Kawasaki Concours Forum

Riding => Rides and Stories => Topic started by: darrell on September 04, 2011, 08:39:47 pm

Title: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 04, 2011, 08:39:47 pm
So, the girlfriend works as a seasonal park ranger in a different National Park every year. That pretty much gives me a destination each year. This year:


I planned to spend a week with her out there. After that, I didn't know where I was gonna head. I usually just plan on the fly, deciding around lunchtime each day where I want to be that night.

Well, after 9 days in Glacier I headed West. This will be the recounting of my 10,000 mile month long vacation.

Some highlights:





Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 04, 2011, 08:40:32 pm
Some background:

In February, the girl was hired as a ranger at Glacier. She was to begin in June, and we decided that the end of July or August would be a good time for me to visit.

As soon as she left to head west, I started picking up overtime at work, asking for comp days. I had a plan. No way was I gonna ride alll the way out there and then head straight back home. I rode out to Glacier in 2004 and was eager to see more. This time I would.

After working every holiday, as much OT as I could, I put in a vacation request at work. For August. The whole month.

A week later I saw what I didn't think was possible. The calendar at work showed that I had been approved to take August 4 though August 31 off. With regular days off, this gave me From August 2nd to September 1st off. Time to prepare.

Last year I traveled to Minnesota to Voyageurs National Park to visit her. After that trip and a trip to the Keys I knew the Ulysses needed more luggage space for this trip. I bent up some aluminum panniers that gave me a bit more room, ordered up new tires, and got everything ready for a complete service.

T-minus 14 days and counting and the Uly started not sounding so good. When I was down in the Keys last year a soaking rain flooded my primary and the bearings were now starting to protest. Time was short and I wasn't prepared for this. Only one thing to do...

I had been drooling over the Concours for a while and now was my perfect excuse to get it. I would be cutting it close with ordering the farkles I wanted for the bike, but I knew it would be easier than ripping into the Buell...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 04, 2011, 08:42:59 pm
T-minus 7 days and counting. Friends were heading out to Sturgis a day after I planned on leaving. Well, I could delay my departure for a day to ride out with them. Ike and Sean and I have put a few miles on together. Last year we rode down to the Keys together, did the Dragon together, we've done multiple iron-butt rides, to say we ride in a group well is an understatement.

These two aren't your everyday Harley riders. Ike has over 125,000 miles on his '03 Electra Glide, and Sean is over 90,000 on his (don't know the year). And, both have other Harleys they put miles on as well. They like to ride.

T-minus 2 days and counting: we had planned on leaving Thursday night after Ike and Sean got done work. Both ended up getting the day off, so now we were gonna leave early Thursday morning. Good and bad. I still had a farkle or two to install, and everything I had planned to do Thursday morning, I now had to get done Wednesday. No problem.

Departure day: As usual I don't hardly sleep the night before departure. I roll out of bed at 4am, get a quick shower and head out the door. To rain. Great, just the way a trip should start.

We meet up at the WaWa in Sweedsboro. One of many crappy pics I would take this trip. Sean on the left, Ike on the right:


We'd leave Sweedsboro NJ around 5:30. We were in and out of rain till about Harrisburg PA. While riding behind Ike, it appeared he was sipping coffee while going down the road. I knew he has no cup holder on his bike, so just how the hell was he drinking a cup of coffee?

A roadside stop and he shared his secret:


We put some miles on this day, making it all the way to Sturgis:


But something was wrong. All the rumors I've heard, this was supposed to be some big bike gathering. We were the only ones there. A quick look at the map showed our error. We were in Sturgis Michigan. Oh well, back on the road.

We ended up in Joliet IL for the night. A close encounter with a skunk in the parking lot of the motel was about the closest we came to disaster for the day. Later that night, Ike started rattling off nearby places to see. Something about a ball field...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 04, 2011, 09:12:39 pm
On the road the next morning, Ike had a destination in mind.  We stopped in Freeport IL for gas and spied this little gem:


Well, Ike kept in the lead and soon enough we were on un-paved roads.  Not unusual for this group.  A few twists and turns and we were there:


Apparently Ike had taken the back way to get here, as there was a paved road leading into it from the other direction. 

Where are we? 

If you don't know then you're not a fan of baseball.



Pretty neat. 

Back on the road we started clicking off the miles.  We ended up in Sioux Falls, SD for the night.  This would give us time to get some good riding roads in tomorrow...


Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Conrad on September 05, 2011, 07:26:49 am
Great report and pics Darrell!

You were right near me when you were going through Joliet and Freeport.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Jeremy Mitchell on September 05, 2011, 07:46:32 am
Very cool.

I submitted my wife's application for being a roving park ranger so I can visit her at awesome locations like you did.  Not sure what she will say when she finds out...... ;D
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 08:15:39 am
Saturday Morning, we wake up in Sioux Falls.  Sunday morning we need to pick up Ike and Sean's wives who are flying into Rapid City, along with another friend and his wife who shipped their bike out.  A day to get to Rapid City from Sioux falls?  Not nearly enough time, but we'll make it work.

First stop?  The Badlands.  I picked up a National Parks Pass here as I knew I wanted to visit quite a few while I was out west.


Sean had to skip the Badlands last time he rode out to Sturgis.  A family emergency called him back home before he got a chance to visit.  I think he enjoyed the views:



After leaving the Badlands, We headed towards Mt. Rushmore.  We were more interested in riding than sightseeing, so we passed the monument and headed for the twisty stuff.

Iron Mountain Road was first.  Ike apparently had necks snapping when he hit the turns.  People thought bikes were skidding down the road as his floorboards took a beating folding up on the turns. 

We hit Needles Highway as well that day, taking in the sights before the crowds of motorcycle decended upon them.  Not many pictures were taken here as we were in ride mode, not picture mode.

We spent the night in Rapid City and headed out the next morning to Spearfish.  My friends had rented a house for the week there and they wanted to drop all the luggage off this morning so they'd have room for the wife on the back of their bikes. 

We got to the house Sunday morning, dropped the luggage, checked the time (plane was landing at noon) and headed off.  We could get Spearfish Canyon in before the plane landed.

A morning full of twists and turns, picked everybody up at noon, and had a great luch together while the skies opened up.  We left lunch in the rain, but arrived in Spearfish to sunshine.

After settling at the house for a bit it was decided a beer run was in order.  The liquor store was a mile away, so Ike, Sean and I took off to get supplies.  Too bad they let me lead.  A right off the road the house is on leads to the liquor, a left led to dirt.  I needed to know:


Ike and Sean trying to place blame on who decided to let me lead:


We ended up in the middle of Spearfish Canyon Road somewhere.  A quick trip to the liquor store only took slightly more than an hour.  Sounds right to me.

That night we rode out to Deadwood, had dinner and rode back to Spearfish in quite a lightshow from Mother Nature.  Very little rain, but lots of lightening.

Tommorrow:  I start my solo journey...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 09:04:50 am
Monday morning I said my goodbyes and was off.  I had a loose plan of what I wanted to do:  Wyoming 14, Beartooth Pass, possibly Yellowstone.

I ticked off a couple hundred quick miles and removed myself from the interstate at exit 9 in Wyoming.  Scanning the maps it looked like Wyoming 14 twisted a bit, and the map had it listed as a scenic road.  Perfect.

I gassed up, chatted a bit with a Honda ST rider, and decided that I'd jump off of 14 onto 14 Alt in the Bighorn Mountains.

Well, 14 did not disappoint.


I don't know why I didn't take more pictures here.  I think I was still in "Go" mode from trying to get out here.  But, 14 Alt was amazingly beautiful.  It crossed over Bald and Medicine Mountains with spectacular views of the mountains and valleys around it. 

Coming down from the mountains, I crossed over Yellowtail Reservior Area.


I gassed up in Lovell, checked the time, and decided Beartooth would be a rush to try and get in today.  I ended up in Cody for the night at a KOA telling tales with two guys from Minnesota on Goldwings.

Also that night, I spied a Tuber Buell parked a few sites over from me.  I got to talk with the owner, a father who bought it for his son.  They were from Idaho and recommended a road I had been eyeing on the map for some time.  Route 12.  I thought this to be the road with a sign warning of turns for the next 99 miles, so I wanted to scope it out.  Good to get confirmation that it's a great riding road.

Tuesday: Beartooth Pass...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 10:06:25 am
Up till now I had been telling the Girl I'd be to Glacier by Tuesday or Wednesday, most likely Wednesday.  After confirming with fellow campers the ammount of people and traffic in Yellowstone, I decided to cross that off my to-do list for this trip.  This set my destination as Glacier for today.

After not topping my tank off in Cody, I headed for Beartooth.  I saw my first red rocks heading there:


I headed up Chief Joseph Highway, and after a few twists and turns I was on Beartooth.



Another rider snapped my pic at the Montana/Wyoming border:


According to the temp guage on the bike, it was a balmy 38 degrees, and it was raining a bit.

I got over the pass and stopped at the first overlook after it.  The Honda ST rider that I talked with the day before was there and we chatted a bit again.  While we were talking another Concours pulled in and informed me that it was now snowing up at the top of the pass.  Hmmm.  I guess I had perfect timing.

Down the pass I went, keeping the bike in neutral as my gas situation was looking a bit challenging.  Ended up pulling into Red Lodge with plenty in the tank, but better safe than sorry.

After re-fueling, it was time to make some miles.  I headed up 212 to 310 and jumped on I-90.  My GPS was pointing me to take 191, but 89 looked a bit better.

I got off at exit 340 and started my push North.

I was soon beside the Crazy Mountan Range:


Just outside of White Sulpher Springs I ran into a nasty line of showers.  The rain hid the nickle sized hail behind it.  Ouch.  Hail hurts.

Luckily it was a quick storm, but I ran into the back end of it each time the road turned east going over the Little Belt Mountain Range.

I managed to stay out of the showers until about 10 miles outside of Browning, where I shared the side of the road with two guys on Harleys waiting for the storm to pass.  It wasn't the rain that had us worried, it was the straight line lightening that went along with it:


After a bit I decided it was safe to go and went on my way.  I got a little wet, but not bad.  Gassed up in Browning, headed up 89 some more and jumped off on 49.

What a road.  MT 49, or Looking Glass Road, has some great overlooks of the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park.


As my friendly park ranger informed me, that peak all the way to the right is called Triple Divide.  A drop of rain landing on the peak could go either to the Hudson Bay, The Gulf of Mexico/Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.

A few more twists and turns and I was there.  Two Medicine.  The Girl was happy.  As was I.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 12:04:59 pm
I had been to Glacier on a bike before.  Back in 2004 I rode my Harley Softail Deuce out here.  Once I got there, the rain started, and didn't let up.  For 8 days.  Going to the Sun Road was closed for all but the day I left.  This trip my luck had changed.

I have had beautiful weather ever since getting past Harrisburg PA.  Except for a few quick showers, I hadn't seen any lingering rain.  That would remain true for the entire time I was in Glacier.

The Girl had some ideas of what to do, and I pretty much just went along with it all.  She knew better than me.  And she knows what I like.  No people, great scenery, and good riding.

The first trip we took was in her truck.  We headed up to Babb and entered the park there.  A few twists and turns, some picture taking, and we decided a hike was in order.



We decided on hiking to Apikuni Falls.  A short hike with a nice waterfall at the end.  I had done this hike in '04 as well, so I knew the view would be great.

Now, the Girl has told me stories about moose she's had to chase from the campgounds, bears she's had to chase from the sides of the road, mountain goats she's come across hiking, but all I saw the whole time I was there was this:


Chipmunks.  Well, I saw some rabbits and some ground squirrels, but no large mammals.  I saw some fish, but as for these bigger furry things, I doubted her stories.  Well, maybe they just heard I was on vacation and decided to take one themselves.  (A week after I left she had a black bear running down the mountain towards the campsites.  She was prepared to haze it once it crossed the stream, but as soon as it hit the stream it plopped down in the water, taking a bath not more than 15 feet from her.)

On to the hike:


We're not going up that far.

This is our destination:


Some views from the trail:



The Girl.  Amazingly, she didn't fall the whole time.  Gravity isn't the friendliest to her.


The falls:



Some more of the wildlife I observed:


After the hike we decided a reward was in order.  A cold brew on the deck of the Many Glacier Hotel.


We had dinner (steaks of course) at the Babb Supper Club.  Excellent food, once her steak was prepared the way she asked.

We headed back to Two Medicine and were treated with a beautiful sunset.


More from Glacier to come...
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 03:15:28 pm
The next day we headed over Going to the Sun Road, traveling East to West.


We hit Logan Pass and took a few pictures. Or should I say I got the camera back from her, saw there were 200 more pictures just from the ride up to Logan Pass, and decided I'd better take some myself:


The Girl says that the glacier lillies (the yellow flowers) bloom just after the snow melts. She showed me pictures of the pass a few weeks before and sure enough, everything was covered with snow. I imagine by now there's at least a coating back on the ground up there.






The bright sun made getting decent pics hard. We decided we'd do a morning run on one of the days to come.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 03:24:26 pm
The next day was spent off the bike.  We decided to try our luck at fishing.  But we wouldn't be fishing in any of the lakes.  The Girl heard of a spot between two small falls back behind the campground.  A little twist and turn through the woods, and we were at our own private fishing hole:



You could see the fish swimming everywhere in this little hole.  Problem was, they were smart fish, not taking anything we threw at them.  At least nothing I threw at them.

Of course she had to show me up and catch the only fish of the day.  Although, it wasn't too much of a show-up.  But it was still a fish:


I think she talked me into camping for the next two days after supplying me with plenty of tasty beverages that night.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 03:48:59 pm
So, here was the plan:

We'd go up to Lake Bowman to camp.  Us and two of her coworkers/friends.  Three women and me.  This may just work out.

I volunteered to set up her friends tent since they had to work that day.  Lake Bowman was about a three hour drive from Two Medicine.  That's on a good day.

With all the crap I saw she needed to bring, taking the bike was out of the question.  By the time we pulled out of Two Medicine, the entire back of the truck was full of crap, along with the cab.  Apparently my topbox full of camping gear wasn't enough to camp with.

Since all I had brought so far for this trip was a tent, sleeping bag and some clothes, I decided to splurge when we got to the food store in Columbia Falls.

I bought three six-packs and three pounds of thick cut bacon.  I was set for the trip.

Her friends would bring kayaks, some cooking gear, more beer, and some amusing antics.

On the way to Bowman Lake, we just happened to pass a small store set in the middle of nowhere:


A member on another forum told me of this place and how good the stuff was there.  I wasn't properly prepared for just how good.  I think the huckleberry macaroons had crack in 'em or something.  They were unbelievably good.  A definite must stop if you happen to be in the area (within 200 miles).

Anyway, on to Bowman Lake, where we picked out a spot and I began to set up camp.  I began, she had to help finish.  Her friend's tent is commonly referred to as "The BAT"

What's "The BAT?"


It's a Big Ass Tent.

This thing was huge.  It took both of us to put it together, and about a half hour of monkeying around to get it right.  All while mosquitos were sucking the life out of me.

After dousing myself with OFF, I took the five minuts it takes to set up my tent, then properly rewarded myself.


Well, now lets see why they wanted to camp over here:


Holy smokes was this place beautiful.  We were miles from nowhere. 

We drank some brew, and roasted some dogs over the fire while waiting for her friends.  And drank, and roasted, and waited.  And waited.

About 12:30 am we hear a racket coming from the South.  A very loud racket.

Her friends couldn't get the kayaks onto the roof of the SUV, so they hooked up a trailer.  You could hear them coming from about 10 miles away on that rutted, rocky, potholed dirt road leading into the camp, the trailer bouncing off every irregularity in the roadway.

They pulled up, and I then realized the trailer was quiet compared to their laughing, trying to put a tarp over the BAT for a rain cover.

Oh well.  Tomorrow we're gonna go explore the lake.


Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 04:48:43 pm
Sometime around 5 am I heard what I thought was a high pitched howl from a wolf.  The Girl woke up with a gasp and said "Bigfoot!"  I said "Are you high?  That was a wolf.  Go back to sleep."  I chuckled, thinking "where the hell would she come up with that being Bigfoot?"

About 8 am I rolled out of the tent and started the fire back up.  The girls weren't far behind.  Pretty soon the smell of that thick cut bacon was wafting through the air.  Bacon, eggs, and some of the goodies we got from Polebridge the day before, fried in the bacon grease was the start to our morning.

We planned on taking the kayaks out onto the lake today.  Her friends had the two they dragged in last night.  The Girl has some inflatable two seater that I wasn't too sure would make it across a mudpuddle.

After a half hour of setting the inflatable up, we made our way down to the water.  That nice calm lake I saw the day before had slightly transformed:


While those clouds looked like happy little clouds, the ones to the West, well, not so much:


About 10 minutes into the paddle, I hear her one friend "I feel like I'm on 'Deadliest Catch'!"  Well, by the end of the day she wouldn't be far off.

We were out on the lake for most the day, the wind picking up the whole time.  Problem was, the wind was at our backs going out.  We now had to turn and go back into it, with a cold drizzle falling on us most of the way.

When we finally got back to shore, her friends were freezing cold, wet, and cranky.  I wouldn't be surprised if they had mild hypothermia.  It took hours for them to warm up, both sitting in the SUV with multiple layers and the heat on high, and hugging the campfire ring.

The blow up kayak made the trip with no problems, however it was a bit harder to paddle compared to a regular kayak.

I made fish with fresh veggies that night that was pretty damn good.  It could have used a dose of that bacon though.

Later that evening another one of their friends showed up with ample supplies of liquor and energy.  He supplied the ladies with liquid warmth which seemed to be well recieved.

I think we all just pretty much passed out that night from exhaustion.  Bigfoot coulda been in the tent with us that night and I wouldn't have known it.

I had found out earlier that day why The Girl had though it was bigfoot making the noises earlier that morning.  One of her friends that was camping with us swore she had seen Bigfoot while working at the park.  It just so happend that her husband's friend is the producer of the bigfoot show on Discovery, or History (I've never seen it myself).  So, she had been supplied with all sorts of bigfoot propaganda, which had been relayed to The Girl.  Now I understood.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 04:57:38 pm
The next morning we packed up camp and made our way out of the park.  Of course we had to stop at Polebridge again.  Coffee, cookies, danish, and breakfast sandwiches.  Good stuff.

We spent most the day recovering from the previous days activities and turned in early.  Tomorrow we were gonna go for a ride around Flathead Lake, supposedly the largest freshwater lake West of the Mighty Miss...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 05:23:14 pm
For the ride around Flathead Lake, The Girl had her camera, which I won't have pictures from for another month, so you'll just have to believe me on this one.

The map says MT 93 is a scenic drive down the West side of the lake.  I call BS.  While you see the lake a bit here and there, what you really see is the towns surrounding it.

This is quite a body of water.  We rode down to Polson on MT 93 and made our way to see the dam holding back all this liquid:



We traveled back North on 35, the road bordering the East side of the lake.  What a beautiful drive that was.  Right next to the lake, through cherry orchards, a few small towns, and past a brewery that was a bit to far away from home base to stop at.  We continued onto 206 and into Columbia Falls.  The Girl wanted to stop at Belton Chalet to eat dinner.  Sounds good to me.

After stuffing our gourds, we headed out into the darkness to take the hour ride back to the East side of the park.  It was then I noticed that our Cardio headsets decided they weren't gonna pair up.  Great.  Her first ride at night, and I wouldn't be able to hear a thing she might have to say.  Oh well.

Heading back on 2, I realized about halfway to Two Medicine that I forgot to take my insulin after dinner.  Great.  I love diabetes.  Thirsty as hell, I pulled over onto the road leading into Goat Lick.

She clambered off the bike and stumbled away like a drunken sailor.

"You OK?"

"Look at that!"

She was staring at the skies, in awe of the ammount of stars showing in the sky.

Last year while visiting her in Voyageurs NP, she rented a houseboat, which we laid on the roof for about three hours one night staring at the beauty of the night sky.  That was awesome.  This night was as well.

After a bit of stargazing, and pumping myself full of insulin, we headed back to Two Medicine.  We stared at the stars a bit longer out by the lake, then headed in for the night.  She said that ride home was one of the best she's ever taken.  Apparently she likes night riding.

Tomorrow:  Going to the Sun in the early morning.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 05:34:40 pm
I forgot to mention, while in Wyoming I had called ahead to Fastoys in Kalispell Montana and ordered a set of PR3's for the bike.  I wasn't sure the stock tires would be able to push much further than there.  Ended up looking like I coulda maybe got another thousand on the rear.

I got to Fastoys on Friday after arriving in Two Medicine.  They fitted my tires, changed the fluids, and blew about 10 pounds of dirt off the bike for me.

Excellent service and easy to deal with for a guy 2500 miles from home.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 05:53:24 pm
Now that I have the days all screwed up, I know for sure what day this ride was.

Wednesday, we woke up early to hit Going to the Sun before the crowds came out.  We were rewarded.

It was pretty overcast driving up to the East entrance, but started to clear as we arrived. 

To say this park is beautiful is an understatement.  It has a way of making you feel small.  Everything around you is larger than life.  Rocky peaks, giant snowfields, lakes, rivers, it has it all.  And this is what we were treated to that morning:







Logan Pass parking lot wasn't even full yet.


She thought this pose was too boring:


She suggested:




We continued on:



When we got to the West side, we had breakfast, then turned around and headed East.

If you can only do Going to the Sun one way, I recommend going West to East.  It's a much more dramatic ride, plus you're right next to the edge.









It was a beautiful ride today.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Dan on September 05, 2011, 06:03:14 pm
Great story, did a similar trip, and had I known I would have went up to glacier, went into yellowstone instead, was not as bad as I had heard...  We rode quite a bit, and had friends there, that lived by the old fthful inn...  We had a blast...  Wish u the best Dan
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: ZG on September 05, 2011, 06:34:21 pm
Very nice Darrell, thanks for posting that for us, I totally enjoyed it!  :thumbs: 
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 06:43:24 pm
I still have two more weeks of riding and pictures to post up.  It gets better...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 06:43:58 pm
While I was visiting The Girl, we poured over the maps of the West, discussing where I should go next.

Her: Olympic National Park

Me:  West, or Southwest.

Her:  You need a plan.

Me:  I planned on coming here, the rest I make up as I go.

Her:  Augghhh

So, I guess I made a rough plan.  I wanted to see the sign that warned of a road hazard for the next 99 miles.  I believed that to be in Idaho, on 12.  So that would be the direction I would head.

Thursday we said our goodbyes and I headed off in the general diection of Lolo Montana, the start of Rt 12.

Well, first part of the plan successful:


Not a few hundred feet beyond, jackpot:


The guys in Cody weren't lying.  12 was a beautiful road, following the banks of streams, weaving though the hillsides:


I continued on 12, into Washington, and into one of the cities I've always wanted to say I've been to.

I don't know if a Bugs Bunny cartoon when I was a kid put this place into my head, along with Albuquerque, but I just needed to see it:


Looked like a nice little town.  Never knew wine was so big out here.  But, I managed to find a brewery for dinner and tasted the local fare.  Not bad, not bad...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 06:55:10 pm
Stumbling back to my hotel that night I knew I had decisions to make.  Am I gonna head North to the Cascades, West to the coast, South to scenic rides through the Oregon Mountainsides?

Since I made it this far, one thing is for sure though:  My sister and BIL live in Corvallis.  I need to get over there to pay a visit.

With that in mind, I looked over the maps of Washington and Oregon and made a rough plan in my clouded vision.  I would head North.  West.  Maybe a bit South first.  A solid plan.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 07:16:54 pm
The next morning I headed West on 12, then jumped Southwest on 730, entering Oregon.  I jumped onto 82 North but got off as soon as I crossed the bridge.

I then followed 14 and the Columbia River going West.



View of Mt. Hood from 14:


I continued on 14 until I reached Carson.  I turned North there and picked up Rt 30, took that to Rt 51, then jumped on 25.  What great roads.  Not a single straight stretch to speak of.  Oh, and the views weren't bad either:




You don't see this in Jersey:


I continued on 25 up to Randle.  I then headed East on 12 to 123.  I was this close, I might as well see all the snowy peaks in these parts:



I went West through Mount Rainier National Park, then headed South on 7 back to 12.  I took 12 over to I5, with a stop for a reminder of the local speed limits.  Thanks for verbally remindng me, and not putting it in writing.

I took I5 up to Olympia, where I then jumped onto 101.  The Girl's reminders of how nice Olympic National Park had been ringing in my ears all day, so I had to check it out.

Her's where my refusal to backtrack bit me in the ass a bit.  There's very little on 101 in the way of hotels, and what there was, was full.  I rode up to Sequim till I found a hotel with a vacancy, but the clerk's refusal to drop a triple digit price when the place had barely anybody there caused me to continue on.  I knew I shoulda backtracked to Olympia.  Oh well, on I go.

I pulled into Port Angeles around 10 pm.  The first place I stopped said the whole town was booked and I'd have to backtrack to Sequim.  No way.

The next place I stopped had one room left, for less than what the hotel in Sequim wanted.  I'll take it.  Mc Donalds and a sixer and I was out for the night.


Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Jeremy Mitchell on September 05, 2011, 07:26:44 pm
Great pics, I can't wait for my first trip out west.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 05, 2011, 07:38:27 pm
After the early morning run in Glacier, and seeing Ike's pics of when he heads out early in the morning had me decide to get up early to venture into Olympic National Park.

Since I got into town late, I had no idea what I was in for.  A quick peek out the hotel window gave some clues:


I decided to do Hurricane Ridge Road.  Wise decision.

On the way up there, looking out over the waterways:


Looking the other way:


Back towards the water:


I continued up the road and was greeted by view that just about took the breath away.  Pictures just don't do it justice.  At least my pictures don't:




Amazing.  It was a 180 degree view of the mountain ridge.  What a sight.

I was able to get out of the park before any traffic and jumped back on 101, heading toward Forks.

I jumped off of 101 just before Forks and continued West on 110, and headed towards Rialto Beach.

And, there I was:


The Pacific. 


I made it clear across the country.  What a difference in waterfronts.


I grabbed a quick shot before leaving:


I checked out the Hoh Rain Forest, then continued South on 101.  The coast was beside me the whole ride.  I think.


I crossed back into Oregon on 101 and headed towards Tillamook for the evening, the whole way in the misty fog of the Pacific.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Conrad on September 07, 2011, 09:04:12 am
Great pictures, great write up, and a great story Darrell. Thanks again for sharing it with us.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Strawboss on September 07, 2011, 09:36:05 am
Wow, cool stuff! That is something I'd like to do someday.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 07, 2011, 01:28:53 pm
I had been in contact with my sister in the previous days, and we had figured a mid-afternoon meet-up would work best for her.  No problem.

I rolled into Corvallis at 11 am and attempted to locate her place. 

Not hard.

My sister is a vegetarian, and grows alot of what she eats.  When she lived back here in Jersey her front yard was everything edible.  I quickly saw her home in Corvallis was the same, just on a smaller scale:


I had some time to kill before she got home, so I set out in search of a cure for my pancake craving.  A diner was quickly located and I had my fill.  Still lots of time before she gets home.

I decided to go explore downtown on my own for a bit.  I located some motorcycle only parking, donned my sunglasses, secured my gear, and set out on foot to see what I could find.

Not 200 feet from where I parked was the doorway to a place called Block 15.  A brewery.  How convenient.

I sat myself down at the bar and sampled the local fare.  Good stuff.  Really good.  I settled on the Duke IV and proceeded to cleanse my brain of the weaker cells.  After my fill I continued on my exploration.

I checked out the storefronts, poked my head into a few places, and generally got the lay of the land.  Pretty soon the pancakes had wore off and I was looking for something to top off with.  It was then I found myself in front of American Dream Pizza.  Their list of toppings was somwhat bizzare, but it called to me.  I ended up ordering a smoked gouda and artichoke heart slice of pie.

I filled up a large soda, plopped myself in a seat on the roof, and proceeded to thoroughly enjoy a very tasty slice of pie, all while doing a little people watching.

After a bit of a rest, I checked the time.  Where does it go?  Time to start heading back to meet Sis.  I called friends back  home on the way back to the bike.  Floods, earthquakes, and a looming hurricane was all that I was missing.  Looked like I picked the right month for vacation.

I pulled into my sister's driveway and couldn't help but chuckle at everything she had going on in that front yard:


Sunflowers, hops, rosemary, basil, blueberry bushes... it was quite a garden.

Sis pulled up not 5 minutes after I put my kickstand down.  She pedals to work, as it looked like a lot of the folks do around there.  Bike trails were abundant.

After unpacking and a bit of catching up it was decided a trip back downtown was in order for dinner.  Since my Brother in Law had their car for a trip out of town, I'd have to make like the locals and pedal.  No problem:


We ended up going to another brewery, Flat Tail Brewing, for dinner.  Her friend was the brewmaster there, and he had some deliscous brews lined up for tasting.  I ordered some BB-Q, washed it down with a few pints, and ordered his habanero-cucumber brew "El Guapo" for dessert.  It was damn tasty.

The ride back to her place was a bit more challenging than the ride there, but amusing nontheless.

After arriving back at her place, the fridge was raided and my BIL's home brews were tasted and approved.  He's won a few awards for his brews, and I was amazed at just how tasty each one was.

I managed to make it to my bed that night, tastebuds happy and belly full.

I'd wait to plan where I was going the next day for the morning.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: st2sam on September 07, 2011, 05:13:41 pm
WOW   awesome ride and report Darrell, thanks for sharing.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the story and in the mean time, this one's for you  :chugbeer: ...........
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 07, 2011, 05:37:19 pm
Since my one planned stop had happened almost a week prior, each evening, or in this case, morning, I looked at the map and tried to get a rough outline of the day ahead.  This morning it looked like Crater Lake would be the first stop.

After downing a good cup or two of stong coffee, saying my thanks and goodbyes, I was on the road again.

I wish I had a bit more time to spend with my sister, but this was planned on the fly.  She had no real time to prepare for my arrival, and my BIL wasn't even in town when I got there.  I'm gonna have to plan a vacation within the next few years that includes some quality time with them.  But just to get a quick visit with my sister was great anyway.

Anyway, I fueled up and pointed the bike South on I5.  Round about exit 124 I jumped off and headed East on OR 128.  This was it.  I had now made the turn that was gonna start leading me back home.  I could have left my sister's and headed West back to 101, but instead I made the decision to start winding my way back towards home.

OR 138 was another beautiful ride, following waterways and winding up and down the hillsides and eventually into the Cascades.

I entered Crater Lake National Park from the North and decided to wind my way around the Eastern side.

Mom and Pop were out here last year and they said this was one park not to miss.  Something about the blue water.

I've never seen water so blue.  I've seen clear water, cedar water, blue/green water of the Keys, blue deep sea water, and the almost black/blue water of northern lakes, but this was a new blue to me:


Amazingly blue:


I wound my way around the park, taking in the beauty (and the blue).

In case you missed it, blue water:


I exited the park and continued Southeast on OR 62 to 97 South.  I rode a bit next to Upper Klamath Lake, then Jumped onto OR 39, which quickly turned into CA 139.

OK you Kalifornistanians, WTF is up with the vehicle inspections at the borders?  I would have really liked to find out myself, but was waved right through on the bike.  I thought I was at a border crossing.

I won't forget very soon the intense smells 139 provided me with.  The sage, and then the pine smell were amazing.  Just another reason I love to travel on two wheels.  If I was in a cage I'd never had know the smell was so intense up there.

Anyway, I stayed on 139, with a short stint on 299, and eventually met up with 395 around Susanville.  I followed 395 down into Reno, and managed to find a place to crash in Sparks for the night.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 07, 2011, 06:07:35 pm
Now, there's a few places I know in a few states where I say, "If I'm ever here, I've got to do this, just so I can say I did."

Walla Walla was one of those places.  And Nevada held another.  Rt 50.

I headed out of Sparks on I80 and jumped off in Fernley.  I hit 50 somewhere betweeen there and Fallon.  Once outside of Fallon, the road started looking like it could be the lonely kind.  Problem was, there were vehicles all around.  Well, not all around, but there were some a ways in front, some a ways behind, and plenty going in the other direction.

One thing I did find interesting (humerous) was all the stuff people had written out with rocks on the sides of the roadway.  For miles and miles, people had gathered up rocks and written whatever pleased with them off the sides of the roadway.

There was alot of road construction going on, whigh gave me ample time to take some pictures:



I took 50 almost the whole way across the state, but jumped off when I came to NV487.  That quickly turned into UT21:


The Girl had been spoutin the virtues of Utah for a while, and I really wanted to explore this state.  The first impressions were great.  Where 50 was a bit crowded, UT21 was desolate.

If I passed 6 vehicle on this road I'd be amazed.  There was nobody, and nothing:


I ran this road all the way to Minersville, then turned South onto 130.  I took this to I15 and hopped off there when I saw a sign for a scenic road in Zion National Park.

Now, I thought I was ready for this.  I thought I knew what these red rocks were all about.  I was wrong.

I get chills when I see amazing things.  I was shaking like a leaf when I was driving through here.  Just amazed at what I was seeing:







After talking with some folks at the top of the sceninc drive, I made my way back to I15 and eventually down into Hurricane for the night.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 07, 2011, 06:28:26 pm
I decided to wake up early in Hurricane and head for Zion for sun-up.

I was riding through rock canyons while the sun was struggling to light the morning skies.  The silhouettes of the rocks against the lightened morning skies were amazing.  If I had any type of photo skills I'd have taken hundreds.

The sun was just starting to light my way as I passed the entrance station to Zion on Rt 9.  Another park with road construction.  They had layed the gravel, but not compacted or tarred it, which made for an interesting ride on Zion's switchbacks.

But it was still a beautiful ride.





I rode East out of the park and then turned North on 89 in the early morning coolness. 

I turned East again on 12 and made my way into Bryce Canyon National Park.  Again I got here early enough to miss the crowds, which I really had no desire to tango with.

Bryce looked like another world.




I took a bunch of pics here because it was easy.  I could pick up the camera and just hit the button.  No matter where it was pointed it would be an amazing picture.




This was one of the parks that I spent the most time at.  I would have liked to spend at least a full day in each park I went to, but even then, that wouldn't be enough time.  And with the schedule I was pushing, I needed to just look and move on.





After I managed to remove myself from that park, I continued on 12 through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: ZG on September 07, 2011, 07:08:35 pm
Epic thread here, love it Darrell!!  :hail: :thumbs: 
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 08, 2011, 10:23:42 am
Looking over my SPOT map, it's August 25th when I left Hurricane and headed towards Escalante.

So, where were we.  Oh yeah, Grand Staircase.

What a beautiful ride.  Each turn layed out another great view. 



Now, last year Mom and Pop did a tour of the country towing their trailer from campground to campground and generally living like retired folk do.  They mentioned something about a petrified forest somewhere.  Looking at my map, there happened to be one right on my way to Escalante, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.  I thought I should check things out.

A two minute departure from Rt. 12 and I was at the Ranger Station.  I got some park literature, was pointed where to park the bike, and shown the trailhead to get to said forests.

Once again, time for a stroll.  I grabbed my sunglasses, a bottle of water and set off.

Ut oh:


Now, I reside at maybe 100 feet above sea level.  I was already feeling this altitude each time I had to push the bike around a bit.  Oh well, I wouldn't have to push the bike around on the trail.  Onward I went.

Just past the trailhead, a view of the lake below:


Some interesting sights on the trail, at least I thought so:



Now, I was expecting a dead looking tree that was hard as a rock for the petrified stuff.  Boy, was I wrong.  These pieces were colorful.  Almost looking like glass.  And there was quite a bit all around.





I couldn't stop inspecting each and every one I came across.  They amazed me with how they were frozen in time.  And the sheer size of them resembled nothing that was growing there today.  I tried to imagine what the scene must have been like when these giants were still pointing towards the skies.



I think the hike was about a 1.75 mile loop.  I was gassed afterwards.

I took a break in the air conditioned ranger station, reading the letters that were sent with returned pieces of petrified rock that were taken from the park.  Seems if you take a piece bad luck will befall. 

Once back on the bike I continued through Escalante and into another world:




I continued through this landscape, up over a 9200 foot pass and down into Capitol Reef National Park.  I was getting chased by a pretty severe storm, so my time in this park was cut short.  This could be a park I would spend days exploring.  The scenic drive road was closed (I would have surely gotten hit by the storm had it been open), so I made my way through the park on Rt. 24.





I went through here way too fast, but once again, that straight line lightning had me a bit worried.

Onward I pushed, through lunar looking landscapes along Rt. 24.

I turned South in Hanksville onto Rt. 95.  I soon was seeing Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area:






After riding through there, I decided on trying to get to Blanding for the evening.  But my map showed one more area theat peaked my interest.  Natural Bridges National Monument.  Neat stuff:




The park literature said there were arches in the park as well, but they were a bit harder to spot.  I saw these two walking back from taking a picture of one of the bridges.  The arch might be 4 inches tall:


Onward to Blanding I pushed.  And, there went Blanding.

I was now on UT191 heading North.  Maybe Monticello would be the place to stop.  Well, it should have been the place to stop.  I fueled up there, donned all my gear for the darkening skies and kept the push North going.

About 20 miles outside of Moab, the skies opened up.  Again, that straight line lightning I love.  I kept my head low and pushed on into Moab.  There I found a place for the night.


Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 08, 2011, 01:15:54 pm
When I woke up in Moab it was a bit later than usual.  After a call back home to make sure everyone was still floating, and to a friend who lived just Noth of Denver (I was gonna try to stop and visit), it was pushing 10 am.  I'd have to battle some National Park traffic today.  Oh well.

I headed out of Moab traveling North, greeted this morning by grand views of the red rock cliffs.  I entered Arches National Park and the mass of people who had already decended upon it.  I tried to take my time through the park, but the ammount of people really pushed me out faster than I liked.  I still took time to grab some shots:







Here you can see, there wasn't a spot that wasn't filled up.  Just too much for me:



Even with trying to get out quickly, I spent a good two hours riding around, doing a few quick walks to grab a shot, and talking with a group of riders from the Denver area.

Once out of the park I continued North.  I stopped for gas at a Shell station at the Rt 313/UT191 junction.  All the pumps were filled up with Goldwings being operated by what I believed to be Finlandians.  They were having a bit of trouble understanding the operations.  I hung back, downing a large bottle of water and a good ammount of jerky.

I filled up after a pump had cleared and made my way onto Rt 313, on my way to Canyonland National Park through the North entrance.

It was a great ride.


Those were the same clouds building that dumped rain on me the day before.

When I got to the end of the scenic drive in Canyonlands I was awestruck.  I can't tell you how long I stood at the edge of a cliff there and just gazed at the beauty.  My mouth was probably hanging down around my knees.






I felt absolutely miniscule with the land that layed out before me.


This was another park I wish I had days to spend.  I removed myself from there after about three hours of wandering around.

I hit the road and made a plan.  I'd try to get to my buddie's house in Broomfield CO that night.  I took 191 up to I70 and started burning miles.

I pulled into Dean's place around 9 pm.  His brother was home, but Dean and his wife were bowling.  I parked the bike in the garage and proceeded to make myself at home, getting in some quality dog time with his two mini daschunds. 

Dean got home about an hour after I got there, and like a good friend does, he had beverages.  We caught up a bit, made a bit of a plan for the next day, and then I crashed on the couch about 1 am. 


Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 08, 2011, 01:27:00 pm
We spent the next day at Sun Motorcycles looking things over and buying too much stuff.

We got back to his house and started servicing bikes (Dean is an avid off road rider/racer) and generally hanging out.  About mid-afternoon Dean decided he would rent a bike and we'd go riding the next day.  Sounds good to me.

He and his wife drove up to Thunder Mountain Harley Davidson (I followed on the bike) and rented a 2011 Road King.  The same kind of bike Dean use to ride around Philly.

While his wife headed back, we took a ride.  First to check on some of his guys working out at the local airport, then down to an asphalt plant to check on some more of his work crew.  They had been putting in obscene hours and he had been pushing for a few days off for them all once the job completed. 

We wound our way back to his place in time to order some pizza and wings and down a few brews.  We decided to get an early start the next day and head for the mountains.
Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 08, 2011, 06:01:09 pm
Early Sunday morning, Dean, his wife, and I left the house and headed North on I25.  We jumpped off the interstate at exit 243 and headed straight for the Rockies.

After a few twists and turns, we ended up in Estes Park.  We grabbed a quick breakfast and headed into Rocky Mountain National Park.  This would be the last National Park of my trip.

We wound our way through the park, stopping a few times to grab some shots.


We'd make it over 12,200 feet that day.  The highest I've been throughout the trip.



The last picture I took on the trip:


After winding our way through the park, we stopped in Fraser for lunch.  Bellies full, we tackled Berthoud Pass.  After spirited riding through the pass we headed back to Dean's.

My trip was winding down.  I was a bit bummed, but glad to be making my way back home at the same time.

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: darrell on September 08, 2011, 06:17:05 pm
I woke up early on Monday the 29th of August, downed a good strong cup of coffee, and said my goodbyes to Dean and his wife.  I got out to the garage and noticed something not quite right with the bike.  My seat was a bit askew.

After fiddling with the seat for about 15 minutes, bending a tab back into place, I finally got it to set right on the bike.  I never start a long trip without some kind of hurdle.

I pulled out of Broomfield with a goal already set for the day.  When it comes time for me to be home, that's where I want to be.  This was one of those cases.

I dropped south on I25 to 270.  When I got onto I70 I was happy to see all the traffic going the other way.  Time to make some miles.

The ride back was uneventful but for the texting teen that ran a red light somewhere in Kansas, barely missing the back end of my bike.  That would be the closest call of the trip.

I pulled into Indianapolis shortly before midnight.  I picked a hotel on the Eastern side so I would miss most of the morning traffic, and proceeded to get some shut eye.

Without knowing it, I had picked the same hotel as I stayed in on my trip back home from Glacier in 2004.

Anyway, I again awoke early the next morning and made with making miles again. 

Back in 2004, when I got onto 76 in PA, I had a feeling of being boxed in, with the trees, the Jersey barrier, and all the vehicles.  This time I was too concentrated on what they call a road surface to be concerned with all that.  Of the 10,000 plus miles I did on this trip, by far 76 was the worst excuse of a roadway I had been on.

As soon as you hit 76 there are road construction signs.  And they didn't stop for the entire length.  Hey, PA, lemmie give you some advice.  Leave the road construction signs up at each end of your roadway, take all the ones in the middle and sell 'em for scrap.  With the money you make you might be able to get 10 miles of that POS roadway paved right. 

Anyway, I rolled into my driveway about 6:30 pm after dealing with rush-hour traffic in Philly.

The breakdown of the trip went something like this:

27 days on the road (9 in Glacier National Park).  19 different States.  A dozen crossings of the Continental Divide.  10 National Parks. 

10,154 miles

I'm ready to leave again...

Title: Re: Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.
Post by: Gsun on March 10, 2012, 01:57:14 pm
Just wanted to bring this thread back up for those newbs that may not have seen it. This is what most of us dream of! One day.....