Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I'm Back In My Zone

Looking back at Iowa across the Mississippi from Illinois

I’m back in my zone, my time zone that is. I crossed into Indiana and Daylight Savings time around 12:30 or 1:30 depending on where you're coming from. The route I was heading to was under a severe storm warning early this morning but luckily it passed through long before I arrived leaving nothing but a few puddles and steamy heat.  There was a bit of cloud burst 50 km out of Kokomo, I could smell the wet pavement before I felt the rain. It was just enough to make me pull over at the first spot to weather proof the camera and phone. Of course if I had come the way Dan wanted me to I would have missed the rain, but I wanted to take the scenic route. My way included a little bit of a “bridge out” detour and a sad animal verses motorcycle story:
Saunemin Hare”ld” read: Rabbit narrowly misses death by car only to be struck and killed by motorcycle
Early this afternoon Mr. Bunny of Saunemin Illinois was killed in a roadside accident. Bunny had been attempting to cross the road when he saw an approaching car and hurried back to the safety of a roadside grassy patch only to turn and race back onto the road in front of an oncoming motorcycle. The motorcyclist saw him but was unable to avoid hitting the hare. Eye witnesses say Mr. Bunny’s last words were,” I didn’t see it”. Perhaps high vis paint needs to be added to the lower extremities of the motorcycle to enhance visibility for rabbits. Motorcycle and motorcyclist were unharmed in the incident. It is reported that the motorcyclist felt very sorry for the bunny and his family.
 A town with a sense of humour
I came back to Kokomo just to get another sandwich from McAlister's Deli - delicious
I hear the bakery across the street is even more fabulous (next time) 

P.S. - 9,207.3 km travelled to date.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Here I Am In Quad Cities ...

Sunset at the KOA
I said good bye to the Albert Lee KOA this morning and headed out in light fog. It burned off quickly and it was like I owned the highway. I was all by myself for miles; Iowa seems to wake up late.  The kilometers flew by once again then I found out what the other ‘C’ Iowa is famous for besides Corn, it is construction.  I had to head west for a bit to get east.  I was surprised at the size of Waterloo and Iowa City. They both looked like places one might want to visit.
Bridge over the Mississippi (Davenport)
So, here I am in Quad Cities. Technically I’m in Iowa (Davenport) but I could probably spit on Illinois, or at least could have when I was standing on the bank of the Mississippi this afternoon. This is an unusual area where five cities (Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, Moline and East Moline) seem like one, straddling the Mississippi and two states.

Pelican on the Mississippi
I was hot by the Mississippi. I’m sure I’ve been this hot before, I just can’t remember when. The temperature hit 92 but the humidex was high making it feel like 100+. I wasn’t dressed for the occasion and called it a day after snapping a few photos. I headed back to the air conditioned hotel for a swim.
More scenes from Davenport

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Still in Minnesota - Rain delay

They like motorcyclists here and only charge $13. per night with electric (tell your friends!)

The K in KOA must stand for Korn here in Minnesota – cause, from this campsite, that’s all you can see for miles.
My wet little tent and bike under very cloudy skies.

I woke up this morning to the sound of crashing thunder and rain pounding on my little tent.  I love the sound of rain on the roof especially when I’m dry and cozy inside.  My motto, from the start has been, if I don’t have to get wet I won’t, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.  Not so the Beemer rider;  the one who rode in last night looking all Charlie Boormanish, riding with no gear or helmet, standing as he rode, like he was riding into Africa (come on, it’s a gravel drive and some freshly mown grass).  He left this morning amidst the crashing and booming of thunder and the torrent of rain, like he had somewhere to be or something to prove.  I covered my head with my sleeping bag and wondered if they’d have a cabin I could upgrade to, to dry out my tent and relax in.  When the rain finally slowed down to an, ‘it’ll just get you damp’ sprinkle, around 9:30 or so, I wandered over to the camp office to ask if they had coffee and a Kabin. They had both – so I booked the Kabin, chose my cuppa from the Keurig selection and went back to my tent.

My morning cuppa - brewed just for me
I tried to go for a walk but didn’t get too far before the sky opened again so I decided it was a great opportunity to do the laundry. Probably the last time I’ll do laundry on the road. I looked at the map for a bit and got a second cup of coffee, thinking how it was just one week ago that we (the iMBC folks) were sitting around chatting in Bob and Richard’s sunny back yard - Another Sunday, another day of rest day.
The sky cleared, sort of, and it was like a sauna here. I rode into the little town of Albert Lea ‘cause Dan said there was a Wallymart there and I needed some more fruit and cash besides, it was the best way I knew of to dry out the leather gloves that I’d left on the bike last night. I picked up a take home burger from The Green Mill Restaurant and came back to eat and watch the almost deserted campsite fill up again for another night. The tent was dry and I stuffed it into its sack, ate my burger and here I am … dry again and ready to continue east tomorrow, rain or shine - but I’m sure it will be shining.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Few Thoughts From Today ... Day 22

Little to report on today, day 22 of 'how I spent my summer vacation,' the month I went to Oregon for the weekend. Just riding and not stopping much today, another beautiful day for a ride. But as it happened, (as it often does when you are all by yourself with your head in a helmet) a few thoughts popped into my head that I thought I could share ...

Only in Minnesota would you see a pet food store with a 50 foot sign, "We Do Cows Too!"

Now that's a pasture!

The east is so much more civilized than the west ... I can really count on a pee and/or gas stop when I need it, except on Opportunity Lane, there was no opportunity to go pee on Opportunity Lane.

And on the topic of pee - if by chance I were to be caught short would the high visibility gear work against me if I sneak into the bushes by the roadside? Would it be prudent to take it off first?

About the high vis gear - shouldn't it really be on my luggage since I doubt you can see much of me over the top bag.

Nobody can tell me riding across the country is boring when it changes with every kilometer; with every kilometer there's something new to see (including another freaking truck driver talking on his freaking cell phone ... does he see me or is he too freaking busy texting?)

Monticello, I must have missed Monticello - Whoa, there it is, Moon Yamaha - a lot farther from Fargo than I remembered. Really must get a centre stand so I can check the oil by myself. These folks at Moon are really great topping up my oil - no charge (was just down a tad).

Duluth, maybe I should have went to Duluth and rounded the bottom of the lakes for a change - whoops, too late - crap construction in Minneapolis. Dan, Dan - detour, are you with me here?

I had no idea there was a KOA in Hayworth Wisconsin too - yup, must have made a reservation at the wrong one, nope, I don't want to go to Wisconsin - do you think you can change that for me, I'd like to stay in Minnesota tonight please.

And probably my most prevalent thought this afternoon was what will I have for dinner. (I'd stopped at a truck stop, the busiest truck stop I've ever seen, which is apparently world famous for their 'buns' as a lady called them. Buns my buns - it was famous for donuts and fritters ... they had donuts the size of small coffee tables. I was so overwhelmed with the choices I couldn't make up my mind and left empty handed.)

So here's the food porn my friends at home have really been waiting for .... No Bushes, only VanCamps (and, yes Ken, they are cold, well technically not artificially heated. Only heated by the sun.)

And at the risk of offending my Harley riding friends ... I just couldn't pass up snapping this picture, checking into the campsite.

(Harleys carried; Yamahas ridden!)
8,203.8 km and counting...

So Good - Too Bad ... But Then

The weather was so great today it was too bad I planned such a short trip but then it gave me time to sleep in, take in the sights of Bismark, stop for another buffalo, go for a walk, go shopping and have a swim. 338.9 km travelled. It wasn't warm enough to grill my sandwich again today, but I was hungry so I ate it anyway.
The Star at the State Capital
State Capital building - Bismark
Statue recognizing North Dakota's pioneers
 Train crossing the Missouri
Lewis & Clark riverboat on the Missouri, Bismark
 I met this couple at a roadside rest stop - the Impala,
all original, just as they bought it (they were putting the top down).
 Serendipitous gas stop
Erik, I almost missed the buffalo - I saw it on the highway but didn't get stopped in time. I pulled off for gas and what was peeking through the trees behind me? There was the biggest buffalo, plus I got a free coffee with my fill up!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tornadoes - Zero, Buffalo - Two (All In Just 448.7 km)

One last look back at Montana
"If you don't like the weather around here, give it 10 minutes and it'll change." That's what the gal at the gas station told me this morning where I topped up the tank before heading to Bismark. The predicted storms from the night before hadn't materialized and the sky looked bright a sunny. By 8:30 it was warming up nicely and assuming this would be the trend for the day I left wearing just the mesh layer of my jacket. (Of course, it's not the first wrong assumption that I've ever made.) Within 50 km I was stopping to zip the outer shell onto my jacket, and that's as warm as it got, just before it started to get cool again under a giant cloud. The predicted 89 degrees seemed to have passed over along with the storm and I was soon being buffeted by even stronger cross winds than yesterday. I'd round a bend and the wind would hit me head on for a bit but as the road snaked along the river it was soon battering me from the side again.
Hello North Dakota
It was a short ride but a tiring one. By the time I arrived at the Bismark KOA all I wanted to do was stand up straight and give my poor little neck a break from having to slam my bulbous, helmeted head into the wind. For a break I took a little 2 km walk down to a restaurant near the interstate to pick up a salad for dinner (I am attempting to make a grilled cheese on the back of the bike, but it didn't get hot enough today, maybe I'll have grilled cheese tomorrow). It felt good to stand up straight ... and now it's calm, no tornadoes in the alley today - but I think I'll give it 10 minutes before I make the call for tomorrow.
Stopped at the Painted Canyon again - where I heard there were Buffalo to be spotted

With the help of an older couple and their high powered binoculars we spotted Buffalo

Me at the Canyon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Glad I'm Canadian ... 'Cause Kilometers Seem To Pass By Almost Twice As Fast As Miles ...

This morning I dragged, doing everything possible to keep from getting underway because, once again, it was a very chilly 6.1C (that's 43F). Finally, by 9:30 I forced myself to abandon my coffee at the local McD's in Dillon and headed up State Highway 41 on my way to Miles City. By then, the temperature was reasonable.

The jagged peaks of the Rockies are quickly turning to rounded foothills.
Scenes from Montana State Hwy #41

Twin Bridges Volunteer Fire Department (Do you think Randy is in there?)
This is what happens when I get off the beaten path - I don't get anywhere. When I've got the space, I seem to pull over every 10 km to snap a picture. I spent a little time on the road practising my slow speed maneuvers behind a highway line painter along with a gathering group of travellers, then passed through Twin Bridges where one of the bridges was under construction. Finally, I hit the interstate. Having planned a lengthy ride, I needed to make some time on the super slab. With this crazy mountain/foothill weather, it didn't heat up til late in the afternoon when it hit around 87 and I had to strip to my knickers at a rest stop once again (not too bad considering much of the rest of the country is in the choke hold of a killer heatwave).

I met a couple from Ontario (Windsor) - I spotted the familiar maple leaf on the back of her Rocket Jacket from across the parking lot at a gas station and then ran into them later on again in the day at a rest stop where we had a chance to chat. They are heading home from a trip to Victoria, riding two up on a Kawasaki.

Montana's Big Sky
I'm so glad I am Canadian today and I can mark distance in kilometers. Kilometers seem to pass by almost twice as quickly as miles (smirk). Even at that it seemed to take forever for the ' time to arrival' counter to move from 33 km to 30km and then to 29km. Finally, Dan announced, in his classic James Bondish voice, "In 1.5 kilometers take exit 138 on right, then turn left ... arriving at Motel 6 on right!" After having battled increasingly strong cross gusts for most of the afternoon I was ready to stop. (650.5 km)

Montana's big skies were clear and friendly today ... but I'm afraid that North Dakota isn't looking so hospitable for tomorrow. My short ride to Bismark may end up being even shorter than planned as I head straight across "tornado alley," with severe storm warnings in effect. (Memories of last year, hey, I already know the tornado protocol at the KOA, Bismark)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Good Sleep Makes All The Difference...

After a good (warm, bird squawk-less) sleep I was packed and ready to go by 7:30. I hate to leave a motel really early, I like to get my money's worth, but the forecast shoved me out the door. I left Boise under ominous skies.

With  the weather channel predicting nasty storms on and around my chosen route I  decided to play a game of Motel 6 hop with Garmin Dan ...This is how the game goes: Set the next Motel 6 en route as a via point, if it's raining then we stay, if it's not raining yet, then we go on to the next Motel 6 location (with the occasional Wally Mart stop for fresh fruit and cash mixed in along the way.) Then to finish the game, if there are no more Motel 6's between you and the final stop for the day, and if it's still not raining, make sure to stop to take a picture of something you haven't seen before (if it's raining, then just ride on).

Needless to say, I made it to the end of the game and after a dry, 688.5 km ride I am enjoying the Motel 6 (planned stop) in Dillon Montana. I love Montana - big sky country. Ahead of me - tornado warnings. I hope the weather fairies stay with me.

I kept the heat on again today until noon.  The cloud cover was holding the temperatures down to brisk and I wore the rain liner until Idaho Falls, appreciating the extra wind break. I finally saw some Idaho potatoes, just before I hit Montana. And since it still wasn't raining I stopped in Idaho Falls for some pictures of the the Snake River in a different (Metropolitan) light. The Snake River runs through Idaho Falls, rushing and roaring through the town like a thunderstorm. It is the town's claim to fame.

Idaho Falls (It wasn't raining)

Then on to Dillon - what a difference a good night's sleep makes, I was bright (well, as bright as I can be) and ready to ride for the day. Now that the Star is finally broken in, 33,634.5 km, she seems to be eeking out a bit better gas millage - no more running out of gas (though a gas gauge would really be an asset.)
PS I found out what kind of dastardly bird it was in Enterprise that kept squawking it's repetitive call all night long, keeping me awake so I knew how cold I was - It was a Magpie. They are living here in Dillon too, I saw one tonight on my walk, but tonight, I'm sleeping inside - I dare them to keep me awake.

Scenes From Dillon, Montana (Hwy #15)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homeward Bound

I couldn't get to where I'm going from where I was so I had to go back to where I'd been ... I'm heading east, home to Flatopia.

I had intended to leave from Enterprise and be in Twin Falls but last night's camping has taken its toll on me and I stopped short, in Boise, too tired to go on safely. Last night the temperature dropped to 35F. It appears that my 'good to 32F' sleeping bag falls a bit short. I should have had a 3 degree safety net, but instead spent the night shivering, wide awake and cursing the persistent night birds that were squawking so much that even the campground rooster was trying to tell them to "shut up." (Erik, if I'd known you had an extra blanket in your tent I wouldn't have thought twice about stealing it from you while you were asleep, ha, ha.)

Packing up early this morning, Minnesota Erik , my camping buddy and I watched the fog and clouds roll toward us over the mountains. I knew it was cold and for the first time on this trip I needed to add the winter gloves, long underwear and a sweater to my riding apparel for the day. As I headed northwest from Enterprise the sky eventually seem to clear ahead of me but I still had the heated grips on high. I didn't feel a wisp of warmth in the air until after 11:30 and then it was like being slammed. I stopped and peeled off the extra clothing and was down to mesh again as the temperature skyrocketed through the Idaho desert. At stopping time tonight the temperature had made a 55 degree change. I rode into Boise Idaho in 90F temperatures.

As I begin the return sweep I've travelled 5,503.8 km to date (by the way, thanks Erik, for letting me know that the "pasture" road was 72 miles long".) Ride Safe my new friends.

And Then ...

... and then there were 6. Sonja and Rolland left early this morning leaving only 6 of us. We met late in the morning in Joseph for a walk about / talk about, snack and dinner.

Views From Joseph, Oregon

Tomorrow I go that way ....

One of three fawns who grazed behind  Bob and Richard's Motel with their mother while we were sitting in the shade, enjoying the last of the iMBC company.
Scene from the campsite tonight ... tomorrow we all go our separate ways, some west, some north, some east and some wherever. Ride safe. It's been a blast. (So 2014 will be in Flatopia?)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Slowest Canadian ...

That's me - the slowest Canadian. I am this groups worst nightmare, the queen of second gear, but I did it  (with a great deal of patience and encouragement from the mountain folk). I rode the tail of the Devil and am living to talk about it. This is me, photo compliments of Sonja, atop the Hell's Canyon Dam.

The canyon road itself was the easiest part of the day, it was getting out of "Hell" that was hell for this flatland, valley gal. Tight turns with sheer drop offs of thousands of feet, no guard rails, gazing at the tops of trees as I rode by rather than the roots ... it has just confirmed for me, if you can't drive a semi on it, then I don't want to be on it with a fully loaded little VStar Cruiser. Next time I think I'll walk, and Bob, if you really want to know what a meadow looks like come on over to Ontario and ride the St. Lawrence River Valley - now that's a meadow.

The ride begins, after breakfast that is


 First Break, at Halfway (who are they kidding, it was
nowhere close to being halfway!)
Snake River, Hell's Canyon
Looking back ...

Someone please explain to Bob what a meadow is...
And here's the pot of gold at the end of the day
(That's Tucker curled up, asleep at the office door)

Tonight's campsite - rustic and quaint. It's the funkiest little campsite with the greatest hosts. Tonight, in Hell's Canyon country, I'm camped at the Log House RV Park.  (66258 Lewiston Hwy, Enterprise, Oregon). The friendliest, most congenial hosts you could ever meet. The campground is full, but there is always room for one more. They even have clean towels for motorcyclists, and Brian has a shop if you need to do a bit of repairs or pump a tire. If you're gonna ride the tail of the Devil you have to end the day at the Log House.

Right now the coyotes are howling from the hills, the stars are sparkling, I'm snuggled in my little paprika tent with memories of the great new friends fresh in my mind... could life get any better.