Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where the Buffalo Roam

The lake at Black Hills
View of Rt. 385 - into the Black Hills!  This area of the country smelled amazing!  The tall trees and lack of undergrowth provided gorgeous landscape to roll through.
View from The Needles Pkwy - the most challenging road I'd ridden to this point.  Really, a marked 5mph hairpin turn!
All in all I haven't been too paranoid of head-on collisions - until I went through six of these one-lane tunnels bored through the mountains!  Three on The Needles Pkwy and three on Iron Mountain Road.  Clearly, I'm fine!  And they were VERY fun - roads and tunnels.

Wildlife ... or was it Wilderness Loop Road:

A massive herd of buffalo!  As you can see they're plenty far away...right?
A few broke off to come check out the vehicles while the rest took dirt baths, played, urinated, pooped and grazed!
By the time I got to wondering what it must have been like for the natives to hunt these animals those knuckle-heads in the oncoming lane kept edging forward for closer pictures which drove the herd right toward me!  By the time they were 15 yards away and in the oncoming lane there were three full sized adults and two or three young NEXT to me as I rode by with motivation only Meatloaf can summon in a life or death situation!
A view from Iron Mountain Road.  By the time I was at the top of this road those clouds in the distance were dumping golf-ball sized hail on the townsfolk.  I got my coward on and took refuge beneath a covered park billboard!  I never experienced the hail but I did take on a light refreshing shower before dark.


  I remember the ride from Glacier Nat'l Park through western Montana being beautiful - especially through all the winding foothill roads.  It was a shame when my clutch began slipping more and more.  My adjustments got more extreme and before long I was out of threads and still had a LOT of play in the clutch lever.
  Once the land leveled out I was impressed with the expansive farmlands, quantity of huge hay bails and 'big sky'.  It's like you're always on top of a hill looking out over a valley and all your peripheral vision sees is sky!
By mid-evening I made it to Fort Peck Lake, MT, where I set up camp and put the stresses of the day aside.

  The following morning I set out for Sturgis, SD, where the local BMW shop would surely square me away.  Hey, still new and didn't want to take risks concerning bike maintenance and reliability.
  I rode easy, the roads were smooth and my clutch held out the whole 400+ miles.  I suspect patting it like a 'good puppy' ever so often was the right touch...
  After a lengthy discussion with the service manager of all the possibilities I checked into the Super 8 behind the dealer for two nights - I expected this to take a while.
  The following morning my bike was good to go!  No clutch replacement and leak to fix!  Somehow the adjustment screw down on the transmission had backed off six or seven threads. 
  Seems to me I should have known or thought about something like that if I were truly a responsible bike owner.  It's like I joked with the old man - we're men, we learn simple things the hard way sometimes!
  With daylight burning and a guaranteed place to sleep I hit the roads for the rest of the day and enjoyed the Black Hills area!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When There Aren't Words

But I'm going to use words anyway.

Welcome to eastern Washington.  When I hit the road I was wondering if I'd forgotten how to ride.  Nope!  In fact, I was astonished at how much more snappy and smooth my shifting had become.  I couldn't even tell the gears were changing it was so smooth.  I should have known something was wrong...
Moving on...
I love the sound of 60 Hz generation in the morning! This is Albeni Falls Dam, Idaho.
Where I'm goin'
Where I been...
Nice place for a lunch break.  Shortly after this break my clutch completely slipped out when I was shifting from 4th to 5th.  Not a good feeling.  Eventually when I came to a stop I had to stall the bike - or hit the kill switch. 

Too stubborn to go back towards Portland - I adjusted the clutch at the handlebar by a few threads to give me some friction back.  Good to go, for now.
Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park
That river way down in the middle feeds Lake McDonald.  You could say I gained some elevation on Going to the Sun Road.

The following are from a 3 mile hike at Logan's Pass - at the top of Going to the Sun Road.


We shared the trail...and a foot bridge.

Looking back from the East entrance to the park while on my way to a KOA.  Actually at that point I had no clue where I was going to stay.  I took a left out of the park grounds towards Canada and stumbled onto the KOA a mile down the road.

Strange as it sounds, I thought Glacier a nice place for people to honeymoon.  Stranger is that I shared breakfast the following morning with an older couple that hadn't been to Glacier since their honeymoon 35 years ago.

When Breaks Are Needed

From Crater Lake I set out towards Portland with the intention of visiting my friends for a couple days before heading up to the Seattle area.  How things quickly changed...
Here's me, broken down 40 miles east of Eugene and 160 miles from my destination.  Turns out the Ignition Switch went bad.  After hitching a 5 mile ride down the mountain and to an area I got reception.  My friends came to the rescue with a truck and trailer...160 miles one way!  To pass time I walked back up to my bike and watched the stream until my bladder hurt...then I paced until they showed up.  Happy Sunday people.

Turns out my insurance road-side doesn't cover a trip to the nearest authorized dealer as they claimed.  They only cover up to seven miles.  I wonder why they didn't specify that when I asked upon sign up.  I now have AAA.

I said things changed.  Here's why:
We dropped the bike off at the Tigard, OR, dealer Sunday night, they opened Tuesday, got parts Thursday, fixed it Friday and I rode off Saturday morning.

During that time I lived up my vacation!
Hiking in Forest Park, Portland.

Appreciating shrubbery and trees!
Herding chickens back into their pen!  And I did work on communicating with them with gobbles, clucks and body language that would have people calling the cops were I in public.  However, the following couple days these girls popped eggs out left and right.  Was it me or the freshly cleaned pen?  Who really can say?
Played tons of table-top games with Meg and Kelly and their friends!
Contributed to the betterment of the future of America!  Here's me and Kelly helping Meg prepare her first grade classroom.  Yes, I used the scissor technique my mom showed me years ago for cutting wrapping paper.  It still works!
Disc-golf!  That was a blast.  Who doesn't love a chance to run through grass fields and frolic like a madman?  It was like being a kid again in Amherst where I got into all kinds of activities in the field behind my neighbor's place.

So what does any of this have to do with riding?

After two-solid weeks of continual traveling I was ready for the break and didn't even know it.  I was ticked I got so close to my destination only to limp in on a trailer - and I missed the opportunity to visit the area named after my Pop's relatives.  Decompressing from all that stress and giving my body a rest was a welcome relief.

So I left Portland on the Saturday I planned to be leaving the Seattle area.  I never went there and chose to stay on my schedule.  It felt right and there was no way in heck I was going to cut time so close that I'd jeopardize visiting time with my sisters on the way home.  And what if something else were to happen with my bike?

I departed for Glacier National Park.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Into The West

Great Basin will be nice to go back to for an extended stay someday.  The potential for hiking, stargazing and astronomy presentations are much to appealing to go without.  Unfortunately, it was overcast the entire time I was there.
I camped about halfway up that slope.  Once again, there was a nice loud stream next to my site and after the long day of riding I slept like a baby lamb.
Here's a picture of most of the Great Basin range.
Riding through Nevada was mostly pleasurable despite my preconceived notions based on previous trips there.  Another overcast day kept the temperature reasonable.  There were some neat sites along the way too.
Go Green!
Not so green!  But that's okay, these were the largest dump trucks I had ever seen.  They were on their way to a local mining operation and traffic over this peak was stopped to give these folk plenty of time and room.
I intended to stop in Reno for the evening before heading up to Crater Lake...but much of the afternoon and through Reno was spent in this atmospheric poo caused by the wild fires at Yosemite!  By the time I got into town over 65,000 acres were uncontained.  Besides, traffic through Reno was fairly crazy!
So welcome to northeast California!  I stayed at a small place called the Sierra Motel, took advantage of handicap accessible showers - which put my body in shock as it had been a while!
The following morning, I headed up to Crater Lake!
The drive through northeast Cali and southeast Oregon was beautiful!

I had passed through that valley in the distance before ascending this peak.
And on the other side of that peak was this fine lake!  This view looks back at said peak I ascended.  Climate, view, humidity, temperature - all perfect on this day!
 Yes, I headed for that mountain in the back of this picture!
On the way up to Crater Lake I HAD to stop and check out this valley where 7,700 years ago liquid hot magma flowed down.  Supposedly, one can see fossilized steam from this view - but I suffer from male-pattern-blindness.  If it's in front of me I'll never see it!
There's a 33 mile road (Rim Road) that circles Crater Lake.  Here's one view.  That gravel along the bottom represents the side of the road.  And that tree in the center is an old-growth forest tree - at least 150 ft tall be careful if you ever get to drive or ride around rim road.  There's a lot of places to fall - very exciting!
Although, the following morning when it was time to leave I was not so thrilled about driving through this fog around rim road.  That WAS a little freaky...
Before leaving the fog cleared around the west side of the lake and I spent a good 15 minutes just sitting on my bike at the pull-off just viewing the lake.  It was peaceful, quiet, no traffic and the air was the freshest I ever breathed.  I thought deep thoughts...and forget what they were at this point...but it's the experience that counts, right?

From here I left for Hillsboro, OR, where a couple old friends live.  I've been with them for two days ... getting there was quite an adventure and a post for another time!