Why Nova Scotia?

Why not Nova Scotia might be the better question. It's one of those exotic sounding places that I've never been to and that's reason enough for me. I plan on leaving around the 8th of May and spending several weeks on the ride. Along the way I'll be camping out, visiting unsuspecting friends , and maybe getting to ride along with them for awhile. Let me know if you're up to either!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Jul 03 – Home – The last day’s ride

Bend, OR was awash with sunshine this morning, the air was crisp, maybe even a little cold but it was beautiful out just the same. Today would be my last day on this ride and I was grateful our infamous Oregon rain stayed away.

I woke early around 5:00am and was on the road shortly thereafter. My first stop was for gas and a squeaky-clean Shell station beckoned. In Oregon as in New Jersey we’re not allowed to pump our own gas; it’s always been that way and no one seems to know why we’re holding out on this issue. Oddly, if you’re riding a bike the attendant swipes your credit card, selects the grade you want, and then hands you the hose so you can fill it yourself. “Wouldn’t want to spill gas on your tank” is the most common statement given. I’ve been told we cling to this outmoded way as it provides jobs for several thousand people and maybe that’s so but it’s still a pain in the butt for most of us.

In this instance the attendant commented on the thick layer of bugs on El Nino and then asked “How far ya riding?” “I’m heading home to Bandon, it’s on the coast south of Coos Bay” I replied. “How far’s that?” he asked. “Oh, around 250 miles” I replied. “Damn, that’s a helluva long ride!” he said. I agreed, it’s a helluva long ride. I didn’t bother to go any further with this line of talk; it was time to roll out. Besides, I could hear the big golden arches calling to me…

After breakfast I paused on the highway south of town to take in the view of the Three Sisters range of mountains. Bend and its environs are a Mecca for winter sports buffs; folks come from all over the country to ski and play in the snow. A direct result of that popularity has been the understandable increase in population and its subsequent big-city issues, some of which are not so good. A few of the locals have made it clear what might happen to anyone of a criminal bent as illustrated by the sign seen along the south highway. There was a religious message on the opposite side. Go figure.

My riding outfit this morning had consisted of the Bohn Armor outfit, the top worn by itself and the bottoms worn under jeans. After 15 minutes of riding I realized I’d freeze to death if I didn’t bulk up a bit more so I stopped and put on the Draggin Jeans Kevlar shirt, another concession I’d made to safety issues. It’s a mesh type material like the Bohn product and it didn’t take too long for me to realize that wearing two such outfits still doesn’t provide much in the way of warmth. Stopping again I dug out my electric vest and plugged in. Ah, very nice I thought I thought as the heated material rose to its max setting. That was fine for a few more miles and then the stiff cold breeze flowing down through the open neck of all three layers gave me reason for one final stop, this time to put on my neck gaiter. At that point I figured enough already, no more stops or at this rate I won’t make it home today.

The route I had chosen led me along the highway towards Crater Lake and when I came to the turnoff I thought I’d drop in and shoot a few pics. I hadn’t been there for many years and I was curious about the changes made to the park. As I approached the gate the sign with the entrance fees jumped out at me like a lightning bolt: $10.00 per vehicle just to drive through and take pictures! Bummer, no way Jose, I’ll pass on that one, let the tourists take the hit. Barely slowing I did what I thought of as a well executed U-turn and got the hell out of there, wallet intact and more than a little disgruntled. After a lifetime of footing the tax bill for parks like these I feel I and all the others in my age group should be allowed free access. Maybe someday that will occur. Right after Santa brings me the pony I’ve been waiting for.

After that enlightening experience I followed what is known as the Rogue-Umpqua scenic route through the mountains, reveling in the clean air and scent of pine trees. Along the way I turned into the viewpoint overlooking Diamond Lake and the two volcanoes resting silently, Mt Thielson and Mt Bailey. Both long extinct; they remain part of the “ring of fire” located along the Pacific rim just waiting to be called up to active duty. Memories of Mt St Helens came to mind and I’d as soon not witness anything like that again. Rock formations along the Rogue-Umpqua route are incredible and it wasn’t easy to resist taking hundreds of photos. This simply has to be one of the most beautiful routes anywhere and if you’re ever in the area be sure to take time to see it.

As I continued down the mountains into the valleys where Roseburg is located the temperature began to climb. On the eastern edge of the town I stopped in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant and shed the vest and Kevlar shirt. It felt like it was going to be a scorcher which is not unusual for this part of the state.

After working the I-5 slab for a few miles south I exited and headed west on Highway 42 towards Bandon, a distance of around 93 miles to my home. Leaving the freeway you soon come to Winston, a small town that’s home to one of those Safari parks where you can get eaten by lions, etc. I haven’t been there yet as a similar one is located close enough to our home that we can hear the animals. Sometimes it's a bit like living next to Jurasic Park...

Heading west there’s a small settlement located around 10 miles down the road that’s aptly named Ten Mile. Clever, huh? The TenMile grocery store has become one of my regular stops whenever I ride through the area and today I figured it would be mandatory; I needed a candy bar fix before continuing on. While there I met another rider on the cleanest BMW I’d seen in ages. We talked about our diverse approach to bike selections and how they suited our individual needs. When I mentioned riding to Alaska on the Ninja he agreed it was a good choice given the low center of gravity and light weight. I asked if he’d thought about riding there and although he’d like to do it someday he figured it would be on a dual-purpose bike. Smart thinking I thought, no use beating your bimmer to death on the rough Alaskan roads.

The ride through the countryside continued and I made one more stop before home. There’s a small BLM park located on Bear Creek Frontage road and I wanted to take a photo of the camp’s bridge. I haven’t stayed there yet but expect to sometime; it’s one of the few remaining places you can stay at free which has great appeal to me. It’s on the small side with just a handful of campsites and I doubt many people are aware of its location, just my kind of place.

As I approached the coastal area the temperature once again began to drop and rather than spend the next half hour uncomfortably cool I paused long enough to put my vest back on. It was a good call, today the Pacific Ocean breezes were making sweaters and wind breakers mandatory and that was for those who were just walking. As I passed through our small town of Bandon I didn’t see a single T-shirt wearing rider anywhere and I felt a bit smug for having my electric vest on. My ride was now down to less than 8 miles which passed quickly; I arrived home safely and without much fanfare. Both the dogs and even Linda remembered me and came to the gate to greet me. I was a bit surprised about the dogs as they sometimes exhibit a convenient memory loss given the opportunity to bark. Bark they did but it was more of a “Where the heck have you been?” version rather than the more menacing one reserved for strangers.

The ride to Nova Scotia was filled with lots of great moments and other than a few weather issues it couldn’t have been better. According to my odometer I covered nearly 11,000 miles and if you add to that the 600 mile false start to central Oregon it was more. El Nino performed flawlessly and my thanks go out to the people at Kawasaki for designing and building what has to be one of the most bulletproof bikes in existence. I’ve got a few maintenance things to do but then that’s to be expected on a bike that now has over 20,000 miles on the clock. I couldn’t be more satisfied, Kudos to Kawasaki!
This might also be a good time to express my thanks to all of you who have followed this blog and especially those who offered me their company and provided places for me to stay. It would have been a lot less enjoyable had you not done so and I will cherish those times; old friends and new friends alike, you were great to listen to and be with.

So what’s next? I’m glad to be home and looking forward to catching up on the homebody things that need to be done around here. This year’s journey is over but soon it will be time to start planning for the next ride to who knows where.

Stay tuned…

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jul 2 – Welcome to Oregon! Sonofagun, I’m almost home...

What a terrific day today turned out to be. The sun was smiling on Gooding and the little Idaho town looked neat as a pin. I gambled on the breakfast special next door recalling their meatloaf hadn’t killed me last night and here I am alive it seems.

As I was leaving town I realized I hadn’t reset the bike’s digital clock and I’d been running an hour earlier than what I’d thought. That was a particularly pleasant surprise since it meant I wasn’t being as lazy as I’d thought. It also meant today would be 25 hours long. Neat, huh?

Garmin & Company ran me westward on the I-84 slab and for a change I actually enjoyed it. The truck traffic seemed lighter than usual and the few I encountered were obeying the truck speed laws. The rest of the automotive traffic was moderate and for the most part moving along in an orderly manner. I began to wonder if there was something amiss, like maybe I was dead and didn’t know it? The theme music from the Twilight Zone played in my subconscious and I waited for Rod to announce that awful conclusion. Such was not the case however, it was just one of those rare occurrences where everything works as it should and I enjoyed it greatly.

Crossing the Snake River into Oregon was pleasant as could be but I missed the Welcome to Oregon sign and had to ride back for the photo. I parked on the shoulder next to one of those “Emergency Parking Only” signs and climbed over the railing to hike back and do the pic. As it happens our state hasn’t seen fit to splurge on a really interesting sign like so many others have so we probably look a bit frugal to visitors. Following that sign however, there’s an interesting artsy sort of thing attached to one of the overpasses and I attempted to take photos of it too. Sadly my photography skills leave a lot to be desired and they all turned out crappy. I’ll include one just for grins, eh?

A couple of miles after crossing the state line I turned south onto highway 201 past the little town of Cairo, one I’d never even heard of. From the looks of things most of the farmers are busy growing green onions as there were acres and acres of them under cultivation. And I thought they came from Mexico…

Once beyond Cairo I turned onto Highway 20 which I would follow for miles as it meandered through scenic valleys along the Malheur River. Eventually it assumed a dual role as Highway 385, something I’ve yet to fathom but it doesn’t matter as the road was twisty and lightly traveled, as perfect as it gets. El Nino evidently remains unaffected by her shut-down outside of Casper the other day and continues to run 100%. I’d knock on something wood if such were available but in this plastic motel it’s not likely to happen.

Lunch was later than usual as I wasn’t particularly hungry but I stopped anyway. One of the things that occurs daily is I pass someone or several someone’s who are driving slooowww and then I stop to take pictures. Back on the road I pass the same people again who probably wonder what I’m doing and by the third time it happens I expect some of them begin to get irritated. That’s why I made the stop at Fast Eddies, home of the flaming gut burners. Their claim to fame is probably well deserved but I avoided it by sticking with simple food stuff and not eating all of the French fries.

The sole waitress was outside having a smoke and when it appeared she might be awhile one of the local lady patrons took pity and waited on me. She took my sandwich order and even brought me my diet Pepsi. The waitress showed up later just to see if things were up to par and perhaps encourage a gratuity but by then I was mentally down the road and not paying attention. What can I say?

As I continued west the topography gradually evolved into Oregon’s high desert and I was overwhelmed with the wonderful aromas of pine trees and blooming sagebrush warmed by the sun. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 miles east of Bend I came upon the old Millican Store, now defunct and up for sale. It’s in a sad state and vandals have been at it breaking out windows and destroying as much of it as possible. I shot a few pics of it and moved on. As the song says, “Another piece of America’s gone.” Too bad for us.

Arriving in Bend around 4:30pm I decided to spend the night rather than push the remaining 250 miles for home. Besides, Motel 6 was calling my name which I have yet to ignore and just up the road a few blocks was Bend’s very own Hardy’s cafe. Hardy’s is a tiny place focusing on burgers and spicy-hot chicken wings. The latter, aka Fiery Buffalo Wings, are apparently a gourmet item prized by the more adventurous folks of Bend. As part of Hardy’s marketing strategy they conduct an on-going contest to determine how many hot wings can be consumed in less than 10 minutes (or something like that), you probably get the idea. You have to be 18 or older to enter which should tell you all you need to know about the health risks involved. I elected to pass on the contest and ordered a sampling of their regular wings plus a Chef’s salad just to see how my innards might react to regular food. Back at the motel I discovered it’s possible to consume an entire container of food without realizing it while typing a blog report.

Is that what they call multi-tasking?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Grand Teton range and Gooding, Idaho

Boy I'm so pooped I think I'll just post a few of today's pics and call it good. No pun intended but I'm holed up in the little Idaho town of Gooding...
The ride getting here was long and arduous, just under 500 miles via too many back roads methinks. I now believe all of Idaho and half of the folks in western Wyoming are employed tearing up the highways, back roads or not. I spent what seemed like hours sitting at construction sites waiting and waiting and waiting. Then there were the detours, none of which Messrs Garmin approved of so I was constantly being redirected back to the non-accessible route.

Finally in desperation I programmed a direct route without any back road stops and that seemed to do the trick, at least for Garmin & Co. For me it meant getting back on the slab and hurtling along at breakneck speed towards my western goal of Mountain Home, ID. I may not go there after all.

The Craters of the Moon whizzed by but my interest level had waned to zip as I desired only to park for the day and not oggle old lava beds. One day if I'm in the area again I may have a closer look but for now I'll settle with the buzzy blurry one I got this afternoon.

Very late in the day, around 7:30pm Gooding, ID loomed in the distance and I elected to stay at the only motel with a vacancy left, The Lincoln Inn. It's not the sort of place I'd stay at given other options but I was too damn tired and didn't want to ride any further. Besides, they operate a restaurant next door and the meatloaf was fine. So was the gravy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jun 30 – It was a very strange day today Todo...

This morning I got an early start for some reason or other; doesn’t matter but I was on the road by 8:30am local time and headed north on highway 385. Alongside the highway there were more trains hauling coal than I’ve ever seen before. Maybe it’s because there are lots of coal mines in the area?

The weather was as good as it gets; bright sunshine, moderate temperature not too hot, not too cold and very little breeze. I’m still wearing the Bohn outfit and my odd suntan/sunburn patterns are becoming more intense each day. I think I may have to fabricate some cock and bull story about being captured by rogue Hindus and tortured with firebrands or something…

Nebraska has quite a lot of historic places marked with sign posts so I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping to read them. The general mix is split between cattle drives and gold rush trails plus a lot of Indian skirmishes tossed in for good measure. I like what the state has done plus a lot of extra information has been posted by the DAR organization. All told it makes it easy for the tourist to learn a lot about the local history as you go along.

An abandoned church (I think) called out to me and I spent awhile going through it. Although the doors and windows were open I was surprised to find an upright piano still in place on the raised stage. Birds roosting in the rafters above have pretty well ensured the veneer is done but it makes for an interesting photo op.

Cowboys were out working their cattle herds and I paused to watch them awhile. Their cutting horses did most of the work and it was fun to see them react to any strays that happened to challenge them. It would be a momentary stand-off but the cattle always gave in and headed off in the direction they were supposed to. I liked the whole idea of what I was seeing; it’s great that part of our western heritage is still alive and well.

Moving on I enjoyed the solitude of western Nebraska’s open rolling highway system; posted at 65 mph I was able to cruise much faster without having to deal with the usual truck traffic. Maybe it was the out of the way route I was following but it was pretty darn nice. Ultimately I crested a hill and half way down, maybe a distance of a mile or so I noticed a small contingency of vehicles parked alongside the road. I throttled back to the legal limit just in time to recognize two of Nebraska’s finest were flagging vehicles over for a safety equipment inspection. I obliged and El Nino passed with flying colors.

Next I came to Crawford which was one of my way points and I toured the little town from one end to the other. It’s a neat place full of old west charm and the assorted fringe element citizens just like we have at home. Some of the signs were pretty entertaining so I took a few photos of them. My GPS has this odd quirk about it that once I’m into a way-point it seems to want to run me around and around the same circle until I ignore its instructions and break out on my own. Very strange thing indeed but I can live with it I guess.

After leaving Crawford I moved on to Lusk where I stopped for lunch at a cafĂ© claiming to have “The best food in Wyoming”. Why do I get sucked into these things? The requisite hamburger I had was truly good, served up with a tiny bag of Lay’s Original Chips and black coffee. I’d rate the burger as very good albeit they left out the barbeque sauce which was why I’d ordered that particular version. The coffee was average restaurant fare and what’s to be said about a bag of chips? At $12.59 I doubt my old friends at the golden arches are quaking in their boots much but it was a nice lunch and the owners were friendly people.
Gassed up and back on the road to Casper I once more enjoyed a fair amount of solitude for a long distance. Then I hit Casper and that’s when my day started to get really weird. The city didn’t do much for me compared to other areas; it seemed stretched out in all directions seemingly without purpose or thought as to form or function and it was not a tidy place. Point in fact I found nothing attractive about it at all and I’m sad to say that as I like the people of Wyoming very much.

As I was leaving the general metro area I noticed what I thought to be a large whirlwind funneling down off towards the east a ways but when I got to where I could see better it was gone. The sky had darkened somewhat and the cloud structure was beginning to look a bit ominous so I expected either rain or more high winds. I got the latter just out of town; the air seemed charged with electricity and El Nino suddenly gave a severe jerk like I’d turned the key off and back on. Before I could react it happened again and this time it was a done deal, her fire had gone out and I was forced to pull off the road and park. I looked her over and could see no obvious issues and then I noticed the GPS had gone into a lockup format. All of its keys were dead including the off/on button. I tried all the tricks I knew to cajole it back into a normal operating mode but no luck, it was a done deal. El Nino however started right up and appeared to have suffered no ill effects at all; it was as though nothing had happened. I couldn’t guess what had occurred but I suspected there had been an electrical disturbance that had affected the electronics of both bike and GPS.

There are times when a solo rider has to decide whether to push on or fall back and regroup and I decided since the bike seemed alright I’d go on. I hadn’t the foggiest as to what the problem was; I’d seen similar things occur when the air filter had clogged on my Aprilia but I didn’t think this was the case, the filter was new and I hadn’t been riding in extreme dusty conditions.

Moving on westward I soon encountered the most violent cross winds of my ride so far, it actually became unnerving to continue but nothing would be gained by stopping. My only option was to ride slower and hope to find my way out of the area. Cars and trucks coming at me were swerving off the road and obviously having as difficult a time as I was. There didn’t seem to be any other traffic moving in my direction at all and I began to wonder if I was heading into an area of more violent weather. The severe winds continued for another hour or so until I must have reached the outer edge of their range and then things began to settle down to normal. I was thankful as it had been nerve racking to ride in those conditions but there was nothing to be done about it except go on.

Eventually I came to a rest stop and pulled over for a stretch and a drink of water. While there I met another rider from Michigan who had come the same way as I and although he had struggled with the winds he hadn’t experienced any issues with his electronics. His GPS mounting bracket had vibrated hard enough to break so he was carrying it in his jacket pocket but that was the extent of his damage.

I stayed long enough to look the bike over and tried to reboot the GPS but unfortunately couldn’t remember how to do it. Rather than risk screwing something up tinkering around I elected to run without the benefit of it and set out once again. Within a few miles the dreaded fuel reserve light came on and without the GPS I hadn’t a clue how many miles I’d traveled on that tank of gas. I knew I had around 35 miles on reserve but no idea how far it was to the next town wherever that might be. Eventually a signpost declared Shoshoni to be 28 miles away and given I’d already traveled 5 miles on reserve I knew it would be close. As luck would have it a slow moving group of trucks was holding a lot of cars up and the lower speed meant reduced fuel consumption.

As our group of vehicles approached Shoshoni there appeared to be an unusual dense cloud of dust whirling on the edge of town. The closer our group came the more intense it became and soon we were engulfed in high whirling wind gusts and rain splatters. Having no choice I rode through the middle of it and as soon as I cleared it I spotted the welcome sign of a Shell station. I pulled in without hesitation, whirlwind or not and parked the bike hoping the power was on and the pumps operative. By the time I dismounted the whirlwind had dispersed as suddenly as it had appeared and all that remained was a small cloud of dust particles falling on us. Grateful for not having to push her I pumped El Nino full to the gills with Shell’s finest and rejoined the fracas on route 26.

That was about as much excitement as I needed for the day and I pushed on to my ultimate destination of Riverton where I would spend the night. After splurging for a salmon dinner at the restaurant a few blocks away I returned to the Comfort Inn where I was staying and settled in. The good news for the night is the Garmin web site had posted a solution to the problem I was experiencing and my GPS is once again functioning.

Now if only El Nino behaves…

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jun 29 – The North Platte Canteen

Riding out of Broken Bow this morning I stopped by the post office to mail a few post cards and noticed many of the neighborhood streets were made of red bricks. I’d seen this same thing in a few other towns and regarded it as a genuine luxury. Homes and streets constructed of bricks seem to be the norm in many places but not in the Pacific Northwest; we’re a bunch of tree farmers and that means homes are made of wood and streets are paved with asphalt. Bricks, for whatever reason are expensive and rarely used for anything other than an accent trim on our homes. Why is that I wonder?

I arrived in North Platte mid-morning ready to visit the North Platte Canteen or whatever was left of it. Not knowing where it was located I popped into the main library and soon had two elderly ladies busy bringing me up to date on it. They told me its building had been torn down more than 20 years ago as it was on railroad property and no one had wanted to save it as a landmark. How sad that is but at least many of the original fixtures were saved and are now part of a diorama depicting the canteen as it was in the 40’s during WWII. Located in the Lincoln County Historical Museum, it shares space with hundreds of artifacts garnered from all over the area ranging from arrowhead collections to automobiles, farm equipment, livestock dioramas, restored homes, cabins, barns, a church, one-room school house, barber shop; even a railroad station complete with caboose. All of this took most of my morning to see but it was worth it, especially the Canteen.

After a quick lunch at Burger King (groan) I set out for my next destination, Lusk, Wyoming. I chose Lusk because it’s located on highway 20 allows me to ride at a bit more leisurely pace. Today’s afternoon ride was mainly on US 80 with its 75mph speed limit. As you might expect most travelers up the ante by 5-10mph and after a hundred miles at that rate I was more than ready for a slower pace. Highway 385 runs north from Sydney through Bridgeport to Alliance and the reduced speed limit of 65mph was a welcome change. The traffic volume on 385 also fell way off which made for a much more relaxing ride.

I stopped for photos in a couple of places, one a grain elevator system and a few miles after that I noticed the sky to the west had turned an ugly black. I pulled off the road to watch the cloud activity in the distance and it looked like there might be tornado funnels beginning to form. Just what I need I thought and since there was nowhere for me to hole up I scooted out of there in a big hurry. With a total disregard for the posted speed limit I might add, and in another hour I was well beyond the nastier looking thunderheads. Rain had started to fall in a couple of places but when I looked directly up I could see I was on the outer fringe of the clouds so I rode on without stopping to put Big Red on. Besides it was too damn hot and I’d rather be wet from a little rain than sweltering inside the suit.

BTW, if you look directly up while traveling 80mph on a motorcycle your butt sends weird messages to your brain. Sort of the same thing as hanging partially out of a 6th story window; very strange how that works. But I digress; this may be more observational material than you wish to know so I’ll move on.

The miles passed quickly and I arrived in Alliance where I decided to spend the night. Another Days Inn with a Chinese Buffet place within two blocks fulfilled my basic requirements making me a happy camper. Once again I’m stuffed to the gizzard with Chinese grub and feeling bloated. I wonder how much adjustment is left in Big Red’s waist line…

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jun 28 – If this isn’t Kansas Todo it must be Nebraska!!

Crossing over into Nebraska this morning I knew I was going to like this state. There just seems to be something about the way it feels, like the history of the place is just around the corner. Indian lore, open plains alive with tall grass, cattle ranches and endless fields of corn and soybeans overcome the senses. It’s easy to imagine harsh winters on the plains or vast herds of buffalo being hunted to extinction for their hides. And the Indians, hah! They’re out there somewhere just waiting for an old biker geezer to slip up just one time too many…
I rode the back roads again, taking my time and wandering through small towns and villages, stopping for photo ops or just to look at things. One of the towns was Spalding and for all practical purposes it was closed, today being Sunday and all. That’s how the town I grew up in was, roll up the sidewalks promptly at 6:00pm sharp and don’t open on Sundays. Road signs and old barns continue to intrigue me, they say so much about the people who live in a place. I’ve also been feeling a bit down for the cattle waiting in the feeder lots for their turn to be slaughtered. There’s not much to be said about it though, we’re meat eaters by nature and will probably always be so. I don’t think I’m ready to become a veggie but maybe someday I’ll have a go at it, maybe limit myself to just eating fish and bi-valves and plants. Tofu too? Nah…
This afternoon I rode into Broken Bow and as I was riding through town I spotted a nice looking motel without many cars in front of it. I’d planned on riding all the way to North Platte tonight and since it’s only another 75 miles it would have been easy but I decided I’d wait until morning. This is a nice place and although they recommended a restaurant where I had a truly DRY hamburger I’ll forgive them. There’s probably enough hamburger fat floating around in my system by now it’s a wonder any blood is getting through. Maybe I’ll try a garden burger sometime.
Tonight I met a couple who are also staying here and they’ve been riding around on their Harley quite a lot. They’ve managed to put 20K miles on it in the two years they’ve had it which must be some kind of record. He claims the bike’s been absolutely reliable without any problems whatsoever. I wonder if the Harley folks know about his bike? Plus he doesn’t even have a huge beer gut.
Methinks there’s something fishy here...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jun 27 – Cedar Rapids to Missouri Valley, Iowa

Last year when Mac and I were preparing for our ride to Prudhoe Bay a devastating flood engulfed downtown Cedar Rapids and more than 10 square miles of surrounding property. This morning he drove me through the hardest hit areas where many of the homes remain unoccupied or abandoned. I recalled our trip was postponed by a couple of weeks because his new Ural sidecar rig was inaccessible due to high water. The floods of 2008 were declared the fifth largest state disaster in US history and it’s still possible to see why. What a tragedy that was, but as you drive through the area you’ll see lots of people working on their homes as they continue the rebuilding process.

After that we returned to Mac & Lisa’s place where we said our goodbyes and El Nino and I set out towards North Platte. A lot of today’s ride was difficult due to heavy cross winds and as a result I didn’t stop for many photos. My travel was generally on highways surrounded on both sides by rolling green fields of corn and soy beans, signs of prosperity in a land that has suffered its share of losses.
As I was leaving my lunch stop I was asked by an elderly lady where all the motorcycles were going today, seems she had noticed an unusually high number heading towards Cedar Rapids. I’m afraid I wasn’t much help as I didn’t have a clue but I proffered that she should avoid contact with bikers as much as possible, especially those who travel in groups. Am I gallant or what?
Around 2:30pm I felt the first unwelcome splat of rain and decided I’d better climb into Big Red before it got nasty. The sky towards the west had been darkening for the past couple of hours and I fully expected I’d get wet before the day was over. Spotting an abandoned service station parking lot I pulled over and did my usual gear change, then got back on the road. It sprinkled lightly for maybe 2 minutes and that was it for the day. I love riding around in Big Red when it’s warm out, it's so, uh, sauna-like.
The late afternoon found me in a town I’d never heard of, Missouri Valley, still in the state of Iowa but very close to the Nebraska border. Keeping an eye out for a decent looking motel I came across the nearly new Oak Tree Inn next to Penny’s Diner. To register you have to go to the diner which I did and checked in for the night. It’s the first one of this chain I’ve stayed in and I like their concept, they cater to the railroad crews so when you stay here they give you a voucher for breakfast at Penny’s. I ate dinner there – hot roast beef sandwich, mashed potatoes, GRAVY, followed by a slab of apple pie, and ice cream. Brrrap…
I’ve got to get this food thing under control a little better, maybe I should take up a hobby or something?
Maybe I'll trim my toe nails...