Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post Game Wrap-Up

So, tomorrow my vacation is over, and I have to head back to work. I can't believe 6 weeks has passed already. My road trip did not go exactly as planned, as you all know. In the end, I am glad I decided to get another bike and keep going. Perhaps I didn't take the route I originally planned. And maybe I didn't get to see a few of the places I wanted to, or spend as much time as I'd have liked at the places I did get to. But, in the end, I'm happy for having done it. And I'm very glad I got to see everyone I had planned on seeing. Places and things will always be there, I can visit them later. Seeing my mom and my friends, that was important to me. You never know what's going to happen in the future. I think I made the most of the time I had. And just under 9000 miles in 4 1/2 weeks is pretty respectable.

Stuff I missed and want to still go see: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, more stretches of old Route 66.

Stuff I want to go back to and spend more time enjoying: Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, Badlands National Park.

Places I never want to ride or drive through again: Arizona, New Jersey.

Those are just some quick thoughts after being back at my house for a couple of days. I am sure that as I get back into the work routine, I'll be thinking about the trip more and have some more thoughts to share. Also, some people are probably interested in my thoughts on the Concours 14, so I'll write something up on that as well.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Victory Lap of USA Complete

I am home, I am safe, and I am tired. Bigger update coming later, probably tomorrow.

Thank you all for reading along. I appreciated all of the comments, it was nice to know I had so many friends following along.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Homeward Bound

Slept in this morning, which I sorely needed. I stayed up way too late, after going out to dinner with Nicole and Keith. Jesse from NY was actually in Phoenix yesterday visiting a client, so he joined us as well.

Headed out and stopped by Brent's place to say hi to him, his wife Rachel, and their new son Kyle. And then it was off to San Diego.

I struggled again with the heat and hydration today. After draining the camelbak, I stopped in Gila Bend, AZ. While sitting at a Burger King eating a chicken sandwich and downing cups of water, another motorcyclist walked in and we started to chat. Turns out that Bob is also heading to San Diego today. So I asked him if he'd like some company, and after lunch we headed west.

After weeks on the road by myself, it was really nice to have someone else along to chat with at rest and fuel stops. Bob also set a pretty good pace, and I was able to follow along without doing what I usually do - overdo it for a short time, and then feel worn out for the rest of the ride. Near San Diego we parted ways, and I made it to Walker and Renee's place, where I'm staying for my last night on the road. I'll also get to meet their son

Tomorrow, I head north back to San Jose and close out the last chapter of this road trip.

A Grand Day Out

Another 580 miles behind me after today. I left Gallup in the morning and crossed into Arizona, the wind still letting me know how much it hates me. I visited the Petrified Forest National Park, which was quite neat. I then turned off I40 to go see the Metor Crater, which was a waste of an hour and $15. From there, it was on to Flagstaff, and then up towards the Grand Canyon.

That's when I started feeling crappy. I hadn't eaten lunch, but it was much more than that. It turns out I'd been spending most of today at altitude, as much as 7000 feet at times. Well, that combined with the constant wind, I got dehydrated pretty fast. I did get to see the south rim of the Canyon at Desert View, but didn't stay very long. I did purchase the National Parks pass for the year, and I saw enough to know that I want to go back and spend more time there. Maybe in the fall.

Chugged a Powerade and put down a couple of Tiger's Milk bars, and then headed back towards Flagstaff. I started to feel better, and made it to Phoenix around 8 PM.

I did take a bunch of pictures today, which I'll upload tomorrow. I can sleep in a little bit tomorrow, and take my time getting to San Diego which is *only* 380 miles from here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Getting My Kicks

Headed out along Historic Route 66 this morning, and then got back on I40 westbound. For a very long stretch today, old 66 ran alongside I40 much of the way. It's a very old, unmaintained 2 lane road, but still driveable. It's a bit depressing though, as there are all these modern gas stations and shops along I40, and a few thousand feet away are rusted, gutted remains of what once was the Main Street of America. I didn't take any pictures of things like that today, as I tried to minimize stopping and get all the way to Flagstaff, AZ.

I stopped at the Big Texan, in Amarillo for lunch. The place was nearly empty, as I was a bit early for lunch and the weather was turning awful. High winds, much like the ones in South Dakota were present the entire day, and dark storm clouds covered much of the Texas panhandle. For those of you that don't know, the Big Texan is the restaurant that advertises a FREE 72 oz. steak. The catch is that you have to eat the whole meal in 1 hour, and no breaks. You stand up, the house wins. The price of failure? 72 dollars. When I got there, a fellow had just started in on his attempt. In the 40 minutes I was there, he made decent progress, but I'm pretty sure he walked out of there feeling sick and $72 lighter.

From then on I continued west, got sprinkled on a little, but outran the rain clouds. Stopped in Clines Corners in New Mexico, to see what all the billboards were about, and use the rest room. In the parking lot, a woman noticed the Oregon tag on the bike, and asked if I was from there. I started to tell my story, and the fact that I live in California, but am originally from New York. Well, so was she, and her friend that joined us was in the process of moving from NY to Chandler, AZ. Too funny. 2 days ago at a rest stop, I met a couple moving from New Jersey to the Palm Springs area.

The wind did a number on me today, and sapped a good deal of energy riding through it. No missing tail bags, thankfully. But I called it a day in Gallup, NM. I'm planning to get an early start, head out to the Grand Canyon, and then into Phoenix to meet some friends.

The Route 66 museum in Elk City, OK.

The Big Texan.

I am pretty sure it did not end well for this fellow. With 20 minutes left to go, he was looking pretty unhappy.

My much more sensible 8 oz. steak, which was delicious. As was the sweet tea.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cannonball Run

I got up this morning with some ambitious ideas of making it the 820 miles from Jackson, TN to Amarillo, TX in 1 day. It was not meant to be. I got as far as Elk City, OK, and called it a day. Being so close to the end of the trip, now would be a really inopportune time for some bad judgment and pushing too hard in one day. So I found a hotel, with a laundromat across the street. My laundry is done, and I'm probably going to turn in early tonight, I'm pretty beat. 680 miles in one day is still pretty respectable.

There's a Historic Route 66 museum here in town that I'm going to check out in the morning, then head to the Big Texan in Amarillo for lunch. From there, I'll see if I feel like pressing straight on to Albuquerque, or head southwest to Roswell. Still making things up as I go along. I've pretty much seen everything and everyone I've wanted to on this trip, except for the Grand Canyon, friends in Phoenix, and friends in San Diego. Those are my only 3 goals left at this point, and then I just really want to be in my own bed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Big Deal's Gap

Post title compliments of Brian Cupini.

Sorry there was no update yesterday, I was nowhere near a cellphone signal, or any kind of internet access. I wrote up the post for yesterday offline; here it is:

Left Asheville early, and headed to Cherokee to meet a friend coming up from Atlanta to give me a guided tour of Deal's Gap and the Tail of the Dragon. Just south of Waynesville I picked up a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that would dump me off just outside of Cherokee. Wow, the BRP was some of the nicest twisty road I have seen, and the pavement was well maintained. The weather was threatening to rain since the sun came up, and about 15 minutes into the BRP run, the sky opened up. It was still an enjoyable ride, but I couldn't get many pictures of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I met up with Tamara in Cherokee, and her friend Eddie. We had lunch and then headed to the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, taking a combination of freeways and some twisties, the final stretch being the Hellbender 28. It rained just about the entire time. Shortly before we arrived at the motel, a tree had fallen and cut the power and phones to the whole area. We decided to wait out the rain here, until tomorrow morning when it is supposed to clear up. A while later, the skies cleared and the road started to dry up, but we still had no power. So we headed down the hill to the Tapoco Lodge, but they were also powerless and not cooking. We then continued on to Robbinsville and had dinner at a mexican restaurant, filled up on gas, and rode back to the motel.

Tomorrow morning we're planning to do a Dragon run, then pick up the Cherohala Skyway out to Tellico Plains where we'll part ways. Tam and Eddie have to head back to Atlanta, and I'm going west towards Nashville.

And now for today.

We got up early and did our Tail of the Dragon run before many people arrived, and had remarkably little traffic. So, is it a big Deal? I don't know. It's a fun enough road, if you like tight technical stuff. But the posted speed limit is 30 mph, and there a lot of police out there most of the time. To have gotten to the area and NOT ridden it would have been disappointing, so I am glad I did. But if one was to ride across the country just to ride that 11 miles of road, they'd probably feel less than fulfilled. After our Dragon run, we had breakfast, packed up the bikes, and headed back towards Robinsville, and then headed over the the Cherohala Skyway. Now that was a much more enjoyable road. The corners are all smooth sweepers for the most part, and you can actually enjoy the scenery. We rode it out all the way to the end, in Tellico Plains. From there, Tamara and Eddie headed south, and I headed north up 68 to I75, and then I40 westbound.

The Tail of the Dragon. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I stopped in Old Hickory, TN to see the house that my manager Mary Ann grew up in. It's now on the National Register of Historic Places, so I took a few pictures of it and then figured out where to next. I made the most of the hour I got back, and riding towards the sun. I made it as far as Jackson, TN before I called it a day.

From now till home it's superslab all the way, hopefully I can knock out a few really long days so I can have some time to see the Grand Canyon.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Out with the old...

Left VA Beach this morning and headed southeast, on my way to Asheville. The various law enforcement establishments must have had a ticket writing contest today, because they were everywhere. The "don't be the fastest guy on the road" technique worked very well today, as I did not contribute any funds towards outfitting a police cruiser with a new donut holder.

About 70 miles east of Asheville is Held USA, the US importer/distributor of Held stuff. I was running a bit late, so Charles called them up for me to tell me I was on my way, and they stayed a little late so I could stop by. Clay, the owner's son gave me a brief tour, and I picked up a pair of these and left my burnt gloves there for his dad to look at when they get back from a bike rally this weekend. They'll repair them if they're able to, and send them back to me in California. Turns out the Akiras are sized a little different. I needed a size 10, where I wore a 9.5 in the Galaxy. In case any of you are looking to get a new pair.

Now I'm in Asheville, going out for dinner soon and will try and catch Iron Man.

Here I am, at Held USA.

The warehouse where all the goodies are kept. No pic of the showroom, since it was nearly empty - the Held people are at a bike rally in GA this weekend.

My old crispy Galaxy gloves, and a new pair of Akiras.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Slingshot States

After a late night cheese steak and not enough sleep, I headed south from Collegeville, PA. It rained in Delaware, but was only cloudy through Maryland, and then sunny in Virgina. Riding across the Chesapeake Bay bridge was neat, even though the wind was blowing pretty strong, and I just know it was eyeballing my tail bag.

300 miles later, I'm at the Beebe household in Virginia Beach. After dinner we stopped by Caroline and Rex's house to say hi while I was in town.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to have breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, something I've never done. Then, it's time to start the return leg of the journey and get on my way West with Asheville, NC being where I'm aiming to end up for the night.

The new tires are decently scrubbed in at this point, and I like the way they feel a good bit more than the stock tires.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Baby needs a new pair of shoes

2 days worth of updates for the price of one today.

Spent yesterday with a bunch of friends in NY City. Thanks to everyone who made it out last night, it was great to see you all. A big thanks to Jesse and Casey for putting me up for a few days.

Headed out this morning after a brief photo session of bike & kids and stopped by my old neighborhood in Queens. Took a few pics, and then headed over the Whitestone Bridge, cut across the Bronx through some nasty traffic, over the George Washington Bridge, and into New Jersey. I think I just threw up a little from typing that. Through NJ and into Pennsylvania, where I stopped at Montgomeryville Cycle Center, who were able to secure a set of new tires for me by today, and fit me into their schedule when I showed up. The Concours now is sporting a set of Michelin Pilot Road 2's, having flatspotted the stock Bridgestones after 4100 miles, a lot of them interstate miles.

From the bike shop I headed to Patrick's house, where he and Jim K. were waiting for me with a cold Brooklyn Lager with my name on it. Swapped boots for shoes, and then headed out for dinner. Now we're back for a bit, I'm working on a Black Chocolate Stout, and we're going for a genuine Philly cheesesteak run in a while.

Chicks dig my ride. Helene on the Concours.

I am WAY faster than you, Brad.

Jack and Helene going 2-up.

Perfect fit.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back in the New York Groove

The bad weather finally caught up with me today, as it has been pouring all day in NYC. I headed into Manhattan this morning, checked out Jesse's new (to me) office space which is right near Union Square. We met Christian for lunch since he was just a couple of blocks away, and then back to the office and attempted to set up a friends gathering for tomorrow night.

The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow, so tonight I'm staying in, waiting for the pizza to arrive - I was denied yesterday, as the place near here closes early on Sunday - and will catch up on this season of Battlestar Galactica.

The 19 shots of Niagara Falls have been uploaded. A few of them even came out decently.

Tomorrow it's back to the city.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lord of the Flies

I'm now in Forest Hills, Queens NY, at Jesse's place (the one who made the fancy map that's tracking me). Now that I've got a decent net connection, and am no longer attempting to upload pictures via smoke signal, there are some new pics in the flickr photostream.

I had a very nice time at my mom's place for the last two days, even though I'm not much of a country person. The worst part were the omnipresent mayflies (who clearly cannot read, as it is still APRIL and they should not have been around yet). This morning when I tried to wash all of their slain brethren from my bike, they tried to eat me alive. I did manage to get most of the bug debris off of the windscreen and headlights with John's help, but the bike is going to need a serious detailing when this trip is over. Heading into their place Friday night, I could barely see through the screen, or my helmet visor. I had to close all the helmet vents because they were getting inside the helmet. Eww.

Mayfly genocide, courtesy of the Concours.

This took a good 45 minutes to get clean.

Mom lives a couple of miles from Yasgur's Farm, and the area is being bought up in huge chunks by a developer and turning the place into a music conservatory. But we stopped by so I could take a few pictures.

This is where hippies come from.

Lastly, now that I'm in the city, I have traded one road hazard for another. I no longer have to worry about suicidal wildlife leaping at me from the side of the road. Instead, I have to beware vehicles sporting New Jersey license plates.

Now I think I'll go get a slice of pizza.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A New York State of mind

Headed out from Shawn's in Oshawa, Ontario this morning and headed east along the north shore of Lake Ontario. The breeze off the lake was a little cool, but worse than any chill was the smell of pig-poop fertilizer it brought with it. One last farewell to Tim Horton's at a rest stop in Kingston, and it was time to try my luck getting back into the USA. A pleasant 5 minute chat with the border guard about my trip, I was on my way over the final bridge and back on American soil.

Once in New York State, the temperature warmed up, so I pulled into the first rest stop I got to and took the liner out of the jacket. Stretched for a few minutes, and was back on my way. Even though I was on an Interstate, I81 is a pretty scenic drive. New York State is chock full of trees and lakes, and lots of rolling hills along that route. At Binghamton, I hung a left and headed southeast to my mom's house. After a little over 400 miles of riding, I arrived.

If you check the "Where is Brad" map, you'll see that I'm in the sticks. Right now I'm posting this from the oh-so-speedy AT&T EDGE cellular network, which is painfully slow. So I probably won't be updating this weekend unless I head into a town with a Starbucks or something. I am looking forward to sleeping late for a couple of days, taking a break from riding, and spending some time with mom.

Made it to NY!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Border crossings

Left the hotel in Sarnia this morning, and thanks to the GPS being very confused, I got on the 402 highway heading back towards the USA, about 50 feet from the toll booth with no way to turn around. I explained myself at the booth, and they gave me a pass to turn around before going over the bridge. I then tried explaining this to the border guard, but they decided I needed to go through immigration. 45 minutes of going over my "interesting" paperwork, and explaining who I am, what I do for a living, how much money I have in the bank, who I am visiting, and why I made a wrong turn, I was finally allowed to continue on. Good day, eh!

After a pit stop at Tim Horton's for a bagel and coffee, and then spoiling the bike with a tank full of 93 octane, I made it to Niagara Falls without incident. Spent about an hour there, and took a few pictures which I will upload tomorrow. The wind was blowing hard, and the spray from the falls was pretty much going everywhere. I was glad I was still wearing my waterproof jacket. But given how expensive this trip is turning out to be, I didn't want to add the cost of a new camera and lens to it.

After leaving the falls I made great time to the Toronto area, at which point the traffic turned absolutely miserable. Never had I wanted to lane-split so badly, but was told not to by Shawn since a) it's illegal and b) drivers in cars would not expect it, and chances were good that I'd get bumped or squished. So I just slogged through it, the bike blowing hot air on my legs almost constantly, and I arrived an hour later than I expected to.

Shawn grilled up some dinner, and then changed the oil in the bike. After that we headed out for a bit, and now I'm ready to get some sleep and head to mom's house tomorrow.

Metrics, pictures, and whatnot to be updated tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bit off more than I could chew

I got as far as Sarnia, Ontario tonight, before I decided to call it a day and find a place to get some dinner and then get some serious resting done. I had intended to make it all the way to Toronto tonight, but was not feeling that well for the last few hours of riding. Probably dehydration, as I was draining my camelbak but still feeling thirsty. So in the spirit of making it up as I go along, I pulled in at Sarnia, and came up with a tentative plan for tomorrow.

Leave here and head to Niagara Falls, then head to Shawn's place in Oshawa. Then Friday, east to Kingston, and down through New York State to mom's house.

For now, time to rest up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mr. Fancy Pants

The new riding pants and tail bag arrived today as expected, while I was out exploring Chicago's Millennium Park. The weather was overcast and warm, but it did not rain as predicted. Pictures are being uploaded to flickr right now, and should be done shortly.

Tonight I'm just kicking back, doing laundry, and packing up for heading to Toronto tomorrow. My hosts here have been great, and the day off from riding was a nice break.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Still going...

Made it from Rochester, MN to Bartlett, IL (about 40 miles outside of Chicago) today without incident. Minnesota was in a slightly better mood today, and the wind was more of a gentle massage compared to the beatings of the last 2 days. Once into Wisconsin, vast expanses of nothingness gave way to trees, rivers, and generally happier riding conditions. Stopped a couple of times to stretch and drink water, and made it to Susan & Mike's house in Bartlett in record time.

The fine folks at had my replacement riding pants and tail bag in stock, and will be delivered here tomorrow. I've gone this long without an electric vest, I figure I'll just not bother replacing it for now.

Tomorrow, a break from riding and some relaxing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Great balls of fire

Started out in Murdo, SD this morning, with the wind blowing like mad. After 50 or so miles, it was time to gas up. I pulled into Presho. The first thing I notice is all the pumps are out of order. So I get off the bike, and notice that my leg didn't bump the tail bag like usual. I turn around and look, and see the tail bag rolled over the back of the luggage rack, but still attached. Then I see the smoke. The tail bag had been sitting on the muffler for who knows how long, and it burned right through. Also, my riding overpants were stuffed under the bag, and are now long gone. I pulled off the bag, and the folks in the gas station brought me a wet rag and water to put out whatever was still smoldering.

Stuff destroyed:
The tail bag
The damn electric vest that I never did get to work
My fleece jacket
The souvenier hat from the Sci-Fi museum
The owners manual from the new bike
A towel
A bunch of anti-fog visor wipes
Hand and toe chemical warmers

My irreplaceable Held Galaxy gloves got singed, but might still be wearable. My tour books and other papers are singed, and the hotel room smells like a campfire now.

I needed gas, but all I could get there was 89 octane w/ 10% ethanol. Ick. Put a gallon of that in and headed east some more to Kennebec, which was supposed to have a big gas station. They also only had 89 octane, but not the gasahol kind. Filled up on that, and kept going east. I stopped in Mitchell for some lunch, but couldn't eat since I was feeling pretty crappy about how the day started. Gassed up on 91 again, and off I went. Made it to Rochester, MN tonight, after a few more gas stops.

The wind out here is something else. It's never-ending, and brutal. My neck hurts from pushing on it all day, trying to keep my head from getting blown off. And it tossed the fuel economy of the bike right out the window. It finally eased up about 30 miles outside of Rochester. I hope tomorrow it won't be as bad. I'm going to try and get an early start and get to Chicago to see some more friends.

At first it only looked like I lost what was in the side compartment.


I hope very fine steel wool can clean this up.

The burned up manuals, the melted thermostat for the electric vest, and the crispy Sci-Fi hat.

A closer look.

The electric vest melted, and burned a hole in my jacket.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A monumentous day

Started the day off in Hulett, and visited Devils Tower. Very cool place. I will upload the rest of the pictures once I get to a place with a better network connection. But the tower and visitor's center is very nice. Be careful on the roads, though. There are prairie dogs everywhere!

Staying on 2 lane roads, I headed southeast to Sundance, where I stopped for gas, and then continued on my way to Mt. Rushmore, with a small detour at the Crazy Horse monument that's still very much a work in progress. I didn't want to wait a couple of hours for the bus tour to the top of it, so this is the best shot I got of it.

Then on to Mt. Rushmore itself, which was very cool.

North out of there, with a coffee stop in Rapid City. I90 East to Wall. Yes, I saw all the wacky Wall Drug signs. Rode through the downtown of Wall, all 2 blocks of it, then got more gas and headed south into the Badlands.

I rode the "Badlands Loop." Wow. What an amazing place to go through. Words won't do it justice, the pictures will do all the talking for me. If you are anywhere near this area, you must see this place. There are lots of gravel roads that peel off the paved loop, which I could spend days exploring, were I on my KLR. The guide materials say the best times here are early morning or late afternoon, with the sun casting interesting shadows on the craggy landscape. I was there from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, and it was stunning.

Completed the loop and got back on I90, and headed east with a quickness. I was hoping to make it to Sioux Falls by nightfall, but it didn't happen. No regrets, I enjoyed spending the time today seeing what I did, and not rushing past it. The sun went down, so I asked the trusty GPS where the nearest hotel was, and I stopped in Murdo, SD. Had a tasty buffalo steak dinner, and now am kicking back in the hotel room.

From here to Chicago there isn't much of anything to see, so I'm going to interstate it the rest of the way there.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Big Sky, Dirt Roads, Imperial Entanglements

463 miles today. Not bad.

I started out in Bozeman, looking for Team Bozeman Motorsports. I couldn't find it. If the so-called biggest motorsports dealership in the area is that hard to find - not even so much as a sign where the GPS said the shop is supposed to be - maybe they weren't going to have what I needed. So, I made the call to skip it, and just get over the last of the mountains.

Stopped in Livingston for gas, shook my fist in a southerly direction at Yellowstone for being covered in snow, and kept going east. Made it to Billings around lunch time, stopped for a coffee and snack before getting back out there. Once over all the mountains and insanely gusty winds, I found it to be rather warm. Looks like I won't need the vest right now after all. I figure I can find the necessary wires in Chicago, where I'll have access to a garage and a couple of tools I don't have with me.

Got off of I90 and onto 212. Finally, a 2-lane road! THIS is the road trip I've been wanting to take. However, I traded the "look out for ice" signs for some "unpaved road - motorcycles consider alternate route" signs. Hell no, I am not turning around. Well, about 100 or so miles down that road I found that unpaved really meant unpaved. First there were grooves in the asphalt, like a road prepped for resurfacing. Ah well, 9 miles of this isn't great, but not too horrible. Then I got to the actual unpaved section. Like, mounds of dirt being engineered into road. I had passed another motorcyclist on my way to this little offroading adventure, and he had caught up with me at the unpaved section. We both decided to stop for gas when 212 makes a right hand turn, and chatted for a while. It turns out, his name is Denis, and he's spending his sabbatical from work riding all over the country too! He's even got a blog of his own. We chatted for a while, about our trips, and then headed back out. I turned south at 112, and headed into Wyoming.

About 10 miles down 112, I noticed I had picked up a tailgater. The kind with flashing lights. I pulled over, and a very nice member of the Wyoming Highway Patrol informed me that going 15mph over the posted limit was not advised, as there are lots of deer around and they tend to jump in front of motorcycles. And then he sent me on my way, at a much more conservative pace. Sure enough, 5 miles later a whitetail deer hopped across the road, to his 5 pals waiting at the side of the road. I saw a bunch more deer, and a couple of turkeys, on my way to Devils Tower. Saw the tower as the sun was going down, and backtracked to the hotel for the night. I made it in time to walk down the street to the local bar/diner here in Hulett, and had one of the tastiest cheeseburgers ever.

Tomorrow, Devils Tower pictures and into the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Route 212. Big Sky.


My ghetto-fix for the Zumo cradle that doesn't clamp down fully and causes static in the right ear. I'll be getting the cradle replaced under warranty when I get back.

The business end of the BugSlayer. There are A LOT of dead bugs on the bike.

And even more on the windscreen.

I honestly don't know how people ride without full-faced helmets.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't look back

Got up this morning and pulled out all the slack from the heated vest wire. The good news is that it reached! The bad news is that it was crimped when it was installed, and doesn't work. Just par for the course on this trip, I suppose.

I headed east on I90 to Coeur D'Alene and stopped at a big bike shop, but they didn't have anything that could work. Charles suggested the MacGuyver approach, cutting out the damaged sections and crimping in a good piece of wire. That'll be plan Z, as I do not want to create new problems, just fix the existing ones. With the bad weather still approaching, I decided to make tracks for Montana. All the locals said if you're going to head east over the passes, today is the day to do it. So, off I went, over 2 passes with snow all around, but the sun was shining and I wasn't that cold. Stopped in Missoula, MT for a coffee and a snack, and then headed to Butte. Charles had researched bike shops in Butte and Bozeman while I was riding, but I got to Butte too late to check them out, and still had about an hour and 45 minutes of sunlight left. So after a quick McDinner and a full tank of gas, I continued east. As I passed the continental divide, I figured I'm over the proverbial hump and I am going to keep on going.

4 snow lined mountain passes later, I'm in Bozeman for the night. 400 miles covered today. The plan for tonight is to stay in, stretch out and relax, get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow I'm going to check out Team Bozeman Motorsports, and hopefully be able to get the vest wiring sorted out. Then hopefully go east to Livingston, MT, and south through Yellowstone. The forecast for Yellowstone tomorrow is rain showers, so I'll keep an eye on that and check again tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm in Spokane

After picking up the bike from Lake City, I headed over to Cycle Barn in Lynnwood for the vest. It's a bit snug, but it fit. Of course, it did NOT have an SAE connector, but rather its own set of leads to wire to the battery. So after the fine folks at Lake City put the Battery Tender lead on there, it had to come off and put this new set of leads on. Alex, the service writer had me roll the bike in and he swapped the cables right then and there. After a short while, I was out of the Barn and headed to a gas station to fill up the tank and make tracks for Spokane.

After filling up, I attempt to connect the vest up. If you've been following this trip, it should come as no surprise to you that the plug did not reach, too much of the cord was stuffed inside the frame to make it up to the vest plug. I will fix this tomorrow morning, but I wanted to make it to Spokane before sundown, so I just headed out.

I5 was a little backed up, but I waded through that and got to I90. And stared off at the snow-covered Cascades and hoped for the best. The ride through the pass was some very beautiful scenery, but a little cold and wet with snow on the sides of the road and all around. I made it over the summit without incident, and what was waiting for me over the mountains? Blue skies. FINALLY. Ahhh... Oh damn, here come the brutal crosswinds! The Concours is considerably heavier than the KLR, which helped me from getting blown around like a leaf on the wind. Still, I had some serious lean going to stay in a straight line. But the blue skies and sun on my back were such a welcome change, that the wind didn't bother me that much.

I pulled off at Vantage, for some food for both me and the bike and a much needed break from the saddle. 45 mins later with a full tank and some food in me, I headed back out to the interstate and was determined to make it to Spokane.

I didn't make it before sundown, but did not want to stop anywhere before, so I can head out from here in the morning. The sun eventually set, and the temperature dropped. I bet that electric vest is nice and warm, but I'll have to find out tomorrow. I pulled in at the Holiday Inn by the Spokane Airport, checked in, and now I'm posting this from the lounge and enjoying a beer.

The plan for tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, is to head to Coeur D'Alene in the morning, find a coffee shop with some wireless access, and figure out what to do next. I am uncertain about Glacier for now, but we'll see what happens.

Some notes on the bike so far: It's quite comfortable overall, and the seat is great. Much better for long rides than the KLR. The peg position still hurts my knees after a long day (over 400 miles today), so I just need to stop a bit more and stretch. Power is not lacking AT ALL, even during break-in. But now with 775 miles on the clock, I can start working it out some more. I managed to hit a new high-score on the GPS today with it. It's averaging around 38 MPG, which really is not much worse than the KLR was getting, being loaded down the way it was and me pushing it over mountain passes at full throttle (and still only doing about 70 mph). The Concours will gobble up miles faster than a stoner attacking a bag of Funyons, if you're up to it. I knew someday I'd want a sport-tourer. Circumstances accelerated that purchase, but I don't regret it for a minute.

Logan, Maddie, and Rex from Lake City Kawasaki. Thanks a ton for outstanding service and going out of your way to keep this trip on schedule.

The split pea soup at the restaurant in Vantage was properly thick enough to plant the spoon right in the middle and keep it there.

Pit stop in Seattle, running from snow

I'm in a Starbucks (in Seattle? NO WAY!) across the street from Lake City Kawasaki. They're doing the service on the bike right now, and wiring up the battery tender plug so I can plug in a heated vest. Then I'm off to another shop 10 miles away to pick up a vest, hopefully.

From there, it looks like I'm going to take I-90 east to Spokane today, and avoid the snowstorm that's sneaking up behind me and is about to put the smackdown on the pacific northwest.

From there, we'll see what my options are. Looks like Glacier National Park is being snowed on right now, so that's probably out for this trip. Nature is doing everything it can to make me stick to my "make it up as I go along" plan.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vancouver today

Spent the day running around Vancouver. We hit Spanish Banks / Pacific Spirit reigonal park, Kitslano Beach, Point Grey, Granville Island, and then downtown Vancouver for a Brazilian BBQ dinner. I also got to experience Tim Horton's, and they do have excellent coffee and donuts. They're like the Dunkin Donuts of Canada or something.

I took a lot of pictures, but will have to post them tomorrow, since the card reader that my friend John gave me to use before I left apparently doesn't work when trying to read compact flash cards. So I'll pick up a new reader tomorrow.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and head back to the Seattle area, to a Kawasaki dealership to get the oil changed out. I'll be about 100 miles early, but better that than 100 or more miles late. I'll get it changed again at 3k miles, so I'm not too worried about it. The folks at Lake City Kawasaki seemed eager to fit me into the schedule whenever I arrive, but the earlier the better. This is much nicer than the folks at Bellevue Kawasaki that pretty much said it's a crapshoot depending on when I get there, they didn't seem to want my business. So they won't get it.

Once that's done, I'm planning to head over to the Gerbing factory and get an electric vest. They're over in Union, WA, which looks close on a map but in reality is not very.

If I can get all that taken care of by the early afternoon, I may make tracks for Spokane before sunset. Or I may end up in Seattle for another night. We'll see how things go.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seattle is still wet, Vancouver is not

Spent the morning with Anne and Kevin in Seattle this morning, and took a bunch of photos which you can see to the right with the little flickr widget. We went to the space needle, and the rain did not fall on us for the time we spent on the observation deck. Next to the needle is the Science Fiction Museum, which while small was quite good. It's attached to the Experience Music Project, which will have to wait until next time. From there, we checked out the first REI store, which is huge. There are a few pictures of that as well.

After picking up my faxed proof of insurance from Anne's office, I gathered up my stuff, suited up, and headed for a gas station. And then the rain started. And didn't stop until about 50 miles south of the Canadian border.

I'm now at Stephanie and Lu's house, in Coquitlam which is very close to Vancouver. Tomorrow I'm going to explore Vancouver, and then head back down to the US on Wednesday morning. Soon it will be time to do the break-in oil change on the bike.

Lastly, as requested, here are a few pictures of me in Tami's VW bug in Portland:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Seattle is wet

I put ~175 miles on the new bike today. Nothing too exciting, just I5 from Portland to Seattle. At least I5 up north is somewhat scenic, with trees and mountains all around. Unlike I5 south from San Jose to LA, which is just endless farmland and arrow-straight pavement for miles.

The new bike is quite excellent, even during the break-in period. In 6th gear it will cruise along at 80mph @ 3500 rpm. I kept moving around from 4-5-6 to keep the engine speed varied. The windscreen in the up position does a really good job of making the ride smoother. I didn't realize this until I moved it down while on the highway, and the difference was amazing. The seating / leg position is more sporty than the KLR, which puts more weight on my knees and less on my butt. The rump was fine after 175 miles, but my knees were not happy. More frequent stops will help, I did the whole ride today non-stop.

Seattle is rainy right now. I got a tour of the city with Anne and Kevin tonight, in their car, and took a few pictures to a) show I was here and b) show how crappy the weather is. But since I am on the cellular card tonight, pictures will get posted tomorrow from someplace with faster access speeds.

Just wanted to let my faithful readers that I am ok for tonight.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pimped my ride

OK, not really. Tonight I installed the GPS on the new bike, and the installation is pretty tight if I do say so myself.

The view from the cockpit. I can see all the gauges, get to all the controls, and even retained the use of the (mostly useless) tank storage compartment.

From a different angle. If you have a Concours 14, and want to install a Garmin Zumo, talk to the GadgetGuy.

The stealth bomber

It has arrived. Rode it 15 miles from the shop to Chris's garage. The shaft drive and gearbox are silky smooth. It's got lots of power. And it's whisper quiet. I rode back with no earplugs, and still had to strain to hear the bike so I can get used to the noises it makes. I'm looking forward to resuming the trip tomorrow. Here are a few pictures of it. Click for the big version, and I do mean BIG.


Good to go.


Friday, April 11, 2008

A little patience

It's 5:30 in Portland right now, and Chris is probably still stuck in traffic. No way I'm getting to the bike shop by 6 PM. No worries, I wasn't going riding around on it tonight anyhow. I think the plan for tonight is grilling things to eat and drinking wine. The bike shop opens at 9 AM tomorrow, so I hope to get it nice and early and then enjoy another potential day of good weather here. Maybe I'll even take some pictures.

The replacement jacket arrived this morning, along with all the bits needed for installing the GPS.

Things are coming together.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Any crash you can walk away from...

Front of the bike = smushed.

Rear subframe also looking unhappy.

Bars bent and rolled forward, the tank tapped the frame. The GPS still works!

No thank you.

Worth 1000 words

All suited up. Brian behind me with bon-voyage donuts.

Ready to roll out.

Leaving home with Justin riding escort for the first few miles.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You meet the nicest people on a motorcycle

Honda used to have an old ad campaign, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." I'm stepping outside the manufacturer bounds here and need to tell you folks about Genna the GadgetGuy. He makes some really slick kits to mount various GPS devices on your motorcycle. I had the Base Plate II for the KLR and it fit perfectly. Well, I managed to rescue the Zumo off of the broken bike, but it will not simply bolt onto the Concours. So I called Genna and left a voicemail, hoping he'd return it. Sure enough he called back, and I explained my situation. We talked about what he could put together, and by Friday I should have a pile of parts to make a clean looking installation.


Anyhow... I looked up where Genna is and saw that he's in Maryland, so I told him I might stop by and thank him in person. Once he realized I was doing a big x-country trip, he became that much more determined to get me back on the road with a functioning GPS.

If you ever need to mount a GPS on your bike, hit up the GadgetGuy.

Knocked a few more things off the to-do list today:
Insurance for new bike - check.
New jacket ordered, will be here Friday - check.

Then I took a stroll for the rest of the day in downtown Northwest Portland.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cartography and stuff

If you look over to the right of the page, there's a new section called "Stuff to click on." Jesse put together a pretty slick tracking page to track all the OK signals I send from the SPOT locater beacon. Props to mutke too for some of the code he built it on.

Yes I know it says I'm still in Coos Bay. Tomorrow morning I'll go outside and send an OK signal from Portland so the map will update. I'm curious to see what route the map will think I took.

Called up the local Cycle Gear here in Portland and zipped over there before they closed. Got a shiny new helmet and some more appropriate boots.

Tomorrow I'll work on the jacket, some insurance for the new ride, and GPS gadgetry.

Back in the saddle

Well, almost. I bought a 2008 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS this afternoon. It's being uncrated and assembled tomorrow, and I can pick it up as soon as my funds clear, probably Saturday.

I still need to get a new helmet and jacket, will probably mail order those. And also some different boots. The Sidi Discovery boots I was wearing are fine, just a little scuff mark on the left one. But they are far too big and clunky to be comfortable on the Concours.

Also still to figure out is a new mounting solution for the GPS. I have a few days before I get the bike in my hands, so time to do some research.

Today I also arranged for the KLR to get picked up, crated, and shipped to Gilroy. I'll get the final price when they weigh it, but for door to door service, the price was reasonable.

My right arm is still pretty sore, but getting better. I haven't taken any Advil today so I could gauge just how bruised I am. I'm confident that by the time I get back on the bike I'll be well on my way to being mostly, if not fully, healed.

Now I think I need a margarita or four...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Good progress today

I'm still in Portland, my friends here have given me all the time I need to figure stuff out.

Today I made things right with the Oregon DMV, got things going with the insurance company, and spoke to Dave at High Gear Powersports who is awesome and is awaiting my wreckage to look it over and fix it.

I'm still pretty sore, but getting better with time and rest.

I went to the couple of motorcycle shops nearby that were open today, and didn't see anything I liked. So tomorrow I'll be checking out the rest of them. With any luck, I might be getting back on the road on one of these. The model with ABS, of course.

When I do get back on the road, my route might change some. I set out to avoid interstates, but have lost some time. So, I might do a combination of 2-lane highways to get to fun things to see, and then hit the interstates to get to the next area of fun stuff.

Thanks again to everyone who has sent along good thoughts and recovery wishes. They mean a lot, and they're helping.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Made it to Portland

I'm in Portland now, at Chris and Tami's place, and I'll be here for a couple of days while I figure out what to do next. This morning I checked the bike out, it's pretty messed up. The front plastics are destroyed. I slid into the tank so hard it tapped the frame of the bike. And the handlebars are bent and pushed all the way forward. That would explain why my midsection is so sore - I used to to bend metal. The forks are tweaked, or worse, and the front wheel is not quite true anymore. The rear subframe is bent up, from where it went down with the hard bags attached. I'm guessing this will not be cheap to fix. On the bright side, I got all my stuff off of the thing, and it did start right up when I tried it.

I'm not quite sure what the next step on this trip will be, a lot depends on how I feel over the next few days. I'll say this, the trip is on hold right now. Not completely canceled. When I decide what's going on, I'll be sure to post it.

Most bike shops are closed on Mondays, so it'll be Tuesday before I can make shipping arrangements for the busted KLR.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Shortest road trip ever

Well folks, I'm afraid the show's over. At least Act 1 is. The day started out ok, I rode from Eureka to Crescent City. Then the sky opened up and rained on me all the way to Coos Bay, Oregon. This is where the trip ends. Not because it stopped raining. But rather, because traffic in front of me suddenly stopped short. I tried to stop as well, but the bike was not having it. The front wheel locked and tucked, and I smacked it into the back of a pickup truck.

Here are the important details:
I AM OKAY. I have a few bruises, and am sore, but physically ok. Mentally, I'm very, very upset with myself. But they say any crash you can walk away from is a good one. Or something like that. I had on full gear head to toe, so there isn't a scratch on me.

The bike is toast. Front end is all smashed to bits, handlebars rolled forward. Might be all cosmetic though, we shall see. The rear subframe looks bent up, because when it fell down the indestructible pelican cases didn't budge. The brackets and subframe did though. The bike is currently sitting in a Yamaha dealership. The one I fell down right in front of. How is that for irony? I'll go inspect it tomorrow.

Again, I am okay. Thanks to everyone who has called, SMS'd, IM'd or otherwise inquired.

I'm currently in the waiting / snack area of the Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, OR. Everyone here has been great, I'm set up on a table with the broadband card, and they even brought me dinner from the cafeteria before they closed.

My friend Chris in Portland is on his way here tonight, to get me and my stuff and we're going to stay in this town for tonight. Tomorrow I'll check on the bike, then probaby go to Portland for a day or two to rest up. As for how I am going to get me, my stuff, and my bike home I will figure out tomorrow. The current top idea is a 1-way pickup truck rental from Portland to San Jose, and I swing by Coos Bay to toss the bike in it. Maybe I'll just have the bike crated and shipped back. We'll see, and I'll keep updating the blog.

I still have plenty of time off left, so I will figure out something else to do with it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Day 1 Report

Coming at you live from a Best Western in Eureka. Very long day today. San Jose to Eureka, up 1/101 the whole way. I'm done with twisties for a while, a day or two of straighter roads would be fine by me. My first stop was in Tomales, for a light lunch. I met a bunch of folks out on a ride having lunch as well, they wished me luck on the trip. As I was getting ready to head out, another couple on BMW touring bikes rolled up, and we chatted for a while as well. I think they're even going to follow the blog. Continued back up 1, stopped for gas, and kept going. Stopped in Ft. Bragg next for a coffee, which held the feeling bad at bay for a bit. Back on 1, more twisties through the redwoods. Lovely scenery, but I was hustling pretty good to make sure I was out of the woods by the time it got dark. I stopped about 80 miles south of Eureka for a hot cocoa and energy bar, which helped a lot. Back on the bike, and on 101 in the dark. Made it to Eureka around 9:30 PM.

Things I learned today:
I need to stop more to drink water and eat small bits of food. I didn't eat much today, and felt really crappy at times because of it. I'd stop and drink some water and eat a Tiger's Milk bar, and start to feel better. If I did this regularly BEFORE I felt bad, I think I can go longer because I'd not feel crappy. I will try this tomorrow.

XM antenna for the GPS, worth every penny.

I will try and hit the SPOT "I'm OK" button more.

And I will get some pictures up on here soon, I promise.

Now that I've had some food, it's time for bed. Tomorrow I am planning to make it to Tillamook, OR.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

T minus 10 hours...

The bike is nearly packed, just some incidentals to toss in tomorrow morning. Fresh oil and a clean chain. As I sit here and copy some tunes for the road to an SD card, I'm excited, anxious, and nervous thinking about the big journey ahead. I think about all of my friends, family, and co-workers who helped me so much last year and how I probably wouldn't be doing this trip without them. Thank you, all of you. You know who you are.

As for the trip itself - I plan to head north first, to Vancouver, BC. Then back to Seattle, and across the northern US along US-2 until Duluth, MN. From there, north along Lake Superior and into Canada again, to pick up CA-17 and take that east to Montreal. From there, down through New York, to NYC. After a couple of days there, back on the road to PA, and then south along roads that follow the Appalachian Trail until I get to Atlanta. East to Birmingham, north to Nashville, and then Chicago. From Chicago, I'll be following as much of Old Route 66 as I can get to, all the way to LA. Down to San Diego for a day, and then back up the coast to San Jose.

I am planning to post each night when I stop for the day, internet access permitting. I've got an AT&T mobile broadband card, and the coverage map looks decent. I'll be checking email as well, so if you'd like to write, drop me a line at

Right now, I need to get some sleep!

Monday, March 31, 2008

SPOT not all it's cracked up to be

I went and picked up one of these SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker devices on Saturday, and activated it. The product literature said you could have friends and family track your progress with the SPOTcasting functionality. What they neglect to tell you is that in order for anyone to see your updates, they need to log into the web service with your account credentials. My intent was to post a URL on this blog, so anyone could click it and see where I am or where I last checked in. It doesn't look like that's quite going to work so easily.

The service rep I spoke to was aware of this shortcoming, as I am not the only one to be dissatisfied with the current service offering. Apparently it's the number one complaint from customers, and "is being worked on" but there is no ETA for a fix.

Time to get creative.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DNS tomfoolery

I've switched from using a URL to my own custom one with the idea that someday I may move off of blogger and host this stuff on my own machine. If you have bookmarked you may want to update that bookmark to be to avoid the redirect screen.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bike readiness

Headed over to Aftershocks this afternoon to get the shock reservoir moved to a less obtrusive position. Now BOTH passenger footpegs are accessible. The only thing left to do now is some carb modifications to richen the mixture up a bit, make the slide move faster, and replace the air/fuel screw with a thumbscrew, so I can adjust it as needed for elevation changes without tools. The bike is nearly ready for its big ride. The rider might not be as prepared.

And so it begins

For those of you that haven't heard, I'm going for a motorcycle ride. A long one. About 8,000 miles long. After 5 years at the company I work for, one gets to take a 4-week long paid sabbatical. And if your manager is cool, you can tack on as much as 2 weeks of your own vacation time to it. I had big plans to go to Australia last year, but I got a little sick and so those plans went out the window.

The one thing I learned in 2007 is that you never know what will happen tomorrow. Or even today. So I've decided to get out and see the USA while I have the opportunity.

I'll be using this blog to post about things I've seen on the road, share pictures, and let everyone who is following along know that I'm still ok.