some pictures. A guy came walking up to me and explained that the battery in his 2007 Fat Boy seemed to be dead. He was looking for a jump start. There were 5-6 other cars at this spot too but none of them had jumper cables. I told him that I could take my battery out and he could use it to get his bike started.

I pulled up next to his bike and removed my battery. Of course, it was too big to fit into his bike but we got the cables attached with the battery tilted over. His bike started right up but as soon as the battery cables were removed, it stalled. So, we put his battery back in and tried to think of another way to get it jump started. Then, it dawned on me, we just need to touch the terminals from my battery to his battery. So I tilted the battery upside down, lined up the terminals, and his bike started right up. We headed towards Monterey to see if we could get him a battery at the Harley Davidson dealer.

I needed gas so we stopped at a little place on US 1 and got gas. Gas at this station was $6.39 for premium. I needed gas, so I filled up. I’m glad I didn’t need to fill a car or motor home.

The ride wound up along the side of the coast with slow hairpin turns that dropped off into the ocean. There were times when mist of the fog/clouds prevented you from actually seeing the ocean.

We got to Monterey and found out that the HD store was not actually a bike shop but rather, a satellite shop that sold T-Shirts and other HD clothing. He called another HD shop and found out that it closed at 6pm and it was now around 6:15. Since he had turned his bike off, it wouldn’t start again so we disassembled the bikes and did the “jump start” routine again. He headed out to meet up with a friend about 2 hours away.

I decided to stay in Monterey tonight. There is a public aquarium that I’ll go to tomorrow. I got a room and headed back out to get some dinner. I had a nice seafood stew at a place along Cannery Row.

As I write this, it’s actually about 7:00 Tuesday morning. Outside, it’s foggy and damp. The ground is wet. You can see and feel the water drops in the air. It’s probably around 55 degrees right now and the weather report said that the high temperature would be around 60 today along the coast and 80 degrees inland. Maybe I’ll head inland after visiting the aquarium

Start Time: 6:30 am

States traveled: CA

Miles Traveled Today: 417

Total Miles Traveled: 4,702

End time: 7:00 pm PST

Ending location: Monterey, California

Tuesday 8/12

I went to the Monterey Aquarium this morning. There were a variety of exhibits from open ocean, to coastal waters. There were a few different species of otters on display and a special exhibit highlighting jellyfish. I took quite a few pictures as well as a bunch of videos. With the lighting available, anything that moved was blurry. I won’t go into much detail here because the pictures tell the story much better.

After the aquarium, I proceeded up US 1 for a while. The weather was cold and foggy so I decided that I’d had enough of the cold and turned inland. I headed east through a beautiful forest with slow winding roads.

This brought me just south of San Francisco where I turned east towards I-5. After getting through the traffic in San Francisco and Oakland, the road turned north. It got nice and warm which was welcome.

This part of California has numerous different types of agriculture from vegetables to fruit or nut trees. There is a lot of flat open land with food processing factories every few miles.

Start Time: 8:30 am

States traveled: CA

Miles Traveled Today: ???

Total Miles Traveled: 4,960

End time: 7:30 pm PST

Ending location: Williams, California

Wednesday 8/13

I left this morning and headed towards Chico. There is a Harley dealer there so I stopped to see if I could get my oil changed. They were busy in the morning but said that they could get me in for service at around 4:00.

I headed towards Lessen National Park. It was a nice ride up through the mountains with winding roads and little traffic. There were a few small fires burning in the mountains and signs alongside the road said that there were fires for about 12 miles. I could see many areas that had recently burned. Unfortunately, fires are quite common out here. After seeing numerous areas that have burned during the past few days, I have a new appreciation for just how common these fires can be here in California.

I was about 20 miles from the park and needed gas so I took a short detour to Chester CA to get gas. This took me about 15 miles out of the way.

When I got to the park, the ranger told me that they were doing roadwork and to expect delays. I headed into the park and took some pictures. About 7 miles into the park, I hit the roadwork. Cars were stopped because there was a 1 lane road ahead. As I was sitting there, I spoke with a ranger who said that it was taking around 30 minutes to make the 6 mile trek through the roadwork area. It was about 1:00 at this time so I decided to turn around and head back towards Chico.

As I was haded back towards Chico, it started getting hot outside. By the time I got back to the Harley dealer, it was 102 degrees. They changed my oil and I was took off towards Redding. I stopped to get gas at round 5:30 and the thermometer at a the local bank said it was 107 degrees.

As I headed north on 99, I ran into more roadwork. There was a single lane ahead and traffic was backed up for about a mile. I tuned the bike off and got off and walked around a bit. It took about 10-15 minutes before we were allowed to continue down the road.

The rest of the ride was quite hot but I made to Redding and had dinner and stopped for the night.

Start Time: 8:30 am

States traveled: CA

Miles Traveled Today: 332

Total Miles Traveled: 5,292

End time: 7:30 pm PST

Ending location: Redding, California

Thursday 8/14

I got started around 8:00 this morning and headed West on Rt 299. This road winds through the mountains and through the valleys. Soon after I got into the mountains, it started getting smoky. The

next couple of hours were spent riding through various clouds of smoke from forest fires. While I never actually saw the fires, there were plenty of firefighters, fire trucks, and smoke. There were quite a few times where I couldn’t see the tops of the mountains right next to me and the smoke was irritating my eyes a bit.

As I was riding through the smoke, I got to thinking about the fact that since I entered California last Saturday, I’ve seen evidence of of forest fires every single day. I’ve seen fire or smoke at least 3 days and have seen thousands of acres of burnt forests.

Rt 299 brought me over to Eureka on the coast. Not surprisingly, it got very cold near the coast. It was probably in the mid-high 40’s with lots of fog. At some times, the water vapor left droplets on the windshield.

I rode up the coast on 101 through the Redwood National Park. I got off of 101 for a while to go through the middle of the Redwoods. The trees are massive and quite a sight to see. After about 30 minutes in the Redwood forest, I headed back out onto 101. I continued up 101 until I got to Crescent City where I turned back inland on Rt 199 towards Grants Pass. Within 5 miles from the coast, it got hot once again.

Rt 199 is a beautiful ride too. There were a couple of more National Parks that I went through that had more Redwood trees.

I arrived in Grants Pass around 5:30, stopped and got gas, and proceeded North on I-5 to Roseburg. From Roseburg, I’m thinking of heading over to Crater Lake tomorrow.

Start Time: 8:00 am

States traveled: CA, OR

Miles Traveled Today: 398

Total Miles Traveled: 5,690

End time: 6:30 pm PST

Ending location: Roseburg, Oregon

Friday 8/15

I had a nice ride over to Crater Lake this morning. The weather was sunny and warm. About 10 miles from Crater Lake, I started seeing butterflies. As I kept going, there were more and more of them. Before long, I had bright yellow butterfly guts all over the windshield.

When I got to the entrance to Crater Lake, the park ranger collecting money asked if I had run into any butterflies. I showed her the front of the bike and she smiled. I asked what kind of butterflies they were and she said they were California Tortoise Shell Butterflies.

Butterfly Attack!

The park was spectacular. I rode around the rim of the lake and saw it from all angles. There were even more butterflies here. Hoards of them. The entire front of the bike is covered with dead butterfly guts.

I left Crater Lake and headed North up RT 97. It was a nice road that goes through the center of the state. There is a lot of flat land with some occasional mountains and canyons.

As the afternoon progressed, it got hotter. By 3:30 it was 98 degrees and it got warmer later in the afternoon. I decided to stop at around 6:30.

Start Time: 8:00 am

States traveled: CA, OR

Miles Traveled Today: 379

Total Miles Traveled: 6069

End time: 6:30 pm PST

Ending location: The Dalles, Oregon

Saturday 8/16

I took off early this morning and headed towards Mt St Helens and Mt Ranier. I crossed a steel deck bridge across the Columbia River into Washington. My route took me along the Columbia River for about 30 miles. There were a few small tunnels and little traffic. The river is similar to the Hudson as far as size is concerned and there are mountains on each side.

I headed North which brought me through some more National Forest land. It was pleasantly cool ansd another beautiful ride. There are small rivers alongside the road that twists and turns through the mountain passes.

I started seeing Mt St Helens as the road began to get rougher and slower. The winding roads had many sharp turns and rough spots. This forest was the first one I’ve seen in quite a while that looks like it actually rains here. The woods had more than just pine trees. Moss was growing on the trees and there was a variety of different plants growing.

I was somewhat surprised at how little evidence there was of the eruption a while back. I would never have guessed that there was a major eruption by looking at the landscape. I stopped to take some pictures and went across the road and picked up what I think was volcanic ash. As it crumbled in my hands, it felt extremely fine almost like talcum powder.

After a while, I spotted Mt Ranier off in the distance. It is an impressive mountain with a lot of snow covering the peak. I didn’t go into Mt Ranier National Park because I need to get headed east. Once I got away from the mountains, the landscape turned into dry flat desert-like land again so I decided to take I-90 eastbound.

It got pretty hot this afternoon around 12:30. I’m guessing that it was probably in the high 90’s.

Passing through Spokane and into Idaho the mountains returned. The remainder of the ride through Idaho and Montana was directly through the Rocky Mountains. I stopped in Missoula Montana for the night.

Start Time: 7:30 am

States traveled: OR, WA, ID, MT

Miles Traveled Today: 621

Total Miles Traveled: 6690

End time: 9:30 pm MST

Ending location: Missoula Montana

Sunday 8/17

I left around 8:00 am this morning and got onto I-94. About 30 minutes into the ride I decided to stop and put a sweatshirt on because it was a bit cool riding. While I was stopped, two older gentlemen came over and started chatting with me. The were brothers from British Columbia. We talked about various places in the US and Canada that we’ve traveled to for about 15 minutes.

Back on the road, it was a nice sunny day. Montana is a beautiful state and is pretty much what I expected it to be. Lots of mountains, canyons, cattle, and ranches.

I stopped at a Harley Davidson shop to get a T-Shirt. I ended up buying two shirts because I couldn’t make up my mind which one to get.

Around noon it started warming up nicely. The afternoon ride was hot but not really uncomfortable. It was probably in the mid 90’s.

I pulled over at a rest area to refill my water bottle and met a couple on a motorcycle. I saw that they had a dachshund with them so I asked where they kept the dog when the were riding. They ride everywhere with the dog and the woman just holds the dog in her lap while they’re riding. While speaking with them, I discovered that the big bugs that I was running into today were grasshoppers. I know my legs got hit by quite a few of them and I actually heard them hitting the windshield a couple of times. I cleaned the windshield about 5 times today because of the bugs. Between the butterflies at Crater Lake and the grasshoppers today, my bike is almost completely covered with bug guts. It’s pretty bad and I really need to get to a car wash.

Late in the afternoon when I stopped for gas, my VISA Gold card was declined again. Thankfully I have another VISA card and that one seemed to be working just fine. Looks like I need to call the bank again to see what’s going on.

I made it into North Dakota at around 6:00 pm. The first 30 miles or so were filled with incredible rock formations somewhat like a miniature Grand Canyon. After that, there were huge hay fields followed by other types of fields such as wheat and sunflowers. It looks like harvest time for the wheat because a lot of the fields were cut and I was seeing combines cruising through the fields into the night.

I decided that I’d keep going until I got to Bismark which was about 180 miles away. There isn’t much out here other than fields so I stopped at a “scenic viewpoint” and called the Motel 6 in Bismark and made reservations for the night. I was actually surprised that I had cell phone service out here in the middle of nowhere.

When I got to the Hotel in Bismark, I tried using my VISA Gold card again to see if it was the gas station or some other problem with the card. It was declined so I used my other card. I’ll have to call SEFCU in the morning.

Start Time: 8:00 am

States traveled: MT. ND

Miles Traveled Today: 791

Total Miles Traveled: 7,481

End time: 9:30 pm CST

Ending location: Bismark, North Dakota

Monday 8/18

I called SEFCU this morning to see what the problem with the credit card was. As it turns out, there is a limit of 7 transactions a day after which, it de-authorizes the card. The person I spoke with changed the limit to 20 transactions a day so I should be all set now.

North Dakota has a lot of farmland. I rode through many different types of crops including corn, wheat, hay, and sunflowers.

About 40 miles into Minnesota, things began to get greener. It looks a lot like upstate NY in many ways. The brown grasses disappeared and were replaced by nice green vegetation. I started seeing many more small lakes and streams along with a lot more trees. There was also a lot of farmland here but smaller fields with trees in between them.

I ran into a fair amount of traffic as I went through Minneapolis. Road construction seemed to be the cause of the slowdown but I was also going through at around 5:00 so rush hour traffic was also a factor.

I stopped in a small city called Menomone Wisconsin. I went and washed the bike because it was looking really bad due to numerous thick layers of bugs. I then rode around town for about an hour to see what this place was like. It looks quite similar to home with trees, hills, farms, etc.

Start Time: 9:00 am

States traveled: ND, MN, WI

Miles Traveled Today: ???

Total Miles Traveled: ???

End time: 6:30 pm CST

Ending location: Menomone (sp?), Wisconsin

Conclusions …

After riding through a good portion of the US, a number of things come to mind.

If you see a gas station, stop and fill up. It is often 60+ miles to the next gas station.

A GPS is handy to have.

By far, the best way to see the country is to ride a motorcycle. I’ve flown over, driven through, and rode a bus through many states but nothing compares to riding the bike across the country. The prairie seems vast, the mountains seem bigger, and the sky just goes on forever.

There are huge areas of land in the west where towns are few and far between. The US is in no immediate danger of over population.

We grow a lot of corn, hay, sunflowers, and other crops.

Living in Wyoming, Montana, and other places in the west it would be easy to feel like you’re in the wild west. A ranch with horses and cattle would make you feel like you were living in the 1800’s.

The mountains in the west were made for motorcycles. From hairpin turns and switchbacks going up the side of a mountain to nice easy turns going through valleys, these mountains have it all. The roads are smooth and potholes are rare.

Fires are a huge problem anywhere west of the Rockies. The landscape is clearly dry and ready to burn.

There are so many natural wonders to see in the US. The Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, the natural rock formations of Utah, the deserts of Nevada and California, the rocky cliffs of the Pacific Coast, the corn in the mid-west, the Rocky Mountains, and so much more. There is such a variety of landscapes that no matter what kind of scenery you prefer, the US has it.

The US has a huge number of National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, State Forests, and other areas set aside for the enjoyment of nature.

I have a much greater appreciation for the settlers that crossed the country in the 1800’s. Seeing the geographical features they had to traverse really makes you wonder how they were able to get to California in wagons.

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