Summer 2010 Ride

Day 1 – 8/4/10

I left home around 9:00 this morning and headed West.  All-in-all, it was a rather uneventful day.  I’ve been on I90 all day and ended up in Toledo, Ohio for the night.  I rode through Cleveland around 5:30 so I got slowed down in traffic for about 20 minutes but other than that, it was smooth sailing all the way.

I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up tomorrow.  I’m thinking of heading North towards Minnesota and before heading West again.   I’ll look at the map tonight and figure it out in the morning.

Miles Today: 620
Total Miles: 620
States: NY, PA, OH

Day 2 – 8/5/10

It was another nice day for a ride today.  I left a little before 8am this morning and headed West on I90 again.  At the first gas stop, my credit card was declined so I had to spend some time on the phone getting that taken care of.  It wasn’t altogether unexpected as this always seems to happen on the second day.  Apparently, the people who add the notes to the account cannot stop the security people from “flagging” the card for fraud.  Since this is the third year this has happened, I knew it would happen.

I got to Chicago around 11am and ran into some mid-day traffic.  I spent about 30 minutes going 10-20 mph through the city.  It wasn’t too hot out and I really never had to come to a complete stop so it could have been a lot worse.  Once i got past Chicago, it was smooth going for the rest of the day.

Throughout the day, each time I checked the gas mileage, I got around 36mpg which isn’t too bad considering I was going 70-75 mph most of the day. The new bike is slightly better on gas than the old bike despite the fact that it’s heavier and has the bigger motor.

I’ve come to like the CB radio.  Some of the truck drivers I’ve heard over the past couple of days are quite entertaining.  Their chatter includes everything from cursing out cars for slowing them down or not letting them into another lane, to the best places to eat, to politics.  As far as politics are concerned, I didn’t hear any of them speak favorably of the current government representatives.

Speaking of the radio – the display on my radio is acting strange.  I get lots of stray lines flashing on and off and I’ve also seen it go completely blank a few times.  The sound is fine but the screen is getting flaky.  Hopefully it will keep working until I get back home and get it to the dealer to have them look at it.

When I got into Wisconsin, I headed West on I94 which goes a bit more North through St. Paul and Minneapolis.  I stopped for the night in St. Cloud MN.

I moved from Eastern time to Central time sometime this afternoon so I picked up an extra hour of riding time.  The GPS has a feature that records trip details.  The summary for today shows the following:

  • Total Time: 12 hours 51 minutes
  • Moving Time: 11 hours 21 minutes
  • Stopped: 1 hour 29 minutes
  • Moving Average: 63.3 mph
  • Overall Average: 56.0 mph

I’ll probably stay on I94 for a while tomorrow as I go through North Dakota into Montana.  I’m thinking about going farther North to Rt 2. It looks like that road goes West along the Canadian Border.

Miles Today: 745
Total Miles: 1,365
States: OH, IN, IL, WI, MN

Day 3 – 8/6/10

I got out on the road around 8:00 this morning and headed West on I94.  The weather was a little on the cool side most of the day.  Around 5:00 it finally got warm enough to take my jacket off.

I took I94 from St. Cloud to Fargo MN and then headed North toward Grand Forks on I29.  Once I got to Grand Forks, I turned West on RT 2 and went all the way across North Dakota and into Montana.  RT 2 goes through vast areas of farmland dominated by wheat fields.  In addition to wheat, there were large fields of soybeans, sunflowers, and hay.

It’s amazing to see 2 or 3 combines out in a field harvesting grain.  You see a huge cloud of dust in the distance before you can actually see the combines out in the field.  The size of some of these fields can be measured in miles.

RT 2 was a nice 4 lane highway all the way through North Dakota and changed into a 2 lane road in Montana.  There was very little traffic and the only trucks on the road were hauling grain from the fields.   The road goes along the southern part of the Fort Beck Indian Reservation and towns are few and far between out in this part of the country with 30-40 miles between them being quite common.

Around 6:30 in the evening, I started looking for a place to say for the night.  I was a bit concerned because the GPS wasn’t showing many places along RT 2 and I was starting to think that I’d be pitching the tent tonight.  After about an hour of riding along looking for a motel, I saw a a clock at a bank and realized that I must have crossed into mountain time and actually had an extra hour.  This was good news because there was a decent size town called Glasgow about 80 miles down the road which is where I ended up stopping for the day at around 7 pm.

I got a room and went to the hotel restaurant to have dinner.  While I was eating, I started seeing lightning out the window and before I finished eating, it was pouring outside.  After dinner, it got very windy and there was thunder, lightning, and heavy rain.  Since my room was in a building about 100 feet from the restaurant, I sat down and talked to an older gentleman from Minnesota.  He’s  a farmer and I learned a lot about farming in the Midwest.   I talked to him for about an hour as I waited for the rain to let up so that I could get back to my room.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to make it to Glacier National Park.  I’m not sure exactly how much farther it is from here but it looks like it’s going to be another 6-8 hours.

Miles Today: 758
Total Miles: 2,123
States: MN, ND, MT

Day 4 – 8/7/10

Another great day of riding today.  No rain and temperatures between 70-80 most of the day.

I left around 8:00 am again today and headed West on RT 2 towards Glacier National Park.  There were hardly any cars on the road at all making it a nice peaceful ride through miles and miles of wheat fields.

When I got to Browning MT around 2:00 and turned down a road that was supposed to bring me to one of the entrances to the park.  Unfortunately, the road turned into a mess as it had recently been resurfaced using the tar and gravel method making it rather treacherous to ride on.  After about 4 miles of this, I decided to turn around and head to a different park entrance.

SDC10442Now that I was back on good pavement, I rode to the Two Medicine entrance.  It was about 2:30 now and I went ahead and paid the $12 admission fee.  I took a look at the map that they give you when you enter and saw that this particular entrance didn’t lead to the Going-to-the-Sun road that I wanted to drive on but since I was there, I rode the length of the road until it ended at Two Medicine Lake.

After looking around for a few minutes, I decided to head back out and towards the St. Mary entrance where the Going-to-the-Sun road starts.  It took almost an hour to get the other entrance but it was a nice ride through the mountains.

SDC10455Once I re-entered at the St. Mary entrance, I found out that they were doing some major road construction.  The first couple of miles were a hard packed dirt road with bumper-to-bumper traffic.  There were also a couple of sections of one-way road where there were traffic lights that controlled traffic.  I got lucky at the first traffic light as it was green when I got to it.  However, I wasn’t so lucky the second time.  I had to wait for about 15 minutes before moving through the one lane road.  Soon after this second traffic light, the road was paved again and traffic thinned out and wasn’t too bad.

SDC10459The Going-to-the-Sun road is the road that takes you through Logan Pass.  The views are spectacular with high mountain peaks, exposed rock faces, and spots of snow still lingering even in August.  The road winds along the side of the mountains down to the bottom where there’s a large lake.  Once at the bottom, the road follows along a small, shallow river with blue-green water.  It was well worth the ride from NY to Montana.  The whole road is around 50 miles long with numerous campgrounds and hiking paths throughout the park.  Every campground had a sign saying that it was full so it’s definitely a popular vacation destination.

Once I got to the park exit, I headed down RT 35 which goes along the shoreline of Flathead Lake.  Flathead Lake is huge – probably close to 20 miles long with beautiful views along the way.  One thing that I found interesting was the fact that there were dozens of places with small plots of Cherry trees.  It was odd in that people seemed to plant a bunch of cherry trees, set up a roadside stand, and sell cherries.  The only place I’ve seem cherries for sale was along the shore of Flathead Lake so I guess there must be something special about the soil or the climate that is perfect for growing cherries.

At the end of RT 35,  I got on RT 93 and headed south to Missoula to find a place to stay for the night.  Missoula is on I90 and since I’m not sure where I;m going next, it seemed like as good a place to stay as any.  I’m thinking that I may head through Washington toward the Pacific coast and go South from there.  On the other hand, maybe I’ll go south through Idaho and then across RT 50 in Nevada.  I guess I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

Miles Today: 620
Total Miles: 2,743
States: MT

Day 5 – 8/8/10

As I was getting ready to leave Missoula this morning around 9:00 am, I felt some large raindrops start falling.  The sky was cloudy but it sure didn’t looks like storm clouds so I went next door to fill up with gas.  By the time I was done getting gas, the rain had stopped.

I headed West on I90 towards the Pacific coast.  About an hour down the road, as I was riding through some mountains, the sky started looking very grey. The road was wet but it wasn’t raining so I stopped and put my chaps on in just in case it did  start to rain.   It was still a bit cool as I left the mountains and returned to flat farmland with more huge wheat fields.

There was a section of the highway where the names of the various crops were written on signs attached to the fence line.  I saw alfalfa, field corn, potatoes and Timothy.  By this time it was getting nice and warm so I stopped and took off some clothes.

SDC10566About 100 miles East of Spokane, I rode into the Snoqualmie National Forest.  As I entered the forest, it cooled down quite a bit so I stopped and put some clothes back on and continued toward Spokane.  There was an awful lot of traffic along this stretch of I90 and it was moving along at 75-80 mph so it was difficult to take many pictures.

About 30 miles from Spokane, I left I90 and took another road to I5 and into Tacoma.   Tacoma traffic was a lot like driving on the freeways in California.  There were an awful lot of cars on the road for a Sunday afternoon and numerous slowdowns.  I can’t imagine how bad it must be to drive around Tacoma during rush hour traffic.  There are permanent road signs warning of slow-moving traffic so it must be a daily struggle to commute around Tacoma.

After making it through Tacoma, I got on to Route 18 for the remainder of the day and ended up in Aberdeen Washington for the night.  The last hour of riding was quite chilly.  The temperature was around 60 and the air was damp making it feel even colder.

Transporting a GoldWingI saw an interesting way of transporting a Gold Wing this afternoon.  It looked it was a platform attached to the trailer hitch of a motor home that accommodates a big touring bike. It looked very solid and didn’t see it move around as we hit bumps in the road.  I’ve see lots of bikes on trailers this week headed for Sturgis but this one was unique.

I was glad to stop for the night tonight as this was the first day that I actually felt tired.   Tomorrow I’m going to head south down the Highway 101 along the Pacific coast.

Miles Today: 582
Total Miles: 3,325
States: MT, WA

Day 6 – 8/9/10

I’m sitting here tonight chewing on a slab of beef jerky and looking at the ocean as I write this update.  I have a whole pound of it to eat so I’ll probably skip dinner tonight.

It was cold when I left this morning around 8:00, only about 50 degrees, so I put on my chaps and heated jacket before heading South on Highway 101.  Before long, I ran into fog, wet roads, and then light drizzle.

Logging is obviously a big industry in the Northwest.  There were a lot of areas where all of the trees had been harvested, areas where new trees have been planted, and areas where trees were planted years ago and are being grown out to be harvested years from now.  At first, I thought it was a sad sight to see the forest cut down like this.  However, if you think of trees as just another cash crop such as corn or wheat, it’s easier to accept the fact that such large areas of forest have been cut down.

SDC10586The first couple of hours, I really didn’t see the Pacific Ocean but rather a variety of small bays.  You could tell that it was low tide because for the most part, all I saw was miles of mud along the shoreline.  Many of the towns in this area appear to be small fishing towns.  From the signs on the shops, it looks like the harvest crabs, oysters, and salmon from these waters – at least that’s what they’re selling so I assume that’s what they’re catching.

Eventually, the road brought me the the ocean.  By this time, i was starting to see some dry road, the fog was lifting, and the sky was clearing.  It was still pretty cool out but at least it wasn’t quite as wet.  SDC10619

The coast line is varied and quite beautiful.  As you travel along the ocean, the elevation goes from near sea level to tall cliffs going down to sandy beaches.  The lower lying areas close to the shore are marked with Tsunami warnings showing evacuation routes to higher ground.  Every 20 miles or so you come to another small town.  Most of the houses can be best described as beach houses.

Around 12:30 I decided to stop for lunch at a place called Dory Place, a small seafood shop.  While I was waiting for my food, I went to the men’s room and found that there was another whole shop in the back.  This place was called Mr.. Bill’s Village Smokehouse.  Mr.. Bills had a variety of smoked fish and jerky.  After eating lunch, I went and bought a pound of beef jerky.  It was reasonably priced at $19.50  a pound so I got half a pound of regular jerky and another half a pound of teriyaki jerky.  This stuff is whole slabs of meat measuring 8-10 inches long by 2-3 inches wide and close to a half inch thick.  It’s probably the best beef jerky I’ve ever had.

SDC10636After lunch, the sun finally started coming out and it was up to 56 degrees according to the sign in front of the bank.  By this time, the roads were completely dry making the ride a bit more enjoyable.  I should have taken more pictures, but I had some opportunities to ride without motor homes, trailers, and other slow traffic in front of me.  So, rather than sightseeing and taking pictures, I enjoyed riding the twisty roads instead.  After all, I rode to the west coast to enjoy the riding so I seized the opportunity and had some fun riding for an hour or so.  By the end of the day, the temperature had risen to the mid 60’s and made for a nice afternoon.

I stopped for the night in a town called Brookings Oregon.  Tomorrow, I’ll probably continue down 101 into California and then head inland towards the mountains.

Miles Today: 437
Total Miles: 3,762
States: WA, OR

Day 7 – 8/10/10

I left the motel around 8:30 this morning after donning my cold weather gear.  It was 53 degrees, foggy and damp so the heated handgrips and heated jacket liner made the morning ride much more comfortable.

SDC10643Within a few minutes of leaving, I was in California and riding through the Redwood forest.  There were varying degrees of fog going from thin fog to quite thick fog where visibility was limited to about 50 feet.  Water droplets formed on the windshield and the face shield on my helmet.  In an add sort of way, I think the fog enhanced the ride because it seemed fitting for the Redwood forest.  Of course it was cold, damp, and not the best weather for riding, but I still enjoyed it.

After  leaving the Redwoods, 101 goes back towards the ocean.  I rode down the coast  for a little while before turning East on Rt 299 towards Redding.  After a short while, I realized that I had already been on this road before.  In 2008, I also rode this same road through the Shasta Trinity National Forest.  I decided to keep going because my recollection was that the scenery is breathtaking and the road is fun to ride on.  Moving eastward away from the coast, the weather changes dramatically.  It was now warm and sunny so when I stopped for gas, I stripped off all of the extra clothing and headed back down the road.

SDC10663299 follows a river through a valley between tall mountain peaks.  For the most part, the road is in good condition and there isn’t a lot of traffic to deal with.  On top of that, it has great corners that are perfect for motorcycle riding.  There was a section of the road, probably about 2 miles long, that has a great series of 25 mph corners going downhill that are perfect for scraping the highway pegs.  I’m guessing that I scraped the pegs at least 10 times as I negotiated the corners.  It takes all of your concentration too keep this up as the corners go from left to right and back to the left again.

When I got to Redding, I decided I’d head towards Lake Tahoe.  I hopped onto I5 for about 30 miles and then took Rt. 99 through Chico and continued to Yuba City where I turned East on Rt. 20.  This route brought me through an agricultural area where there were dozens or orchards beside the road.  I’m not sure what kind of trees they were but I saw walnuts and peaches.

SDC10673As I started back up the mountains, it got cool again so I put my jacket back on and proceeded through the Tahoe National Forest.  The road surface was completely new and was a joy to ride on.  There were very few cars on this stretch of road so it was quite a pleasant ride.  At some point, I ended up on I80 for about 30 miles to get to Lake Tahoe.  I80 is in terrible condition – some of the worst Interstate I driven on.  While the scenery is spectacular along I80, I didn’t really get a chance to take pictures because the road was so mad, I had to ride with both hands on the handlebars the whole time.  After exiting I80, it was about 12 miles to the lake.

SDC10677As you near Lake Tahoe, it’s obvious that this is a resort town.  The houses look like they’re fairly expensive and there are lots of motels and other tourist type places.  The motel I’m staying at tonight is a nice little place across the street from the lake.  It’s fashioned after a small cabin and has a somewhat Adirondack feel to it.  I’ll probably ride around the lake tomorrow morning before starting South towards Yosemite.

Miles Today: 498
Total Miles: 4,260
States: OR, CA

Day 8 – 8/11/10

SDC10693I left Lake Tahoe around 8:00 am and rode about 25 miles around the lake before heading towards Yosemite.  It was cool, around 50 degrees so I had my cold weather riding gear on.  Lake Tahoe is a big lake and from what I was told, it’s approximately 78 miles if you want to go around the whole lake.

I stopped at a gas station to get a cup of coffee and as I was walking out, a guy on a BMW tipped his bike over at the gas pump.  The bike didn’t go all the way over because it actually leaned against the pump.  He had a friend riding with him who helped pick the bike back up.

As I went down out of the mountains, I came to Carson City NV and turned on to RT 395 South.  Not too far outside of Carson City, there was a truck painting lines that I had to ride behind for a couple of miles before getting to a section of road where I could pass.  This road brought me through a number of small towns, through some flat land and then trough some mountains.  There were very few cars on this road so it was a nice pleasant ride.

SDC10732I got to Yosemite around 11:00 and waited in line for about 15 minutes to pay the entrance fee.  The Park Ranger collecting money said that there was frost on the grass early this morning and that it’s not uncommon to have frost this time of year in the high country.

The mountains here are bare granite with little vegetation growing on them.  The plant life that is present tends to be concentrated at the bottom of the mountains along the flat areas.  This contrast of green vegetation against the bare rock really makes the mountains stand out and look all the more impressive.

The bare granite cliffs appear to be a rock-climbers dream and there were plenty of people climbing or getting ready to climb various peaks.  In addition to the people parked alongside the road, there were a lot of campgrounds that appeared to be full of tourists.  Traffic was light to moderate and really wasn’t much of a problem.

SDC10777The road through the park was peaceful and scenic making for a very enjoyable ride.   This scale of these mountains is hard to appreciate unless you’re actually standing there looking up at the mountains and I found myself staring at the landscape in awe of the grandeur of the mountains.  Yosemite is certainly at the top of the list of most beautiful places in the US and I highly recommend it as a destination if you’re ever in California.

I rode around the park until around 3:00 pm and then decided that it was time to head South to my daughter Kaydee’s house.  The road out of Yosemite was not such a pleasant ride due to road construction, one lane roads, sections of dirt road, and slow moving motor homes.  It took well over an hour to go 25 miles through the winding roads to the exit of the park.

Once out of Yosemite, I headed towards Fresno and then South towards Los Angeles on I5.  By the time I got to Bakersfield, it was getting dark and the highway became more congested.  Driving into Los Angeles at night with 6 lanes of traffic in each direction became challenging.  While I didn’t run into any slow traffic, it was hard to ride with all of the lights, the reflectors dividing lanes of traffic and the 70-80mph speeds.

It got to Kaydee and Steve’s house around 11:00 and was glad to be off of of the freeways.  I’ll be spending a few days with them before heading back East again.

Miles Today: 518
Total Miles: 4,778
States: CA, NV

Day 11 – 8/14/10

I’ve been here at Steve and Kaydee’s house for a couple of days spending time with them and of course, getting to know Alida.

This morning, it was time to go drive the Lamborghini in Irvine, Ca.  We got there around 10:00 and signed in.  After that, there was a brief meeting where they gave us some information regarding the various cars and some basic driving instructions related to speed, braking, and how to properly negotiate corners.

Next, we went for a 2 lap ride around the race course in a Hummer H2 to get familiar with the track.  Surprisingly, the interior of the Hummer wasn’t all that big even though the truck itself is huge.

The race course is setup on an old US Marine air strip with the turns marked with small cones.  The total length of course is about a mile long with some turns and a few chicanes thrown in to keep things interesting.  I found it somewhat difficult to navigate through the cones at high speed and went off-course once or twice but at least I didn’t run over any of them.

IMG_2137The first car I drove was a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560.  This car has a 5.2L V10 engine making 560hp at 8,000 rpm, all-wheel drive, and was an absolute blast to drive.  It has great power, brakes, and goes around turns better than I ever imagined would be possible.  There were a number of times that my instructor told me to keep on the gas and that “She’ll hold …”.  Of course, he was correct and the car would have gone faster if I had more confidence and experience driving it. For the most part, it was an easy car to drive fast.  The only difficulty I had was the paddle shifters.  They take some getting used to but other than that, it was an incredibly easy car to drive fast in.

IMG_2148The second car I drove was the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.  This car is a front-engine, rear wheel drive car with a 4.7L V8 making 420hp at 7,000 rpm.  It was clear that this car was a totally different car and wasn’t as fast as the Lamborghini.  Nevertheless, it was still a great car.  The sound from the V8 was outstanding making this car a pleasure to drive as well.

I have videos of the rides in both cars so that I can re-live the experience over and over again.  Driving these cars for a few laps around the track certainly was expensive, but when you consider that the Lamborghini is a $250,000 car and the Aston Martin is a $140,000 car, it’s the only way I’ll ever be able to afford driving one of these world-class supercars.  Even better is the fact that I got to drive these spectacular cars on a racetrack and was encouraged by the instructor to go as fast as possible around the race course which is after all, what these cars were made to do.  Driving them on the street would have been a completely different experience where you would miss out on the true thrill of driving these cars.

It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.   Thanks Mom and Melody!

Day 14 – 8/17/10

Well, it looks like my laptop isn’t working anymore so I’m posting this from my Blackberry. It’s going to be short.

I left Kaydee’s house around 8:30 this morning and headed North on 395 towards Reno. It got pretty hot as I rode along the bottom of mountains that had small patches of snow on top of the peaks.

I took a short detour to get gas near Mammoth Lakes and it looks like a real nice place. Maybe I’ll go back there again in the future and spend a bit more time riding around the area.

I ended up staying at a large casino hotel in Reno for the night. I don’t gamble but it’s interesting to wander around and check it out anyway.

Miles Today: 540
Total Miles: 5,620
States: CA, NV

Day 14 – 8/17/10 (part 2)

The laptop is working again so I’ll take a few minutes to catch up on some the details from yesterday’s ride.

SDC10855Rt. 395 lies east of the Sierra Nevada mountains and takes you through flat desert land with the mountains visible at all times.  I’m not a big fan of riding in the desert but it’s unavoidable in the western part of the US.  It was a bit odd riding through the hot, dry desert with patches of snow visible in the mountains.  I rode for quite a few hours alongside these mountains thinking about how nice it would be to ride in the cool air up in the mountains.  Eventually, the road starts climbing into the mountains and and the scenery becomes more to my liking.  Trees start to appear, the straight roads turn into nice long sweeping curves, and the brown landscape turns more green.

SDC10883I left 395 temporarily to get gas in Mammoth Lake.  The air cooled down and became quite pleasant and at this point, I’ve ascended to about 7,500 feet above sea level.  The roads are nice winding mountain roads that meander between lakes through a forest filled with Ponderosa Pines.  This is a beautiful area with plenty of campgrounds, hiking paths, and paved two lane bike paths running through the woods.  Since i wanted to get to Reno before stopping for the night, I only rode about 10 miles and turned around and returned to 395.

I spend the next few hours riding through the mountains on 395 crossing into Nevada and finally to Reno.  Since I was in Reno, I decided to stay in one of the resort casinos.  I’m not really a gambler so I didn’t play any games but I did spend a bit of time wandering around watching people feeding coins into slot machines and playing the various games.

Miles Today: 540
Total Miles: 5,620
States: CA, NV

Day 15 – 8/18/10

SDC10915I left Reno this morning around 7:30, hopped on I80 for a few miles, and then turned on to Nevada RT 50 – America’s Loneliest Road.  RT 50 goes all the way across the center of Nevada through some very remote areas.  The road is long, straight stretches of land with small mountains visible on the left and the right side the majority of the time.   Every hour or so, I’d ride through a small town and then continue off into the desert once again.  The weather was pleasant all morning – bright blue skies and not a single cloud visible anywhere.  The landscape is essentially barren with the exception of some sage brush and other small desert bushes.  There doesn’t seem to be any real agriculture, farming, or much of anything else out here, it’s just miles and miles of road that never seems to end.

SDC10933Every once in a while and generally when approaching a small town, the road would have some nice curves and either climb or descend a small mountain before once again returning to a flat straight road.  In the afternoon, it got a bit warmer but remained quite comfortable for riding.  Some clouds appeared and when the sun went behind the clouds, it became noticeably cooler for a few minutes.

This road is generally from 5,000 to 7,500 feet above sea level.  I mention this because this new bike seems to have much better power at higher altitudes than my ‘06 does.  Even with the new bike, it’s clear that high altitude robs power, but it just doesn’t seem to be as noticeable.  I don’t know if this is the 103 motor vs… the 88 inch motor or maybe the 103 has a fuel map that tolerates the altitude better.

SDC10949Late in the afternoon, about the time I entered into Utah, I started seeing some dark clouds on the horizon.  I could see areas where it was obviously raining but luckily, I only hit a few small spots of rain that only lasted a minute or two.  I really didn’t even get wet and the rain evaporated from the road almost instantly.   For the last 2-3 hours of the day, I kept thinking that I was going get wet but thankfully, I never ended up with more than a few raindrops on my windshield.  That means that so far, I really haven’t had to drive through enough rain to put the rain gear on.

The last stretch of today’s ride was a short trip down I70 to Salina Utah where I got a room for the night.  I hit some very strong winds on I70 that would push me from the right lane to the left lane despite leaning hard to the right to stay in my lane.  Since it was so windy, I cut the day a bit short stopping at 6:30pm for the night.

Tomorrow, I’ll head into Colorado.  I’m planning to head towards the “Million Dollar Highway” – Colorado 550 between Ouray and Silverton.

Miles Today: 564
Total Miles: 6,184
States: NV, UT

Day 16 – 8/19/10

I left around 8:00 again this morning and headed east on I70 to Grand Junction.  Not long after leaving the motel, I ran into some wet road.  There were dry spots so it must have stopped raining about 30 minutes before I got there.  As it turns out, this was a common theme for the day.

SDC10979

The scenery along I70 is typical of many places in Utah.  Large mesas, interesting rock formations, and numerous canyons make Utah an incredible place to visit.  Every time I ride through Utah, I’m always impressed by the vastness of the landscape.

As I arrived in Grand Junction, it was obvious that it had just finished raining.  There was a lot of water or the streets and the dark clouds where just outside of the city.  Another luck break as far as rain goes because it looks like there had been a good amount of rain just before I got there.

SDC11015From Grand Junction, I turned south on 50 towards Montrose and then on to 550 to Ouray.  Ouray is the beginning of the “Million Dollar Highway” that runs through the mountains and then ends in Silverton.  The scenery on this road is right up there with the best of Glacier Nat’l Park. Yosemite, or virtually any place else I’ve been.  It has the usual hairpin turns, sheer drop-offs, and of course no guardrails.  From just outside of Ouray, I stopped and took this picture of the town from about 500 feet above the town.  As you can see, it’s a relatively small town that sits at the bottom of a valley formed by steep mountains on both sides.

SDC11032This area has many small abandoned mines.  According to some of the markers at the viewpoints, there was much silver, copper, and gold in these hills that was mined in the 1800’s.  One of the mines contained a vertical vein of silver that went straight down over 1,200 feet.  There were quite a few of these old mines throughout the mountain sides.  You can see various colors of dirt piled up beneath each of the mines where they had dumped the dirt they dug out of the mines.  It didn’t look like any of the mines were still active but I’m no expert when it cones to mining so it’s possible that someone is still digging in these hills somewhere.

There’s really no way for me to adequately describe what this road is like so I’ll just post a few pictures here and you can see for yourself how beautiful this road was.

SDC11047 SDC11049

SDC11055 SDC11056

SDC11069 SDC11033

When I got to Silverton, I checked my map to see where I wanted to go to next.  I saw a road on the map but it was shown as kind of a dashed line indicating that there was long term construction on that road.  I went inside and asked one of the locals about the road and he said I didn’t want to go on that road because it was a County road and was for 4×4’s with high clearance only.  I took his advice and decided to continue down 550 to Durango.

When I got to Durango, I headed east on 160 towards Pagosa Springs.  I knew this road seemed familiar and as it turns out, I was on this same road last year except I was going toward Durango instead of away from it.   I didn’t mind because it’s a nice nice ride through the mountains whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time.

I stopped for the night in South Fork Colorado and after checking in and bringing my stuff to the room, I went down the road 500 feet to a small bar/restaurant.    As i left the parking lot, I felt some raindrops but it was about a 10 second ride so I didn’t worry about it too much.  After eating, it was still raining so I had another 10 second ride back to the motel.  Another lucky break as far as rain is concerned.

Now for a couple of quick notes about the bike.  The display on the radio is now completely blank.  Good thing I have the sequence memorized to change between CD, AUX, adjusting bass and treble, etc.  Another thing that happened to the stereo was that the left speaker in the fairing blew out.  I actually got some replacement speakers when I was still in California so all is good as far as that’s concerned.  The tires are holding up pretty well so far.  They have about 7,500 miles on them and the rear is a bit squared off but still has a good amount of tread left.  The tires seem to work well – they don’t follow groves in the road, they ride nice and smooth, and they seem to be very good in corners.  I’ve scraped the highway pegs quite a few times and even scraped the right floorboard earlier today.

Tomorrow will probably be my last day riding around out here.  I’ll probably start heading back home Saturday morning.

Miles Today: 510
Total Miles: 6,694
States: UT, CO

Day 17 – 8/20/10

I left a little before 8:00 this morning.  It was only about 55 degrees so I dressed warm and headed back out on to 160.   When I got to Del Norte, I turned on to 112 and then on to 285.  Most of the ride was across flat farm land with the mountains off to the side.  When I got to Poncha Springs, I turned east on 50 towards Canon City.  Again, it was mostly flat farmland and not all that scenic.

About 1:00 I decided that I’d start heading home.  The GPS said I was about 1,800 miles from home and I figured that if I could get a couple of hundred miles out of the way today, I’d be able to make it home by Sunday evening.

I stopped about 6:00 because I could see storm clouds, lightning, and a rainbow to the east and rather than ride into the rain, I decided to stop for the night instead.  I’m about 1,450 miles from home now in Salina Kansas.

Miles Today: 642
Total Miles: 7,338
States: CO, KS

The Final 2 Days – 8/20/11 and 8/21/11

Not really much to write about at this point.  I’m just riding as many miles as I can in order to get home.   Day 18 wasn’t too bad, but the 150 miles or so was all about rain.  I hit a few spots of rain as I left Ohio but ended up slowing down due to rain when I got to Rochester.  From Rochester all the way home I rode through moderate to heavy rain which made for a rather miserable ride.

There was about a 50-5 foot long section of the NYS Thruway that was flooded backing up traffic for about a mile.  There’s nothing like sitting in stopped traffic in the pouring rain on a motorcycle.  I heard the truckers on the CB talking about the biker sitting in the rain and looking forward to seeing how I was going to ride through the flooded section of the road.   As it turned out, the water was only about 6-8 inches deep so it wasn’t bad riding through it at 2 mph.

I finally got home around  7:00 pm, got dried off, and relaxed.  This year’s ride totaled just over 8,800 miles.   As in past years, I enjoyed the ride immensely and look forward to next year’s ride.

Total Miles:  8,823

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