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ridin gaijin 07-19-2014 07:30 AM

"What are you doing *here*?!" - 5800 mi around US and CA, '96 R1100GS
Just a few pics from ride completed yesterday (started 7/4). The weather sure has become unpredictable. Avoiding Interstates, my route was:

VA - MD - PA - NY - ON - QB (casual drivers, but great scenery around rivers & lakes) - MI (da UP...crazy windy, but loveliest around the Apostle Islands) - WI - MN - cross again into MB - SK - very bad flooding in those parts, many roads & bridges out - ND - SD - NB - IA - MO - AR - LA - MS - (up almost the whole Natchez Trace) - GA - TM - WV - VA. About half camping, half motels & friends.

Border crossing at Ogdensburg NY. Appreciated the highly mellow traffic scene but that bridge is kinda scary! All steel grate. On the flip side, when you look down you can see the water beneath you... Note BTW the bike's lack of fairing. I was about to begin regretting this profoundly.

At Lac des Loups near Gatineau, QB. The day started off wet and windy and turned nice and hot. I wanted to send some postcards from this cool-named spot but the PO was closed for about a two hour lunch break.

Black Bear campground on the military base in Petawawa ON. Not recommended: despite a lovely beach, the campsites are absolutely crammed together, and you're camping with everyone's kids, dogs and radios.

View across from my campsite at Monocle Lake MI. Terrifically windy and wet, but very peaceful.

In Wakefield MI.

Near Apostle Islands, MI. Grumpy Cat has nothing to be grumpy about here! The Islands are picture-perfect and this ride was easy and fun.

The threat--later fulfilled--of powerful thunderstorms coming through pushed me to avoid camping out in MN and go AirBnB instead. My host for the night has a nice view looking out over one of those lakes they're so proud of. (Whenever they talk about the lakes it's always "Great" this or "Superior" that.)

...Oh, by the way, sharp-eyed viewers may have spotted the overturned GS in the above pic. Did you find it? It's in the front foreground, look closely.

This was to be the only time the Beast went down. The street and driveway here are composed entirely of intersecting planes of between 20 and 40 degrees. The thing didn't start the next day, resulting in a couple hours of text troubleshooting with HBN (who is on a far greater adventure of his own) before we diagnosed a crimped wire in the right handgrip start/kill switch assembly. I had half that bike lying in pieces on the (wet) ground!

Moving right along, this was a pretty miserable campsite. Kiche Manitou (MB) had been partially flooded out, resulting in detours to get to higher ground. Everything was wet and those vampire-things they call mosquitos were playing for keeps. Sorry Michigan...your mosquitos are poodle puppies compared to these. Setting up camp and eating dinner were all done in full gear and with Deet on hands and face. Everything in this picture is wet, and the inside of the tent has bloodstains from where I was smushing mosquitos.

Here's an example of the reason why we do this, though. The following morning, everything still wet, the rising sun shone bright on the fields, making every drop of water a tiny star. This pic does a poor job of capturing the radiance suffusing everything in sight. It was like riding through a celestial farm. But about ten minutes after this shot, seriously heavy fog set in. Visibility plunged to about 150', maybe less. Drop down to second and put on the hazards! Luckily that only lasted a few miles. Coming out of it, I was very close to a ghostly rainbow: an arc of light devoid of color shimmering through the dying haze.

Here's what they were dealing with, though. This is supposed to be a field, and that was a bridge until recently. I stopped for breakfast at the Red Door cafe in Hartney, and when they asked where I'm from, they paused a sec and said "What are you doing here?"

Back in the USA.

Here's the Campsite of Happiness, Lake Ashtabula, ND. After leaving CA the day turned sunny and hot, and I knew I'd be able to finally air out my stuff. Yay! There was so much to like about this day and this made me remember how little it can take to make a person happy.

Across from my campsite.

Noisy neighbors (...but I made sure to tell them how much I appreciate them eating grass...cause I sure like eating them afterward).

Also saw several Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers playing in the trees here! Elusive but always a treat. (Photos not mine.)

Two from near Ellendale ND. Owners are in their eighties and every one of these machines works.

Serious maintenance time for the Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD.

Fremont NE: not recommended. Campsites aren't at all clean, and trains run pretty much right through them.

Hartville MO. What's a locker plant anyway?

Lunch guest during camp lunch behind post office in Moscow AR. Soon after this shot, a fire ant got into my pants and started biting my equipment. WHY. If other people have ever dropped trou behind that post office, I bet I have their time beat by a wide margin.

5 pm Saturday afternoon in thriving downtown Lake Village, AR. Great riding through the Ozarks, as always, up north.

Near the start of the Natchez Trace, which is the only sane way to get up from LA to points northeast. That morning a bank thermometer in Lake Providence LA read 88 deg at 7:48 am.

Part of the Trace (no you don't get to ride on this).

Birthplace of the King! No no, not some feed trough in Palestine...Tupelo, Mississippi!

Having been to Graceland, I honestly expected the site to be another cash extraction extravaganza. But honestly, it's understated and nice. I'm ridin gaijin and I approve this historical site

My favorite tip jar ever: Charlottesville VA. The staggeringly awesome Ace bbq is also located here. And don't even think of not drinking lots of Three Notch'd's Hydraulian Red.

...And a happy ending for the Beast...after many long days of wet and hot and bugs, a belated 72k maintenance from Anton, the Wizard of Charlottesville. Here, Mrs. Anton's Beast is donating a windscreen to the cause. I hadn't seen two together; don't they look nice? In a kinda prehistoric way maybe.

What a ride. After so much space and quiet, it's hard to be back...

HBN 07-21-2014 08:40 AM

Thanks for posting! This trip looks like a blast and you really gotta see some sights along the way. It's always nice to break away from the city. I'm happy you got your handlebar switch figured out - gla to be of assistance when I could. I love having the Aeroflow on my GS to take the stress from my body. Keep on keeping on. Thanks for the plug btw ;)

DCrider 07-21-2014 10:29 AM

great trip, looks like a few of them AR towns seen better days

lookatdirt 07-21-2014 10:57 AM

Thanks for sharing! Did you ever figure out what a "Locker Factory" is ?

ridin gaijin 07-21-2014 11:57 AM

Thanks all. --I still don't know about the locker factory. The building looked too small to be a manufacturing plant for lockers, and located in the downtown area besides. Could it have been something to do with a meat locker?

Favorite town name (of places ridden through): Waterproof, LA.

Although, I should've snapped a pic of the Climax Springs (Missouri) Presbyterian Church sign.

CaptnSlo 07-22-2014 06:17 PM

Beautiful photos and I love the write-up. Thanks for sharing your trip! I don't see any mention of Gogol Bordello though :evil

ridin gaijin 07-23-2014 08:30 AM


Originally Posted by Blixa (Post 24675598)
Beautiful photos and I love the write-up. Thanks for sharing your trip! I don't see any mention of Gogol Bordello though :evil

Thanks Blixa! The show was the most intense I'd been to, because we were front row right against the stage...and there was no security. LOTS of fluids and red wine all over everything. Lisa got some great pics--in part because I was firmly braced against the stage with her inside my arms. Kids stuck in Charlottesville for the summer sure get rowdy. :clap:freaky:clap

Elizabeth Sun and Tommy signed my shirt, though. :D

Keithert 07-23-2014 08:42 AM


Originally Posted by ridin gaijin (Post 24649907)
Note BTW the bike's lack of fairing. I was about to begin regretting this profoundly.

Why did you regret the lack of fairing? I don't care for large fairings.

ridin gaijin 07-23-2014 11:12 AM

Conditions turned out to be profoundly windy for the first week of the ride; it was pretty punishing. A lot of other riders in MI, WI and MN commented on how unusual it was, and in MB they had had a tornado touch down. (I didn't meet many other riders in ON, QB, NY). The rain didn't bother me much, but a fairing would've helped a lot with the wind.

I might not like a large fairing either, and I doubt one would've helped much for the crosswinds in the Dakotas and NB...but I think I would have liked the chance to find out. :rofl

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